Patan Durbar Square
Patan’s Durbar Square presents an example of mastery in urban design with a complex of temples fronting the old royal palace of Patan. The many shrines here offer a medley of architectural styles, with the stone temple of Krishna Mandir, dedicated to the Hindu deity Krishna, standing out with its workmanship. The palace building contains a number of chowks, or courtyards. The Sundari Chowk has in its centre a sunken bath with its walls embellished with stone carvings. The Golden Window in the palace is a masterpiece in repousse art. UNESCO has declared Patan Durbar Square a World Heritage Site.
The Golden Temple, locally known as Kwa Bahal, is one of the most renowned Buddhist monastery courtyards in Patan. Its origin goes back to the 12th century. The monastery complex consists of a rectangular building with three roofs and a facade embossed with gilded copper. The many ancient Buddha images here attract throngs of worshippers.
The Kumbheswor temple in Patan is one of only three pagoda temples in the Kathmandu Valley with five roofs. It is ornamented with elaborate carvings and the site is dotted with sacred statues. There are two ponds in the courtyard believed to be filled with water flowing through a subterranean channel from the holy lake Gosaikund, several days’ trek north of Kathmandu. It is the oldest existing temple in Patan built in the 14th century.
The Mahabouddha temple of Patan is unusual for its obelisk design in a city of pagoda-shaped temples. Terracotta plaques depicting the Buddha cover the entire structure, which is why it is also known as the Temple of the Thousand Buddhas. A visit to Mahabouddha is also an opportunity to get the feel of traditional Patan with its quaint streets and hidden courtyards. Mahabouddha was built towards the end of the 16th century. It is said it took three generations to complete the temple. The whole temple covered in 9,999 Buddha images in terracotta bricks is the specialty of this temple.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
The Golden Gate is the centre of attraction at Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The main entrance of the former palace building here depicts master art at its best. The magnificent workmanship on the tympanum with its images of various deities points to the skill of ancient masters. The Fifty-five Window Palace here used to be the residence of Bhaktapur’s old kings. The many courtyards inside contain shrines dedicated to various deities, which are all richly carved. The Durbar Square has a large open brick-paved area in the centre surrounded by temples arranged in a harmonious layout. UNESCO has declared Bhaktapur Durbar Square a World Heritage Site.
A narrow alley leads from the Durbar Square to Taumadhi Square that contains the pride of Bhaktapur and the symbol of the artistic and architectural supremacy of the Kathmandu Valley – the Nyatapol temple. Built atop a massive terraced plinth, the splendid five-roofed pagoda is the tallest in Nepal. Its stone, woodcarvings, and graceful design display sacred architecture at its height. The stairs leading up to the temple is flanked by stone figures of deities and mythical animals.
The Dattatreya Square of Bhaktapur used to be the centre of town in ancient times. The streets are lined with traditional houses ornamented with elaborately carved wooden windows. The Dattatreya temple, which draws both Hindu and Buddhist worshippers, dates back to the 15th century. The Bhimsen temple here was erected in the early 1600s. The famed Peacock Window of Bhaktapur is set into a wall of the Pujari Math where Hindu priests reside.