Temple studded medieval squares, thin streets twisting amid red-brick houses and concealed courtyards interspersed with temples, sculptures, reservoirs and wells, Bhaktapur is a primeval city, just 12 kilometers east of Kathmandu, Nepal. Many Nepalis still call with its old name of Bhadgaon (pronounced bud-gown) or the Newari name Khwopa, which means City of disciples.
The name fits – Bhaktapur has not one but three major squares full of soaring temples that includes some of the premium religious architecture in the entire country. The town’s cultural life also remains pompously on display. Artisans weave cloth and carve timber by the roadside, squares are filled with drying pots and open kilns, and locals congregate in communal courtyards to bathe, assemble water and mingle – often over passionate card games.
To observe this tapestry of Nepali life sightseers must pay a town entry fee, which goes into caring and maintaining the temples, this was either NPR1100 or USD11 for foreigners. If you map to visit for several days, you can request the counter to add a note to allow access to the city with the same ticket (at most one week). The main reason for visiting Bhaktapur is because its Durbar Square is among the seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Khatmandu Valley. Once in Bhaktapur, walking is really the only way to discover the quiet, dusty lanes squares. There are no rickshaws, tuk-tuks, or taxis allowed inside the city.