Bhaktapur, locally known as Khwopa, is world renowned for its elegant art, fabulous culture and indigenous life-style. For its majestic monuments, colourful festivals and the native Newars best known for their generations-old craftsmanship. The ancient city is also variously known as the “City of Culture”, the “Living Heritage” and “Nepal’s Cultural Capital”.
Bhaktapur, at 1,401 m above sea level, spreads over an area of 6.88 sq.km. It grows from a collection of villages strung along the ancient trade route between India and Tibet. The capital city of the Greater Malla Kingdom till the 15th century AD, Bhaktapur was brought into present shape in the early 18th century. Bhaktapur has its gem in the Durbar Square - a World Heritage site listed by the UNESCO. The seat of Malla royalty till Bhaktapur’s downfall in 1796 AD, the palatial enclave is wondrously strewn with unique palaces, temples and monasteries best admired for their exquisite works in wood, metal and stone. With its wondrous layout houseing many “only of their kinds,” it has bewithced pilgrims and travellers for centuries.
Among the masterpieces, the one that presides over the square is the imposing gilded statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, the most illustrious Malla king in Bhaktpur’s history. Facing it is the much acclaimed Golden Gate. Dating back to 1758 AD, it is the creating of King Ranjit Malla, the last Malla ruler of Bhaktapur and the son of King Bhupatindra. The gate - the unique specimen of repousse art - serves as an entrance to the Taleju complex, which houses, among others, the Golden Gaucet and numerous other courtyards, each noted for wondrous works of medieval art.
The world famous 55 window Palace rubs shoulder with the Golden Gate. Restored after the devastating 1934 - earthquake, the palatial structure is where the then Malla monarchs ruled from. It now houses the National Art Gallery, which has a rich collection of Paubhas, scroll paintings, and bronze,. brass, stone and wooden images of various Hindus as well as Buddhist deities.
Bhaktapur is equally known for its tradition-loving inhabitants. So, while in this city, you may chance upon the locals observing one or more of their generations old festivals. Or you may encounter a musical band going around the township, playing their traditional musical instruments. It is possible some of them may invite you to join the company. While strolling down the brick-paved streets of Bhaktaur, wherever you go, you will find yourself in the mist of the local Newars for whom, hospitality is a way of life.
With such a plethora of historic monuments and friendly men all around, you will experience the same feeling as many had had before you. After all, the ambience here is such that it instantly takes you back by centuries the moment you step into the glorious city, that is Bhaktapur.