Bhaktapur, Nepal, the city of temples
Did you know that Kathmandu wasn’t always the capital of Nepal?
Well, it has been for a very long time. But before the Kathmandu era Bhaktapur was the place of business and culture.
That was until the end of the 15th century. But Bhaktapur still has more temples per square foot than Kathmandu and has become one of the must see places in Nepal. Its traditional buildings and preserved area is famous for its traditional houses, temples and the old square. Just to mention a few.
Bhaktapur is only a 45 minute drive from Kathmandu if you go by motorbike. There are buses going to or from Kathmandu/Thamel as well. Prices vary from 400-600 NRS depending on which bus company you go with.
Since Bhaktapur is listed as a World UNESCO heritage site there is an entrance fee to be paid upon arrival. For non SAARC members (nationals of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) the fee is 1500 NRS or 15 USD. If you wish to explore the city for several days and not so happy about paying for tickets you can ask the entrance booth to stamp your ticket with a one week validity. This gives you the possibility to enter the gates of Bhaktapur several times in one week and come and go as you wish without having to pay each time.
You might need to show both the tickets and your passport at each entrance.
As you pass the gates of Bhaktapur you feel like you’re in an ancient world. There are no taxis or tuk tuks inside the city, the only thing that gives the actual time period away are the tourists.
The city is like an ancient town with locals in their native clothing, working with clay pottery, art or grain and wheat. Those who don’t they usually run cafes or accommodation for tourists.
It is easy to get into the vibe of Bhaktapur. Once you’ve entered the gates you feel at ease and a relaxing mode takes over. We came directly from the busiest tourist area of Kathmandu to Bhaktapur and it felt like we entered heaven.
We soon realized that driving around the town with motorbikes would lead us nowhere so we parked and went by foot to look for a hotel and to do some sightseeing. Hotels are a bit more expensive than Kathmandu, but if you bargain you could find a decent hotel in a traditional style building for around 800 NRS. The standard of the rooms are way better in general than Kathmandu.
After spending a few hours in Bhaktapur we quickly realized that we needed one more day than planned. There are far more things to see than we expected. And to be honest, the place makes you want to stay and linger for just a little bit longer.
Here are some places worth a visit:
Durbar square with its 55 window palace is definitely worth a visit.
There are several temples and landmarks within Durbar square. Like the Elephant temple with its erotic animal carvings.
Nyatpol temple, built in 1702 with five stories dedicated to the Goddess Lakshmi is the tallest temple in Nepal.
Dattatreya temple, built in 1428 is said to have been built in one piece from one single tree.
There are many gems hidden amongst the narrow streets of Bhaktapur. A day just walking around the squares and streets will be rewarding itself.
Bhaktapur is definitely one of the places we would go back to. We would even consider staying in Bhaktapur rather than Kathmandu next time we come to Nepal.