Bhaktapur is known as Khwopa in the local Newari tongue. The cultural capital of Nepal. Bhaktapur’s history goes back to the early 8th century and it used to be the capital city of whole Nepal till the 12th to the 15th century. Until the early 18th century, the ancestors protected the city as a sovereign country surrounding it with boundary walls and a number of city gates. Shaped like a flying pigeon, the city spreads over an area of 6.88 sq. km. and lies at 1401 meters above sea level. Bhaktapur gives shelter to almost 100 thousand people, most of whom are peasants, Businessmen, handicraft producers, and public employees are among the others. Juju Dhau (Yoghurt), BhadgauleTopi(Black Cap), Haku Patasi(Black saree with red border), Pottery, and handicrafts are the identifiers of the city and are well known for their uniqueness. The majority of the inhabitants are either Hindus or Buddhists. It is religious harmony that unites the people in the city. Every festival and cultural activity, irrespective of its religion, is observed with full and equal enthusiasm.
A blend of northern art and southern mythological philosophy, the aged arts, architecture, and culture are the heritage of Bhaktapur that it inherits from the earlier generations, the Pagoda and Shikhar style temples, Vihars and Bahis, (traditional Buddhist monasteries), Lonha Hiti(stone spouts), ponds, pati, math and sattal(public shelters), stupas, city gates, terracotta temples, Dyochhens(residence of Hindu Deities), Jarahns(traditional water tanks), palaces, artistic private houses, and other cultural and historical heritages are the major monuments of the ancient city. Recognizing the significance of this well-preserved heritage, Bhaktapur Durbar Square was enlisted in World Heritage Sites in 1979 AD.
Bhaktapur is a “Living Heritage” or “Living Museum” displaying the vibrant depth of Newari culture. Great festivals of local Newars, their lifestyle, rituals, Daffas (prayers group), and Guthis and traditional dance groups are giving life to the intangible heritage of the city. Bisket Jatra (mid-April), Gai Jatra (August), Dashain and Tihar (October/ November) are the main attractions of the festivals. Everyone can experience daily cultural activities performing such as Dattas, Bhajans (hymns), worship, dances, music, rituals, traditional Newari dress, and lifestyle while visiting the city. These living heritages have been handed down for centuries in an unbroken chain from generation to generation.
The spectacular Newari cultural heritage of Bhaktapur is the pride of the entire human civilization. Keeping in this mind, Bhaktapur Municipality is running restoration of these ancestors’ creations with various plans and programs. For that, the city has been collecting tourist entrance fee from every foreign tourist to visit the core area of the city since 1993, and the amount is used for preservation of culture, heritages, cleaning the city, building and developing infrastructure, education, and skilling manpower and making the city as one of the best tourist destinations in Nepal. The Municipality is also distributing grants for wood, traditional bricks, and tiles to encourage the local people to build their buildings in traditional styles. The city has also been successful to be one of the ten cleanest cities in Asia through its cleaning efforts.
Five-stored temple, Bhairab Nath Temple, 55 window palace, Taleju complex, Jagannath Temple, Pashupatinath Temple, Nawadurga Deo Chhen, Tripurasundari Deo Chhen, Siddhapokhari, Kamal Pokhari, public shelters (Pati, Sattai), Jhaur Bahi and Chaturbramha Maha Bihars, City gates, wells, and water spouts, etc. are the major monuments preserved by the municipality with public participation. So the ancient city is still maintaining the charm of the medieval period and every foreign visitor experiences the lifestyle, of centuries back, visiting the city.
Admiring the preservation efforts of this cultural city Bhaktapur, UNESCO honored it with “The First Honorable Mention” for the Asia-Pacific region in 1998/99. And Transparency International also awarded the city as “The Island of Integrity” appreciating its economic discipline and transparency. The credit for all the achievement and success gained by the city goes to the people of the last five decades, people’s representatives of the city, and all related stakeholders.
After every few steps every visitor will be surprised by the elegant art, architect, and cultural heritage of the city and the visit will be a lifetime experience that silently invites them to visit this majestic city repeatedly. The amazing city is not only displaying you its century-old fabulous art, architect, and cultural heritages but also offers its unique eastern hospitality, delicious Newari cuisines, luxurious accommodation, unforgettable handicraft souvenirs through well cultured Newar people, various restaurants, hotels, guesthouses, homestays and curio shops respectively.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the main square of the city, is a conglomeration of stone art, metal art, wood carving, and terracotta art and architectural showpieces. The Golden Gate, Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla perching on the top of stone monoliths, National Art Gallery, the palace of 55 windows, the Vatsala Temple, the big bell, the bell of barking dogs, and Pashupatinath Temple (Yachhheswor Mahadev temple) with erotic wood carvings, the stone temple of Siddhilaxmi, octagonal structure “Chyasinhmandap”. Phasi Dega (Silumahadev Temple), golden spout, stone spout, Taleju complex, Pohanchhen replica of Chardham (Jag Nath, Badri Nath, Rameshwor, and Kedarnath Temples, four pilgrimage sites of Hindu) and many masterpieces of stone sculpture are the main attraction of the square.
Taumadhi is the next important square of the city where the best example of engineering and architecture of multi-rooted temples and rectangular temples can be observed. Best craftsmanship of stone sculptures, stone spouts, the traditional water tank,s and wood carving are proudly exhibiting their glorious history. The Nyatapola Temple, Bhairabnath Temple, Tilmadhav Narayan Temple, and Stone sculpture of earthquake protectors are the major monuments of the Square.
Pottery is known as one of the world’s old professions. In Bhaktapur, many potters can still be seen working with their traditional wooden wheels for giving various shapes and sizes to clay. Talakwo (middle-south of the city) and Suryamadhi (east of the city) are two particular localities of Bhaktapur where earthen pots are made are known as Pottery Square.
It is the oldest part of the city which is also an open museum, especially for wood carving. Dattatraya, the oldest temple of the city, Bhimsen Temple, water spouts, peacock window, and other various sizes and shaped windows and Maths are the major art and architecture of this site. Brass and Bronze, and wood carving museum also can be observed in the square.
Bhaktapur is also surrounded by very exciting places. Walking or driving around the city, you will experience amazing natural beauty, glorious historical monuments, indigenous lifestyle, and panoramic views of the high Himalayas. Changu Narayan, Nagarkot, Suryabinayak, Thimi, Nagadesh, and Bode are ideal places to visit around the city.
Brochures of Bhaktapur in Different Language
*All the contents made available on this post were published by the Bhaktapur Municipality as the brochure of Bhaktapur.