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Guide to Bhaktapur Durbar Square

One of Nepal's former Royal Capitals!
Updated: January 31st 2019 | Nepal travel guides

My Rating:  
must see highlights - entrance fee - directions - accommodation
Download my guidebook to Bhaktapur (great for tablets, phones, laptops or print)

About Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a part of the ancient Newari city of Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon or Khwopa-Newar ख्वप ). The square contains a royal palace that took center stage as one of three royal capitals during the 15th century in the Kathmandu Valley. Today Bhaktapur Durbar Square is just one of four main attractions within the old city known as "Bhaktapur".

It was during the reign of the Mallas that Durbar Square acquired most of its beautiful buildings and prominence as a great city in The Kathmandu Valley when it garnered the nickname "city of devotees".

Did you know?

King Ananda Malla lived in Bhaktapur Durbar Square and helped to create a place renown for culture and art.

Durbar Square is completely traffic free making it a pleasant change from the rest of Nepal!

Bhaktapur Durbar square was one of the least affected historical areas during the April 25th earthquake in Nepal however several of the older temples are currently reconstruction - do not despair though as there's plenty more to see throughout all of Bhaktapur.

Sunsets in Durbar Square are best seen from eastern end where there just happens to be a restaurant! Although you can also just perch yourself on a temple like the locals and watch the sun go down.

History of Bhaktapur Durbar Square

One cannot write a summary about the history of Bhaktapur Durbar Square without including all of Bhaktapur which can be found in the book Kathmandu Valley Heritage Walks. 55 Window Palace in BhaktapurFounded in the 12th century by King Ari Malla (Ari Deva) of Banepa from a kingdom just outside of the valley. He moved the capital of his kingdom to Bhaktapur’s Dattatreya Tole (the oldest square in the city).

King Ari was the first to adopt the Malla name which means “wrestler” in Sanskrit indicating power, strength and skill. Throughout Bhaktapur you will find stone statues of wrestlers.

Between 1200 AD and 1482 was the golden era for the Malla kings. Bhaktapur ruled the valley kingdom and it prospered well. After the death of King Jayayakshya Malla in 1482 Malla the valley was divided up into three kingdoms for his sons (Bhaktapur, Patan and Kathmandu). This period became known as “The period of the three kingdoms”.

From then until the mid 18th century Bhaktapur and the valley saw many skirmishes and battles. Golden Gate in BhaktapurHowever it was during this period that also saw a great rise in culture, trade, temple construction, artistry, architecture and language. Indeed it was during this period that the Nepali language was formed.

Today Bhaktapur as a whole retains it's wonderful historic beauty and culture. However it is so very important to realize that Bhaktapur Durbar Square is only one small part of Bhaktapur city itself. All of which can be explored!

There's a lot to discover in Bhaktapur so many people opt to stay here for a few nights which really can make you feel like you are sleeping in another time period.

Must see highlights around Bhaktapur Durbar Square

If you are visiting Bhaktapur Durbar Square I highly recommend you download my guidebook. It includes fantastic walking tours of the square and photographs of every temple so you'll never be confused as to what's what again!

Chyasalin Mandap

Bhaktapur Durbar Square contains a lot of temples and places of interest as you can see. There are local guides who can be hired from as little as 1500 rupees. Do be aware that they don't always know as much as they claim and very rarely show you anything beyond the 4 squares.

If you get my downloadable guide to Bhaktapur it contains every temple in the square and beyond: all laid out in a great walking tour. Get my Bhaktapur guidebook here.

Is Bhaktapur Durbar Square traffic free?

Yes, but it's only the immediate Durbar Square area. So from the entrance gates to the Siddhi Laxmi Temple no traffic is allowed.

Siddhi Laxmi Temple

After the 2015 earthquake Durbar Square was opened up to traffic to help with aid. But in May 2016 traffic was once again stopped from entering the square. Contrary to some guidebooks this traffic-free area is only applied to Durbar square and not the other squares.

To learn more on who and why this happened do read about the history of Chyasalin Mandap or better yet get an up to date premium guidebook to Bhaktapur!

Temple reconstruction & repair in Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Heritage buildings in Bhaktapur Durbar Square were hit by the 2015 earthquake with all sustaining some damage and only one completely collapsing.

All but one temple (Vatsala Durga) has been completely restored in 2019.

The museum's exterior and interior is due for renovation once the main temples have been reconstructed.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a wide open square that's been well maintained over the years. The heritage committee in Bhaktapur concentrated on repairing and rebuilding each damaged temple in Durbar Square individually. The result has mean tourist have been able to enjoy scaffolding free temples and barely even get a hint of the damage there in terms of heritage.

Compared to Kathmandu Durbar Square, and Patan Durbar square it was Bhaktapur Durbar square that was recently listed as the best in Nepal! Bhaktapur Durbar Square is also home to the first temple that is open to donations from the public. The difference is the transparent funding in the repairs of the famous Vatsala Durga temple.

Map of Bhaktapur Durbar Square

I strongly suggest you get my guidebook to Nepal where you'll find the very best high resolution off line maps to Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Meanwhile here is a map showing the temples and highlights of the great square.

Get a better map! Get my guidebook to Nepal and experience the best maps to Bhaktapur and all Nepal!

Map of Bhaktapur Durbar Square from Nepal Guidebook sample

Entrance fee for Bhaktapur Durbar Square

The current fee for foreigners into Durbar Square is 1500rps approximately or USD$15 while SAARC members pay 100rps. Do note that paying in USD means you'll be paying more than in Nepalese rupees.

This ticket covers all of Bhaktapur city including Pottery Square, Taumadhi Square and Dattatreya Tole.

If you are planning to stay in Bhaktapur show your passport at the ticket office and you can get the same ticket extended for one week with no extra cost.

Ticket booths are located at all the main entrance streets into the old city of Bhaktapur and there are random "ticket inspections" so do hold on to your ticket!

Accommodation & hotels near Bhaktapur Durbar Square

There are only a few hotels very near Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Most of the hotels are scattered across all of Bhaktapur. Do get my guidebook to Bhaktapur for full reviews and recommended places to stay.

High-end hotels in Bhaktapur Durbar Square

There are none! Most hotels in the square are of a mid-level quality so don't let anyone tell you differently.

Mid-range: USD $20-80 per night

Khwapa Chhen Restaurant and Guest House Khwapa Chhen Restaurant and Guest House - Located just outside the main gates of Durbar Square in a big Newari style house. It caters mainly to Chinese guests but worth the effort for one of those balcony views!Book here ★★★☆☆

+ Location

+ Views

Vajra Guest House Vajra Guest House -Close to Durbar Square this guest house is clean and modern. Again they are tour group oriented but staff are good. Book here ★★★★☆

+ Service

Shiva Guest House Shiva Guest House - Probably offering the best sunset views this guest house is located in Durbar Square at the eastern end. The ground floor restaurant is one of the better places to eat too! Book here ★★★★☆

+ Best Choice!

+ Location

+ Price

Golden Gate Guest House Golden Gate Guest House - Offering 22 rooms in a secluded courtyard off Durbar Square rooms here have both shared and private bathrooms. Sticking with privates over shared is a good idea. Book here ★★★☆☆

+ Clean

+ Service

Budget hotels in Bhaktapur Durbar Square: USD $5-20 per night

Mountain View Guest House Bhaktapur Mountain View Guest House - This budget guest house is quite new and very clean. With only 4 rooms it can get booked out though. Located off the north east corner of Durbar Square the rooftop views are great. With a nice owner to match budget travelers can do well here. Tel: +977-1-6617371

+ Location

+ Service

Looking for more accommodation in Bhaktapur Durbar Square? Try my hotel search below for the best rates.

Download my full guide to Bhaktapur!

Looking for more? Save time and discover more by downloading my complete guide to Bhaktapur! Includes every temple, hotel / restaurant reviews, transport, shopping and more ...

Bhaktapur travel guidebook
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Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur Durbar Square
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Full guide:
» Guide to Patan    
Central Patan
  - Patan Durbar Square
 South Patan
  - Mahaboudha Temple
  - Uku Bahal
  - Machchhendranath temple
North Patan
  - The Golden Temple
  - Kumbeshwar Temple Complex
West Patan
  - The Kumari Living Goddess
East Patan
  - The Balkumari Temple

Make the most out of your journey:
» Get my full guidebook to Patan!


Full guide:
» Guide to Bhaktapur
Durbar Square
» Guide to Bhaktapur Durbar Square
  - Erotic Elephants Temple (Shiva Parvati)
  - Basantapur Chowk (Sculptures)
  - National Art Gallery / Museum
  - The Golden Gate (Sundhoka)
  - Taleju Temple (Mul Chowk)
  - Naga Pokhari 
55 Window Palace
  - Siddhi Lakshmi
  - Stone Lions
  - Pashupatinath Temple (Bhaktapur)
  - Vatsala Durga Temple & Taleju Bell
  - Chyasalin Mandap
Near Durbar Square
» Taumadhi Square
» Pottery Square
» Dattatreya Square
Just outside Bhaktapur
» Kailashnath Mahadev (Tallest Shiva statue)
» Nagarkot

Like to know more?
» Get my full guidebook to Bhaktapur!

Bardia National Park

Vatsala Durga Temple (under reconstuction) & Taleju Bell

Vatsala Durga Temple & Taleju Bell
Click to see a larger photograph of the Vatsala Durga Temple & Taleju Bell

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