The word “Open Museum”, perfectly suits this anciently choreographed city “Bhaktapur”. Over hereabouts, you can catch the sight of the marvelous erections of the last 18th century. Amidst them, the then royal palace is one of the most attractive temptations of Bhaktapur Durbar square.
We identify this piece of place as The Bhaktapur durbar square. The shreds of evidence say that King Yakshya Malla built this durbar square, in 1427 A.D.
The Bhaktapur Durbar Square is still holding its history and evidence behind the erection of Bhaktapur city as well as the contributions of various kings. It is believed that this burgh existed as early as 865 A.D or could be elder than that.
However, it was at its best during the reign of King Bhupatindra Malla. He turned this, an eternal area of 6.52 square miles into a world of fantastic architecture.
The UNESCO world heritage site also enlisted this place as a world heritage site, in 1979 A.D. Along with the Changu Narayan temple, which also exists in the same Bhaktapur district.
Besides, you can take a glimpse of various masterpieces within the Bhaktapur Durbar area which were erected in different timelines in history. The starting point of your walk somehow would make you realize that why Bhaktapur is actually called the city of temples.
Here is a small tip on exploring Bhaktapur.
The best way to explore Bhaktapur is definitely a walk. Always!
A walk through narrow alleys, courtyards, resident’s homes, temples, and then the market. It simply is the best way to explore Bhaktapur.
Starting from the western corner of the Bhaktapur Durbar square
Basantapur Chowk of Bhaktapur Durbar Square
As you start your walk from the western gate of the Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the very first eye-catching sight which you would find is the sculptures of Ugrachandi and Bairava. They come along as one of the most fascinating stone carvings of Bhaktapur.
These stone carvings are situated at the gate of the contemporary Padma school. That historically means the Basantapur Chowk.
The sculpture of Ugrachandi
Ugrachandi, as, according to her name’s meaning, she is known as the most furious female deity on earth. As per the name, Ugra means more than anything else or limitless and Chandi, means the most furious female deity.
Why this sculpture means so important than any other sculptures of Bhaktapur Durbar Square?
Yes, this sculpture is mounted as one of the most glorious arts of that period. That’s why it is often heard that the then king means the king Bhupatindra Malla ordered to cut off the hands of artists, who complete the masterwork. Hence, they wouldn’t be able to form another classic like that.
One who closely had a look at that sculpture would never say that it is not a masterpiece.
The angry-neutral face of hers, nine pairs of hands full of different types of weapons, the posture of slaying a demon, that slaughtered buffalo, then having a position of giving blessings and all those details on one sculpture is no ordinary thing to create. That all by carvings, especially.
The sculpture of Bhairava
The sculpture of bhairava stands right, on the right side of the sculpture of the Ugrachandi. It was also ordered to erect by the King Bhupatindra Malla along with the sculpture of Ugrachandi. Alike as the Ugrachandi, the Bhairava is also known as one of the most fearsome incarnations of Lord shiva.
It looks like, it was the only pair of most furious and fearsome deities of that time. Here, the sculpture of Bhairava is also not less than Bhagwati’s. Essentially, the locals call Ugrachandi Bhagwati rather than Ugrachandi itself.
The sculpture of Bhairava here is quite unique since it has seven pairs of hands holding some types of equipment. Plus, the sculpture is showing his control over betals. However, the details of this sculpture do not end here.
The most amusing fact about this sculpture is that the Bhairava over here had embraced himself with the skin of an elephant. Not with the real one but within the sculpture, it is carved like that.
Your keen eye would definitely gonna find these puzzle-like carvings if you give a minute to read those details on such sculpture.
Char Dham Temples in Bhaktapur
Yes, Char Dham temples that within the Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
People who visit Bhaktapur simply without any reason just don’t get amused. They feel amazed and surprised because of the existence of temples within the premises of Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
Seriously, no one would expect a temple, actually temples within the place like a palace. And here, the Bhaktapur Durbar square solely is all featured and filled by the temples. For that reason, this place is also called the city of temples.
Talking about the char dhams, it is said that to facilitate the locals and avoid long journeys, the then ruler made a replica of char Dham within the premises of Bhaktapur Durbar Square. You can observe all the four temples of Char Dham on your right-hand side.
Since there are five temples on that side including Kedarnath Temple, people often get confused over actual Char Dham temples. Besides the Kedarnath temple, other temples named Badrinath temple, Jagannath temple, Rameshwor temple, and are actually the actual Char Dham temples.
On the same lane, you can see a large rest house which was quite spacious before the earthquake of 1934 A.D. Unfortunately, the earthquake of 1934 made more temples and palaces of Durbar square disappeared under the ground.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square once had some 99 courtyards. That is now left behind with some 12 to 13 courtyards. And, Bhandarkhal Chowk is one of them. The chowk is locally called Bhandakha chowk, officially named after the Bhandarpukhu, which is a pond centered on that courtyard.
The Chowk was said to be the treasury of the state. Besides, it has a mysterious series of stone carving on the western part of the pond. Some say the sone carving tells a story, related to the ducks and tortoise.
Further, the entrance of the chowk is also no ordinary entrance, if you don’t miss out to notice that. Yes, the entrance is foremost made out of stone only. And, it is the only gate that is made out of entirely stone in the entire Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
So, don’t miss to check that out.
The National Art Museum
The northern alley of the waylays after Bhandarkha Chowk, leads you toward the National Art Museum. This is the only gallery that is treasuring sculptures dated back to the Malla and lichhavi periods.
The museum is home to the collections of manuscripts, and paintings of then Malla Ruling era. Plus, it also has the remains of statues from 1934s destroyed temples. While the gallery itself is the face of the Royal Palace, Simhadhwoka, it is worth to sneak around in it.
As with other gates of the Bhaktapur Durbar Square, this gate is also not left bare without the stone guards. There are two stone lions guarding the gate, one male and another female. By which means, the name Simhadhwoka,” the door guarded by the lions ” was named.
With those lions, there are two more stone images standing in front of the door, facing south. They are the images of Hanumanta Bhairav( left) and Narasimha (right).
The Golden Gate
Moving toward the east from the National Art Museum would lead you to the outstanding drafting, the golden gate. The golden gate, also known as the swarnadwar is the last masterpiece left by the last Malla king and reign, King Ranjit Malla.
Though it was the decisive contribution of the Malla reign, it was the best creation of that period. A golden gate, filled with so many amazing things.
The replica of Taleju, the symbols of Astamatrika, the symbol of good fortune, the Nepalese roofing style, the Ganesha temple, and the current national flag of Nepal. All these things are carved within that one masterpiece.
So, it’s worth to have a glimpse over there before you enter the palace.
55 windowed palace
Entering the golden gate would lead you to another master of works of woodcarvings, a 55 windowed palace. The palace is best known for its fifty-five beautifully engraved windows.
Inspiring by which the palace was named as Pachpane jhyale durbar by the shah ruler which already was in name as nye nyeppa jhya layaku.
Today, the palace offers us the great wall paintings of the Malla era along with the best wood carving of Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
Taleju Temple, the temple of Bhaktapur Durbar Square which beholds the most powerful tantric deity is the holiest shrine of Bhaktapur.
Mulchwok, where the taleju temple lies as a bar is the most sacred place of the palace. There, foreigners are not allowed to enter.
Even for the locals, there are some strict rules that need to be followed to enter there. Like taking off the shoes, prohibition on photography, not wearing leathers, and must leave each belonging right in front of the door like bags.
The Mul chowk then leads to another chowk named dribhajuchowk through a narrow dark alley. The Chowk has a small pond named Ajima or the Dribhaju Pokhari.
Under the premises of Bhaktapur Durbar Square, there is an open tap named Lunhiti which means the golden conduit. It is also counted as one of the courtyards of the palace which was erected during the reign of king Jitmitra Malla.
It is said that it took 10 years to complete this spout.
The Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla
When you get out of the golden gate, you’ll face the statue of King Bhupatindra Malla facing toward Taleju temple. This statue shows respect toward taleju rather than a king’s self-image.
Also, it depicts the king as a devotee since he is facing north, toward the temple.
Still more to explore at Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Besides these monuments, there is still more to explore in the Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
The Vastala Durga Temple of Bhaktapur Durbar Square is one of the best stone-paved temples. However, many people misunderstood it with the Krishna Mandir as the Krishna mandir of patan and Vastala temple look-alike in favor of architecture.
The temple lies right behind the Taleju bell, the big bell of Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Further, it also has a bell hung outside of the temple named the barking bell.
And it is said that the dogs actually barks when the bell is rung.
The Pashupatinath Temple or the Yakheshwor Temple of Bhaktapur have some similarities as well as a difference to the genuine temple of Pashupatinath, which lies in Kathamandu.
Despite that, it is considered one of the oldest temples of Bhaktapur. The temple is one among those which have some erotic carvings. It is believed that the then king made make that kind of carvings to give sex education to the locals.
Plus, there is another belief too which tells that those kinds of carving prevent temples from thunderbolt strikes.
Chayalin mandap is not a temple. It was built to receive guests and attend different occasions by the royal personalities. Yet, there are more stories that tell it was made to stop the aurora of Pasupatinath which was slight direct to the Royal Palace.
And it is still assumed as not a good sign to have direct sight of a temple in front of any residence in Bhaktapur. So, people made an alternate architecture to avoid that aurora.
The Chyasalim mandap lies right in between the Pashupatinath temple and 55 windowed palaces.
Siddhi Laxmi Temple
Siddhi Laxmi temple often called Loha Dega by the locals. Here, Loha Dega means the temple of stone. To the eastern side of 55 windowed palaces, the temple stands as elegantly as the other heritages of Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
Phasidegal or the Phasi dega is the temple of Silu Mahadev. Locals and everyone call it Phasidega because of its architecture. It looks like a pumpkin. That’s why it is called phasi dega since phasi means Pumpkin in the newari language and dega means god.
It also has a considerable height, looks like it once was competing with the Nyatapola Temple of the Taumadhi Square to become the tallest temple of Bhaktapur.
What’s next? Is there still something left behind at the Bhaktapur Durbar Square!
Yes, the stone lions Generally, they are called Lapandegal, which means an obstacle on the road. But they weren’t before the earthquake of 1934. There was a temple of Harihar and those lions were the guards of that temple.
Unfortunately, the temple collapsed in the quake. And, left those lions in between the road, making a beautiful obstacle.
Kumari House ( the house of the living goddess), it lies quite distant from Durbar Square. But one can have a visit over there after roaming in and around Bhaktapur Durbar square.
It’s not that far, as for instance. The eastern way right after the end of the large resthouse, that’s it.
A Hiti at Bhaktapur Durbar Square
And the Durbar square hiti(a stone tap) at the end of the row. It is on the premises of Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
Remember the Chyasalin Mandap and the Vastala Durga Temple, the conduit endures behind them. The old among the oldest taps of Bhaktapur.
In conclusion, this spiffing durbar square bequeathed you with full of stories. From monuments to the pillars of the chapel, every piece of art had a spellbinding anecdote.
Hence, this could be a perfect place for you to prosecute your imaginations cause the statue cannot deem but you can.