Patan: Nepal’s Cultural Hotspot - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Patan: Nepal’s Cultural Hotspot

Patan Heritage Zone, Nepal

It is one of Nepal’s cultural gems. It’s Durbar square that is full of temples, palaces,  statues, stupas and other amazing sights is a UNESCO World heritage site. Along with the durbar squares at Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, it forms the trinity of UNESCO world heritage cultural sites in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal. A stronghold of the Newari community, it is home to the palace where the Malla kings once resided. I am talking about the cultural city of Patan, that also goes by the name of Lalitpur.

Gargoyle at Patan Heritage Zone

Deriving its name from the Sanskrit world Lalitapattan, Lalitpur or Patan is full of cultural delights. And most of these delights can be found concentrated inside Patan’s durbar square. Water spouting from gargoyles, intricately carved pillars, stunning red brick foundations, beautifully carved stone sculptures, massive temples, colorful locals, snippets from Newari and Nepali culture, extravaganza of shopping avenues and many more cultural delights can be found in this heritage Durbar square.

Street Moment from the small shops of Patan, Nepal

A lot of Durbar square was damaged during the 2015 earthquake that hit Nepal, but a lot of it still stands tall. The Palace, the museum, the octagonal stone Krishna temple, the Shankar Narayan temple, the Vishwananth temple with the two stone elephants in front of it, the golden temple, the Krishna stone temple and the Mahaboudha temple are some of the architectural marvels in the durbar square of Patan.

Beautiful temples at Patan Heritage Zone

But, there are many more smaller temples and stories of creativity all across Patan’s durbar square and beyond. Then, there are the old Newari residential houses and the small places that have been usurped by the hawkers. You are never far away from amazing cultural sights in Patan. All you need is some patience and a keen eye to track these stunning locations.

Street Moment from a temple in Patan Heritage Zone, Nepal

A center of both Hinduism and Buddhism, Patan durbar square has a total of 136 courtyards and 55 major temples. The Malla kings of Lalitpur, the Pradhanas and the Thakuri dynasty are credited for its architectural marvels. In its hey days, it used to be a very prosperous city. Today, it may not be rich in terms of money, but is certainly rich in terms of art and culture.

Local Nepali Gentleman filling water at a gargoyle in Patan

The best way to soak in Patan’s magic is to park yourself in front of one of its many action hot spots and watch the cultural world whirl by. As you keep your eyes and ears open, you will notice many more cultural elements that lie hidden behind or by the main ones. Repeat this technique at other hot spots and treat yourself to the cultural riches of Patan.

Krishna Temple and the Patan Heritage Zone

If you are a temple, art or culture lover, then Patan has to be on the top of your Nepal holiday itinerary. Even if you are in Nepal on a trekking trip, Patan’s cultural gems should certainly make for a day trip getaway. It is a place you definitely should not miss on your next holiday to Nepal.

Beautiful sculptures inside the Golden temple of Patan

Best season to visit:

Patan is open all year around, but the summer months can get quite hot.

The rains add character to this cultural city, while the winter months are perfect to bask in the sun and go on long walks.

Souvenirs on sale at Patan, Nepal

How to reach here:The nearest airport would be Kathmandu.

From Kathmandu, you can either opt for a micro bus (more like a shared van) from Ratnapark, local buses or hire your own private taxi. It should take you between 60 and 90 minutes to reach the heritage area of Patan.

Elderly Nepali gentleman who carries water for a living at Patan, Nepal

Vehicles are not allowed inside the heritage area and hence these are best explored on foot.

Beautiful metal carving at the Patan Palace

Where to stay:

If you wish to embrace local culture, I would recommend the homestays in Patan. They offer an immersive experience while allowing you to be away from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu.

If you wish to be more centrally located or if you wish for luxurious accommodation, I would recommend staying in Kathmandu city.

Guardian Lions in front of a temple at Patan Heritage zone

Where to eat:

There are a lot of cafes, bakeries and restaurants around the durbar square area that offer a variety of food items ranging from traditional Nepali thali to Indian and international food.

Ideally, you could have a traditional Nepali thali for lunch and may be choose a scenic cafe like Cafe du temple for a cup of tea or coffee whil enjoying the gorgeous view of the Durbar square.

Portrait from inside a temple in Patan

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Bhaktapur: An ancient city known for its art, culture, festival, dances and indigenous lifestyle of Newari community.

2) Changu Narayan Temple: An ancient temple with lovely valley views

3) Kathmandu: The bustling capital of Nepal with its many temples and UNESCO World heritage Durbar square

At a roadside souvenir shop in Patan, Nepal

4) Kirtipur: One of the oldest settlements in the Kathmandu valley

5) Nagarkot: One of the top places to see the sun rise over the snow capped peaks of the Himalayas

6) Dhulikhel: A nice quiet village with a stunning view and where one can see the non-tourist side of Nepali life

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