Why shouldn’t you miss Bhaktapur while traveling in Nepal?

When it comes to Nepal, a country brimming with natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, Bhaktapur stands out as an absolute must-visit destination. Located just a short distance from Kathmandu, this ancient city offers an authentic glimpse into Nepal’s past and showcases its architectural brilliance. In this blog, we’ll explore the reasons why you simply can’t afford to miss Bhaktapur during your travels in Nepal.

Preserved Architectural Splendor

Architecture of a Mahavihar in Bhaktapur
The architecture of a Mahavihar in Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur, also known as the “City of Devotees,” is renowned for its well-preserved medieval architecture. The city’s Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasts an enchanting collection of palaces, temples, courtyards, and statues that date back to the 15th century.

Walking through its narrow alleys, you’ll be captivated by the intricate wood carvings, delicate stone sculptures, and traditional brick buildings that reflect the Newari craftsmanship. With that, there are Buddhist monasteries typically made in the Nepalese architectural style. Except for the Kathmandu Valley, there are no other places in the world where such architecture of monasteries may be found.

Cultural Immersion

Festivals of Bhaktapur
Festivals of Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant Newari culture. The city is home to numerous festivals and religious ceremonies throughout the year, where you can witness age-old traditions and rituals. Indra Jatra (Yenya Punhi), Gai Jatra (Sa: Paru), Bisket Jatra (Biska Jatra), and Navadurga Naach are just a few examples of the colorful festivities that bring the streets of Bhaktapur to life. Interacting with friendly locals, sampling traditional cuisine, and observing artisans at work will leave you with a profound understanding of Nepal’s cultural heritage.

Pottery and Handicrafts

Thanka Paintings at Bhaktapur
Thanka Paintings at Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur is renowned for its pottery and handicrafts. The city’s pottery square, known as Talakwon, is a hub of activity where you can watch skilled artisans molding clay into exquisite pottery items. From intricately designed vases to traditional water jars, the pottery here is not just a sight to behold but also makes for unique souvenirs. Additionally, Bhaktapur is famous for its Thanka paintings, woodwork, metalwork, and handmade textiles (Hakupatasi), making it a haven for art enthusiasts and collectors.

Enchanting Temples

Nyatapola in Bhaktapur
Nyatapola temple of Bhaktapur

The city is dotted with numerous temples, each telling its own story and offering a spiritual experience. Nyatapola Temple, dedicated to the goddess Siddhi Lakshmi, is a magnificent five-story Nepalese-styled temple that stands as a testament to the city’s architectural prowess. Other notable temples include the Dattatreya Temple, the Pujari Math, and the Bhairavnath Temple. These sacred sites not only showcase extraordinary craftsmanship but also provide a serene atmosphere for reflection and contemplation.

Authentic Atmosphere

Bhaktapur PC: Suraj-Shakya (unsplash)
Bhaktapur PC: Suraj Shakya (unsplash)

Unlike the bustling capital of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur has managed to retain its tranquil ambiance and traditional way of life. The absence of motorized vehicles in the city’s core, known as Bhaktapur Durbar Square, allows visitors to explore its ancient streets and squares at a leisurely pace. Whether it’s sipping a cup of tea in a cozy café, enjoying a peaceful walk along the city walls, or simply observing daily life unfold, Bhaktapur provides a welcome respite from the modern world.

Authentic Stage

Sweta Bhairava on the street of Bhaktapur
Sweta Bhairava on the street of Bhaktapur PC: Prabin Shrestha

Bhaktapur is one of those rare cities where you would find an authentic stage where for hundreds of years, traditional dances and acts have been performed and still those dances are performed in those stages. These authentic stages are called Dabali in the local language and some of the most dramatic dances as the Navadurga Naach, Bhairava Naach, Nil Barahi Naach, and Mahakali Naach are performed here, on that platform called Dabali. There may rarely exist any street or platform around the world where you can witness some of the most dramatic traditional dances and acts for free.

Nevertheless, Bhaktapur’s historical significance, architectural marvels, cultural vibrancy, and authentic atmosphere make it an essential stop on any Nepal itinerary. Stepping foot in this medieval city is like taking a step back in time, immersing yourself in Nepal’s fascinating past. From the captivating architecture to the rich cultural experiences, Bhaktapur offers a memorable journey through the heart of Nepal’s heritage. So, when planning your trip to Nepal, don’t miss the opportunity to discover the cultural gem that is Bhaktapur.