Come along on our journey as we travel Nepal In 2 Weeks – Day 2: Patan and Bhaktapur! On our second day in Nepal, we took a day trip from Kathmandu to visit Patan. A pretty city with a long Buddhist history making for an impressive collection of palaces and temples. Unfortunately our morning was off to rainy start. We got caught in a torrential downpour and the streets around Durbar Square were completely flooded.
Patan was also hit hard by the earthquake and again, my heart ached to see so many temples in ruins. There were signs of hope however, as many sites displayed flags signifying that a country was sponsoring the reconstruction.
Patan is known for its metal craftsmanship and many temples were adorned with beautifully detailed metal engravings. We picked up a souvenir metal statue from one of the many metal shops that lined the cobblestone streets.
The rain finally ceased mid-morning and we were able to enter the Patan Museum. The museum was formerly the residence of the Malla kings and houses an impressive history of Buddhism and Hinduism in Nepal. There are over 200 metal figurines as well as historical photos of Kathmandu. The dark, narrow hallways displayed fascinating relics including a large ceremonial bench covered with magnificent engravings of snakes.
From the museum we moved into the Patan Palace that consisted of three courtyards that were adorned with incredible carvings: Keshav Narayan Chok, Mul Chok and Sundari Chok.
The royal bath in the Bhandarkhal Garden has recently been restored and dates back to the 12th century.
I loved the sunken fountain in Sundari Chok. Just look at the detail on each of the figurines! I’ve never seen a fountain quite like this before and was so impressed. The fountain was commissioned by King Siddhi Narsingh Malla in 1647 and each stone alcove is devoted to members of the Hindu pantheon.
Of the three Durbar Squares in the Valley, Patan’s Durbar Square is considered the most harmonious and elegant. Patan was also much less hectic than Kathmandu, and I appreciated the peaceful vibes of the square, despite the rain!
In the afternoon, we headed to Bhaktapur, the third of the medieval city-states in the Valley and a short drive from Patan. Named the “City of Devotees” Bhaktapur is home to some of the finest architecture in Nepal, but was also heavily damaged by the earthquake.
One of the least damaged areas was Naga Poktari, a 17th century water tank that is framed by stone serpents. An impressive serpent towers at the end of the tank, where water poured out of a dhara in the form of a goat being consumed by a makara.
The Vatsala Durga Temple was severely damaged but King Bhupatindra Malla’s Column still stands tall in front of the temple. The bronze statue of King Bhupatindra Malla sits peacefully at the very top, and is similar to statues in the Durbar Squares of Patan and Kathmandu.
The Taleju Bell is also in front of the Vatsala Durga Temple and was erected in 1737 to mark the daily morning and evening prayers at the temple. There was something beautiful about this large bell sitting defiantly over the pile of rubble.
The Siddhi Lakshmi Temple was heavily supported by beams but the guardians of the temple: female and male attendants who led a child and a dog, horses, rhinos, human-faced lions and camels; still stood their guard.
Behind the Siddhi Lakshmi Temple, two large stone lions can be found. Some say they are protecting the palace, while others claim they are watching over the site of a lost temple that disappeared in the earthquake of 1934.
We visited an art school where students with disabilities learn about art and sell their own work, such a wonderful idea! Most impressive was the sand mandala that the students of the Dalai Lama made for the school. The detail on the sand mandala was exquisite. Traditionally after sand mandalas are completed they are swept away to symbolize “impermanence”. Nothing is permanent – I couldn’t agree more. Human nature tries to fight against this in regards to, for example, relationships. We take them for granted and find it hard to let go when it is unrealistic to assume they will last forever.
Dedicated to Bhairab, the incarnation of Shiva in his fearsome state, Bhairabnath Temple was built in the early 17th century and was rebuilt after the 1934 earthquake.
Nyatapola Temple is the most impressive temple in Bhaktapur. This perfectly proportioned five storey temple is the tallest building in all of Nepal and was built in 1702, surviving both the 1934 and 2015 earthquakes. Legendary Rajput wrestlers Jayamel and Phattu lined the stairs, which were also guarded by elephants, lions, griffons and two goddesses: Baghini and Singhini.
Bhaktapur is renowned for its woodcarving, and we picked up a fearsome looking Shiva mask from this amazing mask store. Picking one mask was a hard decision!
A couple of goats were hanging out in front of the Dattatreya Temple, that is also guarded by the same two Malla wrestlers that are found at the Nyatapola Temple. Speaking of woodcarving, this temple was supposedly built using the timber from a single tree!
One of my favourite door shots of the whole trip! These bright sky blue doors may have seen better days, but still added a happy splash of colour to the otherwise brick and wood architectural landscape.
As evening came upon us, the sun finally came out and cast a magical glow over the bustling main street of Bhaktapur. I loved our day trip to these fascinating city-states!
Back in Kathmandu, we ventured out into the winding streets of Thamel to find this tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant. As far as dive restaurants go, this one did not disappoint! We devoured the tasty noodles and had our first taste of the famous Himalayan dumpling: the momo. A flavourful, juicy morsel wrapped in a soft, steamed wrapper. We predicted many momos were going to be consumed on this trip! Especially the buffalo momos…