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World Heritage Sites in Nepal
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Nepal, a country embodying Asia’s diversity, is nestled between the cultural and geographical giants of India and Tibet. It’s a land of contrasts, from the mystical Kathmandu Valley, where history and culture intertwine, to the breathtaking natural beauty of Chitwan National Park. Nepal’s World Heritage Sites are a testament to the country’s diverse cultural and natural wealth.

Table of Contents

World Heritage Sites in Nepal: a Comprehensive Guide

In this post, we embark on a virtual tour of these remarkable sites, delving into their history, significance, and unique charm. We explore how these sites, recognized by UNESCO for their outstanding universal value, contribute to Nepal’s identity and the collective heritage of humanity.

Follow along as we delve into the heart of Nepal, exploring its diverse landscapes and cultures. This should be as enlightening as it is enriching.

Kathmandu Durbar Square

kathmandu durbar Square

At the heart of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, lies the Kathmandu Durbar Square. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a living testament to the architectural prowess of the Malla Dynasty. The square, a vibrant tapestry of temples, palaces, and courtyards, each holds its unique story. The intricate wood carvings on the doors, windows, and struts of these structures are a sight to behold. The square’s centerpiece is the old royal palace, known as Hanuman Dhoka, steeped in history and legends.

What to See in Kathmandu Durbar Square

The Kumari Ghar

The Kumari Ghar is the residence of the Living Goddess Kumari, an incarnation of Goddess Taleju. The tradition of Kumari started in 1757 during the reign of King Jayaprakash Malla. The Kumari is chosen after a special ritual called ‘Battis Lakshanas’ (‘the 32 attributes of perfection’). The Kumari lives in the Kumari Ghar with her caretakers and only goes outside during some religious festivals in Kathmandu. Although she sometimes leaves her palace, her feet never touch the ground when she is outside. She cannot have contact with others and she’s only allowed to talk with her family and her caretakers.

Shiva Parvati Temple

The Shiva Parvati Temple is a stunning temple dedicated to Shiva and his wife, Parvati. It was built in the late 18th century during the reign of King Rana Bahadur Shah, grand-son of Prithvi Narayan Shah. The temple is easily recognizable by its two wooden figures of Shiva and Parvati looking out from the open central window on the first floor.

Taleju Bhawani Temple

Completed in 1564, the Taleju temple is named after the Goddess Taleju Bhawani, the Royal deity of the Malla Kings. Taleju Bhawani is one of the most beautiful temples in Kathmandu Durbar Square, and it is still standing today. Unfortunately, the temple is not open to the public. Hindus can visit the temple once a year on the ninth day of Dashain; non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple and can only observe the temple from outside.

Kaal Bhairav

The large sculpture of Kaal Bhairav, the fierce form of Lord Shiva, was sculpted during the 5th or 6th century and later rediscovered in the 17th century. During the reign of King Pratap Malla, this statue was installed to serve as a supreme court. It was believed for a long time that people who lay in front of the statue would die. So, suspects were brought in front of the fearsome Kaal Bhairav to speak the truth.

Sweta Bhairava

Sweta Bhairava represents the terrifying form of Lord Shiva. It was installed inside the Durbar Square in 1795, during the reign of King Rana Bahadur Shah. The mask is kept hidden behind a wooden curtain during the year and taken out only during the festival of Indra Jatra in September.

Akash Bhairav Temple

The Akash Bhairav temple is a beautiful bronze and gold temple dedicated to Akash Bhairav, God of the Sky, another form of Bhairava. It is believed that the Akash Bhairav temple was the palace of the first King of Nepal, King Yalambar, around 3,100-3,500 years ago. The head of Akash Bhairav is taken out of the temple once a year and blessed by the Living Goddess Kumari during the festival of Indra Jatra.

Hanuman Dhoka statue

The red statue of the Hindu Monkey God Hanuman is located at the entrance of the Hanuman Royal Palace (“Dhoka” means door in Nepali, hence the name ‘Hanuman Dhoka’), which is now the entry gate of the Hanuman Dhoka Museum. The statue was installed at the entrance of the palace in 1672 during the reign of King Pratap Malla.

Nasal Chowk

Nasal Chowk is the courtyard of the Hanuman Dhoka Palace. It is where the coronations of the Nepali Kings were held. Although Hanuman Dhoka wasn’t the royal residence after 1896, the coronations of the Kings of Nepal (including King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah in 1975 and King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah in 2001) continued to be held in Nasal Chowk until the end of the Monarchy in 2008.

Hanuman Dhoka Palace Museum

Located inside the Hanuman Dhoka Palace, the Hanuman Dhoka Palace Museum closed after the 2015 Earthquake; even though the Palace was made open to visitors later on, some areas are still closed to the public. However, the Hanuman Dhoka Museum (also known as the Tribhuvan Museum) is worth a visit; it houses artifacts related to the Nepalese monarchy, and the entrance is included in your Kathmandu Durbar Square ticket.

Jagannath temple

The Jagannath temple is one of the oldest temples in Kathmandu Durbar Square (probably dating back to 1563). The temple is most famous for its erotic carvings. The large platform in front of the temple is a popular spot where visitors (tourists and locals alike) feed pigeons. King Pratap Malla’s column was repaired and now stands in front of the two-story temple.

Chasin Dega

Also known as the ‘Krishna temple’, Chasin Dega is an octagonal temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and his two wives, Rukmini and Satyabhama. The temple was built in 1649 by King Pratap Malla in memory of his two queens. Unfortunately, Chasin Dega was destroyed by the 2015 Earthquake. It is now fully rebuilt.

Kotilingeshwar Mahadev temple

The Kotilingeshwar Mahadev temple is a dome-style temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The stone temple was built in the 16th century by King Mahendra Malla.

Mahendreshwar temple

The Mahendreshwar temple is another small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The beautiful temple was built in 1561 during the reign of Mahendra Malla.

Giant drums & Big Bell

During the reign of Rana Bahadur Shah, two giant drums and a huge bronze bell were used during the worshiping ritual of the Goddess Taleju. These drums were also used as an alarm and to make important announcements. They are now displayed on a platform near Krishna temple.

Gaddi Baithak

Gaddi Baithak is a white neo-classical building that was built in 1908 by Rana Prime Minister Chandra Shamsher. The building was damaged by the April 2015 Earthquake but is now restored. No entrance is currently allowed inside the building. But it is said that guided tours will be available soon and the ground floor will house a museum.


Totally destroyed by the 2015 Earthquake, Kasthamandap is now rebuilt. Kasthamandap isn’t a temple; it is a public wood pavilion and pilgrim shelter with a shrine of Gorakshanath inside. It was built with the wood of a single sal tree around the 12th century. The city of Kathmandu is named after this building.

Basantapur square

A large open market occupies Basantapur Durbar Square. There, you will find a large selection of antique, jewelry, and handicraft products.

Freak Street

If you visit Kathmandu Durbar Square, you absolutely have to explore Freak Street (now ‘Jhochhen Tole’). The former hippie street was famous in the 60-70s when marijuana was still legal in Nepal. Located south of Kathmandu Durbar Square, Freak Street has changed a lot but some shops are still worth visiting (including the notable ‘Snowman café’ opened in 1965 and serves delicious apple crumble!).

Asan, Kathmandu’s local market

The iconic local market ‘Asan’ is definitely the best place to buy souvenirs and handicrafts, but also authentic local food, spices, fabrics, jewelry and so much more.

Cultural Guided tours

Although it isn’t necessary to get a guide to visit some sites in Kathmandu, Kathmandu Durbar Square is among the places where it is worth hiring a guide. Do not take a guide once there, as it is difficult to figure out who’s legitimate and who isn’t.

Main Festival of Kathmandu Durbar Square: Indra Jatra 

 The 8-day festival takes place in September and is marked by a variety of events, including the procession of chariots and masked dancers, and the display of the Bhairava’s mask and Kumari’s chariot procession. The festival is a vibrant display of local culture and traditions, attracting both locals and tourists alike. 

Tips for visiting Kathmandu Durbar Square 

When visiting Kathmandu Durbar Square, it’s important to dress modestly out of respect for the religious and cultural significance of the site. It’s also recommended to hire a local guide to fully understand the history and significance of the various temples and structures. Be aware that the square can get quite crowded, especially during festivals and public holidays. 

When to visit Kathmandu Durbar Square?

 Kathmandu Durbar Square is open every day from sunrise to sunset. The best time to visit is early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the square is less crowded. There is an entrance fee for foreigners, but it includes access to the Hanuman Dhoka Palace Museum. 

How to get to Kathmandu Durbar Square?

Kathmandu Durbar Square is located in the heart of Kathmandu and is easily accessible by taxi, rickshaw, or on foot if you’re staying nearby. If you’re staying in Thamel, it’s a short 15-minute walk to the square.

Where to eat in Kathmandu Durbar Square? 

There are several restaurants and cafes around Kathmandu Durbar Square where you can enjoy local Nepalese cuisine as well as international dishes. Some popular options include Bento Cafe, The Melbourne Cafe, Grasshopper Café, the Kaiser Cafe, which offers a variety of dishes in a beautiful garden setting, and the Basantapur Restaurant, known for its traditional Newari cuisine. 

Where to stay near Kathmandu Durbar Square? 

There are numerous hotels and guesthouses located near Kathmandu Durbar Square to suit all budgets. Some recommended options include the Dwarika’s Hotel- a luxury heritage hotel, Traditional Comfort Hotel, Hotel Mulberry, and the Kathmandu Guest House, a budget-friendly option located in Thamel. For a more traditional experience, consider staying in a local guest house or homestay.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur durbar square

A short drive from Kathmandu leads to Bhaktapur Durbar Square, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bhaktapur, the ‘City of Devotees’, is renowned for its well-preserved medieval art and architecture. The 55-window palace, Nyatapola Temple, and Dattatreya Square are among the highlights of this ancient city. Walking through Bhaktapur’s narrow alleyways is like stepping back in time, offering a glimpse into the city’s glorious past.

What to See in Bhaktapur Durbar Square

The Golden Gate

Known as “Sun Dhoka” in Nepali, the Golden Gate is a masterpiece in repoussé artistry, dating back to 1756. It serves as the entrance to the main courtyard of the 55-Window Palace. The gate is adorned with mythical creatures and deities, and it’s considered one of the most beautiful and richly molded specimens of its kind in the world.

The 55-Window Palace (Royal Palace of Bhaktapur)

 This palace is a grand structure in the square, boasting 55 intricately carved wooden windows. It was built in the 15th century by King Yaksha Malla and later enhanced by King Bhupatindra Malla in the 17th century. It’s a testament to the architectural prowess of the Malla dynasty.

The Taleju Temple

This five-storied temple stands as the highest of its kind in Nepal. It was built by King Yaksha Malla in 1475 AD. The temple is dedicated to Taleju Bhawani, a form of goddess Durga. It’s opened to the public only once a year during the Dashain festival.

Naga Pokhari

This is a beautiful pond located in the palace premises. It’s adorned with stone serpents and is believed to have been used for ritual baths in the past.

Ugrachandi & Bhairav Statues

These are the statues of the terrifying aspects of Shiva and his consort Parvati. They were carved in the 17th century and are considered masterpieces of stone sculptures.

The Taleju Bell & the Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla

 The Taleju Bell, also known as the “Barking Bell,” was used to sound alerts. If a dog barked after the bell was rung, it was considered a bad omen. The statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, who was a great builder, can be seen in a position of prayer before the Golden Gate.

The Vatsala Durga temple

 This stone temple dedicated to goddess Durga is known for its intricate sandstone carvings and its silver bell. The temple was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake but is currently under reconstruction.

The Pashupatinath Temple: This is a replica of the original Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu. It’s a significant temple for Hindus and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Chyasalin Mandap

 This is a beautiful octagonal temple in the middle of a small pond. It’s known for its exquisite wood carvings and is a popular spot for photographers.

The Siddhi Lakshmi Temple

 Also known as the Lohan Dega, this temple is dedicated to the goddess of power, Siddhi Lakshmi. The temple is known for its artistic grandeur and the erotic carvings on its struts.

Char Dham Temples

These are the replicas of the four sacred sites in India – Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. They were built by a single Newari family and are a testament to the religious harmony in Bhaktapur.

Taumadhi Square

Taumadhi Square is one of the most vibrant areas in Bhaktapur, Nepal. It is home to the Nyatapola Temple and the Bhairabnath Temple. The square is always bustling with activity, with locals and tourists alike visiting the temples and the surrounding shops and eateries. 

The Nyatapola Temple

 The Nyatapola Temple is the tallest temple in Nepal, standing at a height of 30 meters. It was built during the reign of King Bhupatindra Malla in 1702 AD. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Siddhi Lakshmi. The temple is a five-story pagoda and is known for its impressive architecture and intricate wood carvings.

The Bhairabnath Temple

The Bhairabnath Temple is dedicated to Bhairab, the fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva. The temple is located in Taumadhi Square and is a significant site of worship for locals. The three-story temple is known for its beautiful architecture and the grand processions that take place during the Bisket Jatra festival.

The Til Madhav Narayan Temple

 The Til Madhav Narayan Temple is a significant religious site in Bhaktapur. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is known for its beautiful stone and wood carvings. The temple is also home to a sacred pond, which is believed to have healing properties.

Dattatreya Square

Dattatreya Square is another major square in Bhaktapur. It is home to the Dattatreya Temple, Bhimsen Temple, and Wakupati Narayan Temple. The square is named after the Dattatreya Temple, which is one of the oldest structures in the area.

Dattatreya Temple

 The Dattatreya Temple is one of the oldest temples in Bhaktapur. It is dedicated to Dattatreya, a deity who is considered a combination of the Hindu trinity Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The temple is known for its intricate wood carvings and the two large sculptures of Jaiput and Malla wrestlers at its entrance.

Bhimsen Temple 

The Bhimsen Temple is dedicated to Bhimsen, a character from the Hindu epic Mahabharata. The temple is known for its triple-roof design and the golden door at its entrance. Bhimsen is considered the god of trade and commerce, and the temple is particularly important to the local business community.

Wakupati Narayan Temple 

The Wakupati Narayan Temple is a beautiful temple located near Dattatreya Square. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is known for its unique octagonal shape and intricate wood carvings.

Peacock Window

The Peacock Window, also known as the “Mona Lisa of Nepal,” is a famous wood carving located in Bhaktapur. The window is a masterpiece of Nepalese wood carving art and is a popular tourist attraction.

Pottery Square

Pottery Square is a special area in Bhaktapur where you can see local artisans at work, shaping clay into beautiful pottery. The square is filled with rows of drying pots and is a great place to experience local culture and craftsmanship.

Navadurga Temple

 The Navadurga Temple is a temple complex dedicated to the nine forms of the Hindu goddess Durga. The temple is a significant site of worship, especially during the Navadurga festival. 

Museums in Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur is home to several museums that showcase the city’s rich history, culture, and artistry. These museums are a must-visit for anyone interested in delving deeper into the heritage of this ancient city.

The National Art Museum

 Located near the Durbar Square, the National Art Museum of Bhaktapur houses a vast collection of artifacts, statues, and paintings that date back to the medieval period. The museum is renowned for its collection of Paubha scroll paintings and terra-cotta items. It also displays a variety of stone sculptures that provide insights into the artistic prowess of the Newar craftsmen. The museum is open every day except Tuesdays.

The Woodcarving Museum

 Situated in Pujari Math, the Woodcarving Museum is a testament to the intricate wood carving skills of the Newar artisans. The museum is located in a beautifully restored building that itself is a fine example of traditional Nepalese architecture. The museum’s collection includes a wide array of wooden artifacts, each telling a unique story of the city’s past. The museum’s highlight is the Peacock Window, which is considered a masterpiece of woodcarving.

The Brass & Bronze Museum

The Brass & Bronze Museum, also known as the Metalwork Museum, is located in the Dattatreya Square. The museum showcases a range of metal artifacts including ritual objects, utensils, and musical instruments, reflecting the city’s long-standing tradition in metalwork. The museum is housed in the Chikan Mugal, a charming building that dates back to the 15th century.

Ponds in Bhaktapur


Bhaktapur, a city rich in culture and history, is also home to several significant ponds. These ponds, known as “Pokhari” in the local language, are not just water bodies but are also considered sacred and are often associated with various religious and cultural events. They are an integral part of the city’s landscape and are often surrounded by temples and other historical structures.

Siddha Pokhari

Siddha Pokhari, also known as Ta-Pukhu, is a large rectangular water pond located near the main city gate. It was built during the reign of King Yakshya Malla in the early 15th century and is considered one of the most important artificial ponds in Bhaktapur. The pond is especially crowded during the festival of Indra Jatra and Bala Chaturdashi. It is surrounded by stone sculptures of different Hindu and Buddhist gods.

Kamal Pokhari

Kamal Pokhari, translated as “Lotus Pond”, is another significant pond in Bhaktapur. It is believed to have been built during the 14th century. The pond gets its name from the lotus flowers that bloom in it. Kamal Pokhari is rectangular in shape and has a historic pavilion in the middle. The pond is surrounded by a beautifully carved stone wall.

The other Naag Pokhari

Naag Pokhari, or “Snake Pond”, is a common name for ponds in Nepal, and there are several ponds with this name in Bhaktapur. These ponds are usually associated with the Naag or snake deities and are considered sacred. They are often the site of religious rituals and festivals, particularly during the festival of Nag Panchami, when people worship snake deities. The Naag Pokhari in Bhaktapur Durbar Square, for instance, is a beautiful pond with a statue of a snake in the middle. It is surrounded by stone walls and has a small shrine dedicated to the snake deity.

Handicrafts Workshops in Bhaktapur

 Bhaktapur is renowned for its rich tradition of handicrafts. The city is a hub for artisans who have been passing down their skills from generation to generation. The workshops in Bhaktapur offer a unique opportunity for visitors to observe the artisans at work, learn about the traditional techniques, and even participate in the creation process. These workshops cover a wide range of crafts, including pottery, woodcarving, and Thangka painting.

Potters of Bhaktapur & Pottery workshops

 Pottery is one of the oldest and most revered crafts in Bhaktapur. The city is home to numerous potters who skillfully shape clay into beautiful pots, vases, and other items. The pottery workshops offer a hands-on experience where visitors can learn the art of pottery from the local artisans. These workshops provide a fascinating insight into the traditional pottery-making process, from kneading the clay to shaping it on the wheel, and finally firing it in a kiln.

Thangka Painting lessons

 Thangka painting is a traditional Buddhist art form that originated in Nepal. These paintings are rich in symbolism and are used for meditation and teaching purposes. In Bhaktapur, visitors can take Thangka painting lessons from experienced artists. These lessons provide a unique opportunity to learn about the intricate details, symbolism, and techniques involved in creating a Thangka painting.

Woodcarving workshops

Bhaktapur is also known for its exquisite wood carvings. The city’s woodcarving workshops offer a chance to witness the artisans at work, carving intricate designs into wood. Visitors can learn about the traditional woodcarving techniques, the types of wood used, and the significance of the various motifs. Some workshops also offer short courses where visitors can try their hand at woodcarving under the guidance of experienced artisans.

Handicrafts shopping

Shopping for handicrafts in Bhaktapur is a delightful experience. The city is filled with shops selling a wide range of handmade items, from pottery and wood carvings to Thangka paintings and woven textiles. These items make for wonderful souvenirs and gifts, each piece carrying a piece of Bhaktapur’s rich cultural heritage. Whether you’re looking for a traditional Nepali mask, a beautifully carved wooden statue, or a hand-painted Thangka, you’re sure to find it in Bhaktapur.

Bhaktapur Food Specialties

Juju Dhau

 Known as the “King of Yogurt,” Juju Dhau is a sweet, creamy, and thick yogurt that is a specialty of Bhaktapur. It is traditionally served in clay bowls, which help to maintain its cool temperature and unique flavor.

Bara / Wo

 Bara or Wo is a traditional Newari dish made from black lentil. It can be served plain or with toppings like egg or minced meat. This savory pancake-like dish is often enjoyed during celebrations and festivals.

Choila with Thon (Chhyang)

Choila is a traditional Newari dish made from water buffalo meat, though chicken or duck can also be used. It is typically spiced with green chilies, garlic, ginger, and a variety of other spices. Thon, or Chhyang, is a traditional Newari rice beer that pairs well with Choila.


Yomari is a sweet dumpling made from rice flour and filled with a mixture of molasses and sesame seeds. This delicacy is particularly popular during the Yomari Punhi festival, which marks the end of the rice harvest.

Samay Baji

Samay Baji is a traditional Newari starter dish that includes beaten rice, smoked fish, boiled egg, black soybeans, ginger, garlic, and meat. It is often served during festivals and special occasions.

Main Festivals in Bhaktapur

Bisket Jatra

 Bisket Jatra is the annual celebration of the Nepali New Year in Bhaktapur. It involves a large chariot procession, tug-of-war, and other festivities.

Gai Jatra

 Gai Jatra, or the Cow Festival, is a time when families who have lost a loved one in the past year parade a cow or a boy dressed as a cow through the streets. It is a festival of remembrance and also involves humor and satire.

Gatha Muga festival

Gatha Muga festival is a unique festival celebrated in Bhaktapur. It involves the worship of a deity known as Gatha Muga, and the festival is marked by music, dance, and a parade of masked performers.

Nava Durga Jatra

Nava Durga Jatra is a festival dedicated to the goddess Durga. It involves a series of dances and rituals performed over several days, and it is one of the most important festivals in Bhaktapur.

When to visit Bhaktapur?

Bhaktapur can be visited any time of the year, the spring and autumn seasons offer the best combination of pleasant weather, clear mountain views, and cultural festivities. However, no matter when you choose to visit, Bhaktapur’s ancient temples, traditional architecture, and vibrant culture are sure to leave you spellbound.

How to get to Bhaktapur?

Bhaktapur is located about 12 kilometers east of Kathmandu. You can reach Bhaktapur by taxi, local bus, or private car from Kathmandu. The journey takes about 30-45 minutes depending on traffic.

Where to stay in Bhaktapur?

Bhaktapur offers a range of accommodations to suit different budgets. You can choose from guest houses, budget hotels, and luxury hotels. Some popular options include the Peacock Guest House, Nyatapola Guest House, and Hotel Heritage. Staying in Bhaktapur allows you to experience the city’s rich culture and history up close.

Patan Durbar Square

patan durbar square

Patan Durbar Square Patan Durbar Square, located in the city of Lalitpur, is a marvel of Newar architecture. The square is home to the Patan Museum, which houses a vast collection of artifacts and artworks that reflect the rich cultural heritage of Nepal. The Krishna Mandir, a stone temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, is one of the most revered sites in the square. The intricate metal and stone carvings found throughout the square are a testament to the craftsmanship of the Newar artisans.

What to See in Patan Durbar Square

Taleju Bell

 The Taleju Bell, also known as the Big Bell, is a significant monument that greets visitors entering from the south side of the Durbar Square. King Vishnu Malla placed this bell in 1736, replacing an earlier bell donated in 1703. In ancient times, citizens could ring this bell to alert the king to their grievances. Today, it stands as a testament to the democratic spirit of the past.

Hari Shankar Temple 

The Hari Shankar Temple, a three-storey architectural marvel, was built in 1704-05 by the daughter of King Yoganarendra Malla. This temple is dedicated to Hari Shankar, a hybrid deity with attributes of both Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. The temple, which was completely destroyed during the 2015 earthquake, has been reconstructed and stands in its full glory today.

Yoga Narendra’s Statue 

The Yoga Narendra’s statue is a tall column located in front of the Narsingha temple. It features a brass statue of King Yoga Narendra Malla and his queen, with a cobra looming over the king’s head. Legend has it that as long as the brass bird on the cobra’s head remains, the king may return to his palace. This belief has led to a door and window of the palace being left open, with a hookah pipe kept ready.

Jaggannarayan Temple 

The Jaggannarayan Temple, also known as the Char Narayan Temple, is a testament to the Shikhara style of architecture prevalent during the Malla period. Built in 1565, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu as Narayan. The temple was completely destroyed during the 2015 earthquake but has since been restored.

Krishna Mandir 

The Krishna Mandir, an octagonal-shaped temple, is one of the most important temples in Patan. Built by King Siddinarsingh Malla in 1637, it is believed to be made from a single stone and features 21 golden pinnacles. The temple attracts a large number of Hindu pilgrims, especially during the auspicious occasion of Krishna Janmashtami.

Each of these monuments and temples carries a rich history and cultural significance, making Patan Durbar Square a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the art, architecture, and history of Nepal.

Vishwanath Temple

 The Vishwanath Temple, guarded by two large stone elephants at the entrance, is a sight to behold. Built in 1627 during the reign of King Siddhinarsingh Malla, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, with a lingam inside. The temple, which suffered significant damage during the 2015 earthquake, has been restored and now stands as a testament to the resilience and architectural prowess of the Nepalese people.

Bhimsen Temple

 Located on the northwestern side of Patan Durbar Square, the Bhimsen Temple was built in 1680 during the reign of King Srinivasa Malla. This temple, dedicated to Bhimsen, one of the five Pandavas from the epic Mahabharata, is considered the god of trade and business. The temple has an unusual rectangular design and has undergone multiple reconstructions due to various calamities, including the 2015 earthquake.

Golden Temple 

The Golden Temple, also known as Hiranya Varna Mahavihara, is a stunning Buddhist temple located to the north of Patan Durbar Square. Believed to have been founded in the 12th century, the temple is a masterpiece of courtyard architecture with railed walkways. The temple complex houses a richly decorated main shrine with a beautiful statue of Sakyamuni. Visitors are required to remove their shoes and leather articles before entering this sacred space.


 A short walk north from the Golden Temple will lead you to Kumbeshwor, a five-storey temple also known as Banglamukhi. The temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati, was initially a two-storey structure built by King Jayasthiti Malla in the 14th century. The additional three storeys were added by King Srinivasa Malla in the 17th century. The temple complex features two ponds, the water of which is believed to come straight from the holy Gosainkunda Lake.

The Three Courtyards

Each of these courtyards carries a rich history and cultural significance, making Patan Durbar Square a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the art, architecture, and history of Nepal.

Sundari Chowk 

Sundari Chowk, smallest of the three courtyards, is the first one you encounter when entering the Durbar Square from the southern side. Built in 1647 during the reign of King Siddhi Narsingha Malla, this courtyard is home to a beautifully carved sunken water tank known as Tusha Hiti. The Royal Bhandarkhal Garden and Kamal Pokhari water tank are located behind Sundari Chowk, adding to its serene ambiance.

Mul Chowk

Mul Chowk, central courtyard, is the largest and oldest among the three. It was built during the reign of King Siddhi Narsingha Malla but was destroyed in a fire in 1662. King Srinivasa Malla rebuilt it in 1665-66. Mul Chowk is home to Taleju temples, with the Vidhya temple located at the center of the courtyard. The five-storey Degutale Temple lies in the northeastern corner of the square, and the triple-roofed Taleju Temple is on the northern side. Goddess Taleju, the personal deity of the Malla kings, is worshiped here.

Keshav Narayan Chowk

Keshav Narayan Chowk, the northern courtyard of the royal palace, is the youngest among the three, completed in 1734. It is entered through a magnificent golden gate. The Keshav Narayan Temple stands at the center of the courtyard, and the Patan Museum is situated inside this courtyard. The museum houses an outstanding collection of cast bronze and gilt-copper works, mostly of Hindu and Buddhist deities.

Patan Museum

The Patan Museum, located within the Keshav Narayan Chowk of Patan Durbar Square, is a treasure trove of art and history. Inaugurated by the late King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah in 1997, it was one of the first museums open to the public in Nepal.

Housed in a beautifully restored Malla-era palace, the museum is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Nepal. The entrance gate, adorned with gilded golden name tags and intricate carvings of deities, is a sight to behold. As you step inside, you are transported back in time, with each gallery narrating a different chapter of Nepal’s history.

The Patan Museum boasts an outstanding collection of cast bronze and gilt-copper works, primarily featuring Hindu and Buddhist deities. These artifacts, meticulously preserved, offer a glimpse into the country’s artistic legacy. The museum also showcases a variety of ancient metal and woodworks, further enriching the visitor’s understanding of Nepalese craftsmanship.

In addition to these artifacts, the museum houses photographs that capture Patan in the 19th and 20th centuries. These images provide a visual journey through the city’s transformation over the years.

The museum also features a small café at the back of the courtyard. Interestingly, this space was once a stage for dance and drama during the Malla Period. Today, it offers a tranquil spot for visitors to relax and reflect on the rich history they’ve just explored.

Foods in Patan

The culinary scene in Patan, a city rich in culture and tradition, is a gastronomic delight. The Newa cuisine, celebrated for its variety and flavor, offers over 200 dishes. Each dish, often served during feasts and festivals, carries symbolic significance and reflects the city’s vibrant culture. Let’s delve into some of these culinary delights.


Choyalla is a spicy, grilled buffalo meat dish typically served with beaten rice. The meat is marinated in a blend of traditional spices, giving it a unique flavor that is both robust and tantalizing. This dish is a staple at Newari feasts and is loved for its rich, smoky taste.


 Yomari is a sweet delicacy that is especially popular during the Yomari Punhi festival. These are steamed dumplings made from rice flour and filled with “Chaku” or “Sakhar”, a sweet, sugary substance, and black sesame. The combination of the soft outer covering and the sweet filling makes Yomari a favorite among locals and tourists alike.


Sammeybaji is a traditional Newari dish that includes beaten rice, potato curry, fish, various meats, eggs, and soybeans. This dish is a complete meal in itself, offering a balance of flavors and nutrients. It is often served during festivals and special occasions.


Bara, also known as Woh, is a traditional Newari dish made from black lentils. These lentil patties can be grilled or deep-fried, resulting in a delicious snack that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They are often served with a variety of chutneys for added flavor.

Lakha Mari

 Lakha Mari is a sweet treat made from flour dipped into sugar syrup. Although it comes in different shapes and sizes, the taste remains consistent – a delightful sweetness that melts in your mouth. This dessert is a popular choice during festivals and celebrations.


 Often referred to as the Newari pizza, Chaatamari is a flatbread made from rice flour. The topping varies and can include meat, vegetables, and even eggs. This dish is a popular street food and is loved for its crispy base and flavorful toppings.

Juju Dhau (Curd)

 Juju Dhau, which translates to “King Curd”, is a locally produced yogurt that is renowned for its creamy texture and sweet taste. This curd is a must-try for anyone visiting Patan and is often served as a dessert or a side dish.


 Aila is a traditional Newari beverage prepared from rice, grains, and millet. This alcoholic drink is an important part of local festivals and is appreciated for its smooth texture and potent kick.


Gwarmari is a deep-fried flour dumpling spiced to perfection. This dish is typically served in the morning and is best enjoyed with a cup of hot tea. The crispy exterior and soft interior make Gwarmari a delightful breakfast option.


Chyaang is a traditional alcoholic drink made from fermented rice. This beverage is a staple at Newari feasts and is known for its refreshing taste and mild alcoholic content.


 Momo, a type of dumpling filled with minced meat, is a popular dish not just in Patan but all over Nepal. The buffalo momo, in particular, is a local favorite. These dumplings, steamed to perfection, are served with a spicy tomato-based sauce that enhances their flavor.

Each of these dishes offers a unique taste of Patan’s rich culinary heritage, making the city a must-visit for food lovers.

Festivals in patan

Patan, a city known for its rich cultural heritage and ancient traditions, is also home to numerous vibrant festivals that are celebrated throughout the year. These festivals, deeply rooted in Hinduism and Buddhism, offer a unique insight into the city’s religious and cultural practices. Let’s explore some of these fascinating festivals.

Kartik Naach 

Kartik Naach is a religious dance performed during the Nepali calendar month of Kartik. Participants wear masks and traditional attire to resemble various deities, with each dance portraying unique stories of different gods. The festival culminates with the portrayal of Lord Vishnu’s victory over the demon Hiranyakashyap. This festival is a beautiful blend of religion, art, and culture, offering a captivating spectacle for observers.


Mataya is a unique festival to Patan, held the day after Gaijatra. This festival is a tribute to the recently deceased relatives, with devotees embarking on a pilgrimage-like journey. Participants perform sacred rituals, toss rice grains, light candles, and visit various shrines, believing that these acts help their departed loved ones rest in peace.

Krishna Janmashtami 

Krishna Janmashtami celebrates the birthday of Lord Krishna, a revered Hindu deity. The festival sees large crowds of devotees gathering around the Krishna Mandir in Patan. A fair is also organized, featuring traditional foods, drinks, and sacred rituals. The festival is particularly popular among women, who stay up all night in vigil to commemorate Krishna’s birth.

Astamatrika Dance

 The Astamatrika Dance is performed during the Dashain festival in the premises of Patan Durbar Square. Participants represent 13 distinct deities by wearing traditional dresses, ornaments, and accessories. The dances symbolize the attainment of eight kinds of perfections according to Buddhist beliefs, captivating observers with their divine grace and beauty.

Bhimsen Rath Jatra 

The Bhimsen Rath Jatra is a festival dedicated to Bhimsen, the ‘God of Commerce’ according to Newar beliefs. A small chariot carrying a wooden statue of Bhimsen is prepared for the occasion. The festival takes place in front of the Bhimsen Mandir in Patan Durbar Square, with devotees burning incense sticks as part of the ceremony.


 Originating from Buddhist beliefs, Panchadaan translates to ‘giving away five’. The five items – wheat, grains, rice grains, salt, and fruit – are offered to Buddhist priests. The festival allows visitors to witness Buddhist traditions and culture, with Buddhist antiques displayed in public and gigantic effigies of Dipankar Buddha paraded around the town.

Mha Puja 

Mha Puja, a unique Newari festival during Tihar, is dedicated to the celebration and worship of oneself. Participants prepare a sacred mandap, a temporary small platform for sacred rituals, inside their households and perform various rituals on it.

Samyak Mahadan 

The Samyak Mahadan festival is celebrated once every five years in Patan. A special feature of this Buddhist festival is the display of large images of Dipankara, one of Buddha’s past lives, in the courtyard of Nagbahal of Patan. The essence of this festival is the giving of offerings to monks and to Buddha, with gifts of different types of food also made to the gods and Buddhist communities.

Each of these festivals not only serves as a religious celebration but also helps preserve the ancient cultures and customs of the people in Patan. More recently, these festivals have gained popularity as tourist attractions, offering visitors a unique glimpse into the city’s vibrant cultural heritage.

Bouddhanath Stupa

boudhanath stupa

The Bouddhanath Stupa, one of Nepal’s largest spherical stupas, is an iconic Buddhist shrine symbolizing enlightenment. This major pilgrimage site for Buddhists worldwide features a massive mandala and the all-seeing eyes of Buddha. The vibrant prayer flags fluttering in the wind and the soothing chants of the monks create a serene and spiritual ambiance.

Swoyambhunath Stupa


Perched atop a hill overlooking Kathmandu Valley, the Swoyambhunath Stupa, one of Nepal’s oldest religious sites, is a sacred pilgrimage site for both Buddhists and Hindus. The panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley from the stupa’s top is truly breathtaking.

Pashupatinath Temple


The Pashupatinath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the world’s most sacred Hindu shrines. Located on the Bagmati River’s banks, the temple complex is a spiritual haven where ancient rituals and traditions are carried out with great reverence. The evening ‘Aarti’ at Pashupatinath is a mesmerizing spectacle not to be missed.

Changu Narayan Temple

The Changu Narayan Temple, located on a high hilltop, is considered Nepal’s oldest temple. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is adorned with exquisite wood and stone carvings dating back to the Licchavi period. The temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, holds great religious significance for the locals.



Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, holds profound significance for Buddhists worldwide. The tranquil ambiance of the sacred garden, the Maya Devi Temple, and the Ashoka Pillar make Lumbini a spiritual sanctuary. The numerous monasteries, built by different countries in their unique architectural styles, add to Lumbini’s diversity and beauty.

Chitwan National Park


Venturing into the wild, Chitwan National Park offers an exhilarating experience of Nepal’s rich biodiversity. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, the one-horned rhinoceros, and a myriad of bird species. Jungle safaris, bird watching, and canoe rides are some of the activities that visit Chitwan, a memorable adventure.

Sagarmatha National Park

Views from Sagarmartha National Park Lookout, Namche Bazaar
Photo by H Young on Unsplash

Sagarmatha National Park, the realm of the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, is a paradise for trekkers, offering some of the most challenging and scenic trails in the world. The unique Sherpa culture, the diverse flora and fauna, and the majestic Himalayan peaks make Sagarmatha an unforgettable destination.

Final Words 

Nepal, with its rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty, is a land of discovery and adventure. Each destination is a chapter in the grand narrative of this beautiful country, waiting to be explored.

I can assure you that a journey through Nepal is a journey through a land of enchanting beauty and timeless traditions.

Further Readings

Kathmandu – The Funky City Of Historical Importance
Places To Visit While In Kathmandu


world heritage sites

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