Tourist Bhaktapur guide


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Tourist Bhaktapur guide

  1. 1. Discovering BhaktapurA Guide to the Historic Newar CityAidan Warlow Suyog Prajapati
  2. 2. THE CITY OF BHAKATPUR Important places to visit2 - Durbar Square 13 - Varahi dyachhen 15 - Pujarimath4- The 55 Window Palace 14A - Sukuldhoka 15 - Dattatreya Square9 - Taumadi Square 14B - Golmadi 15 - Dattatreya Temple9 - Nyatapola Temple 14C - Palikhel 42 - Pottery SquareNumbers refer to pages in this book 14A 4 2 9 913 42
  3. 3. á N 15 15 14C 1514B
  4. 4. Published by:Deutsche Gesellschaft for Bhaktapur MuncipalityTechnische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH Bhaktapur, Nepal-German Technical Cooperation-Urban Development through Local Programme (MLD - GTZ)P.O. Box 1457, KathmanduTel: 00977 1 4464 767Fax: 00977 1 4464 735Email: WarlowSuyog PrajapatiFacts presented, opinions expressed illustrations and interpeta-tions made in the book rests exclusively with the respectiveauthors. The opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of thepublishers.Photographs by: Aidan Warlow, Suyog Prajapati, Kishor Kayastha,Ben Deakin, Jo Wolfarth, Sunil Banepali, Sunil Jangam andKishor RajbhandariDesigned and processed by: WordScape, JhamsikhelPrinted by: Jagadamba Press, Hattiban Malla wall painting (18th Century)© Aidan Warlow and Suyog Prajapati 2008Kathmandu 2008
  5. 5. Discovering BhaktapurA Guide to the Historic Newar CityAidan Warlow Suyog Prajapati
  6. 6. Foreword“Discovering Bhaktapur” is directed to the visitor of the ancient Newar City of Bhaktapur, one ofthe three royal cities of the Kathmandu valley, who wants to get deeper into the history, culture andarchitecture of this marvelous city. Bhaktapur was at its high time in the 12th century a city with farreaching connection, a city of international trade; its craftsmen were praised from central India toChina.After a long period of decay, destruction through earthquakes and the loss of political power,Bhaktapur has become again a growing lively city. Big parts of its center are a World Heritage Site, inwhich arts and crafts are flourishing again and tourism is becoming an important aspect of daily lifeand employment.“Discovering Bhaktapur” has been conceived jointly by the Bhaktapur Municipality and the UrbanDevelopment through Local Efforts programme (udle). This programme is supporting Nepal’smunicipalities in improving urban self governance and is jointly implemented by the Ministry of LocalDevelopment on behalf of the Government of Nepal and the German Development Cooperation onbehalf of the German Ministry of Economic Promotion and Development.The initiatives of the municipalities of Bhaktapur in maintaining its cultural heritage and bringing itto the increasing attention of an international public are an example for a growing proud and self-reliance of the city and its citizens.Presenting its precious culture, architecture and unique urban setting to a tourist, which may spendmore than half a day in the city and may fall in love with it and its people, is the intention of this book.This is also a guide for the visitor who takes the trouble to look behind the visible beauty and tries tounderstand this city.Mr. Bishnu Nath Sharma Dr. Horst MatthaeusJoint Secretary GTZ Programme ManagerMinistry of Local Development udle
  7. 7. PrefaceBhaktapur is one of the three main cities of the Kathmandu Valley. The importance of Bhaktapur City wasenhanced from the start of the medieval period because it became the royal seat of undivided KathmanduValley during that period. It has preserved the unique medieval arts and architecture that flourished duringthe reign of the Malla kings, like the other two cities of the Kathmandu Valley. Bhaktapur has also a royalpalace with many courtyards, temples of different architectural styles dedicated to different Gods andGoddesses and architectural buildings erected during different centuries by different kings. The importanceof Bhaktapur’s vast heritage of historic buildings and work of art is renowned throughout the world.Changu Narayan, located close to the city of Bhaktapur, is another one of the most important monumentsites of the Kathmandu Valley. The site is important from historical, religious, art and architectural pointof view. An inscription carved on the victory pillar in the year 464 is the oldest authentic record of theKathmandu Valley. This pillar was erected by Lichchavi King Mana Deva. One can see from this spot thebird’s eyes view of the Kathmandu Valley.Bhaktapur and Changu Narayan are considered the most significant cultural resources of the KathmanduValley, i.e. areas of “outstanding universal value”. Subsequently, both sites were inscribed on the WorldHeritage list as a part of the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage site.This book contains comprehensive information on art, architecture and various forms of intangible culturalheritage of Bhaktapur and Changu Narayan. This book is essentially a tourist guide book to Bhaktapur andChangu Narayan but it can be useful for those who are interested to know about the tangible and intangiblecultural heritage of both sites.Because of their rich cultural heritage Bhaktapur and Changu Narayan are the potential destinationfor foreign tourist. In this context we are proud to have this opportunity to publish this book entitled“Discovering Bhaktapur: A guide to the historic Newar city” written by Aidan Warlow and Suyog Prajapati.We hope it will be helpful in understanding the heritage of both sites.Indra Prasad Karki November, 2008Executive OfficerBhaktapur Municipality
  8. 8. Contents1 Historical Background 12 Durbar Square: the Royal Palace 23 Durbar Square: the Temples 64 Taumadi Square 95 The Old Trade Route 136 Dattatreya Square 157 More Religious Centres 188 Journey to Changu Narayan 219 The Gods of Bhaktapur 2510 The Great Festivals 2911 Water 3212 Newars 3413 The Bhaktapur Development Project 3814 Arts and Crafts 4115 Modern Bhaktapur 4416 Stories about Bhaktapur 4517 Some Questions about Bhaktapur 48 Glossary 50 Index 51 Further reading 52 Acknowledgements 52
  9. 9. 1. Historical BackgroundThree hundred years ago the Kathmandu Valley, no morethan 200 square miles in area, contained three independentkingdoms – Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur.All of them were prosperous, well governed and enjoyinga high level of culture. Each had fertile soil for agriculture, agood natural water supply, local clay to make bricks and ruggedsurrounding hills to discourage foreign invaders. It was an idealenvironment for the growth of a civilisation.Bhaktapur was particularly well favoured. Built on high groundstretching from east to west, it has one main street which 1382-1395 Jayasthiti Malla codifies the elaborate Newariwas until recently the trading route from Kathmandu to Tibet. caste system.Smaller streets run down to the river and to the scores ofagricultural smallholdings farmed by the townsfolk. 1453 Yaksha Malla moves royal palace to present site. For next 300 years the Malla kings enrichThe city declined after national unification in 1768/9. Only Bhaktapur with fine the last four decades has it recovered some of its formerprosperity. Visitors now see it at a critical point in its history. 1696-1722 King Bhupatindra Malla builds 55 WindowEducation is now available to almost everybody, the streets Palace, Nyatapola Temple etc.are clean and there’s an effective sewerage system. Tourismhas encouraged the revival of many traditional crafts and the 1768/69 Gorkha army of Prithvi Narayan Shah over-restoration of the historic buildings. throws Mallas. Nepal unified under Shah kings. 1849-1950 Nepal governed by Rana family. Bhaktapurc 300-900 The ancient Lichchavi period. Highly developed now a neglected backwater. culture followed by a period of confusion and decline. 1934 Massive earthquake (8.4 on the Richter scale) destroys many buildings.1147-1156 Ananda Dev said to have established Bhakta- pur city layout including palace, temples and 1950 Ranas overthrown. Restoration of Shah 12,000 houses. dynasty.c 1200 Malla kingdom established in Kathmandu 1974-86 Bhaktapur Development Project. Valley, later separating into Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. 2008 Nepal becomes a republic. 1
  10. 10. 2. Durbar Square: the Royal Palace You pay your entrance fee beside the tall white Main Gate (for royalty to ride their elephants through) and pause to take in the peaceful dignity of the great square. From here you can see at least twenty temples and historic buildings. In the 17th century all the left northern side of the square was a huge royal palace – said to have once had 99 courtyards. In 1742 there were only 12. Now there are even fewer. You must imagine the palace extending through the grounds of the high school to the left of the main gate. The Bhaktapur Durbar Square Beside the high school gate are two notorious relief Malla stone carvings. Some of the finest exhibits are thought to carvings. The first is of Bhairav with 12 arms and a necklace of have been stolen. Surviving items of interest are: the tall Lichchavi skulls. The second is of the 18 armed Durga with a variety of inscribed panel dating from the 6th century AD facing you as you weapons killing a demon. (For notes on these gods, see p. 25) enter; a very large 19th century painting of the life of Krishna; and a fine carving of Hari-Hara in the fireplace recess upstairs. The story goes that King Bhupatindra commissioned them in 1701. Then, to prevent the sculptor from producing such Beyond the Art Galley is the Golden Gate or Sun Dhoka (Loon masterpieces for a rival, he ordered his right hand to be cut Dhwaakaa), a masterpiece of Newari gilded copper work off. The sculptor bravely worked on with his left hand and so dating from 1753. It leads to the religious areas of the palace. the king ordered that to be chopped off too. In the torana (see p. 3) above the gate you see the 4 headed 16 armed figure of Taleju, the goddess worshipped by the royal You come to a large white building which is the National family. We will come to her temple shortly. Walk through the Art Gallery. Flanking its entrance is a lively Hanuman (see p. gate and you come to a deep archway containing two massive 26) and a Nrisimha (man-lion incarnation of Vishnu) with a ritual drums made of elephant skin, secreted behind lattice nasty grin on his face as he tears out the entrails of a demon. screens. They were of course carried by elephants. They date from 1698. These protect what was once the main entrance to the palace. The white facade dates only from Continue along the courtyards and past a pair of elegant the Rana period in the early 20th century. stone figures in Malla court dress bearing oil lamps. They are said to represent the King Jitamitra Malla and his minister The Gallery contains a random assembly of artworks, mainly Chandrashekhar Rajopadhyaya, both signalling the Dashain 18th and 19th century pauva paintings of Hindu deities and small festival.2
  11. 11. It is said that the main Taleju idol housed in the temple is made up of a single block of gold. Much of what goes on inside is kept secret by the priests who come from the Karmacharya caste. Strict regulations are maintained regarding those allowed inside the temple which was largely rebuilt by Jitamitra Malla in the mid-seventeenth century. He is said to have neglected his kingdom to concentrate on art and worship. Still it is the scene of massive sacrifices of buffalo at the annual Dashain festival. The Durbar SquareYou come now to the entrance of the Mul Chowk. Inside isthe most holy temple of Taleju. Non-Hindus are not allowedin. But they can peep through the door and see some ofthe wonderfully ornate carvings in the great courtyard. Anarray of exquisite carvings, some of them said to have beencarved by King Bhupatindra himself, will keep Hindu visitorsspell bound and make them forget the other works of artin the valley. Inside there are passages leading to morecourtyards, namely Kumari Chowk and Bhairav Chowk,both of which are restricted to Hindus except during certainoccasions. Bhairav Chowk is open only during the annualDashain festival. Inside Hindus can see beautiful idols of theeighteen Bhairavs. The Golden Gate, leading into the ritual centres of the palace 3
  12. 12. A few yards further on is the water spout (hiti) at the Sundhara (Loonhiti) Chowk. Here the royal family performed their ritual bathing under the watchful eyes of the gilded snake- god Vasuki on a post in the middle. The small statues that once filled the niches around the spout have been stolen for sale to westerners. The beautiful gilded water spout hasn’t yet been pillaged. (See p. 32 for more about water tanks and spout.) As you walk back into the main square you pass the magnificent 55 Window Palace on your left. It was built by King Bhupatindra Malla at the end of the 17th century. Both the interior and exterior are outstanding examples of Newari woodcarving. On the first floor are important Malla wall paintings of scenes from the Mahabharat with Shiva 55 Window Palace as the central figure. On the upper floor are paintings of the Krishna Charitra which were sadly damaged by another earthquake in 1988.The process of painting is interesting. Michael Hutt tells us that the figures were first traced in black soot from oil lamps onto a surface of polished slaked lime mixed with water and animal glue. A massive restoration project launched in 2006 will, we hope, conserve the wall paintings and prevent more earthquake damage. The restoration is expected to cost at least 200 million rupees. On a tall pillar facing the Golden Gate is one of Nepal’s great treasures, the statue of Bhupatindra Malla (1696-1722). He kneels on his lion throne with an air of calm authority, gazing at the palace that he did so much to restore. Try to spot a tiny bronze bird under the lotus pedestal. The statue was set up in 1753 by Bupatindra’s son Ranajit Malla, the last King of Bhaktapur. Nearby is the large bronze Taleju Malla king guarding the door to the Bhairav Chowk King Bhupatindra Malla on his pedes- tal. He built the Nyatapola Temple and restored many other buildings.4
  13. 13. Bell hung by King Ranajit Malla in 1737. A prieststill tolls it three times a day having removed hisshoes and said the mantras. Another smallerbell nearby is known as the Barking Bell becausedogs were supposed to bark when it is rung;now it is locked. In the same group of buildingsis a beautiful pit water spout (hiti), now dry.The two storey octagonal timber buildingclose to the 55 Window Palace is the ChyasilinMandap. It was originally built in the 17thcentury probably as a viewing stand duringpublic events and to entertain royal guests.Totally destroyed in the 1934 earthquake,it was carefully reconstructed in the 1980’sunder the direction of the Austrian architectGötz Hagmüller with German funding to markthe state visit of Chancellor Helmut Kohl. It isa masterpiece of scholarly restoration thoughvery controversial at the time. You can try topick out which carvings are original and whichwere done by a modern local wood-carver.Eight of the twelve pillars and six of the sixteencapitals are original. The exposed steel framesare there to resist future earthquakes.Along the main square facing the palace is anextended two level dharmashala building witha long open ground floor platform. This wouldhave provided lodging for travellers and visitorsto the palace – and simply a shelter in the rainyseason. Trading was not normally allowed inDurbar Square. Look at the pre-earthquakepicture on page 39. You will see on the righthand side of the picture that the dharmashalahas been moved further away from the palace The Chyasilin Mandap, rebuilt in the 1980’sduring the restoration programme. 5
  14. 14. The Chyasilin Mandap King Bhupatindra Yaksheswor Temple Vatsaladevi Temple 3. Durbar Square: Further down the square, outside the Shiva Guest House, are the temples two large temples in very contrasting styles. The sandstone one is the Vatsaladevi Temple. It’s in the shikhara style: large tapering upper section representing Mount Kailash flanked by nine smaller towers. Built in 1696, it is dedicated to the Durbar Square is an important religious as well as political Goddess Durga whose fierce images can be seen around the centre. We start our journey again at the western Main upper sections along with idols of Bhairav. Gate. The other large temple is built of brick and timber in the Across the square facing the high school are four Newari pagoda style. This is the Yaksheswar Mahadev shrines known as the Chaar Dhaam. They represent four Temple dedicated to Shiva and dating back to the 1450’s. It important pilgrimage centres in India; devotees unable to always attracts a large number of worshippers. It’s a replica make the massive journey south can worship here instead. of the great pilgrimage centre of Pashupatinath on the The two-tiered pagoda temple is for Krishna; it has very edge of Kathmandu. They say that it was built for pilgrims elegant wood carvings, showing the ten incarnations of who couldn’t get to the real Pashupatinath during a period Vishnu. of hostilities between the two kingdoms. There are some 6
  15. 15. rather surprising erotic carvingson the roof struts that localpeople believe were meant forpreventing lightning strikes. Infact they are associated withdeeper religious erotic cults,well known to students oftantric practices.Go back towards the 55Window Palace and turn rightinto the next wider sectionof the square. This area wasparticularly damaged in the1934 earthquake.The first smart little shikharastyle temple on the left isdedicated to Siddhilaxmi. Ithas a delightful series of figuresguarding its steps: a coupleof chained rhinos (suggestingthat the Mallas perhaps kepta menagerie), a pair of camelsand what appears to be twonaughty boys refusing toaccompany their mothers.The next plain white templeis that of Silu Mahadev, alsocalled Fashidega (’PumpkinTemple’). It replaces whatmust once have been a largerbuilding. Luckily the guardianfigures have survived. Yaksheswar Mahadev Temple, a replica of the Pashupati shrine near Kathmandu 7
  16. 16. The guardians of the Siddhilaxmi Temple In the middle of this open area are some lonely steps At the eastern end of the Durbar Square is the Chatubrahma guarded by two large lions – all that remains of the huge Mahavihara once occupied by the living goddess, Kumari vanished pagoda temple dedicated to Harishankar or (see p. 27 for more about her). It now houses one of the five possibly Krishna. You can see what it once looked like in the Dipankara Buddhas, on the left as you enter. You should give far background of the pre-1934 picture on pages 38 and 39. a small donation when you visit it.8
  17. 17. 4. Taumadi SquareThis very beautiful square is alwaysbusy. Early in the morning and again inlate afternoon local farmers used to selltheir fruit and vegetables alongside theinevitable cheap clothing and piratedDVDs. At other times it is the sceneof political rallies, cultural events andmajor religious festivals. It is particularlypleasant in the late evening when thetraditional music bands (daaphaa) areplaying in front of the Bhairav Temple.The Nyatapola TempleThe Nyatapola Temple is the 30 metrehigh pagoda that dominates the cityskyline. It has five timber storeysset on five massive stone platforms.Children love scrambling over theledges and never seem to get hurt.Older folk feel a bit uneasy climbingup the steep steps.It’s thought to be dedicated to thebeautiful goddess Siddhilaxmi and onlyspecial Taleju priests are allowed secretaccess to the inner sanctum. Nobodyelse worships there. It was built on theorders of Bhupatindra Malla in 1702.It is said that he set a fine example bycarrying the first three bricks on hisshoulder. This so inspired the populationthat all the remaining materials werebrought up in the following five days.(Read a story about it on page 45.) Nyatapola Temple 9
  18. 18. Taumadi Square’s fruit market during festival time It is an outstanding feat of engineering. Apart from some minor damage at the top it fully survived the 1934 earthquake. Stand close to it and look upwards to appreciate the mass of intricate carving. There are 108 roof struts (try counting them). A government archaeologist tells us that the building consumed 1,135,350 locally baked bricks, 102,034 oily pavement bricks and 600 grams of gold for the pinnacle. And that was only one of Bhupatindra Malla’s building projects. All gold for the temples had to be imported from Tibet. Guarding the temple are ten mighty figures. At the bottom are two local wrestling champions called Jayamala and Patta. Next up, ten times stronger, are a pair of elephants. Then two lions, two griffins (sarduls) and two deities, Singhini and Byanghini. Each is ten times stronger than the Traditional music band pair below.10
  19. 19. At the top you will see the beautifultorana of the temple. But as youcircle the other facades you won’tfind any more. They have all beenstolen. The outstanding woodenstruts still remain though, showingthe various forms of goddessBhagvati (Durga).Outside the temple at its fourcorners are four small shrines toGanesh which are much used byworshippers.The Bhairav TempleThis broad three-tiered pagodaon the eastern side of the squareis the most important religiousbuilding in the area. It was firstbuilt by Jagajjyotir Malla in the Bhairav Temple alongside the chariot carrying the deity during Bisket Jatraearly 17th century. Worshippers come to do puja to a little gilded bronze image atThe story goes that the dangerous god, Bhairav, visited the front. There is a mass of fine images all around it. To enterBhaktapur disguised as a commoner. A clever local tantric the temple they have to go round the back through a smallpriest recognized him and used magic to trap him in the temple to Vetaal, Bhairav’s vehicle. (Read more about the godsground. Then when the god tried to escape, the priest on page 25 and about the Bisket Festival on page 29.)chopped his head off and installed it in this temple – whereof course it still is, or should be. Actually his image was The large stone platform covering the southern area is astolen and has had to be replaced. dabu. It’s for ritual dancing and events.The temple has had its ups and downs. It began as a single storey The popular Nyatapola Cafe standing in the middle ofrectangular building. Then Bhupatindra Malla added two storeys the square was once a sattal (rest house). It was sensiblyin the early 18th century. It collapsed in the 1934 earthquake and converted into a restaurant in 1976 and is a good place to sitwas then rebuilt by the Mathema family in 1941. and watch the world go by.The massive wheels and beams lying against the side of the Behind the cafe and the mass of tourist souvenir shops is atemple are assembled to carry the god during the Bisket large Malla house with fine carvings. It is Pu-baha (Bahatal)Festival. belonging to a rich merchant family, the Dhaubadels. 11
  20. 20. Early morning at the Tilmadhav Narayan Temple The Tilmadhav Narayan Temple Garuda, is parked on a pillar outside – a particularly fine gilded bronze figure. On other pillars you see Vishnu’s conch, shankha It’s in an interesting courtyard hidden from the main square and his chakra, the disc-shaped weapon. The figure of Narayan by a row of shops. Go down the narrow passage between in the torana over the temple door has been ripped out by the tourist shops behind the dabu platform. thieves, like so much of Bhaktapur’s sacred metalwork. This is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines in the city A male lingam and female yoni are in a wooden cage nearby, with an inscription dated 1163. The twin roofed pagoda temple symbols of Shiva and Parvati. The whole area is much used is dedicated to Narayan (Vishnu). His vehicle, the birdman by worshippers.12
  21. 21. A Tamrakar’s shop.5. The Old Trade Route You have to cast your mind back five hundred years and imagine a rough stone paved and very mucky road filled withThe ancient route from Delhi and Kathmandu to Lhasa heavily laden donkeys, yaks and human porters, smarterand Beijing went through Bhaktapur. A steady trade was travellers on ponies – but no wheeled traffic. Very grandmaintained in salt, wool, gold dust, copper, medicinal herbs, people, particularly ladies, were carried in palanquins.spices and yak tails (used as royal fly whisks). Probablynot much silk though. This trade peaked in the early 18th They doubtless had to pay a considerable sum at the customs post.century and then declined after the national unification in Most of the shops in the city are still located along this route.1767. A community of Newari traders has remained in Lhasato import Nepali goods up to the present time. Leaving Taumadi Square following the main road northeast, you soon come to a group of metalwork shops displayingMerchants entered Bhaktapur through the Lion Gate on the beautiful bronze and copper utensils. They are made bywestern side of the city, avoiding the Durbar Square (see the Tamrakar caste who live in this area. If you are speciallythe map on the inside front cover). They travelled down interested in metalwork shops, go down the steep narrowBharbhacho, Tekapukhu and Nasamana, Varahi dyachhen, turning to the right. The noise of hammering will tell youjust above the Pottery Square. where the workshops are. 13
  22. 22. The busy street of Sukuldhoka. Along the way on the right, just past the Taumadi Square here, particularly at the three level Ganesh–Bhairav shrine on on the first rightward bend in the street, is the Sukuldhoka the right. There is a very deep hiti with a fine early relief carving Math (’straw-matted door’). Its doors tend to be blocked of Shiva and Parvati (Uma-Mahesvara) over the spout. by fruit stalls but you can ask permission to go through the small middle door. This is a math or Hindu sage house dating Continuing along the street you pass on the left two-storeyed from 1744. You’ll find yourself in a murky but atmospheric vihara with carved windows in Palikhel. This is the Mangal building well worth exploring. Dharmadeep. You are welcome to explore inside, especially if you are interested in Buddhism. Keep going along the main street which soon widens into a small area of shrines, Golmadi Square. A lot of puja goes on Finally you reach Dattatreya Square.14
  23. 23. 6. Dattatreya Square (or Tachupal Tol)This is a remarkably unspoilt area. Almost all the buildingsyou can see date from the eighteenth century or earlier,though several had to be reconstructed after the 1934earthquake. Historically this is probably the oldestsettlement in Bhaktapur.Dattatreya Temple dominates the square on the easternside. It dates from the reign of Yakshya Malla (1428-1482).Its dedication is complex. Dattatreya himself was a sageand a combined form of the great trinity – Brahma, Vishnuand Shiva. Their various symbols can be seen in front of thetemple including a particularly fine gilded man-bird Garudaon a large pillar with a crown of snakes.Like the Nyatapola, this temple is guarded by the two mightywrestlers Jayamala and Patta. These two are said to have foughteach other for forty days and nights, knocking down severalbuildings in the process. The king had to intervene and then Dattatreya Squareposted them as temple guards – which of course they still are.They have amusingly bewildered expressions. We are told that Mathsall the timber in the temple came from a single tree. These are the handsome timber and brick buildings manyAt the lower end of the square is the Bhimsen Temple. On of which surround Dattatreya Square. They were dwellingthe ground floor there is a resting place while the deity is hostels for Hindu sages and religious students. There areupstairs. This causes problems when a buffalo has to be twelve altogether in Bhaktapur, nine of them in this area.carried for sacrifice. Bhimsen is the wrathful son of Vayu They were still thriving in the 1950’s on the proceeds of(the wind god) and much worshipped by merchants in donations and endowments from as far away as Tibet.Bhaktapur. They say that when he appears in disguise at amarket stall, he’ll pay whatever price the seller asks! King Mahendra deprived them of their incomes with his land reforms in the sixties leading to their closure.Overlooking the north side of the square is a first floor opengallery, currently a restaurant. Originally it was the home of The largest and most famous is the Pujari Math on the rightmembers of the Jangam caste whose job it still is to maintain the hand side beyond the main temple. It dates back to the 15thtwo big temples in the square and some of the nearby maths. century but most of what you see is from the 18th century. 15
  24. 24. A woman drying rice in front of the Pujari Math. It was almost wiped out by the 1934 earthquake and It dates from about 1750. You can ask the friendly owner remained in a partially rebuilt state of decay. The German of the woodcarving shop opposite to let you view it at first government funded a total restoration as an unusual floor level. None of the carved versions on sale in the tourist wedding gift to Crown Prince, later King, Birendra in 1972. shops remotely match up to the original, though accurate full-size replicas are sometimes made to order by the two It is a magnificent rabbit-warren of a building on four storeys, shops facing the window. with three inner courtyards where the best wood carved windows are to be seen. Some of it is now a Woodcarving Another math on the other side of the square from the Museum which gives you an excuse to wander around. Pujari Math is the Chikanappa Math, now open to visitors as a Metalwork Museum. There are some erotic carvings If you walk down an alley to the left of the building for on the outside of this math. The interior has an attractive about fifty yards you will see, high on the right hand wall, atmosphere and the exhibits, though not old, are worth the most beautiful window in Nepal – the Peacock Window. seeing.16
  25. 25. Shiva and Garuda images in the courtyard of Wakupati Narayan.You can continue along the main road beyond the Dattatreya than five figures of the bird-god Garuda on pedestals in frontTemple. You pass a beautiful well alongside a small temple of it; the first and largest dates are from ancient times. Littleand the Bramhayani god-house on the left near a school. Shiva linga also strew its compound showing the dominanceYou soon see on your right a very attractive little area of the Shaiva (’Shiva worshipping’) cult in later times. It is acontaining the Wakupati Narayan Temple. It’s a replica of peaceful sacred precinct, usually with a lot of old men sittingthe famous Changu Narayan. The temple itself has no less and gossiping in the nearby patis. 17
  26. 26. 7. More Religious CentresThese are places of worship that are not really welcomingto tourists. Only go there if you are seriously interested inreligious culture. Please be discreet with your photography.And don’t take large tourist groups.The Navadurga DyachhenThe Navadurga Dyachhen is a very interesting temple butawkward to find. Go to Dattatreya Square and then ask theway.It is the headquarters or agam of the famous nine maskeddancers known as the Navadurga. They belong to theBanamala (Gatha) caste of landless gardeners. Every year,since 1513, they put on their frightening clay masks and doa vibrant dance round the 21 squares of the city wearingbright female costumes. They are respected and feared asliving gods by their devotees. They engage in a variety ofobscure tantric rituals and sacrifices; on the eighth day ofthe Dashain festival they swear over the body of a sacrificedram not to reveal their secrets. You must not photographthem in their masks during the rituals. Read a story aboutthem on page 46.Navadurga Dyochhen has recently been rebuilt and repairedusing much of the original woodwork. You can go into thecourtyard and admire the various toranas, pillars andstruts. You might find a buffalo just inside the door awaitingsacrifice.The masks are made by artists of the Chitrakar caste amidststrict rituals using specially sanctified clay called bo-chalined with cotton and local paper. Each year the masks aresolemnly cremated and replaced during the Dashain festival.You can buy accurate full size replicas at The Peacock Shopand smaller papier-mâché versions in all the tourist shops.Bhairav. a protective deity among the Navadurga dancers.
  27. 27. Svet (White) Bhairav dancing during a Navadurga procession.The Ashtamatrika Buddhist ViharsThe 8 Mother Goddesses or Ashtamatrika are protective Buddhists listen to sermons at particular schools and monasteriesdeities located at the eight points around Bhaktapur. They called vihars. A vihara generally includes a small courtyard withrepresent the spiritual axes of the city, said to form the a stupa at the centre and a study room where the guru lecturesshape of a conch. from holy scriptures such as the Tripitaka and the Jatakas. You can see viharas at all the sites of the Dipankara Buddha.Their places of worship are open shrines called piths but theactual idols are usually in nearby god-houses (dyachhen). The Dipankaraseight goddesses are dangerous and require regular sacrificesto insure the protection of the surrounding neighbourhood. ‘Dipankara’ means the Buddha of Light. He was a pre-BuddhaThey correspond to eight of the nine Navadurgas. who foretold the coming of the famous Shakyamuni Gautam Buddha. His idols are installed at various viharas. Now only fiveYou need a good guide to take you round all the piths as we are significant. These idols, made of clay, papier-mâché andhaven’t space to describe them here. It involves a lot of hard bamboo, are taken around the city during the Panchadaanwalking for at least a day. in mid-August. Locals here mistakenly call the five Dipankaras the five Pandavas of the Mahabharata epic. 19
  28. 28. The easiest one to visit is in the Chatubramha Mahavihara at the far eastern end of Durbar Square. The Dipankara is in a cage on the left as you go in. You should donate a few rupees when you see it. Another Dipankara Buddha is to be seen at the Prasannasheel Mahavihara in a back street further to the north of Dattatreya Square. You’ll need guidance to find it. It’s in a beautiful building with unusual gilded medallions on the front and a variety of ancient chaityas in the forecourt. Ghats Ghats are stone embankments on the rivers used firstly for ritual bathing in the river (you have to be very devout to do that nowadays in the filthy water), secondly for sanctification of the dying and thirdly the cremation of the dead. Conceptually there are eight ghats in Bhaktapur, Worshipping the Dipankara Buddha in procession. corresponding to the eight mother goddesses or Ashtamatrika. Not all of them are still used. Local the Chupinghat near the Kathmandu University Music communities usually use the one nearest their house but School is used mainly by the sweeper caste; the Vaishnavi there are some special ghats: Indrani Ghat near the tourist Ghat (Moodeep) nearby was and still is used by Malla kings bus-park is only for infants who are buried, not cremated; and their descendants. These ghats are interesting to know about but you are not encouraged to visit them. And you must not photograph funerals – this would be a gross intrusion of privacy. If you particularly want to visit a ghat then go to the Hanuman Ghat (you’ll need directions to get there) where there is a mass of important shrines and a very devout atmosphere. A more visitor-friendly ghat is that of Indrani, no longer used for cremation. Again you must ask for directions. It’s on a quiet corner just outside the Durbar Square gate, northwards down the stairways. The temple under a tree is one of the eight Ashtamatrika shrines and the scene of a lot Ghat, cremation site at the river bank of rituals but no cremation.20
  29. 29. 8. Journey to ChanguNarayanChangu Narayan is a village set in the hills about sixkilometres north of Bhaktapur. You can reach it by bus ortaxi and then enjoy walking back downhill on the footpath.Alternatively you can walk there from Nagarkot.It is one of the most important ancient sites in Nepal,particularly famous for its temple dedicated to Narayan(Vishnu) and its sculptures dating from the ancient Licchaviperiod. (You can read a story behind it on page 45.)You arrive at the eastern end of the village and pay a smallentrance fee. You then walk the length of the village streetto the temple area at the far end. It’s worth stopping on the The elephant that ‘ran away’ from its workshop.way to visit the small private Museum on the right.You enter the temple courtyard surrounded by resthouses Beyond the migrant elephant you reach the importantwhich are still used by pilgrims at festival time. The two Licchavi sculptures which we describe later in this chapter.tiered pagoda temple was rebuilt by Queen Riddhilaxmiafter a fire in 1764. You are now at the front of the temple facing west. Originally one approached it from this direction up a flight of stepsLook at the beautiful gilded copper roof with its smart from the other side of the village. You might like to explorepinnacle of five spires under a parasol. The roof is supported the area below the steps which offers a fine view of theby very elegant painted struts in the shape of multiarmed Kathmandu Valley and the winding Manohara River.deities. Below that is a row of windbells. And then there aretriple doors on all four sides of the temple. The front of the temple is a rich mass of Vishnu symbols and a beautiful gilded triple door. Above the door is a magnificientWalking clockwise round the courtyard you pass a bright little torana with standing figures of Vishnu and two consortstemple dedicated to Chhinnamastaa; she is an incarnation under the protective head of Garuda. Facing the door is aof Parvati, Shiva’s consort, who cut off her own head to feed charming little gilded statue of the Queen Riddhilaxmi andher attendants. There are three fine gilded small toranas on her son King Bhupalendra Malla, in a square metal cage.the outside. Sadly two of them were stolen quite recently These sculptures were stolen a few years ago but luckilyand replaced by replicas. Nearby is a very curious rough recovered.hewn stone elephant. It remained unfinished becauseone morning it was discovered to have walked from the Continue round the courtyard. You pass a small library andworkshop to its present position. Nobody dared continue medical dispensary for locals to use. (There’s no doctor incarving it after that. the village.) 21
  30. 30. the most precious works of art in Asia. The Lichchavi period (c. 4th-9th century) has a very distinctive style of carving using hard dark-coloured stone, usually highly polished, the figures having long smooth limbs often in unusual poses. Each sculpture is highly individual and packed with sacred information. We walk (as always) clockwise round the temple, coming to the first major sculpture of Vishnu Vishvarupa towards the end of the left hand side. Vishnu Vishvarupa – Vishnu’s grand unified form (Circa 7th century) At the base of this relief we see a figure asleep in the primeval ocean of serpents (nagas). He is probably Valaram, one of Vishnu’s incarnations. On top at the centre is Vishnu, standing in magnificent yet compassionate authority with The millenial shrine of Changu Narayan showing its ancient inscription on the left hand pillar. Back near the entrance you see a collection of dusty wooden carriages and palanquins. These are used to carry the sacred images round the village at festival time. Twice a year Narayan’s spirit in a large silver pot is brought on a ritual visit to the royal palace in Kathmandu. The best of the small carriages has been ruined by thieves who (just before we came to write this chapter) removed two beautiful wooden elephants that used to support the deity. The ancient sculptures of Changu Narayan Having walked round the courtyard, you can go back to examine the stone carvings more carefully. They are some of The majestic Vishnu Vishvarupa22
  31. 31. multiple heads that represent each of his different forms. Manadev’s inscription (464 AD)He holds all his ritual symbols and is surrounded by rows ofhumbled minor gods, heroes, angels and elephants. Nearby, under a gilded chakra, is an inscription on a square pillar. It is a dedication by King Manadev dated 464 AD.The complex web of images is designed with remarkable The script is Gupta-Brahmi, a language based on Sanskrit.clarity and technical virtuosity. It is one of Nepal’s greatest A portion of the inscription cannot be seen as the pillar istreasures. sunk into the ground. But we see enough to appreciate the beautifully carved ancient script.Garuda (7th century) Vishnu Vikrant –The giant VishnuThis is the earliest and most famous statue in the temple (Circa 7th century)complex. Garuda is a mythical bird-man with wings as wellas limbs. The face that replaces the beak in this sculpture is At the bottom we see Vishnu disguised as a dwarf (Vaman)believed to be that of the then king Manadev. It was probably receiving donations from the generous demon-king Bali.once on a pillar that collapsed during an earthquake. Bali makes countless offerings to Vaman. Finally Vaman asks for only three strides worth of land. Bali agrees to give this. Vaman then takes his true form as a god who covers all the worlds in three gargantuan strides. All this to win back the heavens which Bali had seized from the Gods. Lord Vishnu’s mount Garuda The colossal ‘dwarf’, Vishnu Vikrant (8th century). 23
  32. 32. Nrisimha (circa 14th century) Garudasana Vishnu–Vishnu astride Garuda (Circa 8th century) Nrisimha is the lion-man incarnation of Vishnu. This gory image shows him calmly disemboweling the demon Vishnu bearing his discus (chakra) and mace (gada) voyages Hiranyakasipu. on his vehicle, Garuda. This image is also seen on the Nepalese Rs 10 banknote. Brahma had decreed that this demon could not be killed by man or beast, nor during day or night, not inside or outside a building, nor with any weapon. But Nrisimha circumvented these rules by being neither man nor beast but a lion-man; it was neither day nor night but twilight; it was neither indoors nor outdoors but in the doorway of the palace; and he used no weapon but his claws. Brahma is watching from the upper left corner. It is an outstanding piece of ancient sculpture, most notable for its display of huge arms and legs. Vishnu voyaging on top of Garuda (9th century). ‘Lion-man’, Nrisimha, tearing the chest of the demon Hiranyakasipu24
  33. 33. and street corner, is Shiva’s image of the lingam, the male procreative symbol, which is devoutly worshipped. Bhairav is Shiva in his fearsome form with horrible fangs, many arms holding a variety of weapons and wearing a garland of skulls. There is a large temple of his in Taumadi Square (see p. 11) and another in Durbar Square. He also features in many thanka/ pauva paintings. Parvati is Shiva’s beautiful consort. They often appear together in relief sculptures. Alternatively Parvati can appear in her dangerous form as Durga amidst weapons and skulls but always with a calm face. Her other form is Taleju, the tutelary deity of the royal family, with her big temple in the palace. (See p. 3 ) Durga and Taleju are dangerous goddesses who have to be appeased with animal sacrifices particularly during the Dashain Festival. Tourists are not encouraged to watch this happening. Ganesh is the friendly son of Shiva and Parvati. He has an elephant head because Shiva once mistakenly chopped off his human one. He brings good fortune and is very popular Bhairav, Shiva’s wrathful form. with children. His vehicle is a long-tailed rat always to be seen on a pedestal outside his temples. There is an important9. The Gods of BhaktapurBhaktapur means ‘City of Devotees’. It is the home of bothgods and people. The gods can be seen on every streetcorner, in every courtyard and inside every home. These area few of the main ones.Shiva the creator and destroyer. You recognize his templesbecause his vehicle, the bull Nandi, is patiently waitingon a pedestal outside. Shiva’s most conspicuous place ofworship is the Yaksheswar Temple in Durbar Square (see p.6) but you’ll find him in many other temples. His commonattributes are a long handled trident (trishula) and a hand-drum (damaru). Much more widespread, in every square Shiva linga and the trident trishul. 25
  34. 34. Ganesh, god of good initiation. (wood) Hanuman, the powerful monkey god. (stone) Durga, the protective mother deity (stone) Ganesh shrine at Surya Vinayak to the south of Bhaktapur. the Kumari in Kathmandu, who is confined to her palace and You see his statue everywhere. never allowed to touch the ground with her feet, the Bhaktapur Kumari leads a reasonably normal life. She lives with her family, Siddhilaxmi is related to Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. She goes to school and plays with her friends. is greatly revered in Bhaktapur and resides in the huge Nyatapola Temple and in the little stone temple (Lohandega) On religious occasions she wears rich clothing and performs close to the 55 Window Palace. She is the bringer of success. ancient rituals. She can be called out at other times to minister to dangerously sick people or in a crisis. Blessings can be Hanuman the brave monkey god stopped off in Bhaktapur obtained at her residence on the northeast end of the city. You in the course of rescuing the goddess Sita, wife of Ram, from should ask for directions. Her devotees were very upset when captivity in (Sri) Lanka. His heroics in the epic Ramayan is a she went to America in 2007 to feature in a documentary film. cherished myth. He is much worshipped at the Hanuman Ghat (see p. 20 ). Vishnu Kumari, the living goddess Vishnu is one of the supreme Hindu trinity along with Shiva and Brahma and is very much revered by the royal family. He This is a little girl selected at the age of around three from the was the representative deity of the ancient Lichchavis who Shakya caste to be a goddess until she reaches puberty. Unlike had established many centres for his worship. Later the Shah26
  35. 35. Kings claimed to be incarnations of him. Vishnu is consideredthe preserver and nourisher. His most famous shrine is theWakupati Narayan Temple at the eastern end of the city andthe Narayan Temple to the south of Taumadi Square. Hisvehicle is the man-bird god, Garuda, who guards the front ofhis temples. His symbols are shankha (the conch), chakra (thedisc), gada (the mace) and padma (the lotus).WorshipBhaktapur is said to have 172 places of worship quiteapart from the little roadside and family shrines. You canwatch people of all ages doing puja throughout the day but Kumari, the living goddess, answering her phone. particularly in the early morning. Please don’t photograph them. This is very intrusive. Normally puja consists of going round several shrines, beginning with Ganesh, carrying a copper dish containing some tika powder, rice grains, barley, flowers, fruits and some burning incense and, most important, some holy water in a little copper pot to bathe the god. If there is a bell, you ding it to announce your arrival. You make your offering and bring back the consecrated remainder in the form of prasad for your family to receive. You might do a circuit of the shrine, always clockwise with your right arm towards the god. Puja is a simple but very Vishnu, the preserver. strengthening part of Hindu life. 27
  36. 36. Daily Puja at the Wakupati Narayan28
  37. 37. 10. The Great Festivals a fair amount of violence.The religious basis is the mating of the god Bhairav with the goddess Bhadrakali to insureIt is said that there are around seventy-nine festive events the community’s fertility and welfare for the coming year.celebrated in Bhaktapur over some seventy five days. Here Bhairav represents the sky and the rain; Bhadrakali repre-are a few of the best known ones. sents the earth. The two must be brought together.Bisket Jatra coincides with the Newari New Year around The image of Bhairav is installed inside a massive woodenApril. This amazing festival brings the whole city out on to chariot (rath) in Taumadi Square. His vehicle Vetaal isthe streets. It is an orgy of religious devotion, colour and attached to the tongue in front. There is a desperate contest 29
  38. 38. A Gai Jatra procession. between the men of the upper area of the city (thane) and final evening of the festival. (Read legend about all this the lower area (kone) to drag the rath in their own direction. on page 45.) (In 2007 a wheel broke. It all degenerated into a stone- throwing contest and the police had to intervene.) Gai Jatra is another extraordinary event that takes place around the end of August and lasts for eight days. The rath amazingly finds its way down the steep streets to where it meets the Bhadrakali. Hundreds of people are involved in this What happens is that every family that has lost a member through frenzied activity and every year or so mishaps occur when the death in the past 12 months joins a huge procession. They carry big wooden wheels crush the devout youngsters. with them on a bamboo pole the symbolic image of the sacred cow that enables the deceased to cross over the Vaitarani River The next stage of the festival takes place in Yasinkhel into heaven. Attached to the bamboo poles you will also see where a huge pole (phallic lingam) is inserted into a stone photographs of the dead relatives. All this is accompanied by (female yoni) base. Men compete to bring it down on the cheerful music and boys in pairs whacking sticks (Ghintang Kishi).30
  39. 39. The bamboo elephant effigy (Pulu Kishi) seen during Indra jatra.During this weeklong festival people can tease and lampoon and involve Laxmi Puja, worship of the goddess of wealth, self-the authorities without fear of reprisal. Gai Jatra was the worship (Mha Puja) and worship of brothers by females (Kijacurious invention of a Malla king who was fed up with his wife Puja), successively.perpetually mourning the death of their young son. He orderedall the other families who had recently lost a relative to parade Around April, Digu Puja is celebrated to show honour toin front of her to show that she wasn’t the only one to suffer. the patriarchal lineage deity, Digu Dya. Then in July GathaAnd frolicking clowns managed to bring a smile back to her lips. Mugha Chare is observed to mark the preparatory stage forThe festival cotinues to provide therapy to bereaved families. the resurrection of the Navadurga as well as to symbolize the death of the licentious ogre, Ghantakarna.Dashain (Mohani) is celebrated around September/Octoberover a span of about ten days. It is generalized as the victory Indra Jatra takes place some days before Dashain. Celebratedof good over evil. In Bhaktapur it signifies the empowerment for three days, this event recalls the salvation of god Indra’sof the Navadurga through Taleju. A fortnight after Dashain, son by an appalling character, Mupatra, and the three-Tihar (Sunti) is observed to mark the beginning of the Nepal headed elephant, Airavata. A procession of the effigies ofSambat (Newari New Year). Three of its five days are important both these takes place around the city. 31
  40. 40. 11. Water Water is a fundamental source of life – and therefore sacred. For many centuries the kings of Bhaktapur cared for the water supply so that the people could safely drink, wash and provide for their livestock. This involved rituals and lavish expenditure on stone carving and fine metalwork. The old underground sources of water – the Rajkulo built by the kings– were badly damaged by landslides and the 1934 earthquake. The water supply system has improved to a great extent in the 1970’s by the Bhaktapur Development Project. The water spouts (hiti) are usually at the bottom of a fine stone gaa (pit) or deep rectangular water recess. These can Wells are a major source of water for many families. be interpreted as a mirror image of a temple. The spout itself is usually in the form of a makara, a mythical water Wells are still much in use in the courtyards as community creature that seems like a cross between a crocodile and an water supplies. There are 152 of them. There are 34 Ponds elephant.It is the vehicle of the water god Varuna. It often (pukhu/pokhari) all over the city. Some such as the Kamal has a fish emerging from its mouth. Many of the hitis are still Pokhari on the east side of the town are very large. The used for anything from laundry to cleaning teeth. grandest is the Siddha Pokhari, well worth a visit especially in the early morning or evening. It’s a ten minute walk out of the city leaving the Main Gate of Durbar Square. Stay on the main road. You pass one large rather mucky pokhari on your right, then the bus park on the left and then the civic hospital on the right. Behind a marvellous ancient peepal tree you reach the wall-bound Siddha Pokhari having climbed a few steps. It is over a 150 metres long and dates back to the time of Yakshya Malla (15th century). Local families and bunches of students love to wander peacefully round its stone pathway and feed the massive carp. Its underground water sources remain a mystery. There are interesting religious carvings around the banks. Some of them date back to the ancient period before the 9th century AD. Read a story about Siddha The goat emerging from the makara’s mouth once poured water Pokhari on page 45. for puja and bathing at the royal palace32
  41. 41. The serene environment of Siddha Pokhari 33
  42. 42. 12. Newars Well over 90% of the people inside the city are Newars – the dominant ethnic group of the Kathmandu Valley. They are divided into countless castes, sub-castes and family groups relating to their occupations and levels of sacred purity. Even now it is very awkward for young people to marry outside their caste and most marriages are arranged or at least approved by the family elders. Caste privileges were made illegal in 1963 but this has been slow to take effect. Each sub-caste used to live in its own district (tol) and worship at its own shrine. The caste distinctions become most apparent at the time of weddings, cremations, ancestor worship (Digu Puja) and other family events. For example, each localized caste has its own very ancient fixed route through particular streets when they are on a funeral procession. Modern education has done little to change this very conservative society. Young people may leave Bhaktapur to seek their fortune elsewhere but very few outsiders move into the city to replace them. Conservatism is reinforced by the high density of the population. 80,000 people squeeze into 8.6 square kilometers. Three or four generations often live in one building, making it difficult to get out of the sight of grandma. Of course good culture, rules and regulations are maintained and a great sense of security prevails. Girls Kaita Puja, proclaiming a boy’s maturity when they marry move into the boy’s house as very junior members of his family. All these are of great benefit when Shortly after birth the baby has a Naming Ceremony it comes to looking after children; plenty of aunts and (Nwaran) when the astrologer assigns a public and a secret grandparents plus a lot of cousins to play with. name. After six months there is the Rice-feeding Ceremony (Annaprasan/Machajanko). A few years later little girls have Family events two symbolic marriages, first to a bel fruit, symbol of Vishnu (lhi), and later to the sun god (Suryadarshan). Newari lives are marked out by a succession of significant rites of passage, important for the individual and creating Little boys have a Bratabandha (Kaita Puja) ceremony when deep and loving bonds in the family. their hair is shaved off apart from one tuft at the middle. They34
  43. 43. are offered a sacred loin cloth by their uncle to signal theirmaturity; after this they are considered able to participatein all the other rituals.Then there are all the very complex marriage procedures.You’ll probably see plenty of wedding processions duringyour visit. They parade through the streets accompanied by avery noisy band. And at the age of 77 years 7 months there’sanother celebration when aged people are symbolicallyre-born and another Rice-feeding Ceremony (Janko/Bhim-rathaa-rohan) is carried out. And so it goes on – wonderfulfamily occasions and a good excuse for a feast.DressYou still see ladies in the traditional hakupatashi costume,particularly on religious occasions. It consists of a blackdress (patashi/sari) with red border, its huge extra lengthwrapped round the waist and reaching the shoulders, a topand a white shawl (gaa/khasto).The men sometimes wear distinctive baggy trousers (surwo/daura surwal) with thick, semi-woollen, laced vest (bhoto), awaist coat and woven Dhaka cap (tapli/topi).What impresses western visitors is the smartness andcleanliness of ordinary Newari city dwellers. The saris areimmaculate, the men’s shirts perfectly ironed and thegirls’ long hair beautifully groomed. The school childrenare as clean and tidy as their parents. All this is achieved inhouseholds where very few people have washing machinesor running hot water.LanguageMost people in the city can speak both Nepali and Newari.But very few can now read or write in the traditional Newariscripts which are of 18 different types. They speak Newariwith an accent that is clearly distinguishable from that ofKathmandu or Patan. Bel vivaha, symbolic marriage to a fruit. 35
  44. 44. Traditional Newari dress. Newari houses Newars, even farmers, have always preferred to live in tightly packed communities of attached houses of three or four storeys. There is usually a shop or store at the bottom maybe occupied by a couple of goats; first floor guest room; more bedrooms above; on the top floor the important family room with kitchen (baigal/ baiga). And, close to the cooking stove, a puja area. Non-family visitors are not normally invited into the baigal. Most houses are very overcrowded with beds secreted all over the building. They are generally without indoor toilets or taps, making them unpopular with the rising generation. We can foresee that in the next few decades younger people with increased prosperity will move to modern concrete apartments outside the city, leaving the poorer communities and old people behind in the traditional houses (see p. 49 on brick factories). The co-author of this book outside his traditional Newari house.36
  45. 45. However one traditional house has been interestinglymodernised. It is the Namuna Ghar in a back street nearDattatreya Square. The owner has introduced modernfacilities while conserving the old features. It has receivedseveral awards. (Visit for information)Guthis and local careGuthis are the traditional associations of neighbouringfamilies who share duties at funeral ceremonies andcare for shared resources such as hitis and temples. Theyperform many important roles in the community. Butinevitably the pressures of modern life are drawing keymembers of the guthis away from their responsibilities.They are tempted to sell off the precious treasures in thereligious buildings and leave their maintenance to foreign Winnowing of rice.donors. The harvested grain is piled outside the family house to dryAgriculture for about a week. To ward off thieves, the owners watch their grain piles over night, often camping under little tentsAt least half the population of Bhaktapur is Jyapu, a peasant of straw and happily telling tales, watching the stars andgroup. They own a few ropanis of rice paddy or vegetable singing traditional songs (sinaa-jyaa-mae).patch outside the town which have been held by the familyfor many generations. Normally they have other sources of To remove the husks, they still use the timber levered dhiki,income and use the land to feed their own family and maybe a seesaw, which strikes the grain in a pit. Flattened rice ishave some surplus to sell. made by beating the grains using wooden poles (lushi) within hollow wooden or stone cylinders (lushi-ma-chaa).All the family has to help with the rice planting before thestart of the monsoon, around June, having first ploughed Livestock, cows, buffaloes and goats were often kept inand spread muck. Harvesting starts around October once the city under small shades near the houses. Some stillthe festivals are over. They begin on a day approved by the rear goats and chickens for sacrifice in festivals. Now mostlocal astrologer avoiding, for some obscure reason, Mondays animals are brought from nearby villages or from southernand Thursdays. Nepal for both sacrifice and butchery. 37
  46. 46. Durbar Square in the mid 1800’s. 13. The Bhaktapur The second event was the most dramatic, the earthquake of 1934. It was the worst that we know about. The majority Development Project of houses and temples were damaged or de¬stroyed. The western half of the palace vanished. Additionally the trade routes to Tibet and India once the Background backbones of Bhaktapur’s glory changed. With the closure of the Tibetan border in the late 1950’s all trade connections Every civilization has its ups and downs. The great upward with Tibet came to a halt. The new motor-able road to the phase of Bhaktapur was the late Malla period, the 16th Chinese border, opened in 1972, by- passed Bhaktapur by and 17th centuries. The Malla Kings were more than just one or two kilometer distance. the rulers of the Bhaktapur Kingdom; they were the patrons of art and culture and the administrators of the famous As a result, until 1974 most shops in the main bazaar area never Bhaktapurian infrastructure. The city was prosperous, well opened their shutters. Streets, lanes and courtyards were full governed and happy. of unbelievable filth, garbage and rubble of collapsed houses. The infrastructure was no longer maintained. Splendid Maths Different events led to a period of decline in the 19th and as well as simple private ones were seen everywhere in decay. 20th centuries. The first was political. The Kathmandu Valley The caretakers of many of the social religious foundations was conquered and unified by the Shah King of Gorkha. After (Maths) did nothing to maintain the splendid structures. the establishment of the Shah dynasty in 1768, Bhaktapur Bhaktapur, although still the third largest town in Nepal with lost political independence and slowly its economic and a population of approximately 40,000 inhabitants, was the social foundations eroded. poorest among the 26 towns.38
  47. 47. This gift was so much appreciated that in 1974 a more comprehensive effort to improve the living conditions of the population of Bhaktapur was launched as an “Integrated Urban Renewal and Development Project”, in short the Bhaktapur Development Project (BDP). This integrated urban development project was the most complex project in a developing country the newly founded GTZ undertook on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation (BMZ), with interventions in a living historical urban environment covering physical, socio- economic and urban management activities. Summary Bhaktapur Durbar Square before the 1934 earthquake. The project carried out works in the following sectors:Introduction • Restoration and preservation of historic and religious monumentsIn 1970 on the occasion of the wedding of the then Crown • Water supply and seweragePrince Birendra, the Federal Republic of Germany presented a • Schoolsgift in the form of financial contribution of DM 100,000/- which • Basic urban social infrastructurewas to be used for the restoration of a historic building. • Health education • Community developmentIn the following months, Nepali and German experts • Economic promotionanalysed the feasibility of the restoration of a number of • Land development and housingbuildings and finally decided to concentrate on the PujariMath in Bhaktapur. The restoration was carried out in1971/72 by a group of German architects together with theDepartment of Archaeology.During the restoration of the Pujari Math a number oftraditional techniques were rediscovered and used, fromwood carving to the laying of roof tiles (chingatti) in speciallyprepared mud etc.In a formal reopening session, the head of the German team ofarchitects handed back the key of the building to then QueenAiswarya. On behalf of the Queen the key was received by theGuthi Sansthan Chairman, who in reply speech announcedthat the building should be used as a national museum forwood carving as ordered by the Queen. Bhaktapur Durbar Square after the 1934 earthquake. 39
  48. 48. • Provided support to the Municipality and the constructed social infrastructure. Similarly, Department Archaeology Department for repairs and maintenance of Archaeology established a permanent institution, the of constructed infrastructure and restored monuments. ‘Monument Maintenance and Durbar Caretaker Office’ to look after the preservation of the cultural heritage of Initially, activities focused on the restoration of temples and Bhaktapur and surrounding areas and to repair work on other historic monuments, preparations for a Master Plan, and monuments completed during the project period. studies for infrastructure work. Over time, the priorities shifted from conservation works to infrastructure improvements Bhaktapur today such as water supply, sewerage, pavements, solid waste management, and the promoting of economic activities. The Bhaktapur Development Project was famous principally for its restoration works. However, other components of In 1980, an evaluation of the past project activities revealed the project, like the installation of a water supply, drainage, a crisis of confidence and communication gap between the and sewerage system contributed substantially to the project and the local people. Too much was done by the improvement of the living conditions of Bhaktapurians. project itself; too many Nepali and German Experts took - A solid waste management system with an appropriate sometimes contradictory - decisions. collection system as well as the pavement of streets, lanes, and courtyards contributed to the cleanliness of the city. Until Thus, a thorough reorganisation and revision of procedures and today, the combination of these measures is the backbone of policies of the project was carried out and that responded to the the tourist attraction: the appreciation of the historical setting changing political environment of the country. A Community of the public places in the Dattatreya, Taumadi, and Durbar Development Unit was formed to intensify communication with area and many other monuments and historical sites. local communities and to acquire people’s maximum participation to implement the project. Also the planning and management The promotion and revitalization of traditional handicraft as well skills of Nepali experts were upgraded and local line agencies were as the establishment of modern small-scale industries made made responsible to implement project activities. Bhaktapur a growing economic centre in the eastern part of the Kathmandu Valley. The decline in population observed up to the By the end of 1986, local line agencies capacities had further middle of the 70s has turned around to growth and prosperity. improved and they were capable to implement the project according to the spirit of the Decentralisation Act through Bkaktapur nowadays is a vibrant town which is able to maintain local development committees. Ongoing activities were its built cultural heritage and to manage its development. handed over to the respective institutions like Bhaktapur Revenue from tourist entrance fees has since been the major Municipality, Department of Archaeology, Industrial Service source of income for the municipality and is spent on the Centre, and Nepal Water Supply Corporation. restoration and rehabilitation of monuments, maintenance of public services as well as on other public works. Acknowledging In 1986, the Bhaktapur Development Project ended. The two the cultural settings of Bhaktapur as areas of outstanding Governments agreed upon a follow-up phase of five years universal value it has been inscribed on the World Heritage list through the Urban Development through Local Efforts (udle) as a part of the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage site. programme. Technical and financial support was provided to the respective institutions to complete remaining works. The municipal administration of Bhaktapur, intensively supported by the Project, is today an example for other During the follow-up phase, Bhaktapur municipality started municipalities in terms of revenue collection, organization, a technical unit that repaired and maintained already and good governance.40
  49. 49. 14. Arts and CraftsWoodcarvingWoodcarving is traditionally carried out by the Shilpakarcaste. Their industry survives through commissions toreplace old windows and architectural features. Their skillwith the chisel (jyaaval) is outstanding. In recent years theirtrade has been boosted through the support and trainingfunded by the German government and UNESCO. And theysell a lot of small carvings to tourists, some of them of veryhigh quality.Metalwork A Shilpakar working on an unconventional piece.Metalwork, especially in copper, is carried out by the Nepali Paper.Tamrakar caste in the area to the north-east of TaumadiSquare. They make big brass water jars, copper water pots This is an attractive rough textured material. It is exceptionallyand dishes for puja, and bronze religious items. It is worth tough, making it useful for official documents as well asexploring their shops. If you are interested they might show artwork. It is specially resistant to damp and to their traditional casting processes. Some of their bronze Each sheet is made from the inner bark of ‘lokta’ (Daphneitems are very beautiful and well worth buying. cannabina or Daphne papyrceae), a high-altitude shrub. You can watch the paper being processed at The Peacock Shop near Dattatreya Square, close to the Peacock Window. They also sell very beautiful paper products. Thanka or Pauva Painting These are religious paintings on stretched cotton. You see them in all the tourist areas of Bhaktapur and they make very attractive wall pictures to take home. Historically they come from two traditions, Tibetan and Newari. The word thanka is Tibetan and it is the Tibetan refugees entering the country in the 1960’s who introduced their style of mandalas and Lives of Buddha and made them commercial items for tourists. Paper-making at The Peacock Shop. 41