Patan Durbar Square is a monumental area in Kathmandu Valley that is packed with ancient monuments, temples and shrines. Located in Patan, dubbed as the “City of Fine Arts”, Patan Durbar Square notably exudes skillful craftsmanship as demonstrated by its elaborate architecture. Join me as I walk you through Patan Durbar Square and around.
Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square is just 15-minute walk and 50 tumblings away from Gwarko Chowk, Lalitpur, which is where my homestay is located. The walk to the main square involved passing by a row of stores and street vendors along narrow streets.
Garlands and ritual objects for sale, right next to Patan Durbar Square’s ticket booth
Patan is also called the “City of Fine Arts” and is well known for its traditional crafts and rich artistic heritage. Bhaktapur was the first Durbar Square I visited in Nepal and would qualify for this description of Patan’s, as well. I don’t know how to translate it into words but I find both places “same-same” but each with a unique charm of its own.
The remarkable thing about Patan Durbar Square is that the intricately designed temples and structures are concentrated in just a small area. The square is a living demonstration of Newar architecture, with strong influence from Hindu and Buddhist religions.
Patan is also called the “City of Fine Arts” and is well-known for its traditional crafts and rich artistic heritage. What I liked most about Patan is that the intricately designed temples/ structures are concentrated in just a small area.
Major Attractions in Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square, listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is full of ancient shrines, monuments and temples. I visited Nepal in April 2014, a year before the 2015 earthquake shook the Kathmandu Valley. Read here about updates from the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust on centuries-old structures that were unfortunately damaged by the earthquake and their current restoration efforts.
Chyasim Dewal Krishna Temple
This uniquely octagonal temple is built of solid granite in 1723. Coming from the entrance, you will see this temple to your left. Two lions are guarding its stairways. Nowadays, no religious ceremonies are performed in this temple, but the structure remains an important structure in Patan Durbar Square.
Moving forward from the Chyasim Dewal Krishna Temple, you will find the Taleju Bell supported by two pillars standing on a platform. It is said that the bell is rang to let the king know if they gave grievances to air.
Chyasim Dewal (octagonal temple) next to the Taleju Bell
The Royal Palace Complex
The Palace Complex which dates back to the 17th century is composed of three main courtyards: Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk. Mul Chowk is the largest and the central-most courtyard. Unfortunately, Mul Chowk has been partly damaged by the earthquake. Restoration is on-going.
South of the Mul Chowk is the Sundari Chowk, which is notable for the Tushahiti step-well. The step-well used to function as ablution area. On the other side of the Mul Chowk is the Keshav Narayan Chowk, which now houses the Patan Museum. At its centerpiece is the Keshav Narayan Temple.
The square acts as a community park for students, devotees and locals, in general
The intricate carvings are just impressive
Hari Shankar Temple
This three-storey shrine was built in 1706 in honor of Hari Shankar, a Hindu God possessing the attributes of half Shiva and half Vishnu. This ancient structure was sadly destroyed by the 2015 earthquake. What are left now are the two stone elephants guarding the supposed temple entrance.
Hari Shankar Temple at the left
Char Narayan Temple or Jagannarayan Temple
Also called the Jagannarayan Temple, the Char Narayan Temple is made mainly of brick. As with the Hari Shankar Temple, Char Narayan was leveled down to rubbles during the 2015 earthquake. How sad this is especially that the temple is the oldest one in Patan Durbar Square, having built way back 1565. Restoration efforts are underway through the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust.
Jagannarayan Temple in the middle of this photo
One of the most remarkable temples in Patan Durbar Square is the Krishna Mandir, built entirely in stone in Shikhara (“mountain peak”) style, which is a characteristic of Hindu temple architecture. It is the only temple in Nepal having 21 golden pinnacles. Depiction of scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata are elaborately engraved on its walls. The sacred temple, however, suffered damages as well during the earthquake. Restoration is in progress.
Golden Garuda Statue
Opposite the Krishna Mandir is the Golden Garuda Statue standing on a pillar. Garuda is a Hindu deity with a human body, wings, an eagle beak, wearing a crown on his head. Garuda is said to feed on snakes and a protector against snake attack.
The Golden Garuda Statue as viewed from Vishwanath Temple
Yognarendra Malla Statue
A stone pillar holds the brass statue of Yognarendra Malla, Patan’s ancient ruler between 1684 and 1705. Over the king’s head is a cobra and a small brass bird perched on the snake’s head. The king’s statue and the serpent tumbled down during the earthquake. At present, the statues were luckily salvaged and reinstalled two years after the earthquake.
Beside the Krishna Mandir is the Vishwanath Temple, which is built in dedication of Shiva. As with the other temples in the square, Vishwanath’s architecture is astonishingly ornate. The pagoda features two stone elephant guardians.
View from the first tier of Vishwanath Temple
Bhimsen Mandir Temple
Bhimsen Mandir Temple is a three-tiered temple dedicated to Bhimsen, the god of trade and business. The temple is at the northern end Patan Durbar Square.
Read about other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nepal here:
Other Attractions in Patan
Hiranya Varna Mahavihar or Golden Temple
About 10 minutes walk from the Patan Durbar Square is the Hiranya Varna Mahavihar (Golden Temple). It is easy to miss the entrance, which is kind of hidden. Looking up from the entrance gate is a beautiful stone carving. More carvings and statues made of stone, metal and wood are found inside the small and dense temple, with the 3-storey Golden Pagoda dominating the scene.
A few steps further north of the Golden Temple is the Kumbeshwor temple, one of the two five-roofed temples in Kathmandu (the other one, which is the tallest is the Nyatapola temple in Bhaktapur). The architecture is exquisite, as usual.
There were a lot more locals here than foreign tourists when I visited. There’re only two of us, in fact. Local devotees are silently praying and burning offerings, in the hope that they’ll receive blessings in return.
There are a lot more locals here than foreign tourists. In fact, there’re only two of us tourists when I visited. I found local devotees silently praying and burning offerings, in the hope that they’ll receive a blessing in return.
I really liked those Heart, Heart, but taking it home in my memory card is almost as good.
Patan Durbar Square Entrance Fee
(Updated June 2018)
Below rates include entry to Patan Museum:
Foreign Nationals – NPR 1,000
SAARC Nationals – NPR 250
Nepalese – NPR 10 (Students with letter from school); NPR 20 (Student Card Discount); NPR 30 (Others)
Patan Golden Temple Entrance Fee
(Updated June 2018)
Foreign Nationals – NPR 50
SAARC Nationals – NPR 20
Nepalese – Free
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How to get there
By public transport: Try the less expensive public transport while at the same time reducing your carbon footprint. From Ratna Park in Kathmandu city proper, get a bus heading to Lagankhel bus station in Lalitpur. From there, you can walk to Patan Durbar Square.
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