It’s a funny thing how memory works. It only takes one thought about Nepal and the memories come pouring back. With Bhaktapur, the feeling of longing is even worse because that city has charm. It’s a city frozen in time, a monument to the Nepalese people’s ingenuity and dedication to their gods, their art and their tradition.
Getting into Bhaktapur is kind of tricky; you have to pay a fee to get into the city. If memory serves, the fee is around 1500 rupees per person and it’s worth it.
Carved from bricks and pottery, the city of Bhaktapur, once the capital of Nepal in the XVth century, is very much bustling today.
The streets are lined with merchants and artists, travelling salesmen and saleswomen, all sitting on the corner of something historic, something with a story to tell. However, this being Bhaktapur, most corners have something historic to chronicle so it should come as no surprise when you see so many of those corners used for trade by shops like Pritty Handicrafts and Lotus Handicrafts.
You’ll genuinely take a trip through time to a simpler era. Bargaining and trying to get the best price out of salesmen is one of the most fun things you can do, but be careful not to push it as in the end these traders would sell at cost eventually; They’re not the best bargainers.
You should also be mindful that most of the things on the side of the street aren’t genuine. Don’t overpay for the wooden masks, statues and jewelry; they’re most likely not from the fifteenth century. One tourist at the hotel paid 100$ for a wooden mask that we say for 10$.
We stayed at the Cosy Hotel in the year it was named the 3rd best BNB in the world and I can vouch that it deserves that title. The beds were clean and tidy, the room smelled fresh and the bathroom genuinely had hot water and a proper shower. It was the first proper shower I had during the trip and it felt spectacular to have hot water pour on my skin.
The food at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant is homely and they have some nice Italian wine that helps you wash it down. The view from the restaurant is pretty cool too.
One of the most beautiful characteristics of Bhaktapur is its temples.
The Temple of Nyatapola for example is one of the most incredible structures in the city.
This temple belong to Siddha Laxmi, the Hindu goddess of prosperity and sits at the center of the market. It was built at the start of 1700s. What’s most amazing about this temple, like most temples and pagodas in Nepal, it’s still a part of everyday life. I’m not sure if people still worship there but they still live around it. It’s not a relic from the past, not a ruin. This wikipedia article does a fantastic job at telling the story around that building. It’s well worth a read if you’re into history.
Another incredible spot is the Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
I can’t imagine what it would’ve felt like to for Nepalese villagers that lived around Bhaktapur when they walked into the Durbar square. Statues and craftsmanship everywhere, gods and lions and elephants. This would have most likely been awe inspiring. I mean even today, it’s incredible! I don’t have pictures that really capture how grandiose the place is, but there’s 5 temples in all. The golden gate though; what a beauty.
I would imagine in the past this would’ve looked like the gates to nirvana.
Bhaktapur is one of my favorite places in Nepal; if I had to choose to live somewhere in Nepal, it would be there, firstly because of the city itself and secondly because I would stay at the Cosy Hotel.