Kings in the three ancient towns of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan were in a competition to see who could have the most beautiful town. One story from this competition is about a pair of curly-haired lion sculptures in Bhaktapur. The Bhaktapur king was so pleased with the first lion that he cut off one hand of the sculptor so that he couldn’t create anything as beautiful for another king. The legend says the one-handed sculptor went on to sculpt the second, matching lion, so the king cut off his other hand!
There are 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nepal, 4 are in Kathmandu and 3 are in the Kathmandu Valley. During our stay in Nepal we visited all 10 (including: Sagarmatha National Park (Everest), Chitwan and Lumbini). This past week we went to ones in the Kathmandu Valley.
Bhaktapur* was the capital of Nepal from the 12-15th centuries. The town has 3 main squares where there are a large number of Hindu Temples, shrines and statues from this period. The 2015 earthquake did a lot of damage to the buildings and many are still in ruins. We visited this area 7 years ago and it is very sad to see how much damage was done to this beautiful historic town They seem to be very slow to repair any of the buildings. Apparently, the town turned down offers of help from foreign governments, such as Germany, and decided to rebuild themselves. The streets and squares are filled with rubble and loose building material and any repair work looks very haphazard. Most of the repairs are done manually so is very slow.
Nevertheless, some buildings have been repaired or were never damaged. We hope our pictures give a sense of how it used to be.
As with many historic towns in Nepal, Bhaktapur has a lot of Newari architecture including erotic carvings on one of the temples.
Just outside of Bhaktapur is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Nepal. Changu Narayan * is a small but very beautiful temple with embossed metal plated doors, intricately carved woodwork and red brick walls in the Newari style. There are statues of animals and mystical creatures guarding the doors.
Patan’s Durbar Square * is located 30 minutes south of Kathmandu. There was also a lot of damage from the earthquake in Patan, but they seem to be more organized in the rebuilding. There are signs indicating financial support from Japan, Netherlands and Germany and other countries.
Down the road from Durbar Square is one of the most beautiful temples we’ve seen on our trip. Golden Temple (Hiryanya Varna Mahabihar) is a Buddhist Temple glittering with golden statues and shrines, even its roof shines. It is guarded at the entrance by 2 brass elephants and has 4 monkeys offering jack fruit at each corner. It sustained little damage from the earthquake so maintains all of its beauty.
(*) – indicates a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Coming up next: Kathmandu
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