One night in Bhadgaon

Go to Bhaktapur for the Bisket Jatra chariot festival and stay overnight

All photos: SUMAN NEPALI

A trip to Bhadgaon is a commitment. You need to get on that Arniko Highway, and race Enfields and micros zooming eastwards at 80kmph. Bhaktapur is only 11km from the Ring Road, and 20 minutes away at night. But at rush hour, there are bottlenecks that make it seem farther than it is. 

This is the week of Bhaktapur’s biggest chariot festival, the Bisket Jatra, the first day of which is known locally as Dhwo kwabijyaigu or ‘the god carried downwards’. It might be a good idea to extend the day trip to see the festival and stay overnight to really get to know the city of devotees.

By evening, most of the tourists and visitors will have left, and Bhaktapur once more belongs to its residents. A good place to hang out to watch the goings-on in the Darbar Square is from one of the window seats at the Temple View Restaurant, popular for its Newari menu but also Chicken Thali complete with masala tea and juju dhau at Rs795. 

One night in Bhadgaon NT 1
One night in Bhadgaon NT 1

 Nearby is Taumadhi Square, dominated by Nepal’s highest temple Nyatapola. This sturdy five-roofed temple withstood the 1934 and 2015 earthquakes, perhaps because it is guarded by five pairs of stone bodyguards.

It is in the evening that Nyatapola looks even more impressive, glowing in the light of the square and standing out against the darkening sky. Climbing the long stairs, one gains a vantage point overlooking the square and the town beyond the surrounding rooftops. 

There is usually an evening puja going on in the Bhairavnath temple to the east of Nyatapola, with chanting and cymbals, a great soundtrack to the bustling, busy square as well as a reminder that temples are not only selfie spots for tourists, but also places of worship. 

One night in Bhadgaon NT 1
One night in Bhadgaon NT 1

Despite it being night, motorbikes race diagonally across Taumadhi, so be prepared to dodge these easy riders as you make your way to our next night-time attraction: Dattatreya Square. 

The street there is lined with curious passages that must be stooped through into courtyards. Down a narrow lane off to the side of the square is the famous peacock window, and the first floor of a house opposite offers the best eye-level view. The light and shadows of the night make the carved wooden window look even more delicate and exquisite.

Bhaktapur is loyal to traditional ways of life and architecture. The styles of buildings are consistent and well preserved. The restaurants and shops, at least the ones in the main squares, are housed in centuries old heritage buildings. 

One night in Bhadgaon NT 1
One night in Bhadgaon NT 1

 It is at night that Bhaktapur brings out the best of itself, radiating art and culture. Many new cafes have opened, and shops that sell souvenirs and intricate thangkas. The red brick roads give the town elegance and character different from the tourist haunts in other parts of the Valley. 

Many businesses on the streets play music, prayer hymns, and burn fragrant incense. There is always a procession going past, giving night time Bhaktapur a spiritual ambience. 

By late evening, there are fewer motorcycles and the pedestrians start shuffling home. Community dogs take over, guarding the guardians of the gods on Nyatapola’s steps. In a neighbourhood falcha, some elderly devotees are still chanting hymns to the gods. Clouds towering over the mountains to the north are lit up by the pink neon of silent lightning. 

One night in Bhadgaon NT 1
One night in Bhadgaon NT 1
One night in Bhadgaon NT 1

 Bhaktapur is not just a town, it is a way of life. 


Places to Stay

Peacock Guest House

Located near the Dattatreya Square, this guest house is simultaneously a hotel, café and handicraft shop all rolled into one. The café is what you walk into, with seating extending into a courtyard. It is all very compact and tasteful. A man who appears to be the owner sits at one of the tables and is drawing. 

Peakcock guesthouse Bhaktapur
Breakfast at Peacock Guest House.

Peacock Guest House is Bhaktapur in a microcosm in the way it incorporates heritage. It has narrow wooden staircases and doors, intricate windows, and a copper water jar. The rooms are cosy, and come with a bookshelf featuring interesting titles.

There is a traditional carved window in each room that must make guests feel like the Kumari. The second floor has a large showroom with many statuettes and carvings. On the roof terrace, the evenings are cool and quiet.


Dattatreya Square 

(01) 6611829

Milla Guest House 

One night in Bhadgaon NT 1

A five minute walk away from Dattatraya Square, Milla Guest House is a bed-and-breakfast designed by Götz Hagmüller, architect of the Patan Museum and the Garden of Dreams in Kathmandu. The hotel uses brick, wood, and terracotta tiles and balances modern with traditional designs. Rooms have attached bathrooms, and two of them come with balconies. On the top floor is a terrace and kitchen, and breakfast is complimentary. 




The Nanee

The Nanee

A luxury boutique hotel located just before you get to the Darbar Square, The Nanee is an ‘immersive lodging experience,’ with detailed tours of Bhaktapur led by local experts, as well as food tours of traditional dishes and restaurants. The rooms and lobbies are expertly designed with fusion pieces of traditional art with modern twists. There are suites on offer as well. 

Rs21,000 onwards


(01) 5915110

Vishad Onta