Bhaktapur is the third jewel that can be found in the Kathmandu Valley, along with Kathmandu and Patan. As it does have this reputation, this ancient royal city also has its famous "Durbar Square", palaces, the Golden Gate, and Hindu and Buddhist temples. The city isn't that far away from Kathmandu, but due to the road conditions, it took 40 minutes (by car) to travel 20 kilometers. I notice that there is no way to avoid paying the barrier to prevent the entry.
[Poi = 120189] Bhaktapur [/ poi] was the most important city located in the [poi = 120345] Kathmandu Valley [/ poi] between the 14th and 16th Centuries. It is for this reason, therefore, that the city is a spectacular cluster of temples, palaces, monasteries, ponds and shelters for pilgrims. However, the most stunning buildings are found in Durbar Square (where the palace is) and Taumadhi Tole, connected by a sloping alley. It is absolutely monumental,and it is larger than the Durbar Square in Kathmandu, though much more quiet, the place has some magnificent temples and palaces, most from the seventeenth century. Unfortunately, the earthquake of 1934 caused enormous havoc and many buildings collapsed, on this ground in the square are large voids.
The impressive Changu Narayan can be found in [poi = 120345] Kathmandu Valley [/ poi], on a hill, about 6 kilometers away from [poi = 120189] Bhaktapur [/ poi]. The origins of the church date back to the 4th century, but the current building is from 1702 because the temple from the 4th century was destroyed by a fire. Changu Narayan, which has been declared one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, has a main temple dedicated to Vishnu that has a super ornate ceiling. All around the temple there are impressive stone figures, many of which are from the 5th century, that represent Garuda, lions, elephants, gods, demons and mythological fantastic. Changu Narayan, besides its beauty, has a very special energy. Will the temple, but on the itinerary of many precious routes and travel out of Bhaktapur Kathmandu Valley, very little visited. If you go tomorrow, the temple is just for you.
One of the best preserved old "city states" in the Kathmandu valley, offers trips during the months of October and November. There is something particulalry charming (besides the architectural and culture) about witnessing the work the people do with the harvest of the rice, drying and accumulating in the center of the village. Not to be missed.
Here you'll find narrow, winding, cobbled streets as you cross the threshold (after a payment of 700 Nepali rupees), which will then allow you to have access to the famous landmark of Bhaktapur. The earth paths will lead you through scenery that will remind you of earlier times, and to Durbar Square, where there are some of the most impressive buildings in Bhaktapur, such as: the Royal Palace, Vatsala Temple, and Nyatapola Temple. Along with the golden statue of Bupathindra Malla sitting on a tall stone pillar and looking at the Sun Dhoka or golden gate through which you enter the Taleju Chowk and Chowk Kumasi, stands Vatsala Temple. It is a building erected in the seventeenth century by King Jagat Prakash Malla and noted for the delicate work of the stone itself shikhara style in which falls. At the base of the temple stands the small bell which is popularly known as the "bell barking", erected by Bupathindra Malla (the golden statue) ... they say, when the bell is rung dogs bark and moan on ... ..
The Changu Narayan Temple can be found about 8 miles north of Bhaktapur in Nepal. The temple was built in the 4th century, but then was rebuilt in 1702 and it's been dedicated to Vishnu. Inside the temple you'll find the figure of Vishnu, which is something only devotees can see. The visit is a good opportunity to take a trip up the hill to Bhaktapur, through the rice terraces. Our visit was early in the morning and we were the only tourists. If you go by taxi or bus, you can make the trek down.
In the Potters Square, in [poi = 120196] Bhaktapur [/ poi] you can see the amazing work done by artisans. The space, which is dotted with very basic shops and workshops, equipped with lathes and wheels, is covered with ceramic so that it dries in the sun, while laid out on straw mattresses. The ceramics are constantly rotated so that they dry evenly. An ancient tradition that continues among the people of Bhaktapur is, after the [poi = 120196] rice crop [/ poi], exchanging the ceramics with rice.
This is an amazing sight in Durbar Square. Incredible - sure to cause nightmares in small children. Every day, every hour, devotees come to light a candle, make offerings of flowers, rice, and coloured powders, and of course, ring the bells. Kala Bairava is a huge monument, part of which is a horrible demon with skulls. I guess the religious rites are to appease the evil spirits...
Even if you're only going to be here for one night, [poi = 120189] Bhaktapur [/ poi] which I highly recommend, you should really try to stay at the Sunny Guest House- and don't forget to ask for a room with a view! [poi = 120180] [/ poi] Not only is this small hotel a delight to stay in, but it's in front of the Temple of Bhairabnath in Taumadhi Tole Square. The ceremonies that are performed in the temple are fascinating. Two of the coolest ceremonies I would say are: The one when it gets dark, when groups of men gather around the temple and sing songs while waving small bells and playing drums, and then the one at dawn. Just before sunrise, hundreds of women carry to the temple the 'Bids'. These consist of a small offerings of small plates with lit candles, flowers, grains and food. The timing is fantastic and you can watch through the window of your room. Even the streets are in darkness, the silence is total. Only heard the footsteps of women, their figures illuminated by small candles.
Kathmandu Valley offers plenty of magical and amazing views at any given time. For example, when I was in a taxi with a couple of passengers and a Nepalese person to get to the place where I was going to go trekking, the views were spectacular. We crossed remote villages and terrace cultivation can do a pleasant downhill trekking being accessible and affordable for everyone, you can see how they live in the countryside, returning to Kathmandu can be perfectly on local buses, although you may need to make several transfers as was our case, that and go on the roof bus, but it becomes a good adventure
Every neighborhood in the fascinating medieval city of [poi = 120189] Bhaktapur [/ poi] has at its center an enormous swimming pool where the water used to be kept. Nowadays, these beautiful ponds still contain water, but they are dirty and the water is often tinged with some unusual colors. This is because the former reservoirs today are used to wash the freshly dyed wool. The wool industry is entirely handmade. For this reason, the basins are surrounded by water colors and long wooden poles, to hang the wool on sunny days to dry.
To find the trail that leads to Bhaktapur from Changu Narayan, you need to leave the temple and go back into the village. You will see a large pine (covered in trash that throw from the village) and a path down through the trees. It is a very easy spot to navigate, considering that it is walking distance to a small village. Once you leave the village, the landscape completely changes. You suddenly find yourself in an idyllic valley called Bhaktapur, which in turn is part of Kathmandu Valley. The land is divided into small and endless terraces, looks gray. Against this background, Newaris women, dressed in their traditional clothes, work the plots. They do it in groups, chatting, laughing and singing, and one can spend hours watching them, because they look like a bunch of beautiful red flowers. The field work are the responsibility of women. The women are an important part of the community workforce, working the land by hand, with Middle Age tools. They sometimes also accompany an older man, especially during the planting season. They use tools from the Middle Ages in order to do the hard labor work. She scatters the seed, and women, bent in half, bury them in the rough furrows. Do not rely on the short distance (6 miles) between Changu Narayan and Bhaktapur. It takes hours, because you'll want to stop and take a thousand pictures, go by the terraces and slopes to the villages.
We went from the border of Tibet to Nepal by bus and many people told us that it was worth stopping off at Baktapur. We soon came upon an Indian party, all the men and women from the village were singing and smoking weed. They painted our faces and then we went out to see the town. They say that it is older than Kathmandu and the truth is that the atmosphere and the setting made us feel like we had stepped back in time to another era. We stood in front of a religious building where the bottom part was in the shade and there were a few people listening to the words of a story without reading anything. I took a photo of them without being seen.