An evening view of two traditional multi-tiered temples at Durbar Square with people gathered and walking around in the blue hour light.
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They say, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Well, in the case of Bhaktapur, that first step leads you into a world of ancient temples, vibrant festivals, and a rich cultural heritage. This city, nestled in the heart of Nepal, has a story to tell that will leave you captivated. But what makes Bhaktapur truly special? Why should you take that first step and explore this hidden gem? Well, let's just say that Bhaktapur has a way of enchanting its visitors with its architectural wonders, mouthwatering cuisine, and the warmth of its people. So, if you're ready for an adventure like no other, get ready to uncover the secrets of Bhaktapur.


Derived from the words 'Bhakta' meaning devotee and 'Pur' meaning city, the name 'Bhaktapur' reflects the historical significance of this city as a hub of religious devotion. Bhaktapur, known as the "City of Devotees," holds deep religious and cultural roots that have attracted pilgrims and visitors interested in its spiritual heritage.

The etymology of Bhaktapur provides a glimpse into the city's identity as a place deeply connected to devotion, religion, and traditional practices. The name itself encapsulates the essence of Bhaktapur's profound religious and cultural importance in Nepal. It signifies a city where devotees flock to immerse themselves in the spiritual atmosphere and seek enlightenment.

Bhaktapur's name serves as a reminder of its history as a center for pilgrimage and religious practices. The city has long been recognized as a sacred destination, drawing devotees from far and wide who come to pay homage to the numerous temples and shrines that dot the landscape. These sacred sites hold immense cultural and religious significance, serving as a testament to the city's rich spiritual heritage.

The name 'Bhaktapur' also reflects the enduring traditions and customs that have been passed down through generations. It symbolizes the deep-rooted belief systems that shape the lives of the people residing in this ancient city. The etymology of Bhaktapur offers a glimpse into the spiritual fabric of the city, providing insight into its historical devotion to religious practices and traditions.


The history of Bhaktapur can be traced back to the Licchavi dynasty, with settlements mentioned as early as the 12th century. Here are four key points to help you understand the historical context of Bhaktapur:

  1. Malla dynasty: The Malla dynasty played a crucial role in Bhaktapur's history. They made Bhaktapur their capital and marked a golden period for the city. However, this period came to an end when the Gorkha Kingdom annexed Bhaktapur in 1769.
  2. Ananda Deva: Ananda Deva is credited with founding Bhaktapur. He unified smaller settlements and established the royal court Tripura Rājkula. His reign marked the beginning of Bhaktapur's rise as a prominent city in the region.
  3. Yaksha Malla: Yaksha Malla was a significant ruler of Bhaktapur during the Malla dynasty. However, after his death, Bhaktapur faced succession issues, leading to the division of his kingdom among his sons. This division caused internal conflicts and weakened Bhaktapur's position.
  4. Foreign invasions: Throughout its history, Bhaktapur faced numerous foreign invasions due to its internal conflicts. These invasions posed challenges and threats to the city's stability and prosperity. However, despite these setbacks, Bhaktapur managed to maintain its cultural and architectural heritage.

Understanding the historical foundation of Bhaktapur is crucial to appreciating its rich heritage and the challenges it has overcome. From the Licchavi dynasty to the Malla dynasty, from Ananda Deva to Yaksha Malla, Bhaktapur's history is a tapestry of power struggles, royal legacies, and foreign influences. Stay tuned to explore more about Bhaktapur's fascinating demographics in the next subtopic.


With its diverse population and rich cultural heritage, Bhaktapur district showcases a vibrant tapestry of languages, ethnic groups, and religious practices. The district is home to various ethnic groups, with the largest being the Newar community. Other significant ethnic groups in Bhaktapur include Chhetri, Hill Brahmin, and Tamang, among others. This diversity contributes to the district's cultural richness and adds to its unique identity.

Bhaktapur district is known for its religious diversity, with different religious practices coexisting harmoniously. The major religions observed in the district are Hinduism and Buddhism, but there is also a presence of Christianity and other faiths. The religious tolerance and acceptance in Bhaktapur highlight the district's inclusive nature.

Language also plays a crucial role in Bhaktapur's demographics, with Nepali being the most widely spoken language. However, Newari, an ancient language native to the Newar community, is also prevalent in the district. Additionally, Tamang, another language spoken by the Tamang ethnic group, is also heard in Bhaktapur.

Education is highly valued in the district, reflected in its relatively high literacy rate. The average literacy rate in Bhaktapur stands at 81.68%, with a higher rate among males (90.48%) than females (72.65%). This emphasis on education contributes to the overall development of the district and empowers its residents.

Bhaktapur's population has been growing steadily, fueled by factors such as natural population increase and migration. The population growth has not only impacted the district's demographics but has also contributed to its cultural vibrancy. As the population continues to grow, Bhaktapur remains a dynamic and evolving district, preserving its traditions while embracing new influences.


Bhaktapur district immerses you in a rich cultural experience that is deeply rooted in Newar traditions. Here, you can explore the vibrant art, architecture, and festivals that make this place truly unique.

To help you enjoy your visit to Bhaktapur, here are four key aspects of its cultural heritage:

  1. Festivals: One of the highlights of Bhaktapur's culture is the Biskā jātrā festival. Celebrated with grand processions and rituals, this festival brings the entire community together. It is a sight to behold as devotees carry chariots and idols through the streets, accompanied by traditional music and dance.
  2. Traditional Dances: Bhaktapur is known for its captivating traditional dances. The Lakhe and Bhairav dances, performed during various ceremonies and festivals, showcase the rich cultural heritage of the Newar people. These dances are not only visually stunning but also hold deep spiritual significance.
  3. Artisans: The skilled artisans of Bhaktapur excel in various crafts, including pottery, woodcarving, metalwork, and Thanka paintings. These artisans have inherited ancient artistic traditions and continue to create exquisite pieces of art. Exploring their workshops and witnessing their craftsmanship is a treat for art lovers.
  4. Temples: Bhaktapur is home to numerous temples, courtyards, and historical monuments that reflect the city's rich cultural tapestry. These architectural wonders showcase the intricate craftsmanship of the Newar people and offer a glimpse into Nepal's heritage. The Durbar Square, with its stunning temples and palaces, is a must-visit for anyone interested in architecture and history.

In Bhaktapur, you will be surrounded by a living culture that is vibrant, diverse, and deeply rooted in Newar traditions. It is an experience that will leave you with a profound appreciation for the beauty and richness of this ancient city.

Main Sights

Immerse yourself in the captivating sights of Bhaktapur's cultural heritage as you explore the main attractions that showcase the city's rich history and architectural wonders. Start your journey at Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you will find a plethora of temples and historical structures that paint a vivid picture of Bhaktapur's past.

One of the most iconic sights in Bhaktapur is the Nyatapola Temple, a towering masterpiece that has stood for over 300 years. With its five-tiered structure and intricate carvings, this temple is a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the Newari artisans. As you gaze upon its towering presence, you can't help but be in awe of the ancient traditions and religious significance that it represents.

Another must-visit sight in Bhaktapur is the Bhairavnath Temple, perched on a hilltop that offers panoramic views of the city and its surroundings. As you make your way up the steps, you will be rewarded with breathtaking vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see. This temple not only provides a spiritual experience but also serves as a reminder of the resilience and strength of the Bhaktapur community.

As you wander through the historic town, you will be amazed by the blend of well-preserved ancient buildings and reconstructed heritage sites. Each structure tells a story, reflecting Bhaktapur's historical significance and deep cultural heritage. From the intricately carved wooden windows to the ornate stone sculptures, every detail showcases the craftsmanship and artistic excellence of the Newari people.