It was a cloudy day In Kathmandu and I was still sore from days of kayaking. I decided to visit this very old place that my friend had mentioned - Bhaktapur. I was told that Bhaktapur can be visited in one day so I packed my bag and headed to the bus stop with a map.
After a 45-minute bus ride I was standing at the gate of this ancient town. The moment I looked into the narrow lane that takes you to the heart of the town, I felt like I was being transported back into time. With no cars on the street to remind you of modern advances you should be prepared to go for a long walk to get around this place. You can also choose a walking tour to explore more of the area.
Ticket: The entrance tickets for foreigners cost $13 USD each and remember your ticket take a week to expire.
Known as the City of festivals, Bhaktapur, is a perfect spiritual retreat. It is an ancient Newar town in the east corner of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Many people who visit Kathmandu almost miss this place. It is worth visiting this 1427 A.D. town that is rich in culture and gives you a complete feel of the life style of that time. It is called a city of festivals because people celebrate festivals each month of the year. The name Bhaktapur means 'The City of Devotees'. If visiting a World Heritage site listed by the UNESCO is on your bucket list then this is the right place for you. It’s a bit sad that more than one third of this place was destroyed in 1934 by an earthquake but still many exemplary temples are still standing tall with many stories to tell. Initially I was not sure how I can get around this place as it seemed like a jig-jaw puzzle really but then I figured out that it is divides into different sections so to make sure you see everything you have to visit four different corners of the town.
In four corners/directions of this town you will find four famous Squares:
(1) Durbar Square - This Square has a palace with 55 windows and it is now converted into a National Art Gallery.
(2) Taumadhi Square - You can find the Nyataponla temple here. Once you’re there you can’t miss this five story temple.
(3) Dattatreya Square - This Square has a renowned temple built by King Yaksha Malla called Dattatreya Temple. It is said that this 3 storied temple was built by the stem of a single tree.
(4) Potter's Square - This is a place where you can see the potters at work and an amazing place to take pictures.
Other than these four Squares there are some more gems here like The Peacock Window, Golden Gate, and the Til Mahadev Narayan Temple. It’s a beautiful enchanting place that give you a window to look into the past and dream about the life during that era.
How to get here: You can either catch a taxi, bus or minibus to get here. A bus, to Bhaktapur from Kathmandu would cost around 35 to 50 Rs and it takes almost 40 minutes to get there. A taxi from Kathmandu would cost around 400 Rs one-way. Do remember that the last bus back to Kathmandu is at 6:45 PM.
Food: Although this place is very ancient you still have plenty of options in the way of food. It was interesting to see people sitting on a high tower like café sipping coffee. Juju dhau, 'the king of curds' (yogurt) is the specialty of this place and you can choose one of the many cafés to enjoy this. Newari is another local food that you might like to try here. Most food outlets provide a balcony sitting and an awesome view of the area.
Accommodation: It doesn't have a fancy or deluxe hotel but there are more than 130 standard rooms around the city. And you can easily find a place to live from $4 to $35. There are more than 10 guesthouses in this area. But it's advisable to book them in advance to secure a bed in peak season.
Check it out! Be surprised and get ready to explore.