Bhaktapur (Nepali: भक्तपुर, pronounced [ˈbʱʌkt̪ʌpur] (About this soundlisten); lit. "City of Devotees"), known locally as Khwopa (Nepal Bhasa:𑐏𑑂𑐰𑐥 𑐡𑐾‎, Khwopa De), is a city in the east corner of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal about 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) from the capital city, Kathmandu. It is located in and serves as the headquarters of Bhaktapur District in Bagmati Province of Nepal. Bhaktapur is also the smallest city of Nepal.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square before the 2015 earthquake
Bhaktapur Durbar Square before the 2015 earthquake
Official seal of Bhaktapur
Bhaktapur is located in Bagmati Province
Location in 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
 • MayorSunil Prajapati (NWPP)
 • Deputy MayorRajani Joshi (NWPP)
 • Total16.89 km2 (6.52 sq mi)
 • Total81,728
 • Density4,800/km2 (13,000/sq mi)
 • Religions
Hinduism Buddhism
Time zoneUTC+05:45 (NST)
Postal code
Area code(s)01

Khwopa served as the capital of Nepal during the first half of Malla Dynasty until 15th century when the Malla Kingdom was divided into various smaller kingdoms. As per the census of 2011, it has a population of more than 81,728, of which the vast majority are still Newars.

Historically more isolated than the other two kingdoms, Kathmandu and Patan, Bhaktapur has a distinctly different form of Nepal Bhasa language. Bhaktapur has the best-preserved palace courtyards and old city centre in Nepal and is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its rich culture, temples, and wood, metal and stone artworks. This is supported by the restoration and preservation efforts of the German-funded Bhaktapur Development Project (BDP).

The city is also famous for a special type of dahi/dhau (yogurt) called "Ju Ju Dhau"(lit. dhau/yogurt of the Kings ).



Bhaktapur originally started as a small hamlet known for its production of rice. Hence the Kiratas called this settlement as "Khopring" where the Kiranti word "Kho" denotes cooked rice and "pring" denotes village.[1] It was from this term that the modern Newari word for the town "Khowpa" and the Tamang word for the town "Khobang" came from. It is believed that the term "Khopring" was translated into Sanskrit as Bhaktagrama (bhakta=cooked rice and grama=village), which later evolved into Bhaktapura (where pura deontes a city) as the hamlet developed into a town.[1] Here, the Sanskrit term Bhakta also means Devotees. After the Gorkhas took over the city, they started to refer the city as Bhadgoan which was the Khas translation of Bhaktagrama.

Bhaktapur was a well-organized settlement since the time of the Kirata Dynasty. During the Lichhavi Dynasty, the settlement started to expand towards Westwards. Bhaktapur only gained a political and social importance in the Himalayas after the Licchavi King Anada Deva(1146AD-1167AD) established Bhaktapur as the capital city in the 12th century[2].Bhaktapur is notable for its traditional art and architecture, historical monuments and craftwork, pottery and weaving industries, and cultural facets such as music and customs. Bhaktapur is a well-preserved ancient city, with some sites dating back to around 1200 AD.

Aerial View of Bhaktapur in 1962 AD

From time immemorial it lay on the trade route between Tibet and India. This position on the main caravan route made the town rich and prosperous.

The old name of Bhaktpur was Bhatgaon.


At the time of the 2001 Nepal census, it had a population of 72,543.[3]


Nyatapola TempleEdit

Nyatapola Temple

Nyatapola Temple is a 5-story pagoda style temple located in Bhaktapur, Nepal. The temple was erected by Nepali King Bhupatindra Malla during a 5-month period from late 1701 to 1702. It is the temple of Siddhi Laxmi(not to be confused with Lakshmi), the tantric deity. Its foundation is said to be wider than the temple's base. [4]

Dattatraya SquareEdit

The Dattatraya Temple
One of the Buildings of the Pujari Math

The Dattatraya Suqare 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.[4] 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 Muesuem. 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[5].

Artistic Windows

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[6] as a World Heritage Site.[7][8]

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.[8][4]

Siddha Pokhari

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.[9]

2015 earthquakeEdit

Bhaktapur Durbar Square Under construction after April 25, 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.[10]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b Shrestha, Purushottam Lochan (2016). "Bhaktapur, the Historical City" (PDF). Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Neupane, Ramesh; Kc, Anup; Pant, Ramesh Raj (2013-12-02). "Assessing Tourism Potential In Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Nepal". International Journal of Environment. 2 (1): 250–261. doi:10.3126/ije.v2i1.9225. ISSN 2091-2854.
  3. ^ City Population [1]. Retrieved: 9 Dec, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Destination Nepal: Bhaktapur [2]. Retrieved: 9 Dec, 2011.
  5. ^ "Bhimsen Temple, Dattatraya Square". 2019.
  6. ^ Vajracharya, Gautam (2003), "Bhaktapur", Oxford Art Online, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.t008588
  7. ^ "UNESCO".
  8. ^ a b "Introducing Changu Narayan Temple". Retrieved 2009-12-19.
  9. ^ "Film Shooting Locations | Filmapia – reel sites . real sights". Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  10. ^ The Eight Cornered Gift, Oct.15.2014, Kapil Bisht

Retrieved: 8 May 2015

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.
  • Levy, Robert. 1990. Mesocosm: Hinduism and the Organization of a Traditional Newar city in Nepal. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • 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