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Bhaktapur is known as Khwopa in local Newari tongue. The cultural capital of Nepal, Bhaktapur's history goes back to the early 8th century and it used to be the capital city of whole Nepal till the 12th to the 15th century. Until the early 18th century, the ancestors protected the city as a sovereign country surrounding it with boundary walls and a number of city gates. Shaped like a flying pigeon, the city spreads over an area of 6.88 sq. km. and lies at 1401 meters above the sea level. Bhaktapur gives shelter to almost 100 thousand people, most of whom are peasants. Businessmen, handicraft producers and public employees are among the others. Juju Dhau (Yoghurt), Bhadgaule Topi (Black Cap), Haku Patasi (black saree with red border), Pottery and handicrafts are the identifiers of the city and are well known for their uniqueness. Majority of the inhabitants are either Hindus or Buddhists. It is religious harmony that unites the people in the city. Every festival and cultural activity, irrespective of its religion, is observed with full and equal enthusiasm.
A blend of northern art and southern mythological philosophy, the aged arts, architecture and culture is the heritage of Bhaktapur that it inherits from the earlier generations. The Pagoda and Shikhar style temples, Vihars and Bahis, (traditional Buddhist monasteries), Lonha Hiti (stone spouts), ponds, Pati, math and sattal (public shelters), stupas, city gates, teracotta temples, Dyochhens (residence of Hindu Deities), Jarahns (traditional water tanks), palaces, artistic private houses and other cultural and historical heritages are the major monuments of the ancient city. Recognizing the significance of these well preserved heritages, Bhaktapur Durbar Square was enlisted in World Heritage Sites in 1979 AD.
Bhaktapur is a "Living Heritage" or "Living Museum" displaying the vibrant depth of Newari culture. Great festivals of local Newars, their life style, rituals, Daffas(prayers group) and Guthis and traditional dance groups are giving life to the intangible heritage of the city. Bisket Jatra (mid April), Gai Jatra (August), Dashain and Tihar (October/November) are the main attractions of the festivals. Everyone can experience the daily cultural activities performing such as Daffas, Bhajans (hymns), worship, dances, music, rituals, traditional Newari dress and life style while visiting the city. These living heritages have been handed down form centuries in an unbroken chain from generation to generation.
The spectacular Newari cultural heritages of Bhaktapur are the pride of entire human civilization. Keeping in this mind, Bhaktapur Municipality is running restoration of these ancestors' creations with various plans and programs. For that the city has been collecting tourist entrance fee from every foreign tourist to visit the core area of the city since 1993 and the amount is used for preservation of culture, heritages, cleaning the city, building and developing infrastructure, educating and skilling manpower and making the city as one of the best tourist destinations in Nepal. The Municipality is also distributing grants for wood, traditional bricks and tiles to encourage the local people to build their building in traditional styles. The city has also been successful to be one of the ten cleanest cities of Asia through its cleaning efforts.
Five-storyed temple, Bhairab Nath Temple, 55 window palace, Taleju complex, Jagannath Temple, Pashupatinath Temple, Nawadurga Deo Chhen,Tripurasundari Deo Chhen, Siddhapokhari, Kamal Pokhari, public shelters(Pati, Sattal), Jhaur Bahi and Chaturbramha Maha Bihars, City gates, wells and water spouts, etc. are the major monuments preserved by the municipality with public participation. So the ancient city is still maintaining the charm of medieval period and every foreign visitor experiences the life style of centuries back, visiting the city.
Admiring the preservation efforts of this cultural city Bhaktapur, UNESCO honored it with "The First Honorable Mention" for the Asia- Pacific region in 1998/99. And the Transparency International also awarded the city as "Island of Integrity" appreciating its economic discipline and transparency. The credit of all the achievement and success gained by the city goes to the people of last five decades, people's representatives of the city and all related stakeholders.
After every few steps every visitor will be surprised by the elegant art, architect and cultural heritages of the city and the visit will be life time experience which silently invites them to visit to this majestic city repeatedly.
This amazing city is not only displaying you its century old fabulous art, architect and cultural heritages but also offer its unique eastern hospitality, delicious Newari cuisines, luxurious accommodation, unforgettable handicraft souvenirs through well cultured Newar people, various restaurants, hotels, guesthouses, home stays and curio shops respectively.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the main square of the city, is a conglomeration of stone art, metal art, wood carving, and terracotta art and architectural showpieces. The Golden Gate, statue of King Bhupatindra Malla perching on the top of stone monoliths, National Art Gallery, the palace of 55 windows, the Vatsala Temple, the big bell, the bell of barking dogs, and Pashupatinath Temple (Yachheswor Mahadev Temple) with erotic wood carvings, stone temple of Siddhilaxmi, octagonal structure "Chyasinhmandap", Phasi Dega (Silumahadev Temple), golden spout, stone spout, Taleju complex, Pahanchhen, replica of Chardham (Jag Nath, Badri Nath, Rameshwor and Kedarnath Temples, four pilgrimage sites of Hindu) and many master pieces of stone sculpture are the main attraction of the square.
Taumadhi is the next important square of the city where the best example of engineering and architecture of multi roofed temples and rectangular temples can be observed. Best craftsmanship of stone sculptures, stone spouts, traditional water tank and wood carving are proudly exhibiting their glorious history. The Nyatapola Temple, Bhairabnath Temple, Tilmadhav Narayan Temple and Stone sculpture of earthquake protector are the major monuments of the Square.
It is the oldest part of the city which is also an open museum, especially for wood carving. Dattatraya, the oldest temple of the city, Bhimsen temple, water spouts, peacock window and other various size and shaped windows and Maths are the major art and architecture of this site. Brass and Bronze, and wood carving museum also can be observed in the square.
Pottery is known as one of the world's old professions. In Bhaktapur many potters can still be seen working with their traditional wooden wheels for giving various shape and size to clay. Talako (middle-south of the city) and Suryamadhi (east of the city) are two particular localities of Bhaktapur where earthen pots are made are known as pottery squares. One of them lies five minutes south west of Taumadhi Square and another lies east from Dattatray Square.
Bhaktapur is also surrounded by very exciting places. Walking or driving around the city, you will experience amazing natural beauty, glorious historical monuments, indigenous life style and panoramic views of high Himalayas. Changu Narayan, Nagarkot, Suryabinayak, Thimi , Nagadesh and Bode are ideal places to visit around the city.