Bhaktapur (Nepali: भक्तपुर, pronounced [ˈbʱʌkt̪ʌpur] (listen); lit. "City of Devotees"), known locally as Khwopa (Nepal Bhasa: 𑐏𑑂𑐰𑐥𑑅‎, Khvapa), is a city in the east corner of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal located about 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) from the capital city, Kathmandu.[4][6] In terms of area, Bhaktapur is the smallest city of Nepal.[4][7] Along with Kathmandu and Lalitpur, Bhaktapur is one of the three main cities of the Kathmandu Valley and is a major Newar settlement of the country. The city is also known for its Newar tradition, cuisine and artisans.[8] Bhaktapur suffered heavy damage in the April 2015 earthquake.

𑐏𑑂𑐰𑐥𑑅 (Newar)
Bhaktapur Municipality
Tamārhi, the main square of Bhaktapur
Tamārhi, the main square of Bhaktapur
Official seal of Bhaktapur
Etymology: Sanskrit translation of Classical Newari: Khopring, lit.'rice village' (See Etymology).
City of Festivals and dance[1]
Nepali: पुर्खले सिर्जेको सम्पत्ती, हाम्रो कला र संस्कृति, lit.'Creation of our ancestors, our heritage and culture'
Bhaktapur is located in Bagmati Province
Location in Bagmati Province, Nepal
Bhaktapur is located in Nepal
Bhaktapur (Nepal)
Coordinates: 27°40′20″N 85°25′40″E / 27.67222°N 85.42778°E / 27.67222; 85.42778Coordinates: 27°40′20″N 85°25′40″E / 27.67222°N 85.42778°E / 27.67222; 85.42778
ProvinceBagmati Province
SettledFirst settled since antiquity, incorporated as a city in the 12th century by Ananda Deva[2]
Founded byAnanda Deva
Wards24 (historical)
10 (current)
 • MayorSunil Prajapati (NWPP)
 • Deputy MayorRajani Joshi (NWPP)
 • Total6.889 km2 (2.660 sq mi)
Elevation1,401 m (4,596 ft)
 • Total78,854
 • Density11,000/km2 (30,000/sq mi)
 • Ethnicities
Newar Tamang Khas
 • Religions
Newar Hinduism and Newar Buddhism
 • Official languageNepal Bhasa and Nepali
Time zoneUTC+05:45 (NST)
Postal code
Area code01

As part of the Kathmandu Valley, it shares its history, culture and language with the other cities of the valley. Bhaktapur was founded in the 12th century by King Ananda Deva and served as the capital of Nepal during the first half of Malla Dynasty until the kingdom split into three in the 15th century.[4][9] Bhaktapur was a wealthy independent Newar kingdom under the Malla kings who ruled Bhaktapur from the 15th century to late 18th century before it was annexed into the Gorkha Kingdom.[10] The Malla era was a golden one for Bhaktapur as it was during their reign that art and architecture flourished in Bhaktapur.[11] After its annexation however, development of arts and architecture in the city halted and Bhaktapur remained isolated form the now capital city of Kathmandu and Patan with minimal migration of people from other ethnic groups allowing it to preserve its medieval ambience and remain a homogeneous Newar city.[12] Compared to other Newar settlements, Bhaktapur is predominantly Hindu and speaks a distinct dialect of Nepal Bhasa.[12][3]

Bhaktapur is one of the most visited tourist destination of Nepal.[13][14] As such it is an important tourist destination in Nepal with the medieval city attracting 301,012 tourists in 2014.[13][15] Bhaktapur is famous for its numerous festivals and carnivals like the Biskā jātrā and Sāpāru. It is also famous for its cuisine with the jūjū dhau, a type of yogurt made from buffalo milk being the most popular. Bhaktapur's potters and handicraft industries are also known nationwide.[14][16] Due to its well preserved medieval nature, UNESCO inscribed Bhaktapur as a World Heritage Site since 1979.[14][13]


The oldest name of the city, based on several Licchavi dynasty inscription from the 7th century was "Mākhōpring" or just "Khōpring".[2] In Nepal Bhasa, the mother tongue of Bhaktapur, the city is called "Khwopa", a derivative of the word "Khopring".[17] There isn't a universally accepted etymology of "Khopring", however most historians and linguists accept that "Khopring" consists of two Kiranti words "kho" and "pring", meaning "cooked rice" and "village" respectively.[17] Given its location in the Kathmandu Valley, Bhaktapur's fertile soil was popular for its production of rice and hence the city was named after its produce.[17] This etymology is further supported by its Sanskrit translation, "Bhaktapura" which appeared for the first time in an inscription from 928.[18] The city was also sometimes referred as Bhaktagrāma instead of Bhaktapura where grāma denoted a village as opposed to pura which denoted a town in Sanskrit.[17]

In a manuscript from 1004, the city is referred as Khwopu.[18] Similarly, the Gopal Raj Vamshavali written in the 14th century refers to the city as Khwopa, Khwopu and Swopa.[18] The name Khwopa or its derivatives appear ubiquitously in inscriptions, manuscripts and treaties since the beginning of the Malla dynasty.[16]

After the conquest of Bhaktapur by the Gorkhali armies of Prithivi Narayan Shah in 1769, Bhaktapur was started to be referred as "Bhatgaon", the Khas translation of "Bhaktagrama".[16][19] The name Bhatgaon was used until the 1930s when Juddha Shumsher Rana, after witnessing the numerous temples in the city and the devotion of the locals towards it, decreed that the city should be referred as Bhaktapur as in "city of devotees" instead of Bhatgaon.[19] However, most scholars and people from outside Bhaktapur used the name Bhatgaon till the late 20th century.[18]



The folklore of the Kathmandu Valley states that the entire valley and as such Bhaktapur itself was once an enormous lake.[20] Geological surveys conducted by Swiss geologist Toni Hagen proved that the Kathmandu Valley was in fact a lake which formed when the Lower Himalayan Range was being created due to the collision between the Indian and Eurasian plate.[21] The lake water started eroding the limestone hills of Chobhar and starting from around thirty thousand years ago, the lake started to drain.[22] Plain lands appeared in the valley and between 30,000 and 15,000 years, most of the valley was drained.[22] In folklore, the credit of draining the valley is given to the Bodhisattva Manjushri .[20] Believed to be a saint from Greater China, Manjushri is said to have cut a gorge from his sword in order to drain the valley so that he could worship and gain wisdom from Swayambhunath Buddha who resided in the lake.[20] Manjushri is believed to have entered the Katmandu Valley from the east and his resting place has been made into a shrine where the people of Bhaktapur make a pilgrimage to every year during late winter and before the festival of Shree Panchami.

Apart from above, much of the early history of Bhaktapur is largely unknown.[2] It is clear that people started to settle in the Kathmandu Valley after it was drained due to its fertile soil owing to it being a lakebed.[20] The Gopal Raj Vamshavali, a 14th century Newar language manuscript states that a clan known as Gopāla first settled the Kathmandu Valley.[23] The manuscript further says that Gopāla, who were cow herders, were overthrown by the Mahispāla, who were buffalo herders.[23] Soon, the Kirata King Yalambar conquered the valley and established his own Kirānta dynasty. Although no direct proof of the existence of the first three ruling dynasties as mentioned in the Gopal Raj Vamshavali has been found, indirect proof such as place names and mentions in the inscriptions of the Licchavi peroid has been used to support the existence of at least the Kirānta dynasty.[23] For Bhaktapur as well, the existence of a non-Sanskrit name, Khopring, in the Sanskrit language stone inscriptions of the Licchavi dynasty supports the existence of a settlement before the arrival of the Licchavi clan from Vaishali.[2] The modern day Jyāpu community of the Newars is believed to be the descendants of the Kirānta clan and the modern day Newar language is believed to derived from the language that he Kirānta clan spoke.[2]

Licchavi dynastyEdit

A 7th century stone sculpture depicting the reflection of Tulā Rāni,, a mythical queen from Bhaktpur.[24]

Three stone inscriptions from the Licchavi dynasty has been recovered so far in Bhaktapur.[2] One of them dated to 594 was recovered in Gomārhi district in the eastern part of Bhaktapur was made during the reign of Amshuverma.[2] Another similar inscription from 594, recovered from Tulāche district in the central part of Bhaktapur was also made during the reign of Amshuverma.[2] The Gomārhi inscription contains a decree from Amshuverma that "people from Mākhopring draṅga should be given more rights for a self rule."[25] Similarly, the Tulāche inscription contains a similar message but the settlement has been referred as "khōpring grāma".[2] During the Licchavi dynasty, settlements with a minimum of 100 houses and a maximum of 500 houses were classified as "grāma" and wealthy settlements were classified as "draṅga".[2] So, the settlements around the present day Gomārhi district were wealthier than the settlements around the present day Tulāche district.[2] In Nepal Bhasa, is a prefix meaning "main or principal", meaning Mākhopring was a sub-division of Khopring, most likely the main part of Khopring.[25] Finally, a third inscription recovered at Tālako district in the southwestern part of Bhaktapur mention the place name as "mākhoduluṃ" which was probably a separate village from Khōpring.[25]

Bhaktapur's oldest hiti is also dated from the Licchavi dynatsy.[24] It is said that the Rajkulo canals, which supplies water in hitis were built and managed by Tulā Rāni, a mythical queen who is believed to have lived in Bhaktapur during the Licchavi dynasty.[24] In folklore, Tulā Rāni made and repaired the Rajkulo canals as she is said to only weigh a single tola or 11 grams and hence float on water.[26]


Statue of Ananda Deva, the founder of Bhaktapur recovered at the courtyard of Sulamā Māhādeo temple, Bhaktapur.[27]

Because Bhaktapur lay on the trade route road took by merchants going to Tibet, its size and population continued to grow.[28][29] By the 12th century, Bhaktapur contained twelve thousand houses.[30] Ananda Deva, who ruled Nepal Mandala from 1146 to 1167 established a royal court in the central part of Bhaktapur and declared it as the new capital of Nepal.[16] Bhaktapur was chosen as the new capital mostly because of its geography.[31] It is situated on top of a small hill and the hill itself is surrounded by the Hauman river in the south and the Kasan river in the north.[32] The royal court, Tripura Rājkula, according to the Gopal Raj Vamshavali was architecturally similar to Amsuverma's Kailashkut Bhawan.[33] Andanda Deva is also credited with the establishment of shrines of the eight Matrikas (known as Ajimā in Nepal Bhasa) on the edges of the city proper.[34] Because of these eight shrines surrounding the city, Bhaktapur is regarded as a sacred Mandala.[34] Similar arrangement of mother goddesses can be found in other cities of the valley such as Kathmandu and Patan, both of which were established before Bhaktapur. However in Bhaktapur, there are nine Matrikas instead of the traditional eight and the shrine of ninth goddess, Tripura Sundari, who is considered the leaders of the Matrikas of Bhaktapur, was established in the central part of the town with the goddess acting as the focal point of the mandala.[34] The royal court of Ananda Deva, Tripura Rājkula was established next to and named after the Goddess Tripura Sundari.[32] However, the famed Tripura Rājkula has been lost to time, most likely due to various earthquakes with its decline further accelerated due to the apathy shown by future rulers towards its maintenance.[35] Some legends attribute that Ananda Deva was directed to establish Bhaktapur by the Goddess Annapurna. In the chronicles under the possession of Daniel Wright, it is written that Ananda Deva invoked the Goddess Annapurna while in Kashi and under her command established the city of Bhaktapur.[36] The chronicle further states that Ananda Deva was addressed by the Matrikas in his dream and under their command established their shrines in a particular edge of the city proper.[36] The mother goddesses are believed to protect the city and its people from evil spirits and bad omens as well as from physical dangers.[36] Within the city itself, there are also ten minor shrines of the Mahavidya, a group of Tantric goddesses believed to protect the city, which were established by Ananda Deva as well.[37]

Capital city of NepalEdit

As Bhaktapur became the seat of the government, it also became the target for numerous foreign invasions. The first of these attacks occurred in the winter of 1299, when the Doya armies from the Tirhut kingdom invaded Bhaktapur.[38] The main reasons for these attacks was the internal division among the royal family of Nepal.[38] Soon after Ananda Deva's death, a new royal house emerged. Believed to have been started by Ari Malla, they used Malla as their surname instead of Deva and built a new palace named Yuthunimam .[38] When the conflictions between both houses worsened, the House of Tripura sought help from Tirhut while the House of Yuthunimam sought help from Khasa Kingdom.[38] Thus, both of these kingdoms started interfering in the internal politics of Nepal. Sensing a weak government, the Doya armies from Tirhut attacked Bhaktapur in the winter of 1299 and 1300.[38] According to the Gopal Raj Vamshavali, the Doya armies captured much of Nepal Mandala, but were unable to penetrate the fortification of the Tripura Rājkula palace and were eventually forced to retreat.[32]

Amidst the internal division, Nepal Mandala was attacked by the armies of the Bengali Shah Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah in 1349.[39][40][41] Bhaktapur suffered the most from this attack as not only it was the capital at that time, the city was also in the eastern part of the valley, the same direction the 20,000 forces came from.[40][41] The forces broke through the city gates, destroying infrastructure and looting valuables. The forces slaughtered men and women of Bhaktapur, although the casualties are unknown and the entire city was set on fire which lasted for seven days, effectively destroying the city.[40][41]

Ruins of the medieval city gate, Mākachva Dhvākhā in southern Bhaktapur. It is the only remaining infrastructure from the fortification of Bhaktapur done by Yaksha Malla.

The forces of Shah had also attacked Simraungadh and Harisimhadeva, its king made the decision to seek refuge in Nepal in order to secure the tutelary goddess of Harisimhadeva, Taleju. Harisimhadeva couldn't survive the journey but his wife Dévaldévi made it to her father's kingdom. The Sri Yantra of Taleju which she brought was said to have been owned once by both Indra and Rama. When Dévaldévi introduced Taleju to Bhaktapur, the Malla kings accepted her as their tutelary goddess and established her near their palace.[42][page needed] Local folklore tells that when the Sri Yantra of Taleju was first brought to Bhaktapur, the place for her establishment was discovered by burying the Yantra in the ground. The goddess was to be established where the Sri Yantra made the ground sink.[42][page needed] This method is believed to have been done on three places in Bhaktapur. All there places have a shrine dedicated to the goddess, with the main shrine being the most extensive, decorated and secretive.[42][page needed] The future kings built their palace around the newly established shrine of Taleju.[42][page needed] The courtyard housing the Sri Yantra of Taleju is called the Mūl Chuka, meaning the main courtyard.[42][page needed]

Yakshya Malla was the last king of a unified Nepal Mandala who ruled from Bhaktapur from 1428 to 1481.[43] It was during his reign that the territory of the kingdom expanded to Mithila in the south and Tibet in the north.[43] In order to protect his capital while he was away on battle, he fortified Bhaktapur and strengthened the city gates which correspond with the shrines of the Eight Matrikas.[43] He also fortified the royal palace square of Bhaktapur. Yakshya Malla was also a religious minded King and has built various temples and viharas, especially in Bhaktapur and Patan.[43] The Yakshésvara temple located in Durbar Square of Bhaktapur is a replica of Pashupatinath temple of Kathmandu and is named after himself.[44] The temple of Dattatreya of Bhaktapur, the only one of its kind in Nepal was also built by him.[43][45]

Kingdom of BhaktapurEdit

Copper plate motif at the Akasha Bhairava temple depicting the sword of Devi, the symbol of the Kingdom of Bhaktapur.
Detail of a fresco at the royal palace which depicts Bhupatindra Malla and his queen Vishva Lakshmi as a divine couple. Bhupatindra Malla reigned from 1696 to 1722 and his reign is considered the cultural highpoint of Bhaktapur.[46]

After the death of Jayayakshya Malla, his kingdom was divided among his sons of which the eldest, Raya Malla got the throne of Bhaktapur.[47] The first few kings of Bhaktapur were militarily weak and relied heavily on its strong fortification to deter attacks from other kingdoms, especially the kingdom of Kantipur.[47] In October 1558 Ganga Devi, the queen of Vishva Malla, took control of the kingdom and served as a queen regnant until her sons Trailokya and Tribhuvan Malla grew mature.[47] She is regarded as the first strong ruler of Bhaktapur and is widely known for her military conquest and construction works.[47] She was the first ruler of Bhaktapur to take Diksha from Taleju, the tutelary goddess of the Mallas in 1567 as previous rulers were barred to do so by Kantipur.[47] Angered by her Diksha, Kantipur launched an attack on Bhaktapur.[47] Although, the forces of Kantipur were not able to break through the fortification of the city, they successfully captured other cities within the Kingdom of Bhaktapur like Sankhu, Banepa and Panauti.[47] Ganga Devi later launched a military campaign to recapture all the lost territory and subsequently took control of Dolakha, which back then was a trading centre, as well.[47] However, after her reign ended Bhaktapur lost both Sankhu and Dolakha to Kantipur.[47] Her grandson, Jagajjyoti Malla is known for his contributions in Mithila and Nepal Bhasa literature.[16] His heir, Naresha Malla proved to be a weak king and it was during his reign that Pratap Malla, the king of Kantipur, in his attempt to unify the Kathmandu Valley, attacked Bhaktapur. However, Pratap Malla's forces couldn't break through the city gates and so they imposed a blockade on Bhaktapur.[16] It was only during the reign of Naresha Malla's son, Jagat Prakasha Malla that the forces of Bhaktapur managed to effectively fight back those of Kantipur.[16] An earthquake in 1681, destroyed many of the infrastructure of Bhaktapur and the subsequent rulers, Jitamitra Malla and Bhupatindra Malla spent most of their rule in construction work.[16]

There was an immense competition among the three kingdoms of Bhaktapur, Kantipur and Lalitpur in the fields of art and architecture during this periodecture.[48][49] As a result, many vibrant palaces and temples were built by each of kingdoms in their capital and royal squares or the Durbar Square with the hopes of out beautifying each other.[48][49] This period in Nepalese history is often compared with the Italian Renaissance.[48][50] It was in this period that many of Bhaktapur's iconic structures were built. Kings like Jagat Prakasha Malla, Jitamitra Malla and Bhupatindra Malla are often credited with many of the city's heritages.[51]

There is one European account of Bhaktapur during the Malla dynasty by Italian missionary Ippolito Desideri who visited the Kathmandu Valley from 27 December 1721, to 14 January 1722 who wrote the following about Bhaktapur:

Badgao (Bhaktapur) stands on a hill some six or seven miles from Kathmandu. The air is much better, and with its fine houses and well laid out streets it is a much gayer and more beautiful city than the other two; it has several hundred thousand inhabitants who are engaged in trade

Shah dynastyEdit

After the Battle of Bhaktapur (1769), Bhaktapur was annexed into the expanding Gorkha kingdom.[53] Around 2,000 people died and more than 500 homes were set on fire as a result of the Battle.[54][55] Bhaktapur lost the political and cultural importance to Kathmandu and the development in arts in the city came to a halt.[56] With the shift of capital to Kathmandu and Patan, most of the intellectuals and upper-class families of Bhaktapur left the city for the capital leaving only the farmers and other middle and lower caste people in the city.[56] The influx of Tibetan traders was what had kept the city rich before but due to the centralisation of power after its annexation, Bhaktapur lost many of these traders to Kathmandu.[57] Moreover, in the 19th century the British opened a new and shorter trade route to Tibet through Kalimpong and Nathu La which weakened Bhaktapur's role as a trade hub thereby crippling the economy of the city and until about recently Bhaktapur never recovered from this economic disaster.[57][58][59]

Rana dynastyEdit

A general view of Bhaktapur Durbar Square before the 1934 earthquake which destroyed almost all the buildings in the square.[60][61][62]

The great earthquake of 1833 and 1934 damaged most of the city including the palace and temples.[51][59][63]

In the earthquake of 1833, Bhaktapur suffered the most damage in the Kathmandu Valley. Out of 500 total casualties of the earthquake, at least 200 of them were in Bhaktapur.[64][65] Around 25% to 70% of the town suffered major destruction, including at least 2,000 homes and six to eight temples.[64]

When the 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck in 1934, Bhaktapur was one of the most affected towns of Nepal.[57][66] Around 40-100% of residential buildings were directly affected while 6224 buildings were completely destroyed by the earthquake.[66] Many of the old palaces and temples which were already weakened by the earthquake of 1833 were also completely destroyed. Almost all the buildings in Bhaktapur Durbar Square were heavily damaged.[67] Around 177 heritages were completely destroyed during the earthquake.[66]

Various Malla era a palaces like the Basantapur Lyākū, Chaukot Lyākū and Thanthu Lyākū were completely destroyed.[67][68] Following are the short descriptions of various palaces and temples lost in the earthquake and never remade:

Thanthu Lyākū was first constructed by King Jitamitra Malla in the late 17th century and featured various gardens, balconies and water conduits.[67] It occupied a large area in the upper part of the Durbar Square and was called as Thanthu Lyākū from the Newari word Thanthu meaning "upper part" and Lyākū meaning "place of the royals".[67] This palace fell out of importance after the annexation of Bhaktapur and due to lack of maintenance and repairs was destroyed by the earthquakes of 1833 and 1934.[67] Today, only one of the courtyards of the palace, the Lūnhiti Chwoka, containing the golden spout and the royal bath survives.[51] The area where this palace once stood has been converted into various administrative buildings. Jitamitra Malla, the king who first made the palace had written the following about Thanthu Lyākū palace in a stone inscription:

This palace (Thanthu Lyākū) should be preserved carefully. This palace built in the time of Minister Bhagiritma nobody should do harm; the courtyards, outer and inner portions, the garden, the balcony as well as the water conduit are to be maintained according to the traditional rules, these should not be treated in a different manner as new structures. The reigning monarch shall be responsible for their upkeep and repair; all rules in this connection are to be followed; if they are not adhered to, one is liable to incur the punishment awarded for five great crimes

Basantapur Lyākū nine storey[note 1] building that was erected by King Jagat Prakasha Malla on the eastern part of Bhaktapur Durbar Square and named it as nakhāchhé–tavagola–kwātha, meaning "large fort meant for festivals".[72]

However, the other collapsed palaces like the five storey fort of Chaukot Lyākū and the 23 m tall Basantapur Lyākū were never remade.[51][67] Other buildings like the Chyasilin Mandap and the temple of Hari Shankar were also never remade.[67] However, Chyasilin Mandap was remade by the German Government in the 1980s as a part of the Bhaktapur Development Project (BDP).[73] The BDP also reconstructed the 18th century Pūjāri Matha as a wedding gift for the then crown prince Birendra of Nepal.[57]

The economy of Bhaktapur which had already been struggling after losing the flow of Tibetan traders was greatly crippled by the earthquake of 1833 and 1934.[59] The 1934 earthquake also damaged the physical infrastructure of the town and most of the inhabitants were unable to rebuild their houses properly.[74] The earthquake permanently damaged the Rajkulo canals that had been providing fresh water to the city since the time of the Mallas.[74] An economically struggling Bhaktapur was unable to repair these canals and as a result fresh water became scarce in the city. The sanitation level of Bhaktapur became severely low and poverty and diseases became rampant.[74]

Early modern periodEdit

Aerial view of Bhaktapur in 1962 with the Nyatapola Temple on the far right and the Langtang mountains in the background

In the 1950s Kathmandu and the other cities around it like Patan saw a big rise in urbanization and population. However, Bhaktapur was farther away from the capital and was left out from the development that occurred in the other cities of the Kathmandu Valley.[58][74] Bhaktapur was also greatly isolated and ignored by the central powers. When a new highway was built, it completely bypassed the city and instead ran through the outskirts.[58][59] Travellers from the east who wanted to reach the capital of Kathmandu once used to pass through Bhaktapur but after the construction of the highway, these travellers simply rode a bus to Kathmandu.[42][page needed][59]

Bhaktapur was the poorest city of Nepal in the 20th century.[58]

The Rajkulo canals that provided fresh water was never repaired and sanitation level was very low.[74] Due to extremely high population density and low sanitation, the city became extremely unhygienic as feces and litter filled the roads.[74] Diseases were rampant and greatly affected the farmer majority population of Bhaktapur couldn't afford modern medicine.[42][page needed][74] Just like the inhabitants, the heritages of Bhaktapur also suffered greatly during this period as many arts and artifacts were stolen.[6]

The Bhaktapur Development Project which was initiated by the German government which aimed to restore Bhaktapur to its former glory.[28]


Demographic structure of Bhaktapur as per the census of 2001

Italian missionary Ippolito Desideri who visited Bhaktapur in January 1722 wrote that there are "several hundred thousand" inhabitants in the city.[75][52] The rāga song composed by Ranajit Malla, the last king of Bhaktapur in 1769 AD mention Bhaktapur as a kingdom with 12,000 households.[76] When King Ananda Deva founded Bhaktapur in the 12th century it was said to have 12,000 homes as well.[20] Henry Ambrose Oldfield who visited Nepal during the 1850s wrote that there are fifty thousand inhabitants in Bhaktapur.[77]

At the time of the 2001 Nepal census, it had a population of 72,543.[78] The 2011 Nepal census reports the population of Bhaktapur as 81,748 with 41,081 men and 40,667 women.[79] The preliminary results of the 2021 Nepal census put the population of Bhaktapur at 78,854 with the population of men at 39,664 and of women at 39,140.[80] Around 90% of the population of Bhaktapur belong to the Newar ethnic group.[79]

Main sightsEdit

The Nyatapola temple, built during the reign of King Bhupatindra Malla is the tallest temple of Nepal
Tachapāl square on the eastern part of Bhaktapur is also known as the Dattaterya square.

Bhaktapur is one of the most visited sites of Nepal popular among both foreign and domestic visitors.[15][81] The most visited site of Bhaktapur are the city's four squares, which all except for one are concentrated on the middle part of Bhaktapur.[82] The first of them is the Durbar Square (𑐮𑑂𑐫𑐵𑐎𑐸‎, Lyākū), the former royal palace complex of Bhaktapur and houses the former royal palace and various temples that were built in its vicinity.[63][83] Although, the Durbar Square of Bhaktapur received heavy damage from both the 1934 and 2015 earthquake, many of the fallen monuments have been reconstructed.[16] The Durbar square houses various monuments like the palace of fifty five windows, the Simhādhwākhā Lyākū palace which houses the National Art Gallery, one of the first museum of Nepal, the stone temple of Vatsala Devi and Siddhi Lakshmi.[83] The temple of Silu Māhādeo (meaning "the Shiva of Silu") located on the eastern part of Bhaktapur Durbar Square is the tallest Shikhara style building in Nepal.[60][84][85]

The Taumadhi Square (𑐟𑑅𑐩𑐵𑐬𑐷‎, Tamārhi) houses the Nyatapola temple, the five storeyed temple commissioned by King Bhupatindra Malla and shrines the tantric goddess Siddhi Lakshmi, the personal deity of the royal couple.[86] Under the shadow of Nyatapola stands the three storey temple associated with Bhairava which was first built by Vishva Malla and then later remodeled by Jagajjyoti Malla in its present form.[87][88] The square also contains the courtyard of Til Mādhav Narayana, the Aesāmārhi satta(often called the Kasthamandap of Bhaktapur)[89], the Betala temple and a golden hiti.[90][91] The Shikhara temple of Jagannath and the roofed temple of Lakshmi Narasimha are also established near the square.[92]

The Dattatraya Square located in the Tachapal tole (Nepal bhasa: Devanagari=तचपाल, Pracalit script=𑐟𑐔𑐥𑐵𑐮) is one of the oldest monument of the town. The Dattatraya Square consists of the three-story pagoda-style Dattatraya Temple, dedicated to Guru Dattatreya, which is the combined form of three principal Hindu deities, (Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Maheswora the destroyer), was built during the reign of King Yaksha Malla (1428 A.D. – 1482 A.D.) and was opened to the public around 1486 A.D., only after his demise. The exact date of construction of the Dattatraya temple is still obscure. This temple, according to popular belief, was constructed from a single piece of wood from one tree. At the entrance are two large sculptures of the Jaiput wrestlers(locally known as kutuwo), Jaimala and Pata (as in the Nyatapola Temple), a "Chakra", and a gilded metal statue of Garuda, a bird-like divinity. Around the temple are wood carved panels with erotic decorations. It was subsequently repaired and renovated by King Vishwa Malla in 1548 A.D.[93] The Dattatraya Square is also the home to the Pujari Math which was the former palace of the Malla Kings and later served as the settlement for the priests of the temple and Tibetan traders. Today, the Pujari Math has been converted into a Woodcraft and Bronze Museum. The Pujari Matha is mostly noted for its artistic windows including the popular Mhaykhā Jhyā (lit.Peacock Window). In front of the Dattatraya temple is the Bhimsena Temple which is dedicated to Bhin:dyo, the Newari deity of commerce often confused with the Pandava brother Bhimsena.[94]

Changu NarayanEdit

Front face of Changu Narayan temple

Changu Narayan is an ancient Hindu temple located near the village of Changunarayan in the Kathmandu Valley on top of a hill at the eastern end of the valley. It is 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) to the north of Bhakathapur and 22 kilometres (14 mi) from Kathmandu. The temple is one of the oldest Hindu temples of the valley and is believed to have been constructed first in the 4th century. Changu Narayan is the name of Vishnu, and the temple is dedicated to him. A stone slab discovered in the vicinity of the temple dates to the 5th century and is the oldest such stone inscription discovered in Nepal. It was rebuilt after the old temple was devastated. Many of the stone sculptures date to the Licchavi period. Changu Narayan Temple is listed by UNESCO[95] as a World Heritage Site.[96][97]

The temple is a double-roofed structure where the idol of Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Narayana is deified. The temple has intricate roof struts showing multi-armed Tantric deities. A kneeling image of Garuda (dated to the 5th century), the vahana or vehicle of Vishnu with a snake around its neck, faces the temple. The gilded door depicts stone lions guarding the temple. Gilded windows also flank the door. A conch and a disc, symbols of Vishnu, are carved on the two pillars at the entrance. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple.[97][93]

Kailashnath Mahadev StatueEdit

Kailashnath Mahadev is the World's Tallest Lord Shiva statue. The height of this statue is 143 feet high and is situated 20 km from Kathmandu, Nepal. The statues construction work was started in 2004 and was completed in 2012. The statue's inauguration took place on 21 June 2012. This statue stands on the 32nd position in the list of all statues by height in the world. It has been made of copper, cement, zinc and steel. To make this gigantic structure possible there were many professional workers and statue makers from India.

In popular cultureEdit

Portions of the Hollywood film Little Buddha starring Keanu Reeves and Bridget Fonda were filmed in the Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Also, portions of Indian films Hare Rama Hare Krishna and Baby were shot in Bhaktapur.[98]

2015 earthquakeEdit

Bhaktapur Durbar Square Under construction after 25 April 2015 earthquake

A magnitude of 7.8 Richter earthquake 2015 Nepal earthquake that struck on 25 April 2015 (12 Baisakh 2072 B.S., Saturday, at local time 11:56 am) damaged 116 heritages in the city. 67 of those heritages were completely damaged while 49 suffered from partial damages. The earthquake badly damaged the Bhaktapur Durbar square, a significant heritage site included in the UNESCO world heritage list. The main premises of Taleju Temple also witnessed damages in the disaster.

The Nepal-Bihar earthquake in 1934 demolished several buildings that were never rebuilt. Chyasilin Mandap has been rebuilt in 1990 using contemporary earthquake proof technology. The building survived the 2015 earthquake unharmed.[73]

See alsoEdit




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Further readingEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Bijukchhe, N.M. 2059 VS (2002–3 AD). Saya Barsha Pachiko Bhaktapur (Bhaktapur After 100 Years). Bhaktapur: Kendriya Prakashan Samiti, Nepal Majdur Kishan Party.
  • Dhakal, Suresh, and Sanjeev Pokharel. 2009. "Local Movements, Political Processes and Transformation: A Case Study of Bhaktapur Municipality." Occasional Papers in Sociology and Anthropology 11:178-201.
  • Gellner, David. 2001. The Anthropology of Hinduism and Buddhism: Weberian Themes. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. (Chap. 12 and 13.)
  • Gibson, Ian. 2015. Suffering and Christianity: Conversion and Ethical Change Among the Newars of Bhaktapur. D.Phil. Thesis in Anthropology, University of Oxford. (Especially chap. 2–4.)
  • Gibson, Ian. 2017. Suffering and Hope: Christianity and Ethics among the Newars of Bhaktapur. Kathmandu: Ekta Books.
  • Grieve, Gregory. 2006. Retheorizing religion in Nepal. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Gutschow, Niels, and Bernhard Kolver. 1975. Ordered space: concepts and functions in a town of Nepal. Wiesbaden: Kommissionsverlag Franz Steiner.
  • Gutschow, Niels, and Axel Michaels. 2005. Handling death: the dynamics of death and ancestor rituals among the Newars of Bhaktapur, Nepal. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
  • Gutschow, Niels, and Axel Michaels. 2008. Growing up: Hindu and Buddhist initiation rituals among Newar children in Bhaktapur, Nepal. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
  • Gutschow, Niels, and Axel Michaels. 2012. Getting married: Hindu and Buddhist marriage rituals among the Newars of Bhaktapur and Patan, Nepal. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
  • Haaland, Ane. 1982. Bhaktapur, A Town Changing. Analysis of a development project's influence on social change in a medieval society in Nepal.
  • Hachhethu, Krishna. 2007. Social Change and Leadership: A Case Study of Bhaktapur City. In Political and social transformations in north India and Nepal, edited by Hiroshi Ishii, David Gellner and Katsuo Nawa. New Delhi: Manohar.
  • Mikesell, Stephen L. 1993. "A Critique of Levy's theory of the urban mesocosm." Contributions to Nepalese studies 20 (2):231-54.
  • Parish, Steven M. 1994. Moral knowing in a Hindu sacred city: an exploration of mind, emotion, and self. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Parish, Steven M. 1996. Hierarchy and its discontents: culture and the politics of consciousness in caste society. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Raj, Yogesh. 2010. History as mindscapes: a memory of the peasants' movement of Nepal. Kathmandu: Martin Chautari.
  • Widdess, Richard. 2013. Dāphā: sacred singing in a South Asian city: music, performance and meaning in Bhaktapur, Nepal. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • von Schroeder, Ulrich. 2019. Nepalese Stone Sculptures. Volume One: Hindu; Volume Two: Buddhist. (Visual Dharma Publications, 2019). 1556 pages with 2960 illustrations (duo-tone with numerous colour illustrations); 345 x 240 mm; bound with slipcase. Includes glossary, bibliography, chronological table, and index. SD card with more than 15,000 digital photos. ISBN 9783033063815

External linksEdit

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