Bhaktapur (भक्तपुर) 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 December 2011 this was either 1100 NRS or USD $13 for foreigners. If you planned to visit several days, you can ask the counter to add a note to have access to the city with the same ticket (at most one week). You will need your passport to get a weekly ticket, and you may be asked to show your passport on re-entry. Visitors from SAARC member countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) and China pay 100 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, Changu (4 Km to the north of Bhaktapur and 22 Km east of Kathmandu.), ☎ 6614788. It 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. 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.
There is a large variety of local types of tea for sale.
- Nytapola Crafts, (In the pottery square.). Offers a wide range of products:Hand carved windows , doors , masks , mirror , frames , furniture , statues , boxes , wooden toys , etc. By purchasing one of our products manufactured with dedication by our skilled workers you bring lasting beauty in your home as well as you are and contributing to sustain our tradition and support vuluerable people by generating their income.
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 (lentils, rice, and mild vegetable curry) or Newari food (Samay Baji - flattened rice, marinated meat (usually buffalo, often odd organs), lentils, pickled vegetables, potatoes, bamboo shoot curry, and more), tea, and momos.
- Bara-wa, (An alley behind the five story temple in Taumin Square, in front of Black Olive restaurant). The ladies only sell one item: Bara-wa. It's a pan fried rice patty, like uttapam, with an omelette cooked on top, topped with a light channa (chickpeas) curry. Marinated meat is an optional add-on. 50 rupees. An additional 50 rupees for meat.
- a local Newari joint, (exiting Taumani square northeast, along the main road, in an alley to the right, after the camera shop, on the right side with curtains covering all openings). Great local Newari food. It's best to go early afternoon. 10-30 rupees per dish.
- Cafe Beyond, Itachhen-15, Bhaktapur (Just outside of Durbar Square walk for 3 minutes after the front gate. Walk along the main street for 1 block, you can find it on your right hand side.). Fantastic restaurant serving Korean cuisine run by Korean lady. It's quite small, with a very relaxed atmosphere. Part of the cafe's profit goes to Nepali NGO. mains Rs250.
- Shiva's Cafe Corner, Durbar Square, Bhaktapur, ☎ 6610740, . 7:30-21:00. Enjoy Nepali Dal Bhat, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Indian and Continental cuisine and Italian Coffe LAVAZA. Cappchino, Expresso, Americano, and some Cold Coffee. 2$-6$.
Bhaktapur can be a good alternative to Kathmandu for staying overnight because of its quiet streets and unique ambiance. Furthermore, it is located close to the Kathmandu international airport and on the road connecting Kathmandu and Kodari (Chinese border), which makes it particularly suited for spending the first night in Nepal.
- Nyatapola Guesthouse, Pottery Square , Bhaktapur, ☎ 977-1-6614599 (email@example.com), . A simple and clean bed-and-breakfast run by a family of woodcarvers on the upper floors of a traditional house on top of their art shop. Located in a small street connecting Pottery and Taumadhi squares in the heart of the old town. Semi-private doubles for NRP800 and up to 1200.And enjoy free internet and Wi Fi And also accept Visa/ Credit Card with some percentage of Bank Charge.
- Shiva Guest House 1&2, Durbar Square11 , Bhaktapur, ☎ 977-1-6613912 (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, fax: 977-1-6610740), . checkin: 3pm; checkout: 12pm. A traditional Newari house. Offers 24 rooms in two buildings, most with attached bath. Restaurant serving Nepali Dal Bhat, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Indian and Continental cuisine. And enjoy free internet and Wi Fi And Atm Next door , also accept Visa/ Credit Card with some percentage of Bank Charge
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. A really nice couple runs this guesthouse. It has wi-fi. Many rooms have shared balconies. There are two electrical sockets.
- 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: email@example.com
- Peacock Guest House, Dattatraya Square, Bhaktapur (Dattatraya Sq and Bhimsen temple), ☎ 9771-6611829, . checkin: 12pm; checkout: 12pm. Located at Dattatraya Square. 15th century architecture recognized by world heritage.. 01-6611829. For peaceful and green environment. $.7 - $.10. (27.673427,85.434986)
- Nagarkot - A great place to watch the sunrise. (altitude: 2,000 m)
- Changunarayan - small village and home to the ancient temple of Changu Narayan which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Kathmandu Valley.
- Dhulikhel - is a village about 40 km from Kathmandu, nice place for lunch and a view of the mountains. The village offers a nice quiet setting to wander the streets and see the 'non-tourist' side of Nepali life.
- Panauti - one of the oldest towns in Nepal, consisting of many temples dating back to the 15th Century or earlier.
- Namo Buddha is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Nepal and one of the holiest in the world. It is known as the place where the Buddha, in a previous life as a prince, gave his body to a starving tigress and her cubs.