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Back in time: The Medieval City of Bhaktapur

Kathmandu, Nepal

As you walk into Bhaktapur, you cannot but be overcome by a feeling of inner harmony. Such is the art and architecture and the special layout here.

The Palace of 55 Windows built during the period of King Bhupatindra Malla in 1754 situated to the left as you enter through the city gate, inspires admiration. The National Art Gallery is also housed inside. The palace entrance, the Golden Gate known as Sunko Dhoka in Nepali is a masterpiece in repousse art. In front of the palace building is a medley of temples of various designs. Amongst the three Durbar Squares in the Valley, the Durbar Square in Bhaktapur is the best preserved.

Taumadhi Square lies to the east of Durbar Square reached by a narrow brick-paved lane. The towering five-roofed Nyatapol temple presides over the square. The monument gracefully soars into the sky atop a five-story plinth. The stairway leading up to the temple is flanked by stone figures of deities and mythical beasts, each 10 times more powerful than the one immediately below.

Dattatreya Square takes its name from the Dattatreya temple dedicated to a three-headed combination of the Hindu deities Brahma, Bishnu and Shiva. If you want to experience the feel of the traditional urban layout of Bhaktapur, Dattatreya Square is it. Set in a maze of streets lined with richly ornamented houses, the square is famed for its many ornate Hindu monasteries known as Math. The National Woodworking Museum is also housed here and the Brass and Bronze Museum is across the street. The oldest structure in Bhaktapur was raised during the reign of the last Malla King, Yaksha Malla who ruled the Valley before it was divided into three Kingdoms amongst his three heirs.

Potter’s Square. A two-minute walk south of Durbar Square brings you to Bolachhen, also known as Potter’s Square because of the many potters seen here moulding wet clay into different kinds of earthen ware. It has a display of fresh pottery left out to dry in the open square. This place can be approached from Taumadhi Square. The elephant-headed Lord Ganesh is the patron of potters, thus the Jeth Ganesh temple in the square.

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