Kathmandu Valley Tour


Katmandu Valley the capital of Nepal


Kathmandu valley has an exotic setting. It is surrounded by tier upon tier of green mountain walls above which tower mighty snowcapped peaks. The valley covers an area of 218 sq miles. It is situated at 1310 meter above the sea level. It contains three fabled cities of great historic, religious and cultural interest. Kathmandu (Kantipur), Patan (Lalitpur) and Bhadgaon (Bhaktapur). Every town has Durbar Square (old palace) with its old temples and palaces, epimotizes the religious and cultural life of the people. The valley has often been described as an open air art gallery with thousands of sacred shrines in brick,stone,metal and wood scattered through out it.

Bodhnath (Boudha)
Asia`s largest stupa pulses with life as thousands of pilgrims their daily to make a ritual of the dome, beneath the watchful eyes of the Buddha, Which gaze out from the gilded central tower. Tibetan monks in maroon robes and shaved heads wander the prayer flag-decked streets while pilgrims spin prayer wheels and stock upon yak butter and tsampa (roasted barley flour). This is one of the few places in the-world Where Tibetan Buddhist culture is accessible and unfettered, and the lanes around the stupa are crammed with monasteries and workshops producing butter lamps, ceremonial horns, Tibetan drums, monks` headgear and the other paraphernalia essential for Tibetan Buddhist life. Historically, the stupa was an important staging post on the trade route between Lhasa and Kathmandu, and Tibetan traders would pray here for a safe journey before driving their yaks on to the high passes of the Himalaya. Today, most of the Tibetans living in the village of Boudha (pronounced boe-da) are refugees who fled China after 1959, but the stupa also attracts many Sherpas, descendants of Tibetan tribal people who migrated to Nepal in the 16th century. Many of the monasteries around the stupa have opened their doors to foreign students, so you`ll see plenty of Western dharma students in maroon robes as you stroll around the backstreets. The best way to visit Bodhnath is late afternoon, when the group tours depart and elderly exiles stroll down to the stupa to light butter lamp, spin prayer wheels, enchant mantras, socialize and perform a ritual clockwise on the evening of the full moon, when the laza surrounding the stupa is lit up by thousands of butter lamps.

Newroad Basantapur Durbar Square
Kathmandu`s Durbar Square was the city where once Kings were crowned and legitimized and they ruled from.  Basantapur takes its name from a large tower looming over the massive Hanuman Dhoka Palace, and is large open space where the Royale Elephants  were once kept. But when Newroad was completed, the square turned into a market place, to be replaced by a brick platform built for King Birendra`s 1975 coronation celebration.  Touts sell an assortment of cheap bric-a-brac – local trinkets, bracelets, bangles, images, swords and knives all over the square. The area is overrun with souvenir stalls selling items ranging from the deadly khukuries – the Gurkhas short sword- to sonorous singing bowls. Red bricks of  the old Royale Palace mark the limits of old Kathmandu. This comprises thenine-storeyed Basantapur Tower, the most prominent part of the palace.

There lies several temples around the Palace of Basantapur i.e Kumari Bahal - to the west of Basantapur Durbar Square, the red bricks, thee storey building is the ornate residence of the Living Goddess Kumari, which is known as Kumari Bahal. Kumari is the girl who is selected to be the town`s living Goddess until she reaches puberty and reverts to being a normal mortal. This structure, believed to have been built in the 18th century, has a white stuccoed facade with magnificiently carved wooden balcony depicting images of deities and birds and is probably the most bonnilash courtyard in Nepal. The courtyand contains a miniature stupa carrying the symbols of Saraswati, the god of education. Non hindus are not allowed to go beyond the courtyard.  The Kumari is believed to be the living incarnation of Goddess either Kanya Kumari or Durga, both manifestations of Shiva,s chaste consort Parvati. 

Teeming Temple - walking away from Kumari Bahal , you enter the Durbar Square, which sprawls across a wide area  with more than 50 temples and palaces, most of them were built over a  long period of time. 

Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square -  The old square at Hanuman Dhoka is the linchpin of the valley. Trade and commerce converged there during reign of Mallas. Unlike similar squares in Patan and Bhaktapur the Durbar Square in Kathmandu is still an area of active commerce. 

Taleju Temple -  is the most prominent three-tiered  ancient building. Many of the structures that remain re evidence of the Malla kings patronage of the arts.  Narayan temple – Immediately after you can enter temple of Narayan with a raised 17th century grey-stone statue fo Vishnu`s personal mount, Garuda in a kneeling position outside.

Gaddi Baithak - an metaphorical annexe of the old royale palace built early in the 20th century by a Premier, Candra Sumsher, during the reign of King Tribhuwan Bir Bikram Shah Dev.It is a neo-classical building in the eastern side of Durbar Square. With its imported European style, it was built as a part of the Hanuman Dhoka Palace in 1908 during Rana regime. It is also considered as a bizarre contrast to the traditional Nepali architecture. It is said to have been architect on London`s National Gallery subsequented Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana`s visit to Europe. 

Kamadeva - on the other side of the square, behind the Narayan Temple, is a temple dedicated to Kamadeva, God of love and lust, built by King Bhupatindra`s mother Riddhi Laxmi, and adorned with an immaculate sculpture of Vishnu nd Laxmi. 

Kastamandap -  derives from the Sanskrit word kastha, which means woods and mandap which means Pavillion. Although it`s history is uncertain, local tradition says that this three roofed building was constructed from a single saal tree. It is also known as the house of woods, originally served when it was built in the 12th century, as an informal gathering place for peoples during festivals, major ceremonies and other events but later it was converted to a temple dedicated to Gorakhnath, a 13th century ascetic who was subsequently linked to the royal family.This squat mediaval building gets surrounded by vegetables, smoked fish, fruits and flowers sellers during morning and evening. 

Singha Satal -  on the other corner of Chika Mugal, opposite this inspiring fountainhead of the capital is lion house known as singha satal.  It was built from the lumber left over from the construction of the kasthamandap temple and has a second-storey balcony and several shops on the ground floor. This squat building was originally called Silendu Sattal, Silengu means `left over woods` and a Sattal means a pilgrim hostel until the addition of the golden winged Singha which means lions. The building has some fascinating stalls and curd shops on the ground floor and is a historic place for devotional music in the mornings and evenings.

Kathmandu Ganesha - is also known as Maru Ganesh. This popular shrine is visited by would-be travelers, who pray for safety during their journey. Shiva temple – at the north of Kasthamandap and the temple of Narayan is a Shiva Temple identifiable by the three roofs set on nine giant steps. 

Nava Yogini Temple - it is an 18th century temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Parvati, guarded by lion statues. A pair of attaire white images of Shiva and his consort Parvati can be observed and it is designed as their gawk from the upstairs window onto the chaos below them. This temple was built in the late 1700`s by Bahadur Shah, the son of the legend Prithvi Narayan Shah.  The wooden statue of the divine couple is set on the centre window of the upper balcony.

 Bhagawati Temple - on the northwest corner of the Gaddhi Baithak and  opposite to  Nava Yogini is another triple storey as well as triple roofed temple dedicated to Goddess Bhagawati. This temple was built by King Jagat Jaya Malla originally had an image of Narayan. This image was stolen in 1766, when Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered the valley two years later, he simly substituted it with an image of the Goddess Bhagawati. In April each year the image of Bhagawati is conveyed to the village of Nuwakot, 65km to the north, and advent few days back. The statue of Goddess is set on a pillar by the Nava Yogini, is that of King Pratap Malla who was patron of  most of the structures around him. The best view of this temple and its golden roofs is probably from Maju Deval, across the square. This temple is bounded by the thangkas(Tibetan religious paintings) shops and Newari equivalents named paubhas.

Degu Taleju Temple - Statue of the Kings and his consorts are placed on a platform on the third floor of Degu Taleju Temple.

Krishna Temple - Krishna Temple stands at the outer of edges of the courtyard next to the pillar of King Pratap Malla. Its octangle shape distinguishes it from the surrounding temples. It was built in 1648-49 by Pratap Malla, perhaps as a response to rival Siddhinarshing`s Krishna Temple situated at Patan. Insidethe temple there arebmagnificient images of Lord Krishna and two Goddess according to Sanskrit inscription are modeled on the King and his two wives. 

Seto bhairab - at the one end of the temple the huge gilded mask of Seto Bhairab is sheltered from the outside by a lattice screen. The grinnig mask was carved in  the 18th century by Rana Bahadur Shah to ward off evil.The horrible face is hidden away behind the grill opposite to the King Pratap Malla`s column. The huge mask dates from 1794, during the regin of RanaBahadur Shah. Each September during the festival of Indra Jatra the gates are opened to reveal the mask for the few days. Simultaneously the face is covered by flowers as well as rice. During the Newari festivl beer is poured through the horrific mouth and the crowd fights to get a drink of as a blessings.      

Big Bell - Near the center of Durbar Square on the left along Makkhan Tole you can encounter the big bell which is elevated atop a white building erected by Rana Bahadur Shah (Son of Prithvi Narayan Shaha ) in 1797. It is believed that the bell`s ring coerce evil spirits disappear, during worship at Degutaleju Temple. 

Kaal bhairab - on the North  you can see a huge black bhairav, the aspects of Shiva the destroyer. Bhairav is an inspiring figure with a fearsome visage and terrible powers The manifestation is strikingly  adorned with brilliant red and gold ornaments diadem and a garland of skulls. The statue stands on a human corpse and extends a bowl fashioned from a skull, into which worshippers place their offerings.

Swayambhunath Temple
A journey up to the Buddhist temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Swayambhunath is one of the authoritative experiences of Kathmandu. With the strong Tibetan connection this holy shrine is discernly visible on the top of a 100 meters (350 foot) hill in the west.

The stupa is shaped like a lotus flower and in the past 2,000 years, saints, monks, kings and others built monasteries, idols, temples and statues which now has encircled an original stupa and the entire hilltop. At the base of the hill three enormous stone Buddhas painted in vibrant colours is placed in meditating position and 300 flagstone steps, adorned by the stone statues of animals, lead up to the main shrines.

The Buddhist stupa of Swayambhunath floats above a sea of early morning mist, the rising sun setting fire to its burnished copper spire. On the four sides of the base of the spire, Buddha`s all-seeing eyes, in vivid hues, keep constantly watching over the capital. This place is patronized by the countless Buddhists, who rise before dawn to make their pilgrimage up the holy hill. You can see figures prostrating themselves every four steps. The compound is centered on a luminous white stupa, topped by a gilded spire painted with the eyes of Buddha. Swayambhunath is n stimulating experience where one can ever relish ancient carving jammed into each spare inch of space, monasteries  and the fragrance of a butter lamp. The spiritual ambiance is keen in the morning and evening by the local devotees who make a ritual circumnavigation of the stupa, spinning the prayers wheels surrounded into its base. Opposite to the neighbouring hill, the serene image of Saraswati,  Goddess of Learning, gazes down on the often multitude around Swayambhunath perhaps compassionate and celestial astonishment.

Syawambhunath is one of the crowning glory of the Kathmandu valley architecture. This perfectly proportioned monument seems to hint at some celestial perfection with its gleaming, gilded spire and whitewashed dome. The entire structure of stupa is symbolic- the white dome represents the earth, while the 13 tiered beehivelike  structure at the top symbolizes the 13 stages that human passes through to nirvana. Set in ornate plinths around the base of the stupa are statues representing the Dhyani Buddhas- Vairocana, Ratnasambha, Amitabha, Amocha Siddhi and Aksobhya- and their consorts. These  deities represents the five qualities of Buddhists wisdom.  there are other several sights scattered around syayambhunath. Along the north side of the hill a compound lies containing three enormous shining golden statues of Sakyamuni Buddha, four armed Chenresig and Guru Rinpoche, constructed in 2003.

Pashupatinath Temple
From the highest point of the hill on which the temple stands, the majestic panorama of Kathmandu Valley unfolds in a 360* sweep- and down there, at Deopatan is Pashupatinath , the holiest and famous of entire Nepal`s Hindu shrines. Pashupatinath is considered as one of the most significant Hindu temple of Nepal set on the banks of the holy River Bagmati, where it leaves a once forested gorge, it is reserved exclusively for Hindu worshippers. This temple is surrounded  by a bustling market of religious stalls selling flowers of marigold, offering, incense, rudrakshya beads, conch shells,  pictures of Hindu deities and temples, tika powder in rainbow colors, shaligrams, models of Mt Meru and other essential religious paraphernalia. Pashupatinath is always crowded with pilgrims from the rest of Nepal and India. Although non-Hindus are not allowed into the temple, by following the ancient route taken by the pilgrims ; you will enjoy fine experience. In the age of mythology, Lord Shiva and his consort lived there by this tributary of the holy Ganges and today it is reckoned a more sacred place of pilgrimage than even Varanasi on the Ganges. Shiva is the most human of the gods in the Hindu trinity. Although the destroyer of the universe, he is also the god of fertility. It is more logical to see Shiva as both creator and destroyer, the many names he is known by reflect the manner in which his believers perceive him. In his benign form, he is Mahadeva, the king of gods-or Pashupati, Lord of the Beasts. In his terrible aspect, he is the terrifying visage of Bhairava.

Everewhere outside Pashupatinath temple, Hindu holy men, Sadhu – dressed in loin clotes and marked with cinder ash meditate round temples.  All years round, families bring their dead to cremate them on funeral pyres on the bank and pour their ashes in the river.

The pagoda-style temple was constructed in 1696 but Pashupatinath has been a site of Hindu and Buddhist worship for far longer. If you climb the terraces to the west of the temple, you can look down on the gilded rooftop. There are more views from the top of the terraces on the east side of the Bagmati, inside the temple complex.

Bachhareshwori Temple:
Between the two groups of ghats on the west bank of the Bagmati is this small, 6th century temple, decorated with Trantic figures, skeletons and erotic scenes.It is said that human sacrifices were once made at this temple as part of the Maha Shivaratri Festival.

Vishwarup Temple:
When the steps continues up the hill from the terraces to a convenient cafe and another huge complex of Shiva shrines on the edge of the forest that is well worth exploring. There are more than 50 shrines here and the variety of architectural forms is quite stunning. If you bear right at the top of the hilt, you will reach the courtyard-style Vishwarup Temple,-topped by a Mughal-style onion dome. You can peek through the gates but only Hindus may enter.

Gorakhnath Temple:
Turning left at the top of the hill will take you to the towering red-and-white shikhara (temple with tall corn cob-like spire) of the Gorakhnath Tmple, dedicated to the 11th -century yogi who founded the Shaivite monastic tradition and invented Hatha yoga. Past the Gorakhnath Temple, the path drops down through the forest, passing the Mrigasthali Deer Park, fitting blend of nature and religion, as Shiva is said to have frolicked here once in the shape of the golden deer.

Guhyeshwari Temple:
The path drops out of the forest to the side of  the large, courtyard-style Guhyeshwari Temple, built by King Pratap Malla in 1653 and dedicated to Parvati (the wife of Shiva) in her-terrible manifestation as Kali. Entry is banned to non-Hindus, but you can peek into the compound from the path to see the four huge gilded snakes that support the roof finial.

Changu Narayan Temple
On the hilltop 11.5 kilometers (seven miles) east from Kathandu, the valley`s oldest temple, Changu Narayan, stands in almost derelict splendor, its struts and surroundings covered with hundreds of finely detailed, deictely carved erotic depictions. It is one of the best examples  of the temples dedicated to Vishnu. Founded around the 14th century AD, it represents the very best in nepali art and architecture and is difficult to imagine a more stunning example of what Kathmandu Valley is all about. Woodwork, Metalwork, and stonework combine in dazzling harmony- nowhere to more effect than in the sculptures of Bhupatindra, the 17th century Malla King, and his Queen. On a terrace, upright, flat black stone bears an image , created between the 5th and 6th centuries, of Narayan reclining on Ananta at the bottom, and Vishnu-with 10 heads and 10 arms -going through the different layers of the universe. It is surrounded by later sculptures from the 9th century. A man-sized image of Garuda  with a coiled snake around his neck, graces the front of the main temple and also dates back to the 5th or 6th century. One of the oldest and most prominent Lichhavi inscriptions, which stands beside it, records the military feats of King Mana Deva, who ruled for 27 years from AD 464 to 491. Though fire and earthquake have often damaged Changu Narayan and its environs, this link with its ancient past remains. Life`s rhythms there in the cobblestone square remain unchanged, too, with pilgrims`platforms and lodges surrounding it and tine central temple. Besides the spectacular views from the hilltop, the area around Changu Narayan offers many good opportunities to walk and explore. Along the ridge to the east, a two hours walk takes you to the road to Nagarkot.

Patan
Once a fiercely independent city-state, Patan (pronounced pah-tan) is now almost a suburb of Kathmandu, separated only by the murky Bagmati River. Many locals still call the city by its original Sanskit name of Lalitpur (City of Beauty) or by its Newari name, Yala. Almost everyone who comes to Kathmandu also visits Patan`s spectacular Durbar Sq- arguably the finest collection of temples and palaces in the whole of Nepal. Another good reason to come here is to take advantage of the shops and restaurants set up to cater to the aid workers and diplomats who live in the surrounding suburbs. Then there are Patan`s fair-trade shops, selling superior handicrafts at fair prices and channelling tourist dollars to some of the most needy people in Nepal.

Most people visit Patan on day trips from Kathmandu and, as a result, the accommodation offerings are rather limited. On the flip side, Patan becomes a different place the crowds of day-trippers retreat the Bagmati. If you stay here, you`ll be able to explore the myriad tole (squares) and bahal (courtyards) at your leisure.

Patan has a long Buddhist history, which has even had an influence on the town`s Hindu temples. The four corners of the city are marked by stupas said to have been erected by the great Buddhist emperor Ashoka in around 250 BC. The town was ruled by local noblemen until King Shiva Malla of Kathmandu conquered the city in 1597 temporarily unifying the valley. Patan`s major building boom took place under the Mallas in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.

Durbar Square
As in Kathmandu, the ancient Royal Palace of Patan faces on to a magnificent Durbar Square. This concentrated mass of temples is perhaps the most visually stunning display of Newari architecture to be seen in NepaJ, despite current renovation and scaffolding. Temple construction in the square went into overdrive during the Malla period (from the 14th to 18th centuries), particularly during the reign of King Siddhinarsingh Malla (1619-60).

The entry fee is payable at the southern end of Durbar Sq-for repeated visits ensure that your visa validity date is written on the back of your ticket.

Bhimsen Temple
At the northern end of Durbar Sq, the Bhimsen Temple is dedicated to the god of trade and business, which may explain its prosperous appearance. One of the five Pandavas from the Mahabharata, Bhimsen is credited with superhuman strength-he is often depicted as a red muscleman, lifting a horse or crushing an elephant under his knee.

The three-storey pagoda has an unusual rectangular plan that sets it apart from other temples in Patan. The current temple was completely rebuilt in 1682 after a fire and was later restored after the 1934 earthquake, and again in 1967. It`s currently under renovation. Non-Hindus can enter and climb to the upper level (the inner sanctum is usually upstairs in Bhimsen temples) to view the wild-eyed statue of Bhimsen.

Manga Hiti
Immediately across from Bhimsen Temple is the sunken Manga Hiti, one of the water conduits with which Patan is liberally endowed. The tank contains a cruciform shaped pool and three wonderfully carved dhara (water spouts) in the shape of makara (mythical crocodile-elephants). Overlooking the tank are two wooden pavilions known as the Mani Mandap, which were built in 1700 for use in the elaborate ceremonies at royal coronations-one of the shelters features a serpent-backed throne.
 
Vishwanath Temple
South of the Bhimsen Temple stands the Vishwanath Temple, sacred to Shiva. This elaborately decorated two-tiered pagoda was built in 1627 and it features some particularly ornate woodcarving, especially on the friezes above the colonnade. Also noteworthy are the fine stone carvings of Ganesh set into the brick walls. On the west side is a statue of Shiva`s loyal mount, Nandi the bull, while the east side features two stone elephants with mahouts, one crushing a man beneath it`s foot. When the doors are open, you can view the enormous lingam inside.

Krishna Mandir
Continuing into the square, you can`t miss the splendid Krishna Mandir built by King Siddhinarsingh Malla in 1637. Constructed from carved stone-in place of the usual brick and timber-this fabulous architectural confection shows the clear influence of Indian temple design. The temple is one of the most distinctive monuments in the valley and it is often depicted on the ornate brass butter lamps hung in Nepali homes.

The temple consists of three tiers, fronted by columns and supporting a north Indian style shikhara. Non-Hindus cannot enter to view the statue of Vishnu as Krishna, the goatherd, but you`ll often hear temple musicians playing upstairs. Vishnu`s mount, the man-bird Garuda, kneels with folded arms on top of a column facing the temple. The delicate stone carvings along the beam on the 1st floor recount events from the, Mahabaharat, while the beam on the 2nd floor features scenes from the Ramayana.

A major festival, Krishna Jayanti, also known as Krishna Asthami, is held here in the Nepali month of Bhadra (August-September) for Krishna`s birthday.

Jagannarayan Temple
Fronted by a pair of barrel-chested lions, the two-storey Jagannarayan (or Char Narayan) Temple is dedicated to Vishnu as Narayan, the creator of the universe. Dating from 1565, it is said to be the oldest temple in the square, and its roof struts are alive with carvings of couples engaged in saucy goings-on.

King Yoganarendra Malla`s Statue
South of the Jagannarayan Temple is a tall column topped by a striking brass statue of King Yoganarendra Malla (1684-1705) and his queens, installed in 1700. Above the king`s head is a cobra, and above the cobra is a small brass bird-legend has it that as long as the bird remains, the king may still return to his palace. Accordingly, the door and window of the palace are always kept open and a hookah is kept ready should the king ever decide to come back. A rider to the legend adds that when the bird flies off, the elephants in front of the Vishwanath Temple will stroll over to Manga Hiti for a drink.

Behind the statue of the king are three smaller Vishnu temples, including a brickand-plaster shikhara temple, built in 1590 to enshrine an image of Narsingha, Vishnu`s man-lion incarnation.

Hari Shankar Temple
The three-storey temple to Hari Shankar ; a curious hybrid deity that has half the attributes of Vishnu and half the attributes of Shiva, has roof struts carved with scenes of the tortures of the damned, in contrast to the erotic scenes more commonly seen on temple roofs. It was built in 1704-05 by the daughter of King Yoganarendra Malla.

Taleju Bell
South of the Hari Shankar Temple is a huge, ancient bell, hanging between two stout pillars, erected by King Vishnu Malla in 1736. Petitioners could ring the bell : to alert the king to their grievances. The huge brass chains attached to the bell look almost as solid as the stone columns that support them, Behind the bell pavilion is a fountain crossed by an ornamental bridge.

Bhaktapur
The third of the medieval city-states in the Kathmandu Valley, Bhaktapur is also the best preserved. Many Nepalis still use the old name of Bhadgaon (pronounced bud-gown) or the Newari name Khwopa, which means City of Devotees. The name fits- Bhaktapur has not one but three major squares full of towering temples that comprise some of the finest religious architecture in the entire country.

From a visitor`s perspective, this is a place to wander around aimlessly, soaking up the atmosphere. Narrow cobblestone streets wind between the red-brick houses, joining a series of squares and courtyards that are peppered with temples, statues, cisterns and wells. The contents of any one of these historic squares could fit out a decent-sized museum.

The town`s cultural life is also proudly on display. Artisans weave cloth and chisel timber by the roadside, squares are filled with drying pots and open kilns, and locals gather in communal courtyards to bathe, collect water and socialize-often over intense card games. Visitors must pay a steep entry fee of US$15 to view this tapestry of Nepali life, which goes into protecting and maintaining the temples.
As with many other towns in the valley, Bhaktapur grew up to service the old trade route from India to Tibet, but the city became a formal entity under King Ananda Malla in the 12th century. The oldest part of town, around Tachupal Tole, was laid out at this time.

From the 14th to the 16th century, Bhaktapur became the most powerful of the valley`s three Malla kingdoms, and a new civic square was constructed at Durbar Sq in the west of the city.

Many of the city`s most iconic buildings date from the rule of King Yaksha Malla (1428-82), but there was another explosion of temple-building during the reign of King Bhupatindra Malla in the 18th century. At its peak the city boasted 172 temples and monasteries, 77 water tanks, 172 pilgrim shelters and 152 wells.

The 15th-century Royal Palace in Durbar Sq was the principal seat of power in the valley until the city was conquered by Prithvi Narayan Shah in 1768 and relegated to the status of a secondary market town. An earthquake that hit in 1934 caused major damage to the city but locals were able to restore most of the buildings, though you can still see the occasional unoccupied temple plinth.

Bhaktapur`s streets were paved and extensively restored in the 1970s by the German funded Bhaktapur Development Project, which also established proper sewerage and waste-water management facilities.

Nyatapola Temple
You will be able to see the sky-high rooftop of the Nyatapola Temple long before you reach the square. With five storeys towering 30m above Thumadhi Tale, this is the tallest temple in all of Nepal and one of the tallest buildings in the Kathmandu Valley. This perfectly proportioned temple was built in 1702 during the reign of King Bhupatindra Malla, and the construction was so sturdy that the 1934 earthquake caused only minor damage (the upper storey was rebuilt).

The temple is reached by a stairway flanked by stone figures of the temple guardians. At the bottom are the legendary Rajput wrestlers Jayamel and Phattu, depicted kneeling with hefty maces. Subsequent levels are guarded by elephants with floral saddles, lions adorned with bells, beaked griffons with rams` horns and finally two goddesses-Baghini and Singhini. Each figure is said to be 10-times as strong as the figure on the level below.

The temple is dedicated to Siddhi Lakshmi, a bloodthirsty incarnation of the goddess Durga (Parvati). The idol of  the goddess is so fearsome that only the temple`s priests are allowed to enter the inner sanctum, but less brutal incarnations of the goddess appear on the torana above the door, beneath a canopy of braided snakes, and also on the temple`s 180 carved roof struts. In a classic piece of religious crossover, the Buddhist eight lucky signs are carved beside the temple doorways.

Bhairabnath Temple
The broad-fronted, triple-roofed Bhairabnath Temple is dedicated to Bhairab, the fearsome incarnation of Shiva, whose consort occupies the Nyatapola Temple across the square. The first temple on this site was a modest structure built in the early 17th century, but King Bhupatindra Malla added an extra storey in 1717 and third level was added when the temple was rebuilt after the 1934 earthquake. The final version of the temple has a similar rectangular plan to the Bhimsen Temple in Patan`s Durbar Square.

Durbar Square
Bhaktapur`s Durbar Sq was once much more crowded than it is today. Victorian-era illustrations show the square packed with temples and buildings, but the disastrous earthquake of 1934 reduced many of the temples to empty brick plinths, with lion guarded stairways leading to nowhere. Expect to be approached by a string of would-be guides and thangka-painting school touts as you walk around.

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