Historical Background of Bhaktapur
Bhaktapur is known as a historical city because it has played a significant role in shaping today’s Nepal. The historical evidence states that the existence of this city dates back to at least the 3rd or 4th century. That means the city has seen a lot of stuff. like war, peace, prosperity, crisis, natural disasters, annual celebrations, the changing culture, and architecture as well.
Thus, it has quite a few places that are landmarked as historical sites. A historical site generally means a site that represents and has been protecting the historical, cultural, political, and social history. Also, the site/architecture must be more than 50 years old. Here, we have collected some of the most popular historical sites of Bhaktapur.
10 Must-See Historical Sites in Bhaktapur
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is one of the 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nepal. The Durbar Square is a complex of palaces, temples, and courtyards that was once the center of political and cultural life in the city.
The square features several stunning temples and architectural wonders. It includes the 55-Window Palace, the Golden Gate, and the National Art Museum. The 55-Window Palace was built in the 15th century and is a fine example of traditional Newari architecture. The palace showcases intricate wood carvings, wall paintings, and beautiful courtyards.
The Golden Gate is a magnificent entrance to the main courtyard of the palace, and it is adorned with carvings of deities and mythical creatures. The National Art Museum is another impressive palace, with two stone lions guarding the entrance.
Along with them, the square features several important temples. The Taleju Bhawani, Vatsala Durga, Siddhi Laxmi, Char Dham temples, and Kedarnath are some of them.
Changu Narayan Temple
Changu Narayan Temple is an ancient Hindu temple located on the northern hilltop of Bhaktapur city. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, one of the major deities in Hinduism. The temple is believed to have been built in the 4th century, during the Licchavi dynasty. Thus, it is one of the oldest temples in Nepal.
The temple is a beautiful example of Nepalese architecture. The temple is renowned for its intricate wood carvings and stone sculptures.
The main shrine of the temple houses a four-armed stone statue of Lord Vishnu, which is believed to be the oldest Vishnu idol in Nepal. The statue is considered to be one of the finest examples of Nepalese metalwork from the Licchavi period.
Changu Narayan Temple is also an important pilgrimage site for Hindus. Devotees come to worship Lord Vishnu and seek his blessings. The temple is surrounded by some smaller shrines and stone sculptures. and the hilltop location offers beautiful views of the Himalayas, on a clear day.
Taumadhi Square is a historic square located in the heart of Bhaktapur. It is one of the four main squares in Bhaktapur, along with Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Pottery Square, and Dattatreya Square. The square has some stunning architecture and cultural significance.
The square is dominated by the Nyatapola Temple. It is a five-story Nepalese-style temple dedicated to the goddess Shiddhi Laxmi. The temple depicts beautiful wood carvings. Thus, it is considered to be one of the finest examples of Nepalese architecture in Nepal.
Besides the Nyatapola Temple, the square also has some other impressive temples and structures. It includes the Bhairavanath Temple and Til Madhava Narayan temple. These temples are also built in Nepalese architectural style and are important pilgrimage sites for Hindus.
Pottery Square is also a historic square located in Bhaktapur. It is known for its long tradition of pottery-making and is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
The potters here used to use traditional techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation. But, the modern pottery wheel is replacing them which is easy to use. Anyway, the pottery produced in the square is renowned for its quality and craftsmanship.
Dattatraya Square is another popular historic square located in Bhaktapur. It is named after the Dattatraya Temple, which is the main attraction of the square and is dedicated to the Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
The temple is one of the oldest and most revered temples in Bhaktapur and is a fine example of Nepalese architecture. The temple has a unique wooden façade, with intricate carvings. There are also wooden sculptures depicting various deities and mythical creatures.
Also to the Dattatraya Temple, the square is also home to several other historic temples and structures. That includes the Bhimsen Temple, Laxminarayan temple, the Pujari Math, and the Peacock Window. These temples and structures are decorated with beautiful carvings and sculptures and offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the Kathmandu Valley.
Tadhunchen Bahal is a Buddhist monastery located near Bhaktapur Durbar Square. It is known for its peaceful atmosphere and beautiful architecture.
The initial name of the Tadhuchhen Bahal was Surat Shree Chaturvarna Mahavihar. The vihar was actually dedicated to a famous Tantric of that era, named Surat Bajracharya. Besides that, the establishment and renovation of the vihar include some of the famous names of the Malla Period.
First, it was ordered to erect by King Raya Malla in N.S. 611 (1492 A.D). After that, he along with his brothers, (Ram Malla, Raya Malla, Ari Malla, and Avaya Malla) invited Jibchandra Bajracharya and made him the Gubaju of the Bahal.
Navadurga Dyo Chhen
Navadurga Dyo Chhen is also a historical site in Bhaktapur. The architecture holds one of the sacred rituals of Navadurga dances. The beginning and ending of the Navadurga Dance Ceremonies all happened there. And, when the navadurga dances are not held, all those sacred masks are housed in this architecture.
Bishwokarma Dyo Chhen
Shree Vishwakarma Agam Chhen might be the most distinctive architectural structure in Bhaktapur. The architecture is located at the Tuchimala tole of Bhaktapur. The most beautiful element of this building is that it has a window constructed of terracotta. That window is also known as Tellikata jhyal, which translates to “clay window.”
The architecture is said to be more than 300 years old, which corresponds to the age of the Nyatapola temple.
Salan Ganesh Agam Chhen
Salan Ganesh Agam Chhen is another historical and heritage site in Bhaktapur. The Agam Chhen of Salan Ganesh is an exceptional architectural illustration of Bhaktapur. The architecture looks like a local house, but the pinnacle on the roof distinguishes it from a normal house.
Legend has it that when Lichhavi King Narendra Deva was ready to introduce Rato Machhindranatha (Lord Karunamaya) to Nepal, he designated three locations in Bhaktapur. These locations were the current Lokeshwor temple, Silu Mahadeva (Phasidegal), and Aankha Bahal.
All these sites were chosen using Tantric rituals. That is why these sites were regarded as the holiest sites in Bhaktapur. But, the Karunamaya was established in Patan instead of Bhaktapur. So, Baladeva, King Narendra Deva’s son, established a Padmapani Lokeshwor in one of those three areas.