A cow with attitude at Shiva's Kinder, outside the Palace in Bhaktapur, Kathmandu valley.
Bhaktapur in the east Kathmandu Valley was the capital of Nepal in the 14/15th centuries and now houses a dazzling collection of UNESCO World Heritage recognised temples, statues and other medieval street art.
Truly a living museum museum Bhaktapur was founded in the 12th century and is renowned for its elegant art and culture. It's 12 kilometres east of Kathmandu the capital and an easy day trip by public or private transport and spread over just 7 square kilometres. The distance, however short, also has the effect of keeping down the tourist numbers, so the city is not as crowded as Kathmandu.
Durbar Square (no, you're not mistaken, Kathmandu and Patan's main squares are also called Durbar!), is the core of the town's incredible attractions, a place packed with elaborately carved teak temples, brilliant stone and golden statues of kings and gods. Patan's Durbar Square is similarly endowed.
The Nyatapola Temple.
The Nyatapola Temple was built in 1702 on the command of King Bhupatindra Malla. This is thought to be one of the tallest in the country and a particularly fine example of medieval workmanship. The five-stories are surmounted by a five-tier roof that reaches over thirty meters high.
The flight of steps up is lined with massive, beautifully carved stone statues. Interestingly Nepal experiences regular earthquakes that destroyed temples and other buildings on a regular basis so the king decided to build a more powerful temple and ordered potent guardians be placed in pairs on each level. Thus on the first level kneel a pair of likenesses of Bhaktapur's strongest man ever, Jaya Mal Pata, a wrestler. Then come two elephants followed by two lions, two griffins and finally Baghini and Singhini, Nepal's tiger and lion goddesses.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square, renovated.
Bhaktapur's Durbar square seems more spacious than the two others in the Kathmandu Valley for the simple reason that it was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1934 that erased one third of the temples, monasteries and other ornate buildings, though not the The Nyatapola Temple, you'll note, thanks to its super-power protection.
A kid riding a 600 year-old statue of a lion god in the street.
One of the delightful aspects of the Kathmandu antiquities is how they are treated so casually by local people. Shrines are honoured and gifts presented regularly, goats sacrificed to Shiva, bronze statues and carvings are rubbed with paste or just dirty hands until they shine, and glorious ancient carvings - fountains, monuments, temples - are used daily by children or adults for play, for work, or for ablutions.
Let's play ping-pong. And never mind the antiquities!
The famous Golden Gate dates from 1756 AD and is the entrance to the Taleju Temple Complex.
An early morning street scene in Bhaktapur.
The Peacock Window embedded in rebuilt brickwork.
The Peacock Window, sometimes called the 'Mona Lisa of Nepal', is a masterpiece of woodcarving dating from the early 15th century. It's unique in the Kathmandu valley, a region stuffed with exquisitely carved wooden ornaments. The in which the window is set houses a Woodcarving Museum.
Durbar Square in Patan (aka Lalitpur) in another part of the Kathmandu Valley is easy to reach and encompasses a gorgeous space lined with the usual amazing carved temples, glittering monuments and an excellent museum but rather more tranquil that the other two Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley.