Thimi, known historically as Madhyapur, was once the fourth-largest town in the valley. Today, it’s a sleepy backwater but its winding, brick-paved streets are lined with medieval temples. The town takes its modern name from the Newari phrase for ‘capable people’, which is fitting as the town is a major centre for the production of pottery and papier-mâché masks. You’ll pass a string of mask shops on the road that cuts across the north end of town towards Bhaktapur.
Its most well-known temple is 16th-century Balkumari Temple, dedicated to one of Bhairab’s shaktis. The goddess’ peacock vehicle is depicted on a column in front of the temple, as well as each corner of the temple. It’s the focus for the Balkumari Jatra, a festival where Thimi welcomes the new year (around mid-April) with riotous scenes as the 32 khats (palanquins) whirl around the temple while red powder is hurled at them.
A passage on the south side of the square leads to Thimi’s potters’ square, which is full of kilns made from straw covered with ash.
One kilometre north of Thimi is the village of Bode, famous for its 17th-century Mahalakshmi Temple, with a small image of Narayan reclining on his snake bed just behind.