A former capital of Nepal, and UNESCO World Heritage Site, visiting Bhaktapur was a highlight of my time in Kathmandu. Only half an hour by taxi from the current capital, the city has banned cars from the city centre making for a far more enjoyable experience.

It has three major squares filled with temples, but for me the clear highlights (oddly not mentioned in any guidebook or online) were the water stores used to supply the city before modern infrastructure was installed. I asked my taxi driver to drop me 15 minutes walk from Durbar Square when we passed something to my left which looked interesting. I was right, and very happy when climbed up the steps to Siddha Pokhari.

Across the road from here Bhajya Pokhari looks like it is being restored.

My favourite though was the quite stunning Guhya Pokhari.

By the side of it were a group of women shifting grain to leave out in the sun to dry.

Indrayani Temple incorporated an ancient tree into the temple.

I reached Durbar Square by 9am, before the tourists really arrived, and when the light was good.

Because of this I enjoyed it more than Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, and it was easier to understand and appreciate the various buildings.

Not far from here were fields, unexpected.

By the time I reached Taumadhi Square things were getting busier, though it seemed that local school kids outnumbered the tourists. They were filling the steps of Nyatapola Temple, one of only two five story temples in Nepal.

A former temple in the square has been converted into a cafe. Cute, but the reviews are terrible…

Dattatraya Square is the oldest, but was a rather deafening building site when I visited. They had a novel approach to two people using a shovel at the same time.

The lack of cars, though not scooters, made it a more enjoyable place to walk around, and there a number of old buildings judging by their intricately carved wooden windows, but the majority of buildings appeared relatively new. I found it less atmospheric than Kathmandu for exploring by foot.

Other than the water stores, of which were there more smaller ones in the city, in varying condition. Despite the colour of the water I saw fish in some of them.

My favourite was the stunning Nag Pokhari.

I had planned to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Changunarayan, 7km north of Bhaktapur. I would normally have walked but the jet lag and heat had caught up with me. I couldn’t find any taxis but did get on a local bus which takes about half an hour to get there. I got the last seat, or at least was wedged in backwards behind the driver, but the bus just kept filling with people. School kids took all the seats and none seemed inclined to offer their seat to the elderly who boarded. At the point when the bus was full, but the crew were still cramming more people in I gave up and got off.

The taxi I caught back to Kathmandu was also an experience, an ancient car in the hands of a wannabe racing driver…

Author: jontycrane

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