Bhaktapur Three years After The 2015 Quakes – Part 2: Taumadhi Sq., Potters’ Sq., and Tachapal

Previous Post:  Bhaktapur Three years After The 2015 Quakes – Part 1: Durbar Square

The return visit to Bhaktapur continues!  While Durbar Square is undoubtedly the one site that all visitors will see, there is more!  Just around the corner from the square is Taumadhi, the real heart of the town and the place where locals meet and hang out. And not far away is Potters’ Square – that is, a newer version which no longer includes pottery manufacture thanks to twenty years plus of cheap imported Chinese plastic bowls!

Taumadhi Tol

The key mandirs on Taumadhi Square dominate the view below – Nyatapola on the left and Bhairab on the right. The two-storey building in the foreground is a recent construction; it houses a restaurant. I took advantage of a second-floor table to get some shots from a different perspective as I had lunch, though the shot below was taken from the fourth floor Garuda Bar on the southwest corner of the square.

The 30-meter high and five-storey Nyatapola Mandir was built around the year 1700 C.E. (i.e., 300 years ago) and has remained standing through the various earthquakes which have rattled the Kathmandu valley.

Bhaktapur Nyatapola view from the rooftop restaurant

view of the east side of the five-storey Nyatapola in Bhaktapur

Across from Nyatapola Mandir is the Bhairab Mandir, a three-storey temple with a shrine at the front that always seems to have devotees.  A smaller temple on the side collapsed during the earthquake. On the other side of the square, a commercial block also suffered significant damage but is still standing.

a view of the Bhairabnath Temple from the top of the Nyatapola steps

At the northeast corner of the square sit the wheels of the cart used during the annual Bisket Festival to carry the box containing the head of Bhairab! See the internet-sourced image below for a look at the cart in action!

wheels of the Bisket Festival cart in Taumadhi Tol

wheels of the Bisket Festival cart in Taumadhi Tol

Bisket Festival - cart in Taumadhi Tol

internet-sourced image of the Bisket Festival with the cart in Taumadhi Tol – see this Himalaya Times article for the source

Taumadhi Tol – steps of the Nyatapola and Bhairab Mandir to the right

Newari matrons at the Bhairab Mandir shrine on Taumadhi Tol

I saw the red-draped matrons in the image above in front of the Bhairab Mandir shrine. Then I looked across the square to a group of young women in their late teens.  Given that 40% of Nepalis are under 25, I wondered where traditional Nepali culture was headed as it collides with a more enticing set of images and narrative.

Taumadhi Square – younger Newaris with a modern focus

Bhaktapur’s Taumadhi Tol Bhairab Mandir – the central exterior shrine

the central image of the Bhairab shrine – Taumadhi Tol

looking down the steps of the Nyatapola in Taumadhi Tol Bhaktapur

From the top of the Nyatapola Mandir, I got a backside view of the lions, elephants, and the wrestlers Jayamel and Phattu at the bottom of the steps – missing are the two griffins and the two goddesses Singhini and Byaghrini which are behind me.

Torana above one of the Nyatapola’s doors

Nyatapola Torana detail – central image of Taleju

Nyatapola sculpture on temple exterior

mask on the wall of the Garuda Bar overlooking Taumadhi Square in Bhaktapur

vegetable market on the edge of Taumadhi Square Bhaktapur

a view of Bhaktapur’s Taumadhi Square from the east

Bhairab Mandir in Taumadhi Square May 2018 evening shot

the northeast corner of Bhaktapur’s Taumadhi Tol at dusk – on my way home to Tachapal

Potters’ Square:

A short walk down the narrow street in the image below – past the restaurants and the guesthouses – and I am in Potters’ Square.  it looks very different in 2018 than it did on my first visit in 1996.  Gone are the finished clay pots that covered a part of the square; gone are the pottery makers.  The local industry is on its last legs thanks to cheaper modern alternatives – i.e., plastic ware from China.

the street from Taumadhi Tol to Potters' Square

the street from Taumadhi Tol to Potters’ Square

The square looked like a construction zone in May of 2018 with piles of gravel and bricks here and there.

Potters' Square Bhaktapur May 2018

Potters’ Square Bhaktapur May 2018 – it is a mess!

Potters' Square Bhaktapur May 2018 shrine

Potters’ Square Bhaktapur May 2018 shrine

detail from the torana of a Potters Square shrine

thangka shop - young women painting

thangka shop – young women putting paint to the mandala outlines

Potters' Square Bhaktapur May 2018 puppets hanging around

Potters’ Square Bhaktapur May 2018 puppets hanging around

Potters Square - Bhaktapur May 2018 wall shrine

Potters Square – Bhaktapur May 2018 wall shrine

Potters; Square - Bhaktapur May 2018

Potters’ Square – Bhaktapur May 2018 – piles of gravel and a couple of dozen clay jars

shrine Potters Square - Bhaktapur May 2018

shrine Potters Square – Bhaktapur May 2018

a collapsed corner of Potters Square in Bhaktapur

Tachapal Tol (Dattatreya Square)

At the end of my visit – I had just completed a three-week trek from Upper Mustang down the Phu Valley – instead of spending my last two days in Kathmandu, I stayed in Bhaktapur.  It was a good choice;  I got the quiet of the town instead of the traffic and pollution of the capital.  The place I stayed at was the Peacock Guesthouse on Tachapal Tol, an area of the town I had not visited before.

Tachapal predates the other squares in the city and goes back to the 1300s; the building with the Peacock Guesthouse in it is of the same age – an example of classical Newari construction.

At the top of the square is the main attraction –  the Dattatreya Mandir. Dattatreya built in the 1420s when Bhaktapur was still the capital of a kingdom ruled by Yaksha Malla, who controlled the entire valley.

Bhaktapur Tachapal Dattatreya Mandir

Bhaktapur Tachapal Dattatreya Mandir

In front of it is a pillar with a winged Garuda figure on top.   The Garuda faces the two human figures – the very same wrestlers I saw at the Nyatapola in Taumadhi Tol.

dusk on Tachapal Square Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur Dattatreya Square May 2018 dusk

At the opposite end of the square from the Dattatreya Mandir is a two-storey temple which I somehow managed not to get a shot of!  A block of buildings from the 1300s and 1400s included my Peacock Guesthouse, as well as the restaurants whose signs you can see in the image below.


Bhaktapur Tachapal Peacock Guesthouse

Bhaktapur – Tachapal Peacock Guesthouse

Bhaktapur’s Peacock Guesthouse courtyard – now the restaurant seating area –

courtyard of the Newari building next to the Peacock Guesthouse

the way to Peaceful Restaurant next to the Peacock Guesthouse on Tachapal Tol

the street off Tachapal Tol in Bhaktapur with the Peacock Window

the Peacock Window above the street near Dattatreya Mandir

I really enjoyed my two nights and a full day in Bhaktapur.  Being able to walk around the town at dusk after all the day visitors had left was a special treat, as was going for an early morning stroll as the various squares were just coming to life for the day.

The town suffered significant damage in 2015 and with my focus on the public buildings – the temples and royal palace – in the old town area, I only got a partial picture of the full extent of that damage.  Hopefully, the townspeople have been able to access the funds received from international sources to aid in their own residential reconstruction projects.

See also the following Kathmandu Valley Posts:

Temple and Street Shrines of Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley – “God Is Alive; Magic Is Afoot”

The Kathmandu Valley And Its UNESCO Cultural Heritage Sites

Kathmandu’s Durbar Square After the 2015 Quakes – Worth the $10. Entry  Fee?

 Swayambhunath: Buddha Eyes Over The Kathmandu Valley

The Boudhanath Stupa – The Heart Of Nepal’s Tibetan Community

Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley: The Temples of Bhaktapur

Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley – The Temples of Patan (Lalitpur)

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2 Responses to Bhaktapur Three years After The 2015 Quakes – Part 2: Taumadhi Sq., Potters’ Sq., and Tachapal

  1. Brian says:

    Great trip down memory lane, thanks for the fantastic photos. We visited Bhaktapur in Dec 2018, only 6 months after you, and fell in love with it. I’m pleased to say the Potter’s Square was back in full action with pottery bowls laid out in the sun everywhere to dry.

    • true_north says:

      Hard to believe that was just 2 1/2 years ago! The terrible pollution aside, the Kathmandu valley is one of my favourite places to wander and point my camera. I’ll look for those pots!

      Still on my wish list is a few more days there after a trek to Shey gompa in upper Dolpo. Maybe in 2022?

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