Kathmandu Excursions & Tours: There are some who say travel is about going places and doing things. When it comes to Patan and Bhaktapur, it’s simply about ‘being there’. It’s easy to just explore Kathmandu, but we want to encourage you to discover the Kathmandu Valley’s two other former kingdoms – Patan and Bhaktapur. Between the buzzing markets, the artistry of the age-old temples and palaces, and the medieval feel of both cities, you’ll be sure to leave Nepal with a much deeper understanding of this incredible place.
We’ll take you on a tour from Kathmandu into another world, first to Patan, about a half an hour’s drive away. As you enter the ancient city, you’ll be taken aback by the vivid contrast to Kathmandu. Although these days Patan is part of the sprawl of the Kathmandu conurbation, Patan has an identify of its own, including the Centre of Sanskrit Learning (hence why you may see and hear of Patan by its Sanskrit name, Lalitpur, meaning City of Living Art).
The influences in Patan have transcended centuries, perhaps culminating in the 12th to 16th Century era of the Mallas and their extraordinarily creative Newar civilization. Surrounding the city’s main square are noble royal and religious structures, which highlight the Hindu pantheon, mainly of Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to explore Patan’s excellent museum that features some superb artifacts from both Buddhist and Hindu traditions, leaving you well informed of the glories of the past and the span of civilizations that have flourished and competed here in the Himalayas.
Leaving Patan behind, we’ll head for the medieval city of Bhaktapur, which will take us about 45 minutes. As if held in a time warp, the little city of Bhaktapur amazes everyone. Upon entering this ‘City of Devotees’, you’ll quickly realise that you have entered a time of feudal ways and medieval street-scenes, with a uniquely magical ambiance that confidently eschews modernity for tradition. Bhaktapur is also a place where your eyes naturally want to shift skyward towards the pagoda rooftops, but don’t forget to come back down to earth to peer down bustling ancient alleyways. Challenge yourself to keep still and absorb the activity around you. As we like to say - all one’s five senses are employed, and then add to that a sixth sense – one of idle exploration!
The definitive building in Bhaktapur is the 30m high Nyatapola Temple, with its five pagoda roof lines towering above the market square. That being said, Nyatapola Temple is centre point and iconic landmark amidst thousands of palaces, temples, and shrines, constantly employed - enticing or warding off deities and demons with offerings (typically floral and food or percussion or horn music). As such, it’s well known that in Bhaktapur, there’s an ever present incessant clanging and tinkling of big and little bells. You get used to it – it’s all part of the Bhaktapur charm. Senses enriched and fascinated, we’ll head back to Kathmandu, which will take us about an hour. You’ll be glad you got out of the capital and explored the Kathmandu Valley with us.
Meeting/pick-up point: Kathmandu Guest House, Thamel, Kathmandu.
Duration: Six-seven hours.
Start/opening time: At9am.