Bhaktapur, Nepal: Durbar Square & Changu Narayan
Bhaktapur is where one of three the Durbar Squares, or palace squares, of the Kathmandu Valley is located. We’d already visited Kathmandu’s Durbar Square and Patan’s and were now ready for a trip about 13 kilometers outside of Kathmandu.
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From my travel journal on September 15, 2009:
We braved the buses, which we’d heard from a fellow backpacker was going to be a treat in itself. It took us some time just to find the stop since there were no [obvious] signs and we were going in circles asking shop owners where it was [we should be standing]. Finally, we realized there were buses randomly stopping with a kid yelling out the side. We would just have to jump aboard and hope we got there. Luckily, there was a British teacher aboard who told us the actual cost was Rs15 though they often find the foreigners and will charge Rs50. We ended up paying the lower price with her.
Bhaktapur was founded in the 12th century by King Ananda Malla and was the capital city of the Malla Kingdom until the 15th century.
Bhaktapur went through a huge earthquake in 1934 [which destroyed over 2,000 homes and damaged another 2,000]. Because of that they restored the city to its 15th century splendor [during the rebuild]. They don’t allow cars so it is a very pleasant place to walk around. We took our time, drank some chai tea at a cafe and enjoyed the town.
A site that stands out and rises above the rest is Nyatapola Temple a 5 story pagoda erected by Nepali King Bhupatindra Malla in 1702. It is devoted to Siddha Laxmi, the Hindu goddess of prosperity. The whole area is filled with both Hindu and Buddhist religious sites.
After chai we decided to get a bus up to Changu Narayan. The bus wove up and around a mountain on a narrow street. The bus had to back up a few times and work around other buses, too. Riding on top is a normal thing here, though we’re not ready for that just yet.
Changu Narayan is the oldest temple in Nepal. It was first built in the 4th century and has been expanded upon over the years to show artistic work over the centuries. The sculptures and pieces depicting Vishnu were amazing.
Changu Narayan is an ancient Hindu temple and is 6 kilometers to the north of Bhaktapur. The temple is dedicated to Vishnu.
After walking around the temple and back down the one street from the temple to the bus stop, we stopped and watched as an old women dried corn and a herd of goats made their way down the road we all shared. The group on the bus was interesting: farmers with a load of crops to be taken down filled the aisle, school children returning home and women gossiping in their seats.
Global Giving is an online fund-raising platform running a project to raise $5,000,000 for disaster relief in Nepal and only has $20,000 to go. All donations to this fund will support earthquake recovery and relief efforts in Nepal. Initially, the fund will help first responders meet survivors’ immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products, and shelter. Once initial relief work is complete, this fund will transition to support longer-term recovery efforts run by local, vetted local organizations.