Bhaktapur: A Cultural Center    

Bronze Lions

The bus ride to Bhaktapur started out with a passenger arguing to the upbeat drum introduction to a Bollywood song played loudly by the driver. The scent of incense wafted through the bus. The man was kicked off then, perhaps borrowing his fare from someone outside, boarded peacefully and took a seat.

The bus filled as we reached Banepa. Then we headed to Bhaktapur. The bus jerked along blaring its horn as it passed other vehicles or stopped at a bus stop. Rowshan and I were watching an assembly line pass concrete or some other material up a ladder to the roof of a building when Shisher tapped his bag signaling we had to squeeze through the full bus to get out.

Assembly Line
We walked through typical streets towards the historic center of Bhaktapur, making a stop at a ceramics workshop where a man in a dark shack made rough tiny dishes from black mud. Trays of dishes sat drying in the sun. I saw many were dented and realized why when a wandering chick stepped on one. Another man was covering the kiln with materials and dirt.

Ceramics pieces drying


Setting pieces out to dry
The historic part of town is quite large. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the large number of beautiful wood carved windows. The town was founded in the 12th century as a Malla kingdom. Bhakatapur, along with the other Malla kingdoms, Patan and Kathmandu battled over the Kathmandu valley. It became the dominant kingdom between the 14th and 16th centuries.

Statues on columns near a temple

Temple roof
Bhaktapur is a bit of an artistic center. There are tons of thangka workshops, wood carvers and places that make handmade paper and cards. The town is famous for its Potter's Square which appears to be where all the ceramics in Nepal are made.

Thangka workshop

Stringing beads

Metal water jars

Potters square
There are 3 main squares in the city. The first one we came to was Dattatraya which was the home to the large Dattatreya Temple. A little off the square was a beautifully carved peacock window.

Peacock window

Man resting on shade platform
It seemed that many of the the temples had carved erotic scenes underneath images of the gods. The second square we came upon was Taumadhi which is built around the Nyatapola Temple, a 5 storey temple which is the highest temple in Nepal.

Erotic carved roof support

Nyatapola temple statues
The main square is called, as the other main squares in Nepali cities seem to be called, Durbar Square. It is filled with a number of temples but apparently, before the 1934 earthquake, contained even more. There is a palace named for its 55 windows with an ornate golden gate. Several of the temples are “guarded” by statues, such as the Siddhi Lakshmi Temple (has statues with dogs, people, horses, etc.) and the white Fasidega Temple. The styles ranged from terracotta one of the Char Dham temples, to Shiva.

Terracotta temple

Fasidega Temple with stone lions

Siddhi Lakshmi Temple


Golden Gate

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