Bhaktapur is known variously as “City of Culture", "Living Heritage", "Nepal's Cultural Gem", "An open museum" and a City of Devotees”. Bhaktapur is an ancient city and is renowned for its elegant art, fabulous culture, colorful festivals, traditional dances and indigenous lifestyle of Newari community. It is just 12 kilometers east of Kathmandu, capital of Nepal, but gives the feeling of prehistoric times given the ambiance of traditional homes, lifestyles and environment. The conch shaped historic city is spreading over just an area of 6.88 square kilometer at 1,401 meter altitude. The city was founded in 12th century by King Anand Dev Malla. Bhaktapur was the capital city of the Greater Malla Kingdom in the Kathmandu Valley till the 15th century AD. The many of Bhaktapur's greatest monuments were built by the then Malla rulers.
Bhaktapur has more temples per square foot than Patan or Kathmandu and is far enough out of town to keep the crowds away. As a World Heritage site listed by the UNESCO, Bhaktapur has been heavily restored since a 1934 earthquake severely damaged the city. To further restoration and preservation there is an entrance fee for visitors. In October 2009 this was either 750 NRS or USD $10 for foreigners. Visitors from SAARC member countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) pay 50 NRS.
If you are not arriving as part of a tour group, you may take mini bus (bound for Kamal Binayak stop in Bhaktapur) or big bus (bound for Chyamasingha stop in Bhaktapur) from Bus Stop near Bhadrakali. You can save time by taking Express Bus (this does not stop in between except in Maitighar and Sallaghari) from Bagbazar in Kathmandu. Recently, micro buses also started service of suttling between Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, which are pretty fast.
For those who haven't experienced a public bus in South Asia, it will be a way to (literally!) rub shoulders with locals. In either case the ride takes about 40-60 minutes and drops you off just outside of town. The cost of the fare from Kathmandu to Bhaktapur is approximately 35 NRS (Sept 2009) by bus for local people. Average taxi fee from Thamel to Bhaktapur (one way) costs about 800-1000 NRS for the 16 km drive. You can easily hail a taxi or pick up a return bus to either Patan or Kathmandu just outside of the first main gate that leads into the city.
Once in Bhaktapur, walking is really the only way to experience the quiet, dusty lanes squares. There are no rickshaws, tuk-tuks, or taxis allowed inside the city-- an inconvenience more than made up for by the quiet and clean air.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square has the fascinating structure of palace having 55 windows was the seat of royalty before 1769 AD. The building now houses the National Art Gallery. It has a famous Golden Gate dating back to 1756 AD and is the entrance to the marvelous Taleju Temple Complex and number of artistic courtyards including the Royal Bath pond. The Big Bell in the square was erected by Ranajit Malla (1722-1769), last Malla king of Bhaktapur and was used for paying homage to Goddess Taleju and for assemblies of general public.
Taumadhi Square has Nyataponla Temple dates back to 1702 AD. The colossal five-storied edifice is the country’s tallest pagoda temple. The struts, doors, windows and tympanums—each embellished with attractively carved divine figures—perfectly portray the creative tradition of Newar craftsmen. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Siddhi Laxmi, the manifestation of female force and creativity. Next to the Nyataponla Temple is the rectangular shaped Bhairavnath Temple. It houses a gilded bust of Bhairav, the ferocious manifestation of Lord Shiva. The three-storied pagoda was razed to the grounds by the 1934-earthquake, and its latest renovation was undertaken by Bhaktapur Municipality in 1995 AD.
Dattatreya Square has the Dattatreya Temple is the main attraction of the Square. Constructed by King Yaksha Malla, the giant three-storied temple is believed to have been built with the stem of a single tree. Having defied series of calamities, it still bears testimony to the incredible achievement made in those regal days of the Nepalese history.
The Peacock Window, one of Nepal's signature sights
Hanumanghat: a collection of lingams (including Nepal's largest) and riverside cremation ghats.
Changu Narayan is the oldest temple in the Kathmandu Valley. Listed in the World Cultural Heritage, it is also a scenic spot situated at the altitude of about 1700m and 4 KM to the north of Bhaktapur and 22 KM east of Kathmandu. The most authentic inscription located in the precinct of Changu Narayan is dated 464 AD and is accredited to the Lichhavi King Mandeva. Changu Narayan Temple , located high in the hill just to the north of Bhaktapur, is the oldest existing pagoda temple in Nepal . The temple was dedicated to lord Vishnu by the Lichhavi King in the Fifth Century. It is said to be the oldest temple in the Valley. It was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Monument List in 1979.
Surya Vinayak is situated at the walking distance fo about 2 KM to the south of the city and is the holy shrine of god Ganesh (God of well beginning and successful completion of work). The temple of Ganesh is placed in a sylvan setting to catch the first rays of the rising sun. It is a good picnic spot flanked by many attractive landscapes.
Thimi town is well known for its pottery work. In addition to pottery, Thimi has made a name for itself in the age-old art of making colorful masks of various deities, demons and animals. Thimi also produces much of the fresh vegetables for the Kathmandu valley.
Nagarkot is nestled on hill at altitude of 2195 meter to the north east corner of Bhaktapur at distance of 18 kilometers. It is famous for its panoramic view of mountains, sun rise and sun set. Nagarkot has availability of different types of accommodations of Five star hotels to small cottage lodges. Its one of the most scenic spots in Bhaktapur district and is renowned for its spectacular sunrise view of the Himalaya when the sky is clear. It also offers an excellent view of the Indrawati river valley to the east.
Bhaktapur is all about pottery. You will see it everywhere, drying in the sun, displayed on tables and shelves in front of shops and homes alike. The town is equally famous for artistic mask made up of black clay and colorful painting on it. The masks portray various gods and deities and carry special significance in festivals.
Thanka, a traditional painting is also found in the town. Metalwork and jewelry can also be found, but there's more selection on Patan's backstreets.
Don't leave Bhaktapur without trying some of their famous yogurt with local honey -- Juju-dhau, literally the "King of all yogurt."
Tourist restaurants can be found in almost every building surrounding Dubar Square.
Small local restaurants can be found on the main road into town, but they will probably only serve Dhal Bhat Takari (lenis, rice, and mild vegetable curry) and tea.
There's really reason to stay the night in Bhaktaphur, and few places to do it. What accommodations there are can be found around Dubar Square.
Shiva Guesthouse, a traditional Newari house. Durbar Square. Tel: 977-1-6613912; Fax: 977-1-6610740; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
www.shivaguesthouse.com 15 rooms with attached bath.
Pagoda Guesthouse & Cafe, Taumadhi, Near Five Storied Temple Tel: 977-1-6613248
Golden Gate Guest House, between the Durbar and Taumadhi Squares. Tel: 977-1-6610534, 6612427; Fax: 977-1-6611081, 6612607; E-mail: email@example.com
Bhaktapur Guest House "For one who hates the disturbance and pollution caused by heavy traffic... this comfortable hotel offers peacefulness, a view of the Himalayas with excellent cuisine..." Le Guide du Routard. P.O. Box: 49,Bhaktapur, Nepal Tel: 977-1-610670/ 977-1-6614670 FAX:977-1-6612325 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org