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Patan is also known as Lalitpur, "The Beautiful City".
It's famous for its artisans producing excellent craftsmanship.
These days it's hard to tell where Kathmandu ends and Patan begins. As the population in the Kathmandu Valley has increased dramatically over the last 20 years, Kathmandu and Patan seem to have merged. Technically the divide between Kathmandu and Patan is the Bagmati River. It's surprising just how many people overlook Patan and don't bother visiting. It's the second largest city in the valley, but doesn't seem to be quite as frenetic as Kathmandu.
Certainly the proximity of "next door" to Kathmandu means you don't really need to overnight in Patan. But, Patan is certainly worthy of a visit for a day.
Patan's Durbar Square is without doubt amongst the finest display of Newari architecture in Nepal. It's a concentrated area (in theory pedestrianised too) and very easy to get around on foot. There are a mass of temples both pagoda and more typically Hindu style, pleasant cafes and several Buddhist monasteries to discover.
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The Durbar Square boasts a Royal Palace, a stunning piece of Newari architecture and the Taleju Bhawani Mandir, a three-roofed tower with eight sides is particularly striking.
There are several exquisitely ornate temples within the Durbar Square too including the 17th Century Hari Shanar Mandir and Krishna Mandir.
Highly recommended is a visit to the Patan Museum. We think it is the best museum in Nepal and houses a wonderful collection of both Buddhist and Hindu art.
In the northern part of Patan there are several bahals to be discovered and for which Patan is renowned. These are two-storey Newari Buddhist monasteries constructed around a courtyard. The most famous being the "Golden Temple", the Kwa Bahal.
The oldest temple in Patan, the Kumbeshwar Mandir dates back to the late 14th Century and features painstakingly hand-carved wooden doors and rare sculptures.
Of the four stupa's to be found in Patan the Ashoka Stupa is the most impressive with mysterious painted eyes.
In the southern part of Patan, the Jawalkhel area contains a large Tibetan refugee population and the Tibetan Handicraft Centre is a great place to observe traditional carpet weaving and rather atmospheric too.
Not too far way is the Mahabuddha, the "Temple of the Thousand Buddhas", featuring terracotta Buddha depictions.
The Thaina area is the place to go to see metal craftsmen at work.