Patan is the oldest of all the cities in the Kathmandu Valley. Located at a distance of 3 miles from Kathmandu, Patan is a city of Hindu temples, Buddhist monuments and religious art. Patan is also known by the name Lalitpur, which means ‘the city of beauty’.
Four Ashoka Stupas symbolizing the “Dharma-Chakra” or the Buddhist Wheel of Righteousness mark the four corners of the city. These monuments were erected during the time of Emperor Ashoka’s visit to Nepal in 250 B.C.
Patan’s spectacular Durbar Square is a UNESCO heritage site and houses the palaces of the erstwhile Patan royal family. The Royal palace, with beautiful courtyards and intricately carved doors and windows, adds to the splendor of the Durbar Square. The Patan Museum in the Square has an exquisite collection of religious objects, bronze statues, and carvings of wood and stone.
The Krishna Mandir made of red stone holds a prominent position in the Patan palace. This 17th century temple is a masterpiece of the Shikara architecture and is the only temple in Nepal which has 21 shrines. During the Krishnastami festival the temple is beautifully decorated and illuminated with thousands of oil lamps and attracts thousands of devotees from around the country.
The Hiranya Varna Mahavihar or the Golden Temple stands to the north of the Durbar Square. It is a three storied Buddhist monastery with the golden images of Lord Buddha and large prayer wheels. The Mahaboudha Temple lies on the eastern side of the Square. It is also known as the ‘Temple of Thousand Buddhas’, where every brick in the structure has an engraved image of the Buddha.
The Kumbeshwar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is the oldest temple in Patan and is an impressive five-tiered pagoda structure. The temple hosts an annual pilgrimage for Hindus on the holy Janai Purnima day when ritual bathing takes place and the Kumbeshwar Mela or fair is held.
The Godavari Botanical Garden is a popular picnic spot for people in the Kathmandu Valley with a wide variety of plants, birds and butterflies. Patan is also known for the Patan Zoo, the only zoological park in Nepal, and houses over 700 different animals.
The Patan Industrial Estate showcases the fine art and handicrafts of the local artisans. Tourists can purchase the wood carvings, metalwork, carpets, and paintings directly from them.
Almost all visitors to Kathmandu also visit Patan as part of a one day trip. Minibuses and taxis are available for getting around Patan, though the city and its sites are best seen on foot.