Bhaktapur Durbar Square – Newa architecture at its best
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is the plaza in front of the royal palace of the old Bhaktapur Kingdom, 1400 m above sea level. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in the current town of Bhaktapur also known as Bhadgaon which is 13 km east of Kathmandu. The complex consists of four distinct squares – Durbar Square, Taumadhi Square, Dattatreya Square and Pottery Square. The whole area is informally known as bhaktapur Durbar Square.
The Durbar square is surrounded by spectacular architecture that vividly showcases the skills of the Newari artists and craftsmen, over several centuries. The royal palace was originally situated at Dattatraya square and was only later moved to the Durbar Square location.
The Mini Pashupatinath Temple in Bhaktapur Durbar square is a replica of the original one in Kathmandu. Also known as the Yaksheswara Mahadev Temple, it was built by King Yaksha Malla in either 1475 or 1482. The legend is that Lord Shiva asked the king to build the Pashupatinath Temple and so he did. The temple contains several graphic erotic carvings in the pillars and roof struts.
The Durbar Square houses the 55 window palace which was constructed by King Jitamitra Malla and was home to the royalty until 1769. It is now a national gallery. The main attraction is the golden door, the most beautiful and richly molded specimen of its kind in the entire world. Close by is the golden gate which leads into Mulchok Court which is home to the Taleju Temple. This temple like other in the main towns of Kathmandu valley is dedicated to the goddess Taleju Bhawani and includes shrines to both the Taleju Bhawani and Kumari.
Nyatapola Temple is a five storey pagoda, built by King Phupatindra Malla in 1702 and dedicated to the Goddess Siddhi Lakshmi. To make the brick and wood temple strong and powerful, King Bhupatindra Malla ordered guardians be placed in pairs on each level of the base leading up to the Nyatapola Temple. On the first level is a pair of likenesses of Bhaktapur’s strongest men, Jaya Malla and Phatta Malla. On the next tier are two elephants, followed by two lions, two griffins, and finally ‘Baghini’ and ‘Singhini’, the tiger and lion Goddesses. The entities in each level are supposed to be 10 times as strong as the one on the next lower level. The temple is the tallest temple in the Kathmandu Valley and stands 100 feet high. It was so well designed that it withstood a powerful 8.3 earthquake in 1934.
The Dattatraya Temple is as old as the 55 windows palace. Consecrated by King Jayayakshya Malla in 1427, this temple, according to popular belief, was built out of the trunk of a single tree. It was subsequently repaired and renovated by King Vishva Malla in the mid 16th century. The temple is dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva and shows symbols of both gods.
The Siddhi Lakshmi Temple is a Sikhara style temple next to 55 Window Palace. The steps up to the temple are flanked by male and female attendants.
Next to the Vatsala Devi Temple, in front of the 55 Windows Palace is the Chayslin Dega. This octagonal temple was originally a viewing point for noble writers, observing festivals and rituals. It was built during the 17th century by King Jitamitra Malla and was used as a rest house by the pilgrims.
The Vatsala Devi Temple is a small temple in right in front of the Golden Gate. This Sikhara style temple completely constructed in sandstone and is built on three stage plinth. It is dedicated to Batsala Devi, a form of Goddess Durga. The stone temple shows many intricate carvings. It is most famous for its bells.
The Bhairabnath Temple is dedicated to the dreadful aspect of Lord Shiva. It stands a short distance away from the Nyatapola Temple. This three storied temple was originally constructed by King Jagaj Jyoti Malla and remodelled by King Bhupatindra Malla.
More views from the Bhaktapur Durbar Square…
A major earthquake on 25 April 2015 had badly damaged many buildings in the Bhaktapur Durbar square. The mini Pashupatinath temple lost its roof, while the Vatsala Devi Temple was demolished by the earthquake.