Patan (Lalitpur)

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Patan Durbar Square


Patan is among one of the major cities of Nepal, and is officially Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City. It is also one of the sub-metropolitan cities of Nepal situated in the south-western part of Kathmandu Valley. Particularly for its tradition of arts and crafts, this city is best known for its rich cultural heritage. It is also known as the city of festivals and feasts, fine ancient art, making of metallic and stone carvings. The city has a population of 162,991 in 68,922 individual households according the to the 2001 Nepal census. This city lies 5km southeast of Kathmandu.

Patan is geographically located on the high area of land in the Kathmandu Valley to the southern side of the Bagmati River, which separates it from the city of Kathmandu on the northern side. It was developed on a relatively thin layer of deposited clay and gravel in the central part of a dried ancient lake known as Nagdaha. Along with Kathmandu, Pokhara and Biratnagar, Patan is among one of the largest cities in the country. It spreads over 16 sq. kilometers and has a division of 22 Municipal wards. The city is bordered by Imadol VDC and Harisiddhi VDC to the east, Kritipur Municipality and Kathmandu Metropolitan to the west, Kathmandu Metropolitan city to the North as well and Saibu VDC, Sunakothi VDC and Dhapakhel VDC to the south.

It is believed that the Kirat dynasty founded the city in the third century B.C. and which was later expanded by the Licchavis in the Sixth century. During the medieval period it was further expanded by the Mallas. Though there are many legends for the formation of its name, many believe that the name of the town is kept after a farmer called Lalit, who carried God Rato Machhindranath to the valley all the way from Assam in India. He brought this God to the valley to overcome the worst drought in the valley. It was due to Lalit’s effort that the God Rato Machhindranath was settled in Lalitpur. This is how Lalitpur meaning Lalit the farmers name and pur meaning worship was formed.

The founder King Veer Deva founded Lalitpur in 299 A.D, but scholars unanimously believed that Patan was a well established and developed town since the ancient times. Patan is believed to be the oldest of all the cities of Kathmandu Valley according to several historical records including many other legends. According to a very old Kirat chronicle, Patan was founded by Kirat rulers long before the Licchavi rulers came into the political scene in the Kathmandu Valley. The earliest know capital of the Kirat rulers was Thankot, in accordance to this chronicle. The most typical name used by the Newars for Pata is Yala.


The city was primarily designed in the shape of the Buddhist Dharma-Chakra. The four thurs or mounds located on the perimeter of Patan are attributed around, one at each corner of its cardinal points, which are popularly known as Ashoka Stupas. Legend has it that in the 250 B.C. Emperor Ashoka along with his daughter visited Kathmandu and erected five Ashoka Stupas, four in the surrounding and one at the middle of Patan. The size and shape of these stupas seem to breathe their antiquity in a real sense. There is more than 1, 200 Buddhist monuments of various shapes and sizes scattered in and around the city. Among which Patan Durbar Square is the most important monument of the city. It has also been listed by UNESCO as one of the seven Monument Zones that make up the Kathmandu Valley a World Heritage Site in 1979. All the monument zones are declared as the protected monument zones according to the Monuments Preservation Act of 1956.

Besides some of the residents working in agriculture, a sizeable portion of the population is engaged in various trades, like traditional handicrafts and small scale cottage industries. The highest number of renowned artists and finest craftsmen ever recorded in the history of Nepali art comes from Lalitpur. Even in the face of rapid urbanization and many social and political upheavals, Patan has managed to maintain a culture of craft work. Compared to Kathmandu the city is less urbanized, it also is the home for many workshops, stores, restaurants, hotels, schools, embassies and other important sectors of the Kathmandu Valley economy.


Patan is well known as a very artistic city. As most of the Nepalese art of any form is devoted to Gods, and there are a plenty of temples and vihara in the city. Famous places to see in Patan are:


  • Patan Durbar Square:
  • Patan Museum:
  • Krishna Mandir:
  • Mahabouddha:
  • Hiaranya Varna Mahaa Vihar:
  • Kumbeshwor Temple:
  • Jagatnarayan Temple:
  • Rudra Varna Mahavira:
  • The Ashokan Stupas:
  • Achheswor Mahavihar:
  • Temple of Machchendranath and Minnath:
  • The Zoo:
  • Patan Industrial Estate:


Patan Durbar Square: situated in the heart of the city it is the focus point for many tourists. The square is full of ancient palaces, temples and shrines, also noted for their exquisite carvings. The Patan Durbar Square consists of three main chowks or courtyards, the Central Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshar Narayan Chowk. The Sundari Chowk holds in its center a masterpiece of stone architecture, the Royal Bath called Tushahity. It was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Monument list in 1979.


Patan Museum: this museum inside the Durbar Square specializes in bronze statues and religious objects. It is considered as one of the best museums in Asia. Opens daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. It is closed only for 3 days during Dashain and for 3 days during Tihar.


Krishna Mandir:
Patan Krishna Mandir


Krishna Mandir built in 1637 AD, the temple of Lord Krishna holds a commanding position in the palace complex of Patan. It is supposed to be the first specimen of Shikhara style architecture in Nepal. It is the only temple in Nepal having 21 spires and is completely made of stone.


Hiranya Varna Mahavira: located inside Kwabadehal, this three-storey golden pagoda of Lokehswor (Lord Buddha) was built in the twelfth century by King Bhaskar Verma. It is famous as the Golden Temple. Inside the upper storey of the pagoda, are the golden images of Lord Buddha and a large prayer wheel.


Kumbheshwor: this fiver-tiered temple of Lord Shiva was built during the reign of King Jayasthiti Malla. On the Janai Poornima day in August, a fair is held in Kumbheshwor.


Jagatnarayan Temple: this tall, imposing temple of Lord Vishnu is situated at Sankhmul. The temple has many fine stone images and an artistic metal statue of Garuda on a stone pillar.


Rudra Varna Mahavihar: this unique Buddhist monastery contains an amazing collection of images and statues in metal, stone and wood. It is believed that the kings in the ancient times were crowned in this monastery. Many of the treasures offered by the devotees can be seen here even today.


The Ashokan Stupas: there are four ancient stupas popularly believed to have been built in 250 BC by Emperor Ashoka at the four cardinal directions of Patan. The four stupas are situated in Pulchok, Lagankhe, Ebahi and in Teta respectively. These stupas are evidence of the city’s ancient religious importance.


Patan Maha Bouddha


Mahabouddha, a little further east from Patan Durbar Square lies this Buddhist temple made of clay bricks in which thousands of images of Lord Buddha are engraved. The terra-cotta structure is one of the fourteenth century Nepalese architectural masterpieces.


Achheswor Mahavira: it was established towards the beginning of the 17th century by one Achheshwor who built a temple to house an idol of Lord Buddha. The Mahavira has recently been reconstructed. Situated behind the Ashokan Stupa at Pulchok, the Mahavihar commands a beautiful view of the Kathmandu Valley.


Temple of Machchendranath and Minnath:
Rato Machindranath and Min Nath Chariot


The pagoda of Red Machchendranath built in 1408 AD is situated in Tabahal. For six months, the deity is taken to its other shrine Bungmati. The temple of Minnath is situated in Tangal on the way to Tabahal.


The Zoo: situated at Jawalakhel, the zoo has many animals, birds and reptiles in its collection representing mostly the Himalayan fauna. There is a beautiful pond built in the 17th century.


Patan Industrial Area: is situated at Lagankhel in Lalitpur near Sat Dobato. This industrial estate is well known for Nepali handicrafts such as wood carvings, metal craft, carpets and thangka paintings. For the convenience of tourists, there is a shopping arcade where all the handicraft products are exhibited.



Bajra Barahi: situated in a small wooded park, it is about 10km south of Patan near the village of Chapagaon. A visit to Tika Bhairav and Lele from here is worthwhile.


Godavari: situated at the foothills of Phulchowki, the Royal Botanical Garden of Godavari has splendid natural beauty. The road from Patan city runs to Godavari to the southeast, passing through the small old towns of Harisiddhi, Thaiba and Badegaun. The only botanical garden in Nepal, it is open daily including weekends and government holidays.


Phulchoki Hiking


Phulchoki, located about 10km southeast of Patan, this 2,758 meter hill, is a good spot for hiking. A Buddhist shrine is situated on the top of the hill which can be reached through a jeepable road.

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