Bhaktapur Durbar Square undoubtedly is one of the best places to sneak around Bhaktapur. Or you can say it is the very reason, that makes travellers prefer to visit Bhaktapur.
Wondering why people prefer to visit Bhaktapur?
Despite being only 6.889 square kilometres (overall area of Bhaktapur municipality) in size, it is home to multiple temples and WOW monuments. And inside it, there is another tiny space named Bhaktapur Durbar Square that embodies the richness of Newari art, architecture and history.
In Bhaktapur, one may sit for hours on the pedestals of the rest house or the temples, admiring Shalabhanjika’s magnificent stances. Well, Shalabhanjika is a female figure with elegant feminine features standing beside a tree and holding a limb.
With that, the Bhaktapur Durbar Square offers a religious tour along with a historical sightseeing tour as you can see a kind of an equal number of temples and the surviving palaces and monuments over there.
Bhaktapur, an anciently choreographed city, moreover, is also designated as an open museum. Over hereabouts, you can catch the sight of the marvellous erections up until the last 18th century. Amidst them, the then Royal Palace is one of the most attractive temptations of Bhaktapur Durbar square.
It is said that the first palace in the current Durbar area was built by King Jayasthiti Malla, in the late 13th century. But, there are no remains left of that initial palace which was then named Yuthuniman Rajkula.
But one thing is certain: it was at its peak during the reign of King Bhupatindra Malla. He turned this, an eternal area into a world of fantastic architecture. That’s why it is also enlisted in UNESCO World Heritage site (1979 A.D) along with the Changu Narayan temple, one of the oldest temples that exist in Bhaktapur.
Travelling tip: Walking is the best way to discover Bhaktapur.
Always! A walk through narrow alleys, courtyards, residents’ homes, temples, and then the market. It simply is the best way to explore Bhaktapur.
If you want to know what Bhaktapur looked like in the past, you can also check out our Old Photo Collections of Bhaktapur.
Basantapur Chowk once used to be a place where feasts and royal parties used to take place. But, today we don’t even have its ruins. What we have left in the name of Basantapur Chowk are the statues of two lions and the statues of Bhagwati Ugrachandi and Ugra Bhairav.
It is said that those images were set by King Bhupatindra Malla after the beautification of Basantapur Durbar which used to stand right behind the gates.
Ugrachandi is well-known as the most furious female deity on earth. As per the meaning of her name, Ugra means more than anything else or limitless and Chandi means the most furious female deity.
But, why is this sculpture means so much?
Her angry-neutral face, 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.
Perhaps, that’s why it is mounted as one of the most glorious arts of that period.
One who closely had a look at that sculpture would never say that it is not a masterpiece.
The sculpture of Bhairava stands right behind the sculpture of the Ugrachandi. It was also ordered to erect by 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 best pair of most furious and fearsome deities of that time. Here, the sculpture of Bhairava is no less than Bhagwati’s. Essentially, the locals call the image of her, 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 weapons. 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. It is carved very smartly.
Your keen eye would definitely gonna find these puzzle-like carvings if you give a minute to read the details of such a sculpture.
Char Dham temples are the set of four temples that are considered the site that helps achieve moksha or salvation. In Bhaktapur too, there are four such temples considered the Char Dham temples.
According to Anjan Sharma, the priest of char Dham temples of Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the temples were then made to facilitate the common people because the actual char Dham temples are farther from them. Thus, King Bhupatindra Malla insist to make these temples within the arena of Bhaktapur Palace.
Badrinath temple is now reassembled in its initial structure after the quake of 2015. The temple is made in terracotta style and stands right behind the Jagannath temple.
By the sequence, this temple was erected in the 17th century. Unfortunately, the devastating earthquake of 1990B.S. turned this temple into a Nepalese roofing style temple.
It sounds quite weird. But another devastating earthquake in April 2015 brought this temple into its real posture. Today, the temple is again in the same shape (in the shikhara style) as it was originally built.
Jagannath temple is one of the four temples of Char Dham. It looks very common though it has one unique thing which makes it different from other temples.
The statue of Lord Krishna, Balrama, and their sister Subhadra, the images of these statues are quite unusual as they were made out of wood and have such big beautiful eyes.
If you also wish to capture those images, then you must reach there at the time of Nitya puja, daily worship. It normally happens from 7-8 am in the morning.
Rameshwor temple is one such temple of Bhaktapur Durbar Square that has neither doors nor walls. It only has a Chaturmukhi Shivalinga which represents the Rameshwaram temple of India.
Radhakrishna temple (often called Dwarikanath) is the only temple that is made in Nepalese pagoda form among the Char Dham temples. It also has the statues of Lord Krishna with Radha, not Subhadra. And, those statues are made of black stone which particularly might be perfect for the carving of those statues.
It just suits them.
You can have their glimpse too if you can make it during its Nitya Puja. Besides the temple represents different forms of Lord Krishna in the formation of strut woodcarvings that you won’t be able to take your eyes off from it, at least for a while.
Well, these four temples are the Char Dham of Bhaktapur Durbar Square. However, people often get confused over actual Char Dham temples since there are five temples in a row including Kedarnath Temple.
The Kedarnath temple look-alike like the Badrinath Temple since both of them are made in terracotta form. The temple is called Kedarnath because of the Statue of Kedaraeshwor.
This 17th-century old temple is so eye-satisfying through its eastern pedestal, you can observe the entire durbar area along with the rest house and temple of Vatsala Durga Temple. While from the western or the front pedestal of the temple, you can have a glimpse of the entire char Dham temples.
On the same lane, you can see a large rest house on top of which is a restaurant. That large rest house is called Yetachapari.
It was quite spacious before the earthquake of 1934 A.D. Unfortunately, the earthquake of 1934 made more temples and palaces of Durbar square disappear under the ground.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square once used to have 99 courtyards but it is now left behind with some 12 or 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 centred on that courtyard. Do you know why it is called Bhandakhapukhu?
The Chowk was said to be the treasury of the state. Besides, it has a mysterious series of stone carvings on the western part of the pond. Some say the stone carving tells a story, related to the ducks and tortoise.
And, yes the entrance of this pond, don’t miss to check that out cause it is the most unique part of the whole Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The entrance foremost is the only gate that is made out of entirely stone in the entire Durbar Square.
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 dating back to the Malla and Lichhavi periods.
The museum is home to the collections of manuscripts, and paintings of the 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 sneaking around in it.
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 statue of Hanumanta Bhairava and Narasimha. These statues are placed right in front of the doors of Simhadwaka Durbar (Currently the National Art Museum), accompanied by two giant lions. By which the name of the palace became Simhadhwoka durbar means the palace with lions on the gate.
These two images were also anchored up by King Bhupatindra Malla which today, somehow attests to us about the effects of having an affair with stone images. As you can observe, the statue of Narsimha is worshipped regularly, thus it looks quite shabby.
But on the other hand, the images of Hanuman which are neither worshipped nor touched seem in good condition to this date. Moreover, there is a reason behind establishing these statues and scarce worshipping the image of Hanuman.
Don’t forget to ask about these things to your guide.
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.
The replica of Taleju, the symbols of Astamatrika, Purna Kalash (the symbol of good fortune), the Nepalese roofing style, the Ganesha temple, and the current national flag of Nepal. The gate looks like a complete package, filled with Nepalese architecture, carvings, symbols, temples, inscriptions, and noticeable spangles.
So, it’s worth having a glimpse over there before you enter the palace.
Entering the golden gate would lead you to another master of works of woodcarvings, 55 Window Palace. The palace is best known for its fifty-five beautifully engraved windows.
Inspiring which the palace was named 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 most immeasurable wood carving of Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
Did you know that this 55 Window Palace once was used as the post office of the city? Don’t forget to have a closer look at the woodcarving of this palace.
Taleju Temple of Bhaktapur Durbar Square beholds the most powerful tantric deity and is considered the holiest shrine of Bhaktapur. Mulchwok, where the Taleju temple lies as a bar is the most sacred place of the palace where non-Hindus 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, prohibiting photography, not wearing leathers, and must leave each belonging like bags, right in front of the door.
The Mul chowk then leads to another chowk named Dribhajuchowk through a narrow dark alley. The Chowk has a small pond named Ajima, the Dribhaju Pokhari, or Dwinmaju Pokhari.
Dwinmaju Pukhu, you can call a secret pond of the Bhaktapur Durbar Square since it lies within the northwest part of the palace and one must cross through the Mulchwok to reach there. And, not everyone is allowed to the Mulchwok.
Therefore, only Hindu people could enter there.
There is a belief that taking bath in this pond can cure ailments like loss of appetite and malnutrition among infants.
An open tap named Lunhiti means the golden conduit (Sundhara). Yet, the courtyard is more notable as Nagpokhari. That is definitely because of its presentation. You can witness a beautiful stone sculpture of a snake, all cut into pieces, and a pond that has the presence of a stone snake.
However, the water of the pond is not favourable to touch or play with. It’s green and quite uncommon too.
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.
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. Today, when we transpired in Bhaktapur Durbar Square, most of us might not notice the statue and its devotional position, of course.
But, in the evening, from the pedestal of 55 window palaces, you couldn’t deny saying that the statue looks much more beautiful than anything else at Bhaktapur Durbar Square. It’s just pristine.
Isn’t it interesting talking about the kings and their stories? Well, we have another article all about the Malla Kings of Bhaktapur. You can check that out too.
Besides these monuments, there is still some more to explore in Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
Vatsala Durga temple is the white elegance of Bhaktapur Durbar Square. It looks more like the Krishna Mandir of Patan but it’s not the one. It is the temple of Tantric Shakti, Durga that in the form of Sri Yantra.
You can see a Kalash as the representation of Vatsala Durga in the temple which was possibly possible to observe only after the quake of April 2015. Before that, the temple used to be locked and people be like totally unknown about what actually is inside this temple?
Besides, the temple has a barking bell hung right in front of it accompanying the beautiful stone creatures’ elephants and lions. The anecdote says that dogs start to bark and whine when it rings. The barking bell was established there by King Bhupatindra Malla in 1721 A.D while he rehabilitated the temple.
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 Kathmandu Valley. The temple was erected by King Yakshya Malla. Accordingly, the name of the temple ended up as Yakshyeshwor Mahadev temple.
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 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 slightly direct to the Royal Palace.
And it is still assumed to not be 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.
That’s why the Chyasalim mandap rests right in between the Pashupatinath temple and 55 windowed palaces.
Shankar Narayan temple is one small, dome-like temple that lies on the southeast side of the 55-window palace of Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Though the temple is not such notable, once in a time, it used to have a beautiful stone image of Harihar (the combined form of Lord Shiva and Vishnu).
Siddhi Laxmi temple of Bhaktapur Durbar Square is also called Lohan Dega, the stone temple. The temple is as beautiful as the Vatsala Durga temple but undoubtedly has more guardians.
As per some folk talks, the very first pair of guardians of the temple is related to then’s society and human behaviour. It simply shows what happens when a child is raised by a father or a mother. The difference is shown there, all you need to do is go and find it.
Right behind the temple of Siddhi Laxmi, often called Lohan Dega, there is one unusual temple. Most of you might have noticed it, a temple where the supposed doors are filled with brick walls.
There is an even conflict about its name. Some people call it Siddhi Laxmi temple, some say there is Annapurna inside the temple, and some claim that there is a Sriyantra which is a tantric symbol of Goddess Vatsala Devi.
Phasidegal was once claimed as the tallest temple of Bhaktapur Durbar Square, even of the entire Bhaktapur Nagar, and that once upon a time was the time before the emergence of Nyatapola. Well, there are a lot of rumours related to these two temples. You must catch one local guide of Bhaktapur if you wanna know more and more about such stories and uncovered mysteries of Bhaktapur.
Coming back to the temple, this temple is called Phasidega because it looks like a pumpkin. Yes, here Phasi means the Pumpkin and Dega means the god. Though the temple is often called Silu Mahadev and Ta: Ja Dega.
This temple is being reconstructed with local funds after the damaging earthquake of 2015. And it no longer has pumpkin-like architecture.
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), 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, for instance. The eastern way right after the end of the large resthouse, that’s it.
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 is among the oldest taps of Bhaktapur.
In conclusion, this spiffing durbar square bequeathed you 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 statute cannot deem but you can.
However, if you are looking for a professional guide to tell all the untold stories of Bhaktapur, then you could non-hesitantly contact the registered Travel Agency of Bhaktapur. Moreover, if you are searching for more tour packages signifying the Bhaktapur, here you can have a look over.
If you are looking for a homestay at Bhaktapur let us know, and we can help you to find your choice.
If you want to read more in the book. Click the link to download a pdf of Bhaktapur the historic City
Few ways that would easily navigate you to the Bhaktapur Durbar area.
Within the premises of Bhaktapur Durbar Square, each and every piece of a cube is worth watching. Though, here is a list of some monuments including temples, without which there wouldn’t be Bhaktapur Durbar Square and are highly recommended to follow toward.
In 1979, Bhaktapur Durbar Square was enlisted in UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Yes, you need to buy tickets to enter Bhaktapur Durbar Square since it is one of the World Heritage Site enlisted in UNESCO (1979).
The entrance fee to enter Bhaktapur Nagar along with the Bhaktapur Durbar Square varies as per the nationality. It costs, Rs.1500 for Non-SAARC nationality, Rs.500 to SAARC, and for Chinese citizens, and free for the Nepalese.
No, you don’t need to pay for your infant. In fact, it is free entry to children below 10 years of each national at Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
It would be a pleasure to sneak around Bhaktapur Durbar Square. It doesn’t matter when you will visit there. But if you are interested in temples and worshipping then the morning would be the best time to be present there.
Yes, there are restaurants and cafes on-site, convenient for all kinds of visitors.
While being in Bhaktapur, you must mind a few things like taking out of your shoes while entering the temple and other religious sites. Likewise, you might not be allowed to click pictures of some specific events or places. You should consider these things.
As we informed you earlier it is all safe for solo travelling which means you can travel without a guide. But we also recommend you to have a certified guide who would help you to understand the authentic Bhaktapur and the stories carved all over the monuments.
The Bhaktapur Durbar Square that we perceive today was built in different eras. However, we basically can call it that it was based in the 14th century.
Yes, Bhaktapur Durbar Square is basically called Layaku, as it was one prominent place for conducting all the political and administrative issues of the then Bhaktapur.
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Bhaktapur Municipality, Bhaktapur District, Nepal.