Nepal

Patan Tour and Travel Guide

One of the three former cities of the Kathmandu Valley, Patan is home to numerous monasteries and examples of architectural styles. It is also the hub of Nepal's growing textile industries.

By Vacation India
ancient statue Patan Durbar Square. Patan
Detail of a lion statue in the historical area of ancient Patan in the Kathmandu Valley. Through the centuries several Hindu and Muslim dynasties have turned it into a thriving trading city © Tomasz Wozniak

Patan, the second of the three competing city-states that previously fought for control of the region, rises south of the Bagmati River, replacing Kathmandu. The predominant religion in Patan is Buddhism, and local folklore holds that the great Buddhist Emperor Ashoka established the city in the third century BC; however, there is no archaeological evidence to support this. The town has a long-standing history of having master craftsmen, and this distinction still holds today. Also known as “The Charming City,” Lalitpur, Patan is a town.

prayer reciting holy book Kumbeshwar Temple in Patan

A devotee prays and recites from his holy book at Kumbeshwar Temple close to the Patan Durbar Square. Dating back to the 14th century, this is one of the oldest temples in the country © sasimoto


Four major routes branch out from Patan’s Durbar Square to reach the four purportedly Ashokan stupas, masonry, and vegetation structures that serve as the city’s limits. Under the Licchavis, Patan originally became a significant habitation, and King Manadeva’s castle may have been located in the 5th century in Mangal Bazaar, a neighborhood next to Durbar Square. But from the 16th to the 18th century, while the Maltas were in power, the city had its most prosperous building era. Most of the landmarks we see nowadays were constructed or refurbished in that era. Patan is a highly touted prospect for both the Newari Buddhist religion and traditional crafts, with no less than 136 bahals, gardens, and 55 main monasteries. Patan is also a birthplace of art and design. Despite the devastating earthquakes damaging many historical monuments, restoration efforts are currently underway.
Prayer wheels cylinders golden sculpture of monkey in holy hindu temple kathmandu

A golden monkey statue sits in front of prayer wheels in a Hindu temple in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Monkeys are considered sacred animals by both Buddhists and Hindus © Sergio de Flore


THE IMPERIAL HOUSE
The centerpiece of Patan is Durbar Square, similar to the other towns in the region. The Imperial House, a magnificent specimen of the Newari building, is surrounded by many monasteries of varying shapes, dimensions, and architectural styles on the square’s eastern side.

Three principal chowks, or gardens, open onto the square and make up the castle. The Sundari Chowk, the furthest south and smallest, is home to the Tusha Hiti, a submerged imperial bathhouse that is a masterwork of marble sculpture and construction. The bathhouse’s exterior, adorned circa 1670, has a double row of bronze statues depicting the eight Ashta Matrikas, the eight Bhairavs, and the eight Nagas. Several of these are now unavailable. The pinnacle of the watershed, into which water pours from a metal-gilded fountain, is encircled by massive stone snakes (nagas). During the 2015 earthquake, the back of the chowk experienced significant damage. The exterior of this garden is defended by stone statues of Ganesh, Hanuman, and Narsingh.

tourist with monk Pashupathinath temple in Nepal

A tourist receives a blessing from a sadhu at Pashupathinath Temple, Kathmandu Valley, an important pilgrimage site for Hindus from around the world. The shrine is dedicated to Shiva and is a World Heritage Site © pendakisolo


The centerpiece Mul Chowk, constructed in 1666 for Srinivasa Malla, is the earliest garden. The Patan imperial family’s modest two-story home surrounds a courtyard with the Bidya Mandir, a little golden sanctuary in the center. Two exquisite brass representations of Ganga riding a tortoise and Jamuna riding a mythological reptile-like creature protect the Taleju Sanctuary.

The Taleju Bhawani Mandir’s triple-roofed octagonal structure, built around 1666 and houses the imperial god, dominates this castle area in the northeastern corner of the Mul Chowk. In 2015, it experienced roof damage. There has been repair work done. The much-loved “Golden Gate” leads from the main square onto the third garden to the north, the Mani Keshab Narayan Chowk. Here, the Patan Museum is located in a wonderfully renovated structure. With a variety of Hindu and Buddhist art that is thoughtfully arranged and labeled, this gallery is arguably the greatest in Nepal. The window seats on the upper level provide a great vantage point from which to see the activity in the square, and lunch in the modest outdoor eatery is enjoyable. The sanctuary of Degutale, the rulers of the Malla people’s personal deity, is located between this and the major chowk. The monarchs used to execute their sacred Tantric rites in this 1640–built structure, which is topped by a tower with four roofs.

ancient statues of Nepal carved from stone and wood

Many ancient religious statues carved from wood and stone can be found in the historical city of Patan, Nepal © Skreidzeleu


ancient statues of Nepal carved from stone and wood

This is just one of the many amazing wooden and stone carvings found in temples and shrines in ancient Patan, Nepal© Skreidzeleu


Patan royal court Kathmandu

Stone and wooden carvings salvaged from the Patan Royal Court after the devastating 2015 earthquake that destroyed many ancient structures in the Kathmandu Valley © Kertu


Local Nepalese food in Patan

A display of some of the local traditional Nepalese food including chickpeas in various forms and curried potatoes © LALIDA BOONMEE


famous buildings and temples at kathmandu

Ancient religious buildings and temples in historical Patan are richly decorated with carvings in stone and wood, drawing many visitors from around the world © RudiErnst


people at shopping Street market at Patan Durbar Square kathmandu

People crowd the streets of the Patan Durbar Square market during the five-day Diwali Festival. This festival celebrates the triumph of light over darkness © Ro


people celebration in Patan Dubar Square

Local people dressed in traditional costume enjoy a religious celebration on Patan Durbar Square in Kathmandu © Tanongsak Sangthong


people in local celebration in Patan Dubar Square

A group of musicians in traditional dress perform at Patan Durbar Square to the delight of onlookers © Tanongsak Sangthong


ancient statue Patan Durbar Square. Patan

Detail of a lion statue in the historical area of ancient Patan in the Kathmandu Valley. Through the centuries several Hindu and Muslim dynasties have turned it into a thriving trading city © Tomasz Wozniak


Patan Museum, Kathmandu

The Patan Museum is housed in one of the royal palaces of the Malla kings on Patan Durbar Square and is an architectural masterpiece © sippakorn


durbar square ancient city patan kathmandu

Durbar Square in the ancient city of Patan in the Kathmandu Valley. Today called Lalitpur Metropolitan City, which literally means City of the Arts because of the many talented artist and craftsmen it produced © Tomasz Wozniak


Royal square of Patan

Patan Durbar Square, built of red bricks, was the royal residence of the former Malla rulers and a wonderful example of Newari architecture © RPBaiao


golden temple Buddhist monastery patan kathmandu

Kwa Bahal, also called The Golden Temple to the north of Patan Durbar Square is an ancient Buddhist monastery with countless elaborate statues of deities, lions, dragons and monkeys © Boyloso


window of Patan Museum, old Patan Palace kathmandu

View of one of the highly ornate windows of Patan Museum, housed in the old royal palace of the Malla kings © LALIDA BOONMEE


golden decoration figures in temple in patan kathmandu

Elaborately decorated figures in a Hindu temple in Patan in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal © Sergio de Flore


Tourist visit in the Patan Dubar Square at Kathmandu

Tourists taking a quick break during a visit of the Durbar Square in Patan. It is a tourist haven with many temples, statues and old Newari residential homes © MosayMay


Buddhist Stupa in Patan Kathmandu

Buddha’s Eyes watch from a Buddhist stupa in historical Patan. Between the eyes is the Nepalese character for the number one, a symbol of unity © Ashley Whitworth


Patan, Nepal

Patan Durbar Square is a splendid example of traditional Newari architecture. Constructed with baked dark red bricks, the buildings have elaborate wooden detail and carvings in wood and stone © Jiang_Liu


Temples on the Durbar square in Patan Nepal

Many temples litter Durbar Square in historical Patan. It is a popular destination for local and foreign visitors © Travel Stock


Patan Ancient city in Kathmandu Valley Nepal

Patan is an early medieval capital of Gujarat located on the now extinct Sarasvati River with a range of mountain peaks standing guard over its inhabitants © Skreidzeleu


Patan Ancient city in Kathmandu Valley Nepal

Patan Durbar Square is especially dramatic at sunset when the last rays of the sun play on the red bricks of the ancient buildings © Skreidzeleu


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