Nepal seems like a big museum for anyone visiting for the first time. Once here, you step into a series of curated artifacts and it seems like you’ve gone back in time. Bhaktapur, which is 12 kilometers from Kathmandu is the city of culture. Known by many names like “Living Heritage” and “Nepal’s Cultural Gem,” you will be mesmerized by the city’s charm
Once you’ve visited the myriad of temples, shrines, and museums, here are five experiences you should not miss in Bhaktapur.
“You need to try it to know it,” says an artist in the pottery square. There are two pottery squares in Bhaktapur, one in Dattatreya Temple and the other is Talako Potter Square towards the south of the durbar square. The area is famous for the rows of grey clay pots that bask in the sun to dry. Customers can take their pick of the freshly made ones or have something custom-made on the spot! You can even get your hands-on experience making clay pots. Traffic snarls, a bad day at work or even an ugly fight - all of it can be swept away by getting a little messy.
Learning the basics of pottery making is easy. First, you have to cup your palms around the clay, and then make a hole in the center with our fingers. You have to simultaneously exert pressure from the inside. And there, right in front of you, is the making of a fairly well-shaped pot.
This paper emporium is located near Peacock Window, down the side of Puraji Math. Although the paper workshop was badly damaged by the 2015 earthquake, it is up and running now. You can see the papermaking process and buy some quality Nepali paper products too.
This nameless hole-in-the-wall consists of nothing more than a hot plate, a pancake mix and the beautiful enthusiasm of the chef. The main item on the eatery is Wo (which is called Bara in Nepali). This is a savory lentil pancake, which can be served plain or mixed with eggs and meat. To find this place, look for a sign that reads, “Nepal bara-wo available here.” Squeeze yourself into the two-table cubby hole adjoining Tadhunchen Bahal.
Bhaktapur’s famous “King Curd” is curdled around here. Walking through the narrow pathway from Dattatreya Square, you will arrive at Bolache, where Juju Dhau is served. This famous yogurt is served in mud bowls that are made in the pottery square. Besides being used for culinary purposes, the yogurt has deep roots in Nepali culture, traditions, rituals and religions. For instance, Nepalis eat yogurt to purify themselves during religious fasting days. It is also consumed as an auspicious food before departing from home. Many believe that yogurt brings good luck, so a fresh container of it is placed near the entrance ways for special occasions.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is filled with shops selling varieties of carved furniture. The furniture reflects the antique traditions of Nepali culture. If you’re in luck, you might even see an artisan at work.
Bhaktapur is where the past meets the present. All too in an intimate city that effortlessly maximizes the beauty of both worlds. Several traditions are kept alive through the art of pottery making, wood carving, and brass making.