Large parts of the following description are from the Wikipedia entry for Bhaktapur.
Bhakta means Devotee in Sanskrit, and pur means city, so Bhaktapur is the city of devotees.
It is located on the trade route between Tibet and India. This position on the main caravan route made the town rich and prosperous.
Bhaktapur is part of the Kathmandu Valley UNESCO World Heritage Site for its rich culture, temples, and wood, metal and stone artwork. Different kings built different temples and palaces over the years. Bhaktapur was strongly affected by the large earthquake of 1934, which destroyed numerous temples and palaces.
The main attraction is Bhaktapur Durbar Square with its many temples and palaces. But there are other interesting temples scattered throughout Bhaktapur.
Just like in the other towns in the Kathmandu Valley, the town wells are all dry. Too many people have been using the water, so the water level has dropped so much that the wells are all dried out.
One interesting part of the architecture around Bhaktapur are the temples with erotic statues. There were two that I visited in Bhaktapur.
Here is a map of Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
All pictures are © Dr. Günther Eichhorn, unless otherwise noted.
This section has some pictures of the town of Bhaktapur.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a conglomeration of pagoda and Sikhara style temples grouped around a 55 Window Palace of brick and wood. The square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the valley as it highlights the ancient arts of Nepal. The golden effigies of the kings perched on the top of stone monoliths, the guardian deities looking out from their sanctuaries, the wood carvings in every place, struts, lintels, uprights, tympanums, gateways and windows. All seem to form a well-orchestrated symphony.
The Lion Gate dates as far back as 1696, it is guarded on either side by two huge statues of lions. Alongside there are two stone images of Bhairab (the dreadful aspect of Shiva) and Durga (the consort of Shiva in her fearful manifestation).
The Vatsala Devi Temple in Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a small temple right in front of the Golden Gate to the king's palace. This Sikhara style temple is completely constructed in sandstone and is built on a three stage plinth. It has similarities to the Krishna temple of Patan. It is dedicated to Batsala Devi, a form of the Goddess Durga. The temple was originally built by King Jitamitra Malla in 1696. The structure that can be seen today, however, is reconstructed by King Bhupatindra Malla and dates back to the late 17th or early 18th century. The stone temple shows many intricate carvings. It is most famous for its bells. The large bell was hung by King Ranajit Malla in 1737, dedicated to the Goddess Taleju. It was used for festivals and for emergencies. The smaller bell (still quite large) is known to local residents as "Dog Barking Bell". When it is rung, dogs in the vicinity begin barking and howling. It was used to sound the daily curfew.
Next to the Vatsala Devi Temple, in front of the 55 Windows Palace is the Chayslin Dega. This octagonal temple was originally a viewing point for noble writers, observing festivals and rituals. It was built during the 17th century by King Jitamitra Malla and was used as a rest house by the travelers and pilgrims. It has an open hall at the lower level. The Chayslin Dega was totally destroyed by the 1934 earthquake, but recently reconstructed with assistance from Germany.
This Sikhara style temple is next to the 55 Windows Palace. The steps up to the temple are flanked by male and female attendants each leading a rather reluctant child and a rather eager-looking dog. On successive levels the stairs are flanked by horses, rhinos, man-lions and camels. This 17th century temple marks the dividing line between the main Durbar Square and its secondary square.
A small temple in Bhaktapur Durbar Square, dedicated to Vishnu.
The Yaksheshvara Temple is a replica of the famous temple by the Bagmati river in Kathmandu and is widely noted for the erotic carvings on its struts. It was built by King Jayayakshya Malla in the 15th century. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The 55 Windows Palace was built during the reign of King Jayayakshya Malla in 1427. and was remodeled by King Bhupatindra Malla in the seventeenth century. Among the brick walls, with their gracious setting and sculptural design, is a balcony of 55 windows, considered to be a unique masterpiece of woodcarving.
Lu Dhowka (The Golden Gate) is said to be the most beautiful and richly molded specimen of its kind in the entire world. The door is surmounted by a figure of the Goddess Kali with many arms and attended by two heavenly nymphs. It is embellished with monsters and other mythical creatures of marvelous intricacy. In the words of Percy Brown, an eminent English art critic and historian, the Golden Gate is "the most lovely piece of art in the whole Kingdom; it is placed like a jewel, flashing innumerable facets in the handsome setting of its surroundings." The gate was erected by King Ranajit Malla and is the entrance to the main courtyard of 55 Windows Palace.
The Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla in the act of worship can be seen on a column facing the palace. Of the square's many statues, this is considered to be the most magnificent. The king is worshiping the Goddess Taleju (the Nepalese name for Durga, an incarnation of Parvati), who is the patron Goddess of the palace.
Nyatapola Temple is a five-story pagoda (Nyatapola means five-storied in the local Newari language). It was built by King Bhupatindra Malla in 1702 and dedicated to the Goddess Siddhi Lakshmi, providing the Nepalese with a place to worship her. Like so many of the other temples the image of the Goddess that is contained within the temple of Nyatapola is viewed only by the priests. The temple rests on a base of five levels with four Ganesha shrines in each of the corners. Legend tells of the days when the angry God Bhairab was causing havoc in society. Bhairab's temple stood in Taumadhi Square. To counteract his destructive behavior the king decided to build a more powerful temple right in front of the Bhairab Temple. It was built in five months in 1701/1702. To make the brick and wood temple strong and powerful, King Bhupatindra Malla ordered guardians be placed in pairs on each level of the base leading up to the Nyatapola Temple. On the first level is a pair of likenesses of Bhaktapur's strongest men, Jaya Malla and Phatta Malla. He is said to have been 10 times as strong as normal men. On the next tier are two elephants, followed by two lions, two griffins, and finally 'Baghini' and 'Singhini', the tiger and lion Goddesses. The entities on each level are supposed to be 10 times as strong as the one on the next lower level. After subduing Bhairab, peace prevailed in the city. The Temple is the tallest temple in the Kathmandu Valley and stands 30 m (100 ft) high. It was so well designed that it withstood a powerful 8.3 earthquake in 1934.
A temple dedicated to Lord Bhairab, the dreadful aspect of Shiva. It stands a short distance away from the temple of Nyatapola. It was originally constructed by King Jagaj Jyoti Malla on a modest scale in the early 17th century. It was later remodeled by King Bhupatindra Malla, a zealous lover of the arts, into what it is now a three-storied temple.
The temple of Dattatraya is as old as the 55 Windows Palace. Consecrated by King Jayayakshya Malla in 1427, this temple, according to popular belief, was built out of the trunk of a single tree. It was subsequently repaired and renovated by King Vishva Malla in the mid-16th century. The temple is dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva and shows symbols of both Gods.
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Page last updated on Tue Nov 2 17:25:50 2021 (Mountain Standard Time)
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