Part of the three ancient kingdoms of Kathmandu Valley, Bhaktapur is filled with monuments made from terracotta and carved wood columns along with palaces and temples decked with elaborate carvings, gilded roofs and open courtyards. The Dattatreya Square is one such courtyard.
The seat of royalty until the 15th century or so, the area is home to a great number of historic monuments including maths (residential mansions), temples and a museum. Constructed by King Yaksha Malla in 1428, the three storey Dattatreya Temple is the main attraction of this square. Dedicated to the Dattatreya, a blending of the Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the temple is the oldest shrine in Bhaktapur.
Believed to be built out of a trunk of a single tree,the temple has a nine-step ladder that ascends to the main door flanked by figures of Bhima (a mythological character) with a huge mace sculpted in the Rajput style. Some argue that the two large figures are sculptures of Jaiput wrestlers called Jaimala and Pata. The uniqueness of the temple is in its artistic woodcarvings which are also famous for its relief panels of erotic decorations on the outer wall.
Known for pottery, Bhaktapur is a World Heritage Site that is sadly poorly maintained. As the streets that lead to the courtyard like that of the Dattatreya Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square on the whole play host to homes of local people, the pathways are lined with garbage and animal droppings that cover every inch of the way. It creates a rather uninviting experience and dreadful odour as you make your way to the nucleus of this ancient kingdom lost in the world of filth and decay.
If you’re a traveller who’s interest lie in the specific details of the old Newari architecture, a visit to Bhaktapur is a must. However, if architecture is not what’s you’re looking for, visiting one ancient kingdom like the Kathmandu Durbar Square will suffice and leave you more time to enjoy the scenery that hill stations have to offer.
Located 13 kilometres east of Kathmandu, entry tickets in the Bhaktapur Durbar Square cost approximately USD12.87 for foreigners while tickets for those from SAARC countries cost approximately USD2.30.
Text & Photography by Rosemarie John © All Rights Reserved