Patan, along with Bhaktapur and Kathmandu, is also a former royal city. Although it is attached to the south of Kathmandu as if it were a suburb, it is an independent city and is quieter than the capital, with a different rhythm and atmosphere. Its Sanskrit name is Lalitpur, which means “city of beauty”. The old part is known as Patan Dhoka. The whole neighbourhood is full of shops selling religious art in bronze or other metals.
In the old quarter of Patan, everything is within walking distance. After the restoration work, Durbar Square has been left beautiful, especially at night, as it has been illuminated in a way that we like very much. The square is dominated by the façade of the Patan Museum, a very welcoming and well-kept building that apart from containing a good collection of religious art also occasionally hosts other very interesting art exhibitions in general.
What is more different and therefore very interesting to visit are the Golden Temple, the Mahabuddha Temple and the Rudravarna Maharivar. They are not very big buildings, with different styles and structures, and usually they are much less visited than Durbar Square.
Patan, and in general any town, is interesting to walk around, there are many hidden spaces, with temples here and there, and it is full of small, low (watch your head!) labyrinthine passages that connect small squares inside the buildings where it is fun to get lost while discovering interesting and hidden corners of the neighbourhood.
On the edge of the old city, you can also find one of the most modern shopping centres in Nepal that has nothing to envy to western ones, the “Labim Mall”, a good example of the new middle and young class that is rising in the country. On the avenue that connects with Kathmandu and other streets there are some fair trade or solidarity shops that sell products from different organisations that support women’s communities or disadvantaged groups.
Although, as mentioned above, Patan is united in Kathmandu, the bridge across the river that is the main access to the city can be quite crowded and makes getting from one place to another much more time consuming than would be desirable.