Bhaktapur Durbar Square

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Bhaktapur Durbar Square 2014

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is the plaza in front of the royal palace of the old Bhaktapur Kingdom, 1400m above sea level.[1] It is one of three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Bhaktapur Durbar Square is located in the current town of Bhaktapur, also known as Bhadgoan,[1] which lies 13 km east of Kathmandu. While the complex consists of at least four distinct squares (Durbar Square, Taumadhi Square, Dattatreya Square and Pottery Square),[2] the whole area is informally known as the Bhakapur Durbar Square and is a highly visited site in the Kathmandu Valley.

Major attractions[edit]

Durbar Area
  • 55 Window Palace: Built in the 15th century, the 55 Window Palace is the dominating architectural structure in the square.[3]
  • Golden Gate: The main entrance to the palace, the golden gate is a masterpiece of artwork.[3]
  • Lion's Gate: The magnificent and beautiful gate was produced from artisans whose hands were cut off after finishing touch to them by the envious Bhadgoun king so that no more of such masterpiece would be produced again.[3]
  • Mini Pashupati Temple: The holy god Shiva temple, the mini pashupati, is believed to be built right in front of the palace after a Bhadgoan king dreamed of it.[3]
  • Vatsala Temple: The Vatsala temple is known for its dog-barking bell which is believed to producee a death knell when it is rung.[3]
  • Nyatapola Temple: Nyatapola in Newari language means five stories — the symbolic of five basic elements. This is the highest pagoda of Nepal ever built with such architectural perfection and artistic beauty.[3]
  • Bhairava Nath Temple: The Bhairava Nath temple is dedicated to the god of terror and death: Bhairava.[3]


Erotic elephants temple — On the left just before the entrance way to the square is a hiti (water tank). A few steps before that but on the other side of the road, just 100m before the entrance way, is a tiny double-roofed Shiva-Parvati temple with some erotic carvings on its struts. One of these shows a pair of copulating elephants, in the missionary position: Kisi (elephant) Kamasutra.[4]

Ugrachandi and Ugrabhairab — Near the main gate at the west end, one can admire a pair of multiple-armed statues of the terrible god Ugrabhairab and his counterpart Ugrachandi, the fearsome manifestation of Shiva’s consort Parvati. The statues date back to 1701 A.D. and it is said that the unfortunate sculptor had his hands cut off afterwards, to prevent him from duplicating his masterpieces. Ugrachandi has eighteen arms holding weapons, and she is in the position of casually killing a (buffalo) demon. Bhairab has twelve arms and both god and goddess are garlanded with necklaces of human heads.[5]

Rameshwar Temple — The first temple one notices on the right of the gate is Rameshwar, in front of Gopi Nath Temple which is a Gum Baja style. It is an open shrine with four pillars and it is dedicated to Shiva. The name Rameshwar comes from that it was Ram as an incarnation of Vishnu who had the original temple of Mahadev built at Rameshwar Temple in South India.[6]

Badrinath Temple — A small temple west of the Gopi Nath Temple locally known as Badri Narayan is dedicated to Vishnu and Narayan.[7]

Gopi Nath Temple — Two roofed pagoda style is the Gopi Nath Temple, attached to Rameshwar Temple that houses the three deities Balaram, Subhadra and Krishna. It is difficult to see the deities as the door remains mostly closed. The temple is also known as Jagannath, which is another from taken by Vishnu. Dwarika, also known as the Krishna Temple, houses three deities, left to right: Satyabhama, Krishna and Radha. Their images are carved in stone. In the month of Mangsir (November/December), the deities are placed in a palanquin and taken around the city.[8]

Kedarnath Temple — The terracotta made Shikara style temple is the Kedarnath (Shiva) Temple.[9]

Hanuman Statue — The entrance to the National Art Gallery is flanked by figure of Hanuman, the monkey god, who appears in Tantric form as the four armed Hanuman Bhairab. Hanuman is worshiped for strength and the devotion.[10]

Vatsala Devi Temple — Directly in front of the palace and beside the king’s statue and next to the Taleju Bell is the Vatsala Devi Temple. This Shikhara style temple is completely constructed in sandstone and is built upon a three-stage plinth, and has similarities to the Krishna temple of Patan. It is dedicated to Vatsala Devi, a form of the goddess Durga. The temple was originally built by King Jitamitra Malla in 1696 A.D. The structure that can be seen today, however, is reconstructed by King Bhupatindra Malla and dates back to the late 17th or early 18th century. Behind the temple is a water source called Dhunge Dhara and next to it stands the Chayslin Mandap.[11]


Bhaktapur Durbar Square in 2004

The Durbar Square proper houses the 55-window Palace which was constructed by King Jitamitra Malla and was home to royalty until 1769. It is now a national gallery. Close by is the Golden Gate which leads into Mulchok Court which is home to the Taleju Temple. This temple, like others in the main towns of the Kathmandu Valley, is dedicated to the goddess Taleju Bhawani and includes shrines to both the Taleju Bhawani and Kumari. Entrance to the temple is restricted to Hindus and the living goddess strictly cannot be photographed.

The Durbar square is surrounded by spectacular architecture and vividly showcases the skills of the Newari artists and craftsmen over several centuries. The royal palace was originally situated at Dattaraya square and was only later moved to the Durbar square location.


The Durbar square at Bhaktapur was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1934 and hence appears more spacious than the others, in Kathmandu and Patan.[12]

Originally, there were 99 courtyards attached to this place, but now only 6 remain. Before the 1934 earthquake, there were 3 separate groups of temples. Currently, the square is surrounded by buildings that survived the quake.[12]

On 25 April 2015, another major earthquake damaged many buildings in the square. The main temple in Bhaktapur's square lost its roof, while the Vatsala Devi temple, famous for its sandstone walls and gold-topped pagodas, was demolished by the quake.[13]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b nepalandbeyond
  2. ^ Cultural History of Nepal By Bhadra Ratha Bajracharya, Shri Ram Sharma, Shiri Ram Bakshi
  3. ^ a b c d e f g aghtrekking
  4. ^ bhaktapur tourism development
  5. ^ bhaktapur tourism development
  6. ^ bhaktapur tourism development
  7. ^ bhaktapur tourism development
  8. ^ bhaktapur tourism development
  9. ^ bhaktapur tourism development
  10. ^ bhaktapur tourism development
  11. ^ bhaktapur tourism development
  12. ^ a b Nepal Handbook by Tom Woodhatch
  13. ^ "Nepal's Kathmandu Valley landmarks flattened by quake". BBC News. 26 April 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 27°40′19.86″N 85°25′42.43″E / 27.6721833°N 85.4284528°E / 27.6721833; 85.4284528