Last Updated on August 21, 2015 by Kay Rodriguez

Terracotta-roofed pagodas tower over the squares and courtyards. Narrow cobblestone streets weave their way between the houses, red-brick temples, stone statues and cisterns. Artisans are drying their pottery out in the open, while women weave cloth and knead clay by the roadside.

This is Bhaktapur, one of the best preserved ancient towns in Nepal. Thanks to its location in the Kathmandu Valley along the old trade route between Tibet and India, Bhaktapur used to be a prosperous gateway; today it remains an excllent place to visit with its  treasure trove of pagodas and palaces. With architecture dating back to the 16th century, it displays the best arts and craft achievements from Nepal’s Malla dynasty.

Also known as Khwopa (City of Devotees) in Newari, the UNESCO World Heritage site has not one but four major squares —all filled with temples and historical buildings. An earthquake in 1934 severely damaged the city but many of its buildings are slowly being restored to their original glory. To further restoration and preservation there is an entrance fee of US$15 for visitors but it’s worth the price. This also goes towards improving the residents’ standard of living.

During my recent trip to Nepal with G Adventures, I explored the old town and learned all about its history from our knowledgeable and fun guide BK. Here are some of my best shots:

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Temples  in Bhaktapur showcase the skills of Newari artists and craftsmen over several centuries.

More towering temples

The pagoda style is typical of most temples built during the Malla dynasty.

Temple in Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Many of the stone statues in Bhaktapur are dedicated to the goddess Taleju Bhawani.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square from a different angle

Bhaktapur’s temple seen from a different perspective.

Newari architecture in Durbar Square

This particular pagoda dates back to the 16th century. Access is not allowed to the upper levels as restoration is still underway.

55-window palace

The 55 Window Palace in Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square is decorated with intricate carvings.

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Sanskrit scripts

Sanskrit words painted on the eaves of the wooden frames.

Sanskrit scriptures

Sanskrit scriptures carved onto stones.

A close-up of the temple carvings

16th century Hindu carvings can still be seen on the exterior of the temples.

An ancient statue

A giant stone figure guards the entrance to the Hindu temple in Durbar Square.

Pottery Square

The Pottery Square is often filled with drying pottery and kilns.

Women working at the Pottery Square

An artisan bends down to check her her pottery.

My friend tries his hand at pottery making

My friend Kristian tries his hand at pottery-making.

A young artist painting the thanka

A young lady is hard at work painting Buddhist thankas.

A baby playing on the square

I couldn’t resist snapping a shot of this baby. Love how mothers use eyeliners on their babies who are barely a year old!

A shopkeeper in his sari shop in Bhaktapur

A kind vendor lets me photograph his sari shop. The store may be small but he’s got all types of sari and textiles on sale.

A street food vendor

Selling pakora on the streets.

Streets and shops of Bhaktapur

The streets of Bhaktapur.

Narrow alleys of Bhaktapur

 A narrow cobblestone alley that winds between houses.


Disclaimer: I traveled to Nepal with G Adventures as one of their Wanderers in Residence, but as always, all opinions expressed above are our own.