Walking Tour: Bhaktapur

  • Start Durbar Sq
  • End Taumadhi Tole
  • Length 3km; two hours

Starting from the northeastern corner of Durbar Sq, walk to the east of the Fasidega Temple, passing a multicoloured Ganesh shrine, where the idol is a rock that naturally resembles an elephant’s head. Turn to the right to reach a square with disused buildings and a ruined temple plinth. Walk around the north side of the square and exit at the northeast corner past the hiti, by the strut-roofed Tripurasundari Temple, sacred to one of the Navadurgas. Continue east passing several sweets shops, where the road bends right at a brick Narayan shrine. Past the next alley, a doorway leads into a cramped bahal containing a small Bhimsen Temple, which was created from remains of the Lun Bahal, a 16th-century Buddhist monastery. Note the pots and pans nailed to the roof struts by devotees.

Head back to the Narayan shrine, take a right and head 200m to the unassuming brick facade of a Ganesh Temple, with fine figures of the elephant-headed deity on its torana and an unusual terracotta Ganesh window above the door.

At the next junction take a right, past some carved windows, and then swing left past a small Mahakali shrine with caged windows and buffalo horns, and the Pohalacha Pokhari tank. Continue past a city ticket office to the Bhaktapur–Nagarkot road, where you take a left and cross the road to climb the steps to a large, slightly damaged Mahakali Temple, which has an eccentric collection of statues inside a gated pavilion. Note the buffalo entrails draped over the guardian statues inside the temple.

Return to the ticket office and take a left until you reach a brick square containing a tiny, yellow-roofed Mahalakshmi Temple, sacred to the goddess of wealth. Turn right (south) and continue straight to a large tank, the Naga Pokhari, where skeins of dyed yarn hang drying on racks beside the lurid green waters. In the middle of the tank is a statue of a cobra.

Pass along the north side of the tank, turn left and look for a small opening in a reconstructed wall on your right. A tiny sign above the opening says Dipankar & Prsaannasilar Mahavir. Enter the opening to the second courtyard and continue out the far end past another courtyard. On the left you'll see the white stucco pillars that mark the entrance to the Mul Dipankar Bihar, enshrining an image of Dipankar, the Past Buddha.

Continue east to the road junction; look left to see a white lotus-roofed Vishnu shrine, behind which is the large Kwathandau Pokhari. Head south at the far end of the tank and you’ll pass the Nava Durga Temple, a Tantric Shaivite temple with a fine gilded torana. Only Hindus are allowed to enter.

Swing southeast through a square, past the gallery occupying the Toni Hagen house, restored in honour of the famous Swiss geologist. Continue to the junction by a stupa and a dance platform, on the main east–west road. Turn right and immediately on your left you’ll see the elaborate entrance to the Wakupati Narayan Temple, built in 1667. Despite some damage to neighbouring buildings, the ornate, golden mandir survived the 2015 quake; note the entourage of five Garudas supported on pillars on the backs of turtles.

Continue from here past the centuries-old wooden frontage of the Brahmayani Temple, fronted by two lions and sacred to the patron goddess of Panauti, and then on to Tachupal Tole.

From Tachupal Tole turn left down the side of the Pujari Math, passing the famous Peacock Window. Follow the lane south and turn right at the small square with a Vishnu Temple on an octagonal plinth.

Go straight down an atmospheric alley lined with brick houses and follow it around to the left, then to the right into a large square. Detour south from this square down a wide cobbled road to reach a large statue of Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha. Behind the Buddha are views overlooking the Khancha Pokhari tank and the river below.

Return to the square and take a left and walk west towards the main road linking Taumadhi Tole and Tachupal Tole. Just before the junction turn to the left to enter the unassuming gateway to the ornate Inacho Bahal, containing the narrow Sri Indravarta Mahavihar, a 17th-century Buddhist temple topped by a lopsided miniature pagoda roof.

From here, head back to Taumadhi Tole or visit the Hanuman Ghat at the bottom of the hill.