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Bhaktapur Tourism And Travel Guide
10° C / 50° F
October to March
1 to 2 Days
Tribhuvan International Airport (13 kms)
International Nepal Railway Station Janakpur
Bhaktapur is one of the three medieval cities that make up the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. The name can literally be translated to ‘City of Devotees’; a moniker fitting for a city filled with ancient temples and shrines that make up some of the finest architecture in Nepal. Up until the 15th century, Bhaktapur was the capital of Kathmandu Valley, until it got divided among the three sons of King Yakshya Malla. The city was also renowned for the Malla Yudha; an intense battle between the two strongest warriors of the region, Jaymal and Pata. As a means of commemoration, the two wrestlers feature extensively in the carvings of the temples and monuments in Bhaktapur.
Even today, Bhaktapur maintains the old-fashioned feel to its livelihood and environment, while presenting the world with its splendid architecture and glorious culture, making it a wonderful tourism spot to visit every time you are in Nepal. Here is a brief travel guide to familiarize you with Bhaktapur.
How to Reach
The most convenient route to reach Bhaktapur is to fly to Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, from where Bhaktapur is a mere 13 km away. A wide variety of options are available in the form of public and private transport to travel from Kathmandu to Bhaktapur.
All major bus stands in Kathmandu operate bus services from the capital to Bhaktapur. You can opt between different types of buses, depending on the kind of travel experience you are looking for. There are also private taxis available for hire from Thamel in Kathmandu.
Weather & Best Time to Visit
Since a trip to Bhaktapur usually involves spending most of your time outdoors for sightseeing activities, autumn is the best season to be doing so. Precipitation levels are low to negligible, the weather is cool and dry, with clear skies that provide spectacular views all around.
Winters are usually cold but not unbearably so; with days that are pleasant for all outdoor activities and nights that get frostier and are better spent indoors. Also, Bhaktapur as a city retires for the day quite early, with shops and restaurants that shut down by 8 pm; so it’s a good way to make the most out of winter time by limiting all your activities to daylight hours.
Apart from autumn, spring is the next best season to experience Bhaktapur in its true glory. With temperatures that range from 20ᴼC-25ᴼC, it is an enjoyable option to spend time outdoors among the spectacular monuments and the numerous shops and street cafes.
The temperatures reach peak levels of heat in May, and while June brings some relief with the monsoon showers, the humidity levels are too high to enjoy any kind of outdoor session.
Things to Do
Peruse local Architecture:
Bhaktapur is home to some of the finest temple architecture you will see in Nepal. The pagoda-style construction design seen in a lot of temples here is believed to depict a sort of stairway to heaven. With a population that is predominantly Hindu, there are numerous shrines in the city that witness masses of devotees and tourists alike flocking to these locations. The historical significance associated with these monuments has helped keep the cultural heritage of the city alive, which is the chief driving force that pulls visitors to this remarkable city.
Bhaktapur has managed to keep its heritage alive through efforts made by the government and locals working hard to preserve its cultural significance and ancient craftsmanship. While most of these endeavours are evident in the magnificence of its architecture that has stood the test of time, you will discover even more about this city in its museums. The National Art Gallery, the Woodcarving Museum, and the Brass and Bronze Museum portray great works of art in the form of paintings, sculptures, and statues depicting the history of the city and its stories.
Courtyards and Squares:
Bhaktapur is made up of a number of squares that were previously courtyards to royal palaces, but are now major tourist hubs and house most of the temples and monuments worth paying a visit. The Durbar Square is the most popular among them, with Potter's Square that deserves a special mention for being an age-old tradition in the city and a source of livelihood for artists even today. The square is packed with workers and their potter’s wheels, with the finished clay pots spread all across the square while drying in the sun.
In the world of art, Bhaktapur is most renowned for woodcarving and pottery, and souvenir shops all across the main squares, especially Tachupal Tole and Taumadhi Tole. They sell amazing wood works and clay pottery that deserve to go back home with you. Items made from handmade paper like photo albums, cards etc can be seen in a lot of cities in Nepal, with factories present even in Bhaktapur; you can purchase these paper art pieces from shops all over the city.
Among the numerous names for Bhaktapur, ‘City of Festivals’ can very easily be another one. Almost every month in Nepal signifies an important festival, and Bhaktapur is the perfect place to experience these celebrations with the locals. The list of festivals goes on forever, but some of the most notable ones worth experiencing are Bisket Jatra or the Nepali New Year in April, Gunla in August that is an important event in Newar Buddhism, Indra Jatra in September/October, and Dhanya Purnima in December that is a prayer for a good rice harvest.
Where To Eat
One of the best things about Bhaktapur is that unlike a lot of other commercial cities in Nepal, it caters to people looking for authentic Nepali food instead of focusing on international cuisines. Some of the best restaurants in the city serve scrumptious Newari and Nepali delicacies that will keep you coming back for more. The most noteworthy among them are No-Name Restaurant, New Watshala Garden Restaurant, New Café Nyatapola, Namaste Restaurant, and Temple View Restaurant. Additionally, most of these restaurants are located quite strategically in a way that you will find almost every major tourist spot in the vicinity of a great local eatery.
Another favorite local delicacy that should not be missed is Juju Dhau, or in Nepali simply, King Curd. It might sound mundane, but it is a delicious dessert that is readily found in little yoghurt shops all over the city.