Most people who have been to Bhaktapur would remember clear blue skies, a bustling palace square and groups of western tourists roaming the ancient city. Most people, including those who live in the Kathmandu Valley only have memories of the City of Devotees during the day.
So what happens here at night? Very few people know.
When the sun sets in the horizon, Bhaktapur springs back to life after a long tedious day. The lights are turned on, and people who have returned home after a busy day of work go for a walk around the Siddhapokhari (pond). The pond is where you meet almost all of Bhaktapur jogging, chatting and even watching the fish swim.
When the sun is completely gone, the ancient town turns into a busy marketplace. People from all over town descend onto the various squares of the city to buy vegetables, discuss politics and feel the gentle breeze.
When the moon is up, there are only a few people left in Bhaktapur who can call themselves ‘tourists’. The town, which is brimming with tourists during the day, is taken over by the local residents of the city. After the ‘selfie’ takers and the DSLR wielders are gone, the real Bhaktapur is what remains.
Motorbikes take over the old alleys of the city and release a cacophony of noise during rush hour. But after a while, the only sound you hear is that of locals singing hymns and making merry taking sips of the local chhyang.
You also get to see lights take over the surrounding hills and the highway leading to Bhaktapur.
Almost all restaurants and cafes are virtually empty in the evening. They are ideal for a quiet dinner as you soak in the sounds of the city.
Bhaktapur has always been an appealing destination for day trips, but the Newar city is perhaps a better destination for overnight trips as well.