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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Bhaktapur

Unlike Kathmandu and Patan which are situated close together, the third of the "Royal Cities", Bhaktapur (pop. 70,000), lies some 14 km (81/2 mi.) away, "outside the holy hollow of the Valley" on the old trade route to Tibet.

Upper Town

Like Kathmandu, Bhaktapur boasts a markedly older settlement nucleus in the eastern part of the Upper Town, centered around what was once the fork in the trade route to Tibet and the eastern Himalayas. Here are found not only numerous bahals but also the oldest shrines in the city. Between the clusters of houses huddling close together are large rectangular open spaces, aligned with the points of the compass and linked by an irregular network of streets. Much of Newari everyday life, from washing clothes to playing games in the evening, is carried on in these "squares", among fountains, temples and shrines.

Lower Town

The Lower Town, to the south of the palace, is laid out quite differently, the S-shaped country road which follows the ridge forming a spine from which side-streets branch off like ribs. The only squares here are Durbar Square (Palace Square) and Taumadhi Tole (Temple Square). In contrast to the corresponding areas of Kathmandu and Patan, these two squares do not comprise a single coherent unit. Not only are they on different levels but, being linked by nothing more than a narrow alleyway, are not even visually connected. Since none of the buildings in the Lower Town exceeds the palace in age, historians assume it to have developed through systematic expansion of the older Upper Town.

Durbar Square

Bhaktapur's Durbar Square is filled with religious, historical, and architectural treasures, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Areas of the palace date back to the 14th C.

Taumadhi Tole

Tachupal Tol (Dattatraya Square)

Candi Bhagavati

The route from Taumadhi Tole to Hanumante Ghat passes the Candi Bhagavati Temple. The small open shrine is of no great age but the site on which it stands has long been in use. There are several interesting 14th c. sculptures including the religious symbol - a relief of Durga (Bhagavati) slaying Candi and Munda - a Uma Maheshvara stele and a dancing Ganesh.

Nava Durga Mandir

Nava Durga Mandir, a squat, two-storied building adjoining an enclosed courtyard, is the principal shrine of the nine Durgas (depicted in the carving of the toranas). Painted masks worn for the Dance of the Goddesses at the Dasain Festival are kept on the first floor. Unlike other masks these are venerated throughout the year, being lavished with animal sacrifices.

Potters' Square

Potters' Square lies at the heart of the potters' district, south of the palace precinct. Here the potters ply their craft, some on open verandas, others out on the street. The pots are thrown on wheels and sun dried before being offered for sale.
A pipal tree on the little hill on the north side of the square shades a small shrine to Ganesh.
There are two more temples on the square, one dedicated to Vishnu, the other, with two stories, to Jeth Ganesh. The Jeth Ganesh Temple was built in 1646 by a wealthy potter; its priest is always a potter.

Vakupati Narayana Mandir

This small two-storied temple to Vishnu, hidden away in a courtyard, acquired its present appearance and unusual metalwork in 1638. One of the four statues of Garuda dates from 1408.

Hanumante Ghat

Hanumante Ghat (ghat, ceremonial embankment) was created during the reign of Jagat Prakasha Malla (1644-73). Being the setting for a variety of important religious ceremonies and rites, a vast assortment of monuments, chaityas, statues, lingams and reliefs have been erected. They include numerous images of Hanuman the monkey god, who is said to have rested here on his way south from the Himalayas. The Hanumante has been renovated in five places, the pithas replaced and six bridges built.

Chupin Ghat

A huge 9th c. figure of Uma Maheshvara testifies to the great age of Chupin Ghat (south of Taumadhi Tole), one of the oldest of Bhaktapur's religious sites. The temple itself dates only from the 19th c. when a flurry of riverside building saw four shivalayas (temple complexes) with numerous sattals (meeting houses) constructed on Mangal Ghat and Chupin Ghat.

Changunarayan & Changu Narayan Temple

Thought to be the oldest temples in the Kathmandu Valley, Changu Narayan has a history that traces back to the 4th C. Following fires and earthquakes, the temple has been rebuilt and enriched over the centuries.
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