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To Bhaktapur and Dhulikhel

Nepal day three

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Monks in Bhaktapur

A later, more leisurely start today but that doesn't mean it was a more leisurely day! On the contrary, we packed a lot in, as you will see.

Pritik picked us up at 9.00 for the half hour drive to Bhaktapur, another ancient town a little to the east of Kathmandu. At its heart is a series of lanes and squares which are included in the Kathmandu Valley UNESCO listing.

Our first treat came as we parked, before even entering the old city. A group of Buddhist monks were coming along the street collecting alms. In the bright sunshine they were far easier to photograph than those we had seen before dawn in Luang Prabang a few years ago.

Monks in Bhaktapur

Pritik led the way past several small temples and a well, patiently waiting as we took lots of photos everywhere. Here was a couple windowing rice using a small electric fan to create a breeze. And here was a lady lighting butter lamps at a temple, and nearby another tidying a small shrine.

Winnowing rice

At a small shrine

And there again, at another temple, children were laughing and playing chase around the old stones. Of particular interest here were some of the smaller wood carvings - erotic, as they often are, but unusually here also involving animals!

Children at play




Temple carvings

Durbar Square

We arrived at last in the town's Durbar Square, an irregularly shaped space packed with interest.

The entrance to Durbar Square

Durbar Square

Pritik explained how King Bhupatindra Malla, a sculpture of whom looks over the square from a tall column, had replicas built here of many holy sites so his people didn't have to travel to see them. They include several Hindu stupas and a copy of Pashupatinath Temple. As in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square there was clear damage remaining from the 2015 earthquake, although many structures have already been restored. And as in that square, I didn’t take in all the details of which temple was which, there were so many! However I did manage to identify some later through online searches.

Pashupatinath Temple

Basantapur Chowk

Basantapur Chowk (Ugrachandi image on the left, Ugra Bhairava on the right)

Siddhi Lakshmi Temple

Vatsala Devi Temple

Chyasilin Mandap

On one side of the square, next to the ancient Palace of 55 Windows, a golden gate leads to a temple complex with a large well known as the snake pond (for its sculptures, not its inhabitants!) and a temple where all photography was unfortunately banned, even outside.

The Palace of 55 Windows

Royal Palace gate

Above the Golden Gate

The Golden Gate

Naga Pokhari, the snake pond

Talako and Taumadhi Squares

When we had seen, and photographed, everything we possibly could here, we followed a lane lined with tourists oriented shops selling a variety of what looked like good quality crafts and souvenirs, though we didn’t stop to buy. This brought us to our next square, called Talako or Pottery Square for obvious reasons. Loads of pots were lined up on the ground here, drying out I assumed. There were also mats of rice drying, as we’d seen elsewhere in the city, it being rice-harvest season.

In Talako Square

We spent less time here, moving on quite soon to our third square of the morning, Taumadhi. Here we stopped for a cold drink in a cafe recommended by Pritik, with an upper terrace that gave us a great view of the activity below. Some stonemasons were working on small columns, presumably part of the on-going restorations following the devastating 2015 earthquake.


Stonemasons at work in Taumadhi Square

The tallest temple in the town stands here, Nyatapol, five storeys high. Its steps are flanked by guardians in ascending order of strength. Chris climbed up to check out the views while I concentrated on taking photos at ground level. We saw the dismantled sections of the chariot used in festival parades, next to Bhairavnath, a temple with a striking ‘ribbon’ of gold hanging down from the roof dedicated to an incarnation of Lord Shiva.

Nyatapol on the left, Bhairavnath on the right

Around Dattatraya Square

Leaving this square we passed a shop selling hand-carved miniature windows in the traditional Newari style we'd seen all over the town. I was tempted and suggested we took a look. They were rather too large and heavy however, and in any case Chris preferred the more representative pieces such as goddesses and the dragon we eventually settled on. The rest of this street however seemed less focused on tourists, although there were still plenty of us around. Most of the shops were aimed at locals, selling foodstuffs, household items and clothes, the latter displayed on some rather surprising-looking mannequins!

Shops in Bhaktapur

Shops in Bhaktapur

Minding the shop in Bhaktapur

In Bhaktapur

This brought us to our final square, Dattatraya , again with several temples. This one is primarily known for wood carving and with so many shops here I wondered if we should have saved our shopping till now, but I suspect they all sold much the same things and I couldn’t have tested the patience of both Chris and Pritik by shopping around, so it was perhaps best to have had less choice!

Bhimsen Temple, Dattatraya Square

Bhimsen Temple

Dattatreya Temple

In Dattatraya Square

Pritik then led us down a narrow side street to one of the town's best-known windows, called the Peacock Window for obvious reasons. The owner of the shop opposite urged us to climb to his first floor to get a better photo - and to prevent us from blocking his entrance!

Peacock Window

Paper museum

On the same street was a paper museum. I wasn't sure I especially wanted to visit but Pritik seemed keen that we see it and he was right to persuade me. The paper-making was mildly interesting because they use a particular bark from the Himalayas.

Paper drying

But of much more interest was the house itself, which the owner has packed with beautifully carved details on every wooden surface - pillars, balustrades, window frames etc.


In the Paper Museum

And from the roof several (steep) floors up, we had great views over the houses of the town, although the weather was too hazy for us to see the surrounding mountains.

View over the town

From here we headed out of the old town to be picked up by our driver and taken to a hotel with wonderful views where we had lunch. I say wonderful views and they were, but they would have been far more so had the Himalayas not been hidden in the haze.

Our lunch time view


From here we drove to Dhulikhel, another beautiful old town but far less busy than Bhaktapur. Higher too, with cool mountain air that made it a real pleasure to wander its streets. I was pleased to find some street art here, something I didn’t see in many places in Nepal, and Chris was befriended by one of the local dogs!




In Dhulikhel

At the top of the hill we visited one of the town’s many temples dedicated to the goddess Bhagwati, a manifestation of Parvati. This temple is recorded as having been reconstructed in 1647 by King Jagat Malla of Bhaktapur, but there is no record of its original construction date.



Bhagwati Temple

Apart from that one temple this was a place to soak up the atmosphere rather than tick off the sights. And of course to take plenty of photos!



In Dhulikhel

The drive back to Kathmandu was very slow, with hold-ups on the road, especially near the giant statue of Shiva, Kailashnath Mahadev, high on a hill above the road. Buses were stopping on the narrow winding road to drop off or pick up pilgrims, causing a fair amount of chaos!

Kailashnath Mahadev

By the time we got back it was well after 5.00 and we decided to stay in and have a light meal at the hotel rather than go out again, especially as we had to sort our luggage ready for our departure from Kathmandu the next day. We would be back again later in the trip but for now it was time to move on.

Posted by ToonSarah 12:43 Archived in Nepal Tagged people architecture temple history statue views windows nepal street_art crafts customs street_photography

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Wonderful photos. I especially like the children playing chases in the temple, but they are all amazing.

by irenevt

Hello, Sarah! Thanks for sharing your great story and excellent photo memories... ~ Happy trails in the future! ~

by Vic_IV

Thank you both :) Irene, those kids were great, playing up to my camera and really enjoying it!

by ToonSarah

You have been very busy I see, so many interesting places! I think I couldn't keep up with your pace :)

Dhulikhel looks worth visiting, soaking up the atmosphere is always engrossing :)

by hennaonthetrek

We saw a lot Henna but it wasn't especially fast-paced. We had leisurely evenings on the whole, and some quieter days too :)

by ToonSarah

I think you have failed to mention about those quieter days, lol :)

by hennaonthetrek

They will come later in the trip account I promise!

by ToonSarah

Another massively interesting read and with your usual brilliant photography.

Who would have known that the Nepalese of old got off on bestiality, although the logistics of the elephant still elude me. I have visited literally thousands of shrines / temples / whatever and never saw anything like that.

Can't wait for the next page.

by planxty

I'm sure those elephants are NOT anatomically accurate - I've seen footage of them mating on David Attenborough programmes and it looked nothing like that :D

by ToonSarah

you guys certainly had a busy day and seeing all the beautiful pictures it was well worth it! :)

by Ils1976

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