Republica Daily, 26 Dec 2017
Not all foreign tourists coming to the Kathmandu Valley visit all three Durbar Squares of the Valley -- Basantapur, Bhaktapur, and Patan -- according to tourist records.
Records show that Bhaktapur Durbar Square received the highest number of tourists with 181,350 visiting the site in last Fiscal Year 2016/17, followed by Basantapur Durbar Square with 158,079 tourists. The number of visitors to Patan Durbar Square was limited to 108,828. Interestingly, Patan received the least number of tourists although it remained mostly intact by the earthquake of 2015.
Bhaktapur welcomed 72,497 SAARC nationals and 108,853 from other countries. Similarly, 18,608 tourists from the SAARC region and 139,471 from other parts of the world visited Basantapur. However, despite the name Lalitpur itself translating to ‘the city of beautiful art’, it received only 17,110 tourists visiting from SAARC countries and 91,718 from other nations.
Bhaktapur is considered to be untouched by modernization as compared to the other two cities of the Valley, possibly leading to the high amount of tourist visits there. The number of tourist visiting Bhaktapur was 40 percent more than that of Lalitpur last year and nearly 13 percent more than that of Kathmandu.
“Bhaktapur has masterpieces in art and architecture unlike any other city of Nepal. The traditional gallis and chowks that are entirely unique from one another, tourists can experience and cherish authentic Newari culture, tradition and architecture in each part of Bhaktapur,” said Sunil Prajapati, mayor of Bhaktapur Sub-Metropolitan City. Prajapati further added: “The excavation of the 99-chowk in collaboration with the Department of Archeology and the Durham University has opened doors of tourism and helped the area remain a major tourist attraction. Moreover, we have promoted traditional Nepali architecture even in new construction projects around town by financing 35 percent of the amount for bricks and wood being used in ongoing construction of private infrastructure so that the city retains its originality. Additionally, we maintain cleanliness in the city.”
The city has some of the finest examples of Nepali architecture such as the Nyatapol Temple at Taumadhi Chowk, Golden Gate, Potter’s Square, Dattatraya Square along with many ponds and traditional stone water taps (dhunge-dhara) and the Pachapanna-Jhyale Durbar (Palace with 55 Windows) constructed by Bhupatindra Malla.
While Bhaktapur was not much affected by the earthquake of 2015, the historical structures at Basantapur Durbar Square were devastated. Yet it received a reasonable number of tourists. Prajwal Ranjit, a revenue collector at the ticket counter of Basantapur Durbar Square, stated, “Although Bhaktapur has always been the top priority for tourists, Basantapur has its own uniqueness.”
He added that besides being near the major tourist hub of Thamel, Basantapur acts as an ‘open workshop’ for tourists as they can experience first-hand the post-earthquake reconstruction of these monuments that follows the style they were built hundreds of years ago. The three Durbar Squares of the valley are home to architectural heritage that leave both Nepali and Foreign tourists in awe. These ancient and medieval palaces and their courtyards were once home to the kings ruling over the cities in the valley.