Bhaktapur or ‘the town of devotees’ is a Newari town, which is also known as Bhadgaon or Khwopa. It is the third largest city in Kathmandu Valley and was once the capital of Nepal. It is listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO for its rich culture, temples, wood, metal and stone artwork.
Once you enter Bhaktapur town, you are transported into a completely different world. It is in complete contrast to the city of Kathmandu what with its beautiful architecture, historical monuments, craft works, temples, etc. It was one of the places affected by the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Most of the buildings were still under construction as of August 2018 but there was still so much to see.
Our trip to Bhaktapur
We hired a taxi from Thamel to Bhaktapur for full day from our Airbnb accommodation. The travel time is about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the traffic, which is quite bad in Kathmandu. Make sure you use a face mask to avoid the pollutants.
As soon as we reached, we bought entry tickets to the town of Bhaktapur and hired a local tour guide. A tour guide, in my opinion, is a must if you are visiting a historical place like Bhaktapur. As soon as we entered, I felt I was inside a giant studio akin to Universal Studios. The difference being this is a residential place where traditional Newari people still reside and has all the amenities of a modern day town. There are temples, garments shop, grocery stores, bakeries, jewelry stores and what not.
We sat near the world-renowned 55 window palace and the giant golden gate to get the feel of the place while the guide explained to us how the buildings were affected by the earthquake and restoration was underway. You can see names of people who have contributed to the restoration work on a giant whiteboard. We had ice cream and then moved through an alley, which is a shopper’s paradise. We decided to shop once we had seen the places as we did not want to keep the guide waiting. We reached Taumadhi Square where you can’t help but admire the 5-storey Nyatapola Temple. You can see people sitting in all the floors and enjoying the view. It is the tallest pagoda temple in the country. The craftsmanship of the architects, carpenters, and artisans is praiseworthy. Next to it is the Bhairavnath Temple.
A must visit is the Pottery Square, where you can see potters making beautiful earthenware.
We had our lunch in a traditional Newari restaurant, which was a cozy little place. The chef was a charming lady who greeted everyone with equal warmth. We entered and ordered whatever she was making. They were pancakes made with egg called Egg Bara, chickpea curry and potatoes. It was one of the most delicious and nutritious foods I had. I wish I had the recipe for this amazing dish! But there was something in the hands of the lady making them! It was just like eating home cooked food made by your mother, which you can never replicate.
We then went to another lane and found a store with many prayer bowls. The sales guy offered to massage our tired backs with the prayer bowls. Intrigued by the efficacy of the bowls, we decided to give it a try. It worked like magic. We felt so relieved after the whole day of walking. It was around 3k INR for a bowl and we were not sure if we should buy. We decided to wait for sometime and decide later instead of making an instant decision.
We went further down to shop for shawls and other souvenirs. We also had coffee on the way. By now, our taxi driver was tired of waiting and wanted us to relieve him. We sent Roy to speak to him while I walked back to the bowl store to make the purchase. I was alone with the sales guy who was a 19-year-old student. I told him that I was waiting for my friends to arrive and sat inside. He saw my tired face and asked me why I look so tired. When I told him that my legs ached badly, he felt sorry for me and massaged my legs with the prayer bowls. I did not want him to do that but he most willingly did it without knowing that I had come back to purchase the bowls. There was no marketing gimmick but pure care for another human being. I thanked him profusely as I felt all energized. I was more than happy to buy the bowls now. We purchased the bowls and left for the Tateju Temple Complex. You are strictly prohibited to enter the temple with your footwear and take pictures. Next to the temple is the Royal Bath, which is adorned with the Golden Faucet. It is a huge bath basin with staircase.
We exited from the Golden Gate and then from the main gate. It was now time to do some shopping at Thamel. See next post for what we did at Thamel and Kathmandu!