Circle the squares

Bhaktapur is full of squares, each one with a distinctive temple or two or three, and each with its own character. Dattatraya Square is home to the oldest temple in Bhaktapur and is sometimes called the woodcarvers square. All of Bhaktapur has beautiful woodcarvings but this square is especially fine in quality and detail.

We chose another rooftop restaurant for lunch. These places are always up three, four, or five flights of stairs, each flight with different or uneven stair geometry, but oh, the view is always worth the climb! And on this day so was the food, a very typical Nepalese lunch, fresh, spicy and made to order.

On our way back through town we ventured down a narrow alleyway and found this nearly hidden music shop. We never pass up a guitar store, and this one also featured some native instruments we weren’t familiar with and which the proprietor was happy to demonstrate. We’ve sworn off buying more instruments because we have no place to put them, but we sure were tempted by the telescoping horn he’s holding.

Pottery Square is close to our neighborhood and we visit often. It doesn’t get the tourist crowds that the big draw, Durbar Square, does, but it’s a genuine workplace where hundreds of identical pots are thrown, air dried, and fired in traditional kilns every day.

We love watching the potters work but judging from the pots lined up to dry there doesn’t seem to be much room for individual creativity.

Also in Pottery Square is one of the many Thanka Painting schools around Bhaktapur. This is a traditional Tibetan Buddhist style of painting on silk or cotton, usually of deities or mandalas. Mastering the technique requires six years of apprenticeship. We were told this group is in their second year.

It’s painstaking work requiring keen eyesight and a steady hand, often using a brush with a single bristle. Some of the more extraordinary works have 24k gold in the paint.

Most tourists visit Bhaktapur on a day trip from Kathmandu. We’re staying for two weeks, allowing us to look beyond the touts and souvenir shops to appreciate real life happening all around.


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2 Responses to Circle the squares

  1. Absolutely loving your Nepal stories and photos. Fantastic!

  2. John Halbrook

    It looks like you are making the most of a fascinating place. I was one of those who visited for a day.

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