Formerly the residence of the Malla kings, the section of the Royal Palace surrounding Keshav Narayan Chowk now houses one of the finest collections of religious art in Asia. The museum is a national treasure and an invaluable introduction to the art, symbolism and architecture of the valley. You need at least an hour, and preferably two, to do this place justice, and it’s worth taking a break at the Museum Café before diving in for another round.
The collection is displayed in a series of brick and timber rooms, linked by steep and narrow stairways. There are informative labels on each of the hundreds of statues, carvings and votive objects, allowing you to put a name to many of the deities depicted at temples around the valley.
There are also some interesting displays on the techniques used to create these wonderful objects, including the art of repoussé and the ‘lost-wax’ method of casting. The top floor houses some fascinating photos of Patan at the end of the 19th century.
The museum has a shop selling reproductions of some of the works displayed inside. For a sneak preview of the museum’s highlights and the story of its renovation, go to www.asianart.com/patan-museum. Photography is allowed.