Patan: City of Beauty

After Pokhara, we return to Kathmandu, where we have a few days to spare before our flight back home. One of the places in our itinerary is Patan.

Patan, known as Lalitpur (literally “City of Beauty”) to its residents, was once the capital of a powerful kingdom. Nowadays, it’s essentially a suburb of Kathmandu, though it’s less hectic and less polluted than its northern neighbor. In it reside a number of artisans, and some of their works are visible through the elaborate temples that dot the city.

Riding a bus from Kathmandu, we alight across a mall and walk about 15 minutes through alleyways lined by beautiful traditional houses.

We reach Durbar Square, where we spend much of our time. It’s smaller than the one in Kathmandu, but the grounds is prettier and less crowded. The Royal Palace at the eastern end of the square now houses the excellent Patan Museum, which gives visitors a glimpse into the traditional Newari arts and culture.

Patan’s Durbar Square is a magnificent display of Newari architecture.
The Patan Museum is housed in the former Royal Palace.
The Mul Chowk is the largest and oldest of the palace’s main squares.
The Sundari Chowk features a water tank lined by 72 stone carvings of Tanrtic deities.
The Golden Temple (Hwa Bahal) north of the Durbar Square is named after the plates that cover most of its facade.
The Pim Bahal Pokhari is a large artificial pond that, according to legend, was built by a demon.
Exploring the alleyways lined with traditional buildings makes for a fun detour from the main street.

Patan, the oldest city in the Kathmandu Valley, was at one point in history a sovereign state. However, in 1769, Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered the valley, officially unifying Nepal under the Ghorka Kingdom. Kathmandu was then chosen as their capital.

Patan nowadays is mostly known for its historic center, which pretty much preserves the architecture centuries hence.

We spend much of our time in the Patan Museum, which is housed in the former Royal Palace. The museum has an extensive collection of metals, stone sculptures and woodcarvings illustrating the Newari culture.

I would’ve wanted to explore more of the city, but a bad stomach the previous night has made me weak. So after concluding a museum tour, we hail a taxi back to our hotel so that I can rest before our dinner with Rawal and Pawan.

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