Bhaktapur – Steeped in History

by sebastien on June 18, 2011

Two Posts in one week? Crazy! When we originally started planning out our trip, we picked a few special must-see cities before connecting them with other destinations. Bhaktapur was one of those original few. After seeing the movie Baraka and appreciating the beautiful imagery that this city has to offer, it was hard to pass it by. Durbar square in the centre of the city offers some of the most magical inner-city landscapes I've ever seen. Beautiful ancient temples maintained to their original magnificence sprinkled about, and connected with brick walkways; makes you feel like you've been plucked out of this century and taken a few centuries back.

What I didn't plan for, though, was the interactions we were about to have with the locals of Bhaktapur... Mostly with the children that attempted to part you from your money in creative and bold ways. The child pictured above was more bold that creative... It's important to keep in mind the effects of children asking for money on the streets of third-world countries, so we tried to stay conscious of that as we wandered the streets.

Hit the jump for some more insight on this city frozen in time.

Bhaktapur, Durbar Square, Nepal, Shiva Guest House, Window

Beggars, Bhaktapur, Nepal

I've asked Sejin to add some thoughts about these pictures and what the city means to her.

Unfortunately, you can't hear sounds from pictures. That is the disadvantage of photography and that is the sad thing about these pictures. We couldn't make you listen to the people talking on a street, dogs howling, bells from the shrines, murmuring mantras from old men, children's cries for tourists' money, women's chit chat. You miss all these things while looking at the pictures. So, imagine you are there with me, staying at the same hostel and enjoying the late brunch at the first floor of the Shiva Guest House where lots of tourists stop by for a drink. Then, you'll hear what we heard and you'll see what we saw.


Alley, Bhaktapur, Brick, Nepal, Second Floor, Window, Woman

Bhaktapur, Nepal, Workshop

Bhaktapur, Hanuman Ghat, Nepal, Puja

Bell, Bhaktapur, Children Playing, Hanuman Ghat, Nepal

If Toulouse is a Ville Rose in France, Bhaktapur is its Nepali version. The name Bhaktapur came from the City of Devotees. Historically, the place was a trade route from India to Tibet. I think that's why people were open to foreigners, talking to travellers as if we had been known them for a long time. It might be a scam to bring you to their "Art School" where they sell lots of traditional paintings by using young children, but still, I can't deny that people were not afraid of cameras and our approaches.


Bhaktapur, Durbar Square, Gai Jatra, Nepal, Old Man, Smoking

Bhaktapur, Brick, Durbar Square, Nepal, Steps

Bhaktapur, Durbar Square, Guard, Nepal, Window

Bhaktapur, Durbar Square, Nepal, Pigeons

Bhaktapur, Dog, Durbar Square, Homeless, Nepal

It is strange that in Nepal and India, dogs are not very different from humans. Or should I say, humans are not very different from dogs. They could sleep anywhere they want and they are poorly nourished. They are not eager to change their life, they are okay with what they have. If the street is packed with garbage, just walk around the corner and take another route to get to your destination. Don't be too bothered; that's the rule. They don't have to fight with what they have right now because in their next life, they could be a guy like Donald Trump or a famous actor or an actress in Bollywood movies. So, they might know how to live a life on that day, at that very moment. As a person who lived 26 years in a country that has the fastest Internet, Korea, I myself had more to complain about than the whole population of Bhaktapur in terms of living expectations. They are the people who live at the same time with me but strangely, they seemed like people in the past. Not because their technology is behind but because their importance of life seems much simpler than us.


Bhaktapur, Guru, Nepal

Bhaktapur, Brick, Narrow Alley, Nepal

Bhaktapur, Dog, Durbar Square, Gai Jatra, Nepal

Bhaktapur, Durbar Square, Face Painting, Gai Jatra, Nepal

If you're wondering what all these people are doing waving sticks around, you're not the only one. I had some trouble figuring out exactly what festival we were witnessing every night we were in Bhaktapur, but I think it's the Cow Festival (Gai Jatra). People would dress up in some pretty silly clothing, cover themselves in paint, and parade in a long line keeping a simple beat by banging their sticks together. It was pretty energetic, and it passed right by our Hotel probably 2 or 3 times per night.

Archway, Bhaktapur, Crowd, Durbar Square, Gai Jatra, Nepal, Sunset

There you have it! If ever you have a chance to visit this country, I certainly would encourage you to do so, it's incredible. Stay tuned for the next post about Kathmandu.

As always, if you would like to see the other photos from Bhaktapur, you can visit the album posted on Facebook. Take care for now!