Patan City, also known as Lalitpur or the City of Fine Arts, is located a mere 8km from Kathmandu City and, as the alternative name would suggest, is best known for its traditional artisanal crafts and artistic heritage. At the center of it all is Patan Durbar Square; one of Kathmandu Valley’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is here that you’ll find the fruits of Lalitpur’s craftsmen on display and for sale. That means that not only does the city have a huge amount to offer visitors by way of culture and history, but it also means that you’ll be able to return home with something slightly more sophisticated than the ‘I Heart Nepal’ T-shirt.
Patan Durbar Square and Patan Royal Palace is the cultural heart of Lalitpur and is where most visitors start their tour of the city. Of three Durbar Squares in Kathmandu Valley (the others being Kathmandu Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbur Square) Patan’s is my favourite despite being the smallest of the three. The square is loaded with palaces, temples and monuments and the intricacy and quality of the craftsmanship reflects Patan’s status as the City of Fine Arts. Durbar Square’s main attraction is Patan Royal Palace; which houses three main Chowks (courtyards), and the Royal Bath at the center of the Sundari Chowk is particularly impressive. One of the highlights of the square is the people-watching. The Square is a hive of activity at all hours of the day, and for the photographers amongst you, the street photography opportunities are second-to-none. If, like me, you aren’t exactly inconspicuous when in photography mode (being ginger makes me stand out a little) then be prepared to be asked for money from anyone and everyone that might be within your frame. Best to carry lots of small change with you!
To learn more about what Patan has to offer beyond the Patan Royal Palace make sure to check out my Patan Destination Guide.