Formally known as Lalitpur, the city epitomizes art and architecture of the Kathmandu Valley. “Lalit” means art and “-pur” means city a very appropriate title indeed for a city that is the site of nearly two hundred beautiful temples and home of many skilled artisans. But, the local inhabitants themselves prefer to call their town, “Yala”. Exquisite carvings and historical designs still grace the grounds of Kathmandu valley’s oldest city. Only a few miles south of Kathmandu, across the Bagmati River, Patan is indeed an artisan’s Paradise.
For centuries, Patan has been known for the quality of its craft in wood, metal and stone. Ancient temples and palaces from the then independent kingdom still find place amidst contemporary Newar artwork. It is but these artisans who have followed their ancestors’ footsteps as the gods continue to come alive through the stones, metals & woods they carve. With a fascinating mixture of loyalty for both Buddhist and Hindu gods, the devotion is well reflected through their unique artistic style.
The Royal Palace is the main attraction of the Patan Durbar Square. Inside, there are three impressive courtyards, the Mool Chowk, the Sundari Chowk and Mani Keshab Narayan Chowk. Part of the old palace houses the Patan Museum, well worth a visit for its excuisitely well-curated exhibits on South and Central Asian art.
Krishna Mandir is a temple unique from others in design and constructions standing on the premises of the Durbar Square, where it lies next and little behind. An edifice made completely out of stone, it has strong Mogul and Indian influences in its design. Only allowed for Hindus, this extra-ordinary beautiful temple is famous for scenes of Mahabharata, a Hindu epic that has been carved around the walls fronting the two levels of balconies.
Dedicated to Shiva, Khumbeshor then stands five storeys high and is the oldest existing temple in the city.
Around ten minutes work from the Durbar Square, Mahabouddha is a Buddhist temple where thousands of intricately carved images of Buddha are found to be modeled after the original temple at Bodhgaya in India. Kwa-Bahal then stands as a Buddhist monastery courtyard with fine woodcarvings and extraordinary craftsmanship.
Hence, devotees of both faiths stroll across the promenade bringing offerings to their deities of choice. Small stone temples abound through the back alleys of the city dotted between artisan’s workshops where you can purchase silver jewelry or stone statues.
Amidst all religiosity, Patan is also home to the Tibetan Refugee camp. Set up to help Tibetan refugees do something productive and support themselves, they are now famous for producing their skillfully woven carpets.
On a lighter note, The Central Zoo is also located in the vicinity and manages to host many different species of birds and animals. There is also a pond for boating activities and is a favorite family attraction.