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  • BHAKTAPUR

    Early morning view of Bhaktapur Durbar Square

    Also known as Bhadgaun, Bhaktapur lies 14 kilometers east of Kathmandu. Shaped like the conch-shell with an area of six square kilometers, the city of Bhaktapur is not as affected by modern developments as Patan and Kathmandu are. Bhaktapur means “city of devotees”, and within its confines are some of the Valley’s finest medieval art and architectures.

    The precinct of the Bhaktapur Durbar Square is more spacious is more spacious and less crowded with temples than the other cities described. Like the other Durbar Squares, Bhaktapur too was once packed with temples. It was the Great earthquake of 1934 that destroyed most of the monuments. Evidence of this can be seen in some bare plinths that stand without any structures atop, and in some, tiny stucco structures perch incongruously on bases that were obviously meant for majestic temples.

    The main entrance to the Durbar Square is from the western end where two large stone lions stand guard. At this end of the Durbar Square are some less significant temples: The Rameshwor Temple, Bhadri temple, Krishna Temple among others.

    The Royal Palace of Bhaktapur was founded by Yakchhya Malla but consecutive additions were made gradually by most of his successors, most prominently by Bhupatindra Malla. Originally said to be consisting of 99 courtyards, only seven remain today as this site too was badly damaged by the 1934 earthquake, and its renovation thereafter does not match the original design.

    King Bhupatindra Malla built the Palace with 55 windows in the 18th century. The three storied palace displays some of the finest skill in carpentry. Above a splendid setting of elegant terracotta walls, the whole top storey is surrounded by an ornate wooden balcony that has 55 windows. It is unquestionably a masterpiece of wood carving.

    Nyatapola temple, dedicated to the Goddess Laxmi, was built by King Bhupatindra Malla in 1702 AD> Famous for its massive structure and subtle workmanship, this temple withstood the ravages of the great 1934 earthquake, suffering only minor damages while many other monumental edifices were completely destroyed. Sitting atop five levels of plinths, the Nyatapola is a five-storied pagoda reaching a height of 30 meters, making it the tallest temple in the Kathmandu Valley. Along the stairway, on each level of plinth, is a pair of figures: two wrestlers, two elephants, two lions, two griffins and two tigers.

    Dattatreya temple is said to have been built from the trunk of a single tree and is dedicated to the God Dattatreya, who is believed to be a cousin of Buddha an is also a teacher of Shiva and who is also a form of Vishnu as well.

    Wandering through Bhaktapur can be pleasant experience. Compared to the other two major urban centers of the Valley, there is little vehicular traffic, and in some areas vehicles are totally non-existent, which makes walking enjoyable. Pottery, weaving, and farming are the typical industries of this city left behind by time, and still practiced with the traditional methods passé down through the generations.

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