The Changu Narayan Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu and is thought to be the oldest temple in Nepal. Parts of it date back to the third century, but most of the structure and its decorations date from between the fourth and 18th centuries. It’s uncrowded, and a nice destination from Bhaktapur.
Changu Narayan and its temple are located on a high hill east of Kathmandu and north of Bhaktapur, in the Kathmandu Valley. Although not far from the city, the surrounding farmland and brick kilns give the area a rural feel. This sight represents a turning point in Nepali temple architecture to a style that is distinctly Nepali.
Outside the temple complex, the small town has a few souvenir shops, but it’s not a big or busy place. Despite its heritage site status, not so many visitors make it to Changu Narayan, and it’s not as busy as nearby Bhaktapur. Most visitors come for an hour or two on an excursion from Bhaktapur.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Admission is free to Nepali nationals, but others require a ticket, which is priced differently for SAARC nationals, Chinese, and other nationalities.
- The Changu Museum contains some quirky artifacts, including the world’s smallest coin.
- The Changu Narayan Temple was badly damaged in the earthquake of 2015, but there are still many things to see there.
How to Get There
It’s easiest to reach Changu Narayan from Bhaktapur. It’s about 30-minute drive. You can also take a taxi or a public bus from the Bhaktapur Durbar Square area.
When to Get There
The temple itself is open around the clock, but the ticket booths are only manned during normal business hours. Early morning and dusk are good times to visit, if possible, as this is when the devout come to worship.
Visit Ichangu Narayan
Rather confusingly, the village and temple of Ichangu Narayan also exist within the Kathmandu Valley. They’re on the other side of the Kathmandu Valley from Changu Narayan, south of Swayambhunath, and is also worth visiting. This temple is also dedicated to Vishnu, and dates from the 13th century. It’s an especially nice destination for cyclists leaving from central Kathmandu.