A little about Bhaktapur
Bhaktapur, the name itself devotes it to the city of pilgrimage and religion, where Bhakta means the devotees, and pur means the city. That is why Bhaktapur is called the city of devotees. Undoubtedly, at one time period, it had more temples and gods than the roofs of houses and people respectively.
Well, however till today, this tiny Newa town seems to be able to present the antiquated historical sites as it was hundreds of years ago. With amazing stories associated with each monument and festival, seemingly brings back you to the distinctive eras when they were supposed to be planted.
It is said that Bhaktapur existed as early as 865 AD. Pretty antique! isn’t it?
And guess what, the settlements over there unmistakably remind us of those ancient lifestyles. This place, being in such an easy access point, only 8 miles away from the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, gives you a distinct taste of Newa culture besides the capital city.
Considering, the entire Kathmandu Valley is an old town city of newa settlements.
Nevertheless, being in this close ratio to the capital, it has maintained its own swag. Thus, as an outgrowth, you can prefer a lot of things to do in Bhaktapur. Here, some of the instances are like this.
Cultural Sightseeing at Bhaktapur
Like the other two culturally blessed towns Lalitpur and Kathmandu, Bhaktapur also furnishes history and heritage sites. Bhaktapur Durbar Square and the Changu Narayan temple which got listed in the UNESCO world heritage site in 1979 AD are the main attractions of this city.
Besides this, you can also encounter different monuments at Bhaktapur. Take a quick look at these monuments while your site around the Bhaktapur Nagar.
- Char Dham, the representative temples of Kashi
- Gate to the durbar square made of brick and plastered over with white Ilme
- Golden gate, Nepal’s one of the best masterful bronze work
- Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla
- Vatsala Durga Temple, a sliced Indian textured shikhara style temple
- 55 window palace
- Nyatapola temple, which has five stories, which is the tallest temple in Nepal
- Bhairavnath temple which lies on the left-hand side of nyatapola temple
- Dattatreya temple, one of the oldest temples of Bhaktapur
- Pottery square, a fine place of ceramics arts and crafts
- Shiddhapokhari, the largest manmade pond of Bhaktapur.
Other than these mentioned monuments, the whole city runs outs to you to tell the stories and happenings of antiquity. Like this, the renovation of Nyatapola temple in 2020.
Local food and wine
Not only newa people but also the other community members further than the newas are fond of Newari dishes. If you are in Bhaktapur then you must try Newari food and wine. People over here have no isolated industry for wine production. Despite that, they produce it in their own houses. The wine is called ‘aela’ in the local newari tongue.
Newari food is a combination of all organic ingredients where a normal plate is decorated with flattened rice, meat items, vegetables, fried egg, and roasted soybean. Newa people are well blessed with rich culture as well as with the cuisine.
About 200 dishes are prepared in the newa family on the occasion of different feasts and festivals. So, food lovers, Bhaktapur welcomes the appreciation of its cuisine not only with a garland in hand but also with the mouthwatering food and wine.
Short Hikes in Bhaktapur
Hikes are always fun to do. Bhaktapur also moves ahead to present its outer side of town as a hiking destination. You can tend to choose to do hiking with your friends’ and family as well as go solo.
You can hike to Nagarkot through the Changu Narayan temple route, which dares to make you feel tired but at the same time gives you a glimpse of hills and Kathmandu valley under the lap of the Himalayas. Within the Bhaktapur area, you can hike to different places like:
- Pilot Baba,
- Doleshwor temple
- Kalamasi lake(a small dam near Nagarkot area)
These short hikes take only half the time of the day. So, you can enjoy nature grace away from the concrete jungle of Kathmandu valley from the top of the hills. This cultural town seems more beautiful when you walk by its side through the jungles, streams, and villages.
Therefore, you can pick hiking too as per your interest while being in Bhaktapur.
Jatras is a kind of the face of the festival, where thousands of people gather to celebrate. Bhaktapur welcomes big and small jatras at least once a month. Gallivanting around in Bhaktapur in mid-April and August gives you a bunch of surprises.
The Biska Jatra, where lingo is established and diminished for the sake of good luck. Similarly, the Gai Jatra, celebrated to make a humorous environment are celebrated in mid-April and August. These are some of the biggest jatras of Bhaktapur.
Being in Bhaktapur offers to be part of these jatras. Most of the newa people belong to agricultural background, so to forget all their hard work and pains, they celebrate jatras, where they enjoy and have different feasts, music, and dance.
Evening walk in the Bhaktapur Durbar square
Bhaktapur durbar square is not in an open area as the other two durbar squares are. It is quite sacred and no one was allowed to enter over there at night. But now you can enjoy the durbar area at night hours too. It is open for everyone since the campaign of Visit Nepal 2020.
Extra tips: Don’t miss the sunset view at Bhaktapur Durbar Square. I find it the best time to enjoy the statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, showing his devotion toward Taleju Bhawani under the dim dark evening.
Bhaktapur somehow is also famous for its tremendous ceramic artwork. A few minutes’ walk toward the south from taumadhi square, helps you to reach Pottery square, a place where you can encounter money pots (Khutruke), diyos (traditional clay bowl used to lit fire in Tihar festival), small statues, and many more.
Nevertheless, you can also witness the process of making the mentioned things along with the various thanka painting shops.
Being renowned as the city of devotees, Bhaktapur already places itself as one of the rich towns in religious matters. Most of the people over here are Hindus and then Buddhists.
If you start a walk from one corner to another corner of the city, you can realize that in each corner you come across have a small or a big temple. So, this city is a perfect place for those who want to experience spiritual gratification.
Besides the bhaktapurians, other people may not even aware of the fact that the Bhaktapur Nagar is wrapped within the temples of Atamatrika and a river.
The Nava Durga Dance ceremonies, complete your religious journey on Bhaktapur.
Enjoy the specialty of Bhaktapur: Ju Ju dhau
Juju dhau is the local name of a yogurt, prepared especially only in Bhaktapur since ancient times. This is the specialty of Bhaktapur. Why is it so famous that even Nepalese and locals are so crazy about it? Yes, people are crazy about it because it’s too sweet and tasty.
And the fact is that it doesn’t contain any added sugar. ‘Juju’ means ‘King’ in the native news tongue. So juju dhau means the King’s curd. You can find this dessert in many places and shops if you really wanna give it a try.
Roaming around in the museums
There are a total of three prominent museums in Bhaktapur city. If you have an interest in history and wood carvings, then you must try these museums of Bhaktapur. It’ll be worth visiting these sites.
- Wood carving museum(best known for the peacock window)
- Brass and bronze museum(which have a good collection of metalware and ancient housewares)
- National art museum ( have pieces of stone carvings and manuscripts, as well as a fine collection of thangka)
Besides these museums, there are few art galleries and museums in Bhaktapur Nagar and Changu respectively.
Shopping at Bhaktapur
Shopping and collecting souvenirs somehow is the best part of any tour. Especially when we have unique items to buy. Right?
And, Bhaktapur is a kind of shopping hub which offers one of the unique souvenirs in entire Nepal.
You can buy Newari dresses like Haku patasi(a traditional Newa wear with red-colored border in a black sari), thangka paintings, Dhaka topi( a black cap), carpets, Nepali handmade garments, and papers as well as clay crafts and many more items. The best part of this is that you can do bargaining as well. It seems exciting, doesn’t it??