A complete guide to Patan Durbar Square

Do you want to visit Patan Durbar Square? Then you are at the right place. I have lived in Lalitpur, the city where Patan Durbar Square is located, for four years now. Patan Durbar Square is one of the places I often walk to, especially now that I have a baby, because it is such a beautiful and gorgeous place.

There is a lot to see and do in Patan itself, from anciant stupas to beautiful temples – but in this guide, I will focus solely on Patan Durbar Square: the history of the square, the main temples, where to eat, where to stay, and I will also give you some interesting tips and tricks that can only come from a local.

Practical Information for Visitors

The Patan Durbar Square entrance fee is NPR 1000. 

As the square cannot be closed off you can always access the square, but the museum is only open from 8 am to 6:30 pm. 

The best times to visit the square itself are in the morning or in the evening. This is when most people will come here to pray and bring offerings. I would also recommend walking around the Durbar Square when it is dark as all the temples are beautifully lit.

History of Patan Durbar Square

Patan Durbar Square was established around the 3rd century B.C. by the Kirat dynasty. However, it wasn’t until the Mala dynasty that it became the square we know and love today, gaining much more prominence from the 12th to the 18th century.

Many of the temples and even the royal palace on the square were either built or renovated during the Malla rule.

Now, who were the Mallas? The Mallas were actually the kings of Patan, Kathmandu, and Bhaktapur. These three were separate kingdoms, and the king of each was always a member of the Malla family. They honestly tried to outdo each other when it came to cultural and architectural advancements. This competition is also why the Malla periods are often seen as the golden age for Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur.

Other influences

Now, it wasn’t just the Malla dynasty that had a massive influence on Patan Durbar Square, but also influences from other countries and regions.

For instance, we can see that Krishna Mandir was influenced by India, but there are also other influences like from the Mughal invasion, or from Tibet and China through the Silk Road.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Patan Durbar Square was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, and ever since, they have really tried to preserve the square’s heritage.

It is now a key tourist attraction with people from all over the world coming to visit the Pata Amdurbar Square. And I get why, because in my honest opinion, it is probably the most beautiful duobar square in the Kathmandu Valley.

2015 Earthquake

Sadly, the Patan Durbar Square suffered a lot of damage in the 2015 earthquake. It didn’t suffer as much damage as Kathmandu Durbar Square where a lot of the temples were reduced to rubble, but still a lot of the temples and even the Royal Palace had to be restored.

Many countries from all over the world contributed to restoring the Patan Durbar Square and the restoration efforts had a focus on traditional methods and materials in order to make sure that, first of all, these traditional methods did not die out so they could train people in these methods, but also to maintain historical authenticity when rebuilding the palace and the temples.

Where is Patan Durbar Square Located?

Patan Durbar Square is located in Lalitpur, which is a different city from Kathmandu, just over the Bagmati River. It’s often seen as part of one large urban area, similar to Buda and Pest, which together form Budapest. Patan is situated right in the middle of Lalitpur, and Patan Durbar Square is quite central as well.

Main Temples and Monuments on the Patan Durbar Square

The Patan Durbar Square is a bit smaller than the ones in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, but the temples here are just as gorgeous and important. Here is an overview of the temples and monuments you should keep en eye out for!

Krishna Mandir 

working in nepal

The Krishna Mandir Temple is the most beautiful and important temple on Patan Durbar Square, and in my eyes, it is probably the most beautiful temple in Nepal. The temple was built in 1637 by King Siddhi Narsingh Malla, one of the most prominent Malla rulers of Patan.

Krishna Mandir is very famous because it has a distinct architectural style, heavily influenced by both Nepalese and Indian design. Unlike most Nepali temples, which are typically made from brick and wood, this temple is completely constructed from stone.

The temple has five tiers and stands on a very high plinth. It is built in the Shikhara-style architecture, which is quite rare in Nepal but more commonly used in India. On and inside the temple, you will see beautiful carvings of gods and goddesses on the walls, depicting scenes from the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, with a particular focus on the events of the life of Lord Krishna.

Krishna Mandir, as you might expect, is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The temple symbolizes his significant role in the Hindu religion and becomes a focal point during the annual Krishna Janmashtami, a significant event at Hindu temples, symbolizing the birth of Lord Krishna. festival, celebrating his birth at midnight. The temple often serves as a hub of activity during major festivals, particularly during Krishna Janmashtami, when people from all over the city flock to the temple to offer prayers and participate in the celebrations.

Chyasin Dewal

On the other side of Patan Durbar Square, you will find Chaiyasin Dewal, which is also a Krishna temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and was built by the same king, King Siddhi Narsingh Malla, in 1637. The temple is very special because it was constructed in a tower style, inspired by North Indian temple architecture. Like Krishna Mandir, it is completely made out of stone.

Just like its counterpart on the other side of Patan Durbar Square, this temple is especially significant during the festival of Krishna Janmashtami, when Lord Krishna’s birthday is celebrated.

Bhimsen Temple

Another interesting temple on Patan Durbar Square is the Bhimsen Temple. This temple was constructed in the early 17th century and is dedicated to Bhimsen, a heroic deity known for his strength in the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. The Bhimsen Temple features classic three-tiered pagoda-style architecture, which is very typical of Nepali temples. It was primarily built using beautifully and finely carved wood and brick, traditional construction techniques in the Kathmandu Valley.

When you look closer at the artwork on the temple, you might see beautifully intricate carvings that represent Bhimsen and depict various scenes from the Mahabharata. Bhimsen is normally depicted with a mace, symbolizing his strength and attributes as a warrior. Bhimsen is often worshipped by local traders and businessmen seeking prosperity and strength in their endeavors. The Bhimsen Temple is incredibly important during local festivals, especially to those, as mentioned before, who are traders or local tradesmen.

Vishwanath Temple

The Vishwanath Temple in Patan was built in 1627 by King Siddhinarasimha Malla. The temple is a very typical Newari structure, showcasing classic Newari architecture. It features a two-tiered roof, which is common in Nepalese temples. The temple itself is primarily constructed from red brick and wood, and you will find beautiful and intricate carvings on the struts and the tirana, the arching piece of wood above the door.

When you look closer at the struts and the torana, you will see beautiful and detailed carvings of a number of gods, particularly manifestations of Lord Shiva. On the struts themselves, you can also find erotic carvings, which are characteristic features of quite a few Newari temples, symbolizing prosperity and fertility.

The temple is especially significant during the Shivaratri festival, attracting visitors from all over Kathmandu and even Nepal, where devotees offer prayers and candles. Located near the entrance of Patan Durbar Square, it is one of the first temples that people see when they enter the square. It was incredibly badly damaged in the 2015 earthquake, but it was reopened in 2023.

Taleju Bell

The Taleju Bell is the prominent bell located in Patan Durbar Square, installed during the reign of King Vishnu Malla in the early 18th century. It was originally intended to regulate daily activities and maintain public order in the city. The bell was rung at different times of the day to announce royal decrees or emergencies. Currently, the bell is used during various religious ceremonies and festivals, and its sound can be heard quite loudly throughout Patan.

There are a number of legends connected to the Taleju Bell, but I think my favorite one is where thieves stole the bell from the Uma Maheshwar Temple in Kirtipur.

So basically this temple in Kirtipur was renowned for its beautiful and gorgeous bell, which made this amazing sound. And the king of Bhaktapur was very jealous of this bell, so he sent thieves to go and steal the bell in the middle of the night.

But obviously the bell was too heavy, so when the thieves had stolen the bell, they tried to bring it back to Bhaktapur, but by the break of dawn they couldn’t get further than this one field in Pathan. And so they had to abandon this field, or they would have been discovered by farmers.

A farmer then found the bell in the middle of his field, and the king of Patan got notified. The king loved the bell so much that he hung it on the Pathan Durbar Square where it now stands as the Taleju Bell.

Hari Shankar Temple

The Hari Shankar temple in Patan Durbar Square was constructed in 1704 by Queen Lalit Tripura Sundari. The temple is named after Hari Shankar, a deity considered to be a combined form of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, revered at many Hindu temples. “Hari” refers to Lord Vishnu and “Shankar” to Lord Shiva. This combination represents a unique fusion of the two gods’ characteristics and attributes.

The Hari Shankar temple is constructed in the typical pagoda style common to Newari architecture. It was mainly built using brick and wood, but you can also see some beautiful metalwork, especially around the roof struts and the temple façade. A closer look at the wood struts reveals carvings of various gods and mythical creatures. You will mainly see the icons of both Vishnu and Shiva that are prominently featured throughout the temple, reflecting its dedication to the combined deity Hari Shankar.

King Yoganarendra Malla’s Column

On Patan Durbar Square, you will also find a very large column known as King Yoganarendra Malla’s column. It was erected in the 1700s by one of the last Malla kings of Patan. The column is completely made out of stone, and on top, you will see a gilded statue of the king himself. The king is depicted in a prayer pose, seated cross-legged with his hands folded, symbolizing his devotion and reverence.

You will see that the statue is very finely crafting and this is a true showcase of the skill of the Newari artisans in metalwork and stone carving. They are some of the best artisans in the entire region. You will also see a cobra umbrella above the king’s head and this symbolizes protection and royal authority.

At the base of the column you will see two stone elephants and this is a symbol of the royal guardians. One of the best places to see the column from is actually on top of the Momo King restaurant which has a rooftop terrace. I’m not a big fan of their food but I do like coming here for a beer.

Char Narayan Temple

Last but not least, we have the Char Narayan Temple, which is the oldest temple on Patan Durbar Square. Built in 1566, it is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. True to Newari architecture, the temple features a two-tiered pagoda roof. Like many Newari temples, it is constructed from brick and wood, with a base of carved stone and beautifully carved wooden roof struts.

On the struts of the Char Narayan Temple, you will find very detailed wooden carvings featuring various avatars of Vishnu, as well as scenes from Hindu mythology. The base itself is beautifully sculpted, adding to the temple’s aesthetic and spiritual significance. As this is a Vishnu temple, it holds great importance for devotees who revere Vishnu. Many people from around Nepal come here to worship during ceremonies related to Vishnu.

The Royal Palace and Museum

The Patan Durbar Square was built as a temple complex for the Patan Royal Palace. The Royal Palace of Patan is now the Patan Museum, the big building along the Durbar Square. Entry to the museum is included in your Durbar Square ticket and I would highly recommend visiting because it is much more beautiful and spectacular than Hannuman Dhoka on the Kathmandu Durbar Square!

Patan Museum

Patan Museum, which officially opened in 1997, is housed in a beautifully restored old Malla Palace on Patan Durbar Square. The palace now serves as a museum where you can view a vast collection of bronze statues, religious artifacts, and beautiful struts from the Kathmandu Valley. The building itself merges traditional Newari architecture with some colonial elements, which were introduced during restorations aimed at preserving the historical integrity of the palace.

Inside the museum, you will find multiple courtyards and galleries, often referred to as “chokhs.” The most important courtyards are Keshav Narayan Chokh and Sundari Chokh, each offering a unique glimpse into the art and architecture that define the cultural heritage of the area.

Patan Museum, renowned for its museum management and conservation practices, has won several awards in these areas. The conservation efforts are particularly noteworthy. Inside, you’ll find multiple placards explaining how local artisans were trained in ancient crafts to preserve not only the palace but also the surrounding temples, especially following the 2015 earthquake.

One gallery in the museum has been restored to resemble how it might have looked during the Malla kings’ reign, complete with an earth floor. This gallery also houses one of the most beautiful and best-preserved wall paintings in the museum.

The museum offers guided tours, which are highly recommended as they provide a deep dive into Newar culture and the Malla period in Patan. While the cafe in the garden has unfortunately closed, the museum still features a few small shops where you can purchase books about Nepal and Nepali crafts and culture.

Mul Chowk

One of the most important courtyards in the Patan Royal Palace is Mul Chowk, adjacent to the splendid Keshav Narayan Chowk. Mul Chowk is the central courtyard and it was traditionally used for religious ceremonies and royal events, making it one of the most sacred and important courtyards in the palace.

The Chowk itself is characterized by its very classic Newar architecture. Here you can see intricately and beautifully carved wooden windows and doorways and a beautiful little pagoda in the middle.

Sundari Chowk

Sundari Chowk, my favorite courtyard in the royal palace of Patan, was a private space for the royal family and is truly a sight to behold. The centerpiece of the courtyard is a beautifully carved sunken water tank known as Tusha Hiti.

Take a moment to admire the stone carvings around the Tusha Hiti, where you’ll find depictions of various gods and scenes from Hindu mythology. Surrounding the courtyard, the elaborately carved windows and door frames further enhance the area’s aesthetic appeal. Historically used for very private royal ceremonies and rituals, Sundari Chowk is now one of the most important and well-known areas within the Patan Museum.

Bhandarkhal Garden

The Patan Royal Museum also has a gorgeous garden. The thing I love most about this garden is that you are right in the middle of the city but when you walk into the garden you hear nothing. It is an oasis of peace and quiet. The garden has a traditional Nepali layout with elements of formality and naturalistic design. Inside the garden you will see a historic pond that was used to do the laundry, to wash people, the courtiers, etc. The garden itself and the structures and statues in the garden have been restored to preserve the historical look and function.

Inside the garden you will find a large variety of plants that are native to Nepal, and beautiful traditional sculptures, and little rooms and seating areas. Even today it is still used for gatherings and ceremonies, and to host cultural events and exhibitions.

Impact of the Earthquake

UNDP via Flickr Creative Commons

As you might remember, the earthquake of 2015 was quite a heavy one. It measured 7.8 on the Richter scale.

And it caused significant damage across the Kathmandu Valley, including Kathmandu Durbar Square, where a lot of the temples were leveled, and Pathan Durbar Square, where luckily the temples were in better shape.

Many of the temples on the Pathan Durbar Square suffered structural damage. Some of the temples even partially collapsed, while other temples had severe cracks and were very unstable.

Krishna Mandir, for instance, faced a little bit of damage, but because it was made completely out of stone, it remained largely intact compared to other temples on the square.

Bhimsen Temple had considerable damage, and it had to undergo major restoration to return it to its former state.

The Vishwanath Temple was very damaged. The Harishankar Temple required extensive repairs, especially to the roof and the wooden carvings.

And the Char Narayan Temple was one of the most heavily damaged temples on the square. It had to be completely reconstructed in part.

Last but not least, the Pathan Museum was very damaged, especially in the older sections, and it needed to be restored very carefully because there were lots of artifacts inside, and there was a lot of structural damage to the building.

How to get to Patan Durbar Square

The best way to reach Patan Durbar Square is by taxi, especially if you are staying in Kathmandu or Thamel. If you are staying in Lalitpur, it’s close enough to walk. When taking a taxi, simply instruct the driver to head to Patan Durbar Square. You’ll likely be dropped off near Mangal Bazar, which is the entrance to Durbar Square.

You can also take a tour. These tours will take you to all the sights and will pick you up and drop you back off at your hotel.

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Where to stay near the Patan Durbar Square

f you are looking to stay near Patan Durbar Square, I highly recommend Hotel Pahan Chhen. This hotel is literally on Durbar Square. You walk outside, and you are on the square. It’s a beautiful hotel, and from the rooftop, you have a very nice view of some of the temples on the square.

Pahan Chhen is not that expensive, but if you are looking for something a bit cheaper, I would also recommend Hotel Timila. I know people who stayed there and absolutely loved it. There used to be a restaurant in the building that my husband and I often went to. It’s a beautiful and very clean hotel.

If you are still looking to spend even less, at about £20 a night, you can also stay at Hotel Subha Casa, which is just down the road from Patan Durbar Square. It’s a very cute and beautiful hotel, and it’s very cheap.

Festivals held on Patan Durbar Square 

My husband and I on the Durbar Square during Holi

Just like on Kathmandu Durbar Square, there are a lot of festivals that are celebrated on the Patan Durbar Square. I have put together a list of the celerbations and festivals (Jatras) that are held on the square. That way you can check whether you can maybe catch a glimpse of one of these celebrations at various locations! (Hint: it is often worth it!). 

  • Krishna Janmashtami:
    • When: Typically celebrated in August or September, depending on the lunar calendar.
    • Celebration of Lord Krishna’s Birth: Devotees gather at Krishna Mandir to celebrate with midnight prayers, singing, and dancing.
  • Maha Shivaratri:
    • When: Celebrated annually in late February or early March.
    • Dedication to Lord ShivaDevotees throng Vishwanath Temple, engaging in day and night-long rituals, a testament to the living traditions found at various Hindu temples.
  • Biska Jatra (Bisket Jatra):
    • WhenMarking the Nepalese New Year, celebrated in mid-April, is a pivotal event for both locals and visitors, often highlighted in travel guides.
    • New Year Celebration: Features chariot processions and tug-of-wars, among other activities.
  • Rato Machhindranath Jatra:
    • When: Takes place usually from April to May, lasting several weeks.
    • God of Rain and Harvest: Involves pulling a chariot for Rato Machhindranath, with festivities moving through various parts of Lalitpur.
  • Gai Jatra (Festival of Cows):
    • When: Celebrated in August or September.
    • Remembrance of the Departed: Features processions with cows or children dressed as cows, and is a time for satirical performances.
  • Indra Jatra:
    • When: Held annually in September.
    • Honor to Lord Indra and Dagini: Includes masked dances of deities and demons, with special ceremonies around the statue of King Yoganarendra Malla.
  • Tihar (Diwali):
    • When: Celebrated over five days in October or November.
    • Festival of Lights: The square and surrounding areas are adorned with candles, lamps, and decorations, featuring traditional performances.

Frequently asked questions 

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Patan Durbar Square.

When was Patan Durbar Square Built

The area around Patan Durbar Square was a settlement called Lalitapattan in the 3rd century BC. It wasn’t until the Malla period (14th to 18th centuries) that the square gained in importance and most of the temples we see today were built.

Who built Patan Durbar Square

There is no one person who built the Patan Durbar Square, but most temples we see today were built by King Siddhi Narsingh Malla.

When did Patan Durbar Square become a world heritage site

Patan Durbar Square became a World Heritage Site in 1979.

Why is Patan Durbar Square Famous 

Patan Durbar Square is famous because of its beautiful temples and very well preserved Newar palace. Some of the temples on the Patan Durbar Square are some of the most beautiful examples of Newar architecture in the Kathmandu valley and Sundari Chowk inside the Palace is very well known for its gorgeous bath.

When was Patan Durbar Square Destroyed 

Patan Durbar Square was first during the Earthquake of 1934. Some of the temples and buildings that were destroyed were never rebuilt. 

More recently the earthquake of 2015 damaged a large number of buildings and temples on the square.

Who is the statue on Patan Durbar Square 

The statue on Patan Durbar Square is of King Yoganarendra Malla.

Does the Kumari live on the Durbar Square

No. The Kumari does not live on Patan Durbar Square. Instead she lives in Ratnakar Mahavihar which is just down the road of the Patan Durbar Square.

Map of Patan Durbar Square

Digital Himalaya, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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