Bhaktapur © Alexander Shafir
Lying just 22 miles (35km) east of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, also known as the City of Devotees, was the capital of the Kathmandu Valley during the 14th to 16th centuries; the wealth of fabulous architectural showpieces, soaring pagodas, richly ornamented houses and medieval layout is testament to this period. The whole town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is filled with palaces, temples, statues and squares connected by a maze of largely pedestrian-only streets. The main central square, Durbar Square, boasts many architectural attractions, including the Golden Gate, the 15th-century Palace of 55 Windows, and several statues of ancient kings. The second main square of Taumadhi is presided over by the elegant Nyatpola Temple, the tallest in the Kathmandu Valley, atop a five-story platform.
Bhaktapur is also the centre of traditional pottery and weaving industries in the Kathmandu Valley. Visiting Bhaktapur is like stepping back in time as the population has largely preserved their ancient traditions, with frequent colourful festivals and a meticulously restored cityscape. Visitors to this magnificent ancient city are required to pay a fairly steep entry fee, but it is worth every penny. Having paid this admission cost, it is possible to stay in the city, which has varied accommodation, for up to a week.
Transport: Bus (45 minutes) or taxi from Kathmandu.
Admission: Foreigners are charged an entrance fee of about 1,500 NRS.