Patan © Kit Hartford
One of the three royal cities in the Kathmandu Valley, Patan (officially called Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City) has a rich cultural heritage and is known for its fine crafts, evident in the elaborate architecture, stone carvings, and metal statues found all over the city. Patan is actually one of the biggest cities in Nepal but the historic attractions are mostly located near Durbar Square and this area is best explored on foot. Patan Durbar Square is a good place to see beautiful examples of palaces, temples and shrines, and the stunning stone carvings of the Sundari Courtyards. The entire city of Patan was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 and it is a centre of both Buddhist and Hindu culture in Nepal. Patan is home to more than 1,200 monuments so tourists are spoiled for choice: one of the most stunning is the Krishna Mandir, a stone temple with magnificent friezes built in the 16th century, but there are many wonderful temples to explore. Some of the best temples, apart from those found on the main square, include the Mahaboudha Temple, the Rudravarna Mahavihar, the Machchhendranath Temple, the Golden Temple and the Kumbheshwar Temple. The Patan Museum is also a very popular tourist attraction.