Whether it is the rustic charm, the simplicity of the people or the palpable spirituality there is something magical about Lalitpur or Patan. After Kathmandu and Pokhara, it stands as the third-largest city in the Kathmandu valley. Known for its rich artistic heritage, it has a plenitude of traditional arts and is a hub for sculptures who specialize in intricate stone carvings. Walking on the narrow cobbled pathways opens the ethos of the city – the bustling street markets, the temples, the hustle-bustle of life and the rich arts and crafts that it is well known for. And it also leads the way to the beautiful Patan Durbar Square.

Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square

The Durbar Squares in Nepal were attributed to royal areas. Since three smaller kingdoms ruled Kathmandu, three Durbar Squares are found namely –

  • Kathmandu Durbar Square
  • Patan Durbar Square
  • Bhaktapur Durbar Square

All three Durbar squares are listed as UNESCO Heritage sites and are a must-visit. The Patan Durbar Square is the smallest and the oldest of the three.

Patan durbar Square
Krishna Mandir is one of the more exquisite pieces of architecture in the square and it still stands resplendent after the 2015 earthquake. The Garud column stands in front.
atan Durbar Square

The Many Moods At The Patan Durbar Square

The courtyard of Patan Durbar Square is the liveliest and this is where all the flutter of the medieval city can be seen. People in different moods and walks of life collect to enjoy the monuments, chit chat or simply get lost in thoughts. The concentrated cluster of temples in the Durbar Square display stunning Newari architecture. It is like a dramatic canvas where man and the monuments transcend onto one plane. Conversations are heard, lovers speak in whispers, school children can be seen returning from school, the men with their Dhaka topis sit and gossip, a loner gazes into the oblivion and a group of women enjoys their ice cream cone – all in the midst of ancient palaces, temples and shrines that exhibit exquisite carvings.

Patan durbar square
A summer afternoon made cool with an ice cream cone
Patan durbar Square
The lions that guard Chayasin Dewal

The Durbar has plenty of Hindu temples and Buddhist monuments with bronze gateways, guardian deities, and elaborate architectural structures. The carved wooden columns and temples with intricate carvings add to the architectural beauty. The construction of the temples is said to have actively taken place during the Malla period from the 14th to the18th century. Patan Durbar Square was then home to Malla kings and occupied a vital place for the royal family of Nepal.

Stunning intricate carvings on Bhimsen temple.
Chyasin Dewal -the three-story dome structure is a Krishna Temple which was erected in 1723.
Another view of the Chyasin Dewal – it is an octagonal shaped shikhara style mandir.
Taleju Bell is suspended between two stone pillars on top of a raised platform and to the right of the bell is the Shankar Narayan Mandir.

When the devastating earthquakes hit Nepal, it affected both the people and the landscape. A few monuments collapsed at the Durbar square and as I strolled through the courtyard I could see dozens of people rebuilding the monuments and the restoration process well underway. The 2015 earthquake damaged the Jagannarayan Temple, Hari Shankar Temple, Mani Mandap pavilions and statue of King Yoganarendra Malla. The Krishna temple, Chyasim Dewal, Taleju bell, Patan Residential Palace and Bhimsen temple survived it and stand erect in all their glory. Nature sure has a way of turning man’s efforts into rubble in a matter of seconds.

Hari Shankar temple- Although it collapsed in the 2015 earthquake, restoration of this three-story temple is underway.

Patan Residential Palace / Museum

The Patan Residential Palace made by King Vishnu Malla in the year 1734 A.D. has been converted to a museum. It contains a stunning assortment of bronze statues, religious objects and traditional sacred arts of Nepal. It is a must-visit for a better understanding of the history of the country and an hour must be kept aside for a leisurely view of the artifacts.

Patan Residential Palace now houses the museum which must not be missed

Courtyards at the Patan residential Palace

 Step inside the complex to explore the three courtyards

Keshav Narayan Chowk: A temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the form of Keshav Narayan stands at the center of the courtyard. The chowk is named after the lord. The section of the Royal palace surrounding the chowk now holds the finest collection of religious art. Keep aside an hour or two to enjoy the exhibits at the museum.

Mul Chowk: It is both the central and the largest chowk. One can visit temples such as Vidhya temple and the Taleju temple here.

Mul Chowk

Sundari Chowk: Sundari Chowk is arranged around a sunken water tank known as the Tusha Hiti and is a masterpiece of stone architecture and stone sculptures of Hindu Gods.

Things to know:

  • Patan is approximately 30 minutes from the city center. Taxis and buses ply to and fro from the destination.
  • The cost of the ticket is 250 Nepali Rupees for citizens of SAARC countries. For the others, it is 1000 rupees. The ticket also includes the visit to the museum.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes since the visit entails walking and exploring the square, it’s cobbled streets and shopping areas.
  • Take a face mask if allergic to dust.
  • Patan is known for its exotic metal statues. Do explore the streets to make the right choice and bargain to settle at the optimum price
  • To enjoy the panoramic view of Patan Durbar Square, drop in many restaurants around the square that are situated on a higher floor. These also provide good photography opportunities.
  • Keep aside a half-day trip to Patan to enjoy it at leisure.
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