Bhaktapur Durbar Square – Medieval Temples, Palaces, Museums – Enlisted As a World Heritage Site
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is located in the center of Bhaktapur city. Bhaktapur Durbar Square was designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1979. Bhaktapur Durbar Square is larger in area than Kathmandu Durbar Square and less crowded than Patan Durbar Square. The devastating earthquake of 1934 is believed to have destroyed many temples and buildings of the Bhaktapur Durbar Square. There is a ticket booth at the western end of the Durbar Square where foreigners and SAARC nationals have to pay an entry fee to Bhaktapur thirukadaiyur temple.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square has one of the best collections of the finest medieval arts of Nepal. There are many beautiful temples, palaces and buildings in the Bhaktapur Durbar Square which are examples of superb architecture. These include The Lion Gate, The Golden Gate, the 55 window palace, the statue of Bhupatindra Malla, Nyatopola temple, Vatsala Temple, Dattatraya temple, The Art Gallery, Pujari Math, Bhairav Nath temple, The Shiva Parvati Temple and the Pashupatinath Temple. Dattatreya Temple, built by King Yaksha Malla, is the oldest temple structure in Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
The Lion Gate was built by King Bhupatindra Malla in the 17th century. The Lion Gate is guarded on each side by huge statues of lions and by two stone statues of Lord Bhairab and Goddess Ugrachandi. It is said that the sculptor who made these statues had his hands cut off so that he could not duplicate these masterpieces. The Golden Temple, which was built by King Ranjit Malla, has an image of Goddess Kali and Garuda (the mythical man bird) at the top. It is embellished with various mythical creatures and nymphs with marvelous intricacy. The Golden Gate is also the entrance of the 55 window palace and the Taleju Temple. A group of four temples at the western end of the Durbar Square, namely Rameshwar Temple, Badri Temple, Krishna Temple and Shiva Temple, are referred to as the Char Dham – four holy places.
The Pashupatinath Temple in Bhaktapur Durbar Square, also known as the Yaksheswor Mahadev Temple, is a replica of the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu. Legend has it that a Bhaktapur king had a dream in which Lord Shiva asked him to build a temple for him. The king obeyed Lord Shiva’s command and built the Pashupatinath Temple. Nyatopola temple in Bhaktapur is 5 storied and is 30 meters high. Nyatopola Temple, dedicated to Goddess Siddhilaxmi, is one of the best examples of traditional Nepali architecture. In Newari, Nyatopole refers to the 5 basic elements – water, wind, fire, earth and sky.
The Palace of 55 Windows was built by King Yaksha Malla in 1427 AD. The 55 Window Palace has a balcony of 55 windows and is considered a unique masterpiece of woodcarving. The palace was remodeled by King Bhupatindra Malla in the 17th century.
Bhakapur Royal Palace was constructed by King Yaksha Malla and was added to by many kings. The western end of the palace has been converted into an Art Gallery. The Art Gallery has a display of Hindu and Buddhist paintings, paubha (paintings on cloth) and metal, stone and woodcrafts. The Art Gallery is open everyday except on Tuesdays. Vatsala Temple in Bhaktapur which was built by King Jagat Prakash Malla, is a beautiful Shikhara style temple. This temple which is dedicated to the mother Goddess has a strong resemblance to the Krishna Mandir in Patan.