The Fascinating History of Patan, The Oldest City in Nepal

Its history has characterised Nepal with religions. The shopping malls, mountains, and monasteries boost the status of Nepal as a tourist-friendly destination.  When we talk about tradition, few countries match the richness in the heritage of Nepal. Cities like Lumbini and Patan are the backbone of Nepal’s culture. Patan’s infrastructure has been destroyed since the 2015 Nepal earthquake. But when we talk about Nepal’s tradition and heritage, the history of Patan is an integral part of Nepal.


In the modern era, Patan was renamed Lalitpur. This historic city is the third-largest city after Kathmandu and Pokhara. Patan is located in the south-central part of the Kathmandu valley.

Well, what is the history of Patan? Why is it an essential part of the country’s heritage? Let’s find out.

History of Patan

Patan was founded during the 3rd Century BC by the Kirat dynasty and was later expanded in the sixth century. The city celebrates a chariot festival in honour of a local deity named Bunga Dyah Jatra. It is one of the essential festivals conducted in the country. As the festival lasts for a month, an image of Rato Machhendanath is placed on a chariot, and it is pulled throughout the city of Patan. Many historical records show that Patan is the oldest city in the Kathmandu Valley.

According to Kirat chronicle, Kirat rulers lay the foundation of Patan and later on, the Licchavi rulers came into the valley. The present capital of Kathmandu was removed from Thankot to Patan after a Kirat king named Yalamber came into power during the second century.

Historical Connections with Buddhism

Patan is home to many Buddhist monasteries.
There is a clear link to the ancient city of Patan with Buddhism. Initially, the city of Patan was designed in the shape of a Buddhist Dharma Chakra. According to many historical facts, Emperor Ashoka visited Kathmandu with his daughter in 250 BC and erected five Ashoka Stupas, one of them was built in the middle of Patan.

There are approximately 1,200 Buddhist monuments all over the city. Patan is an integral part of Buddhism culture as it is home to various historical monuments that define the present status of the culture.

The iconic city was ruled successfully until King Shiva Malla, the ruler of Kathmandu conquered the city and ordered unification of the valley. The development of the city took giant strides during the phase of the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Historical Patan Durbar Square

The Patan Durbar Square.

Patan is always characterised by the iconic Patan Durbar Square. This monument is listed as a part of the seven monuments that make up the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site. The Durbar square comprises a Krishna Temple built entirely of stone and is referred to as the most important Hindu Shrine in the valley.

However, the site was heavily damaged by the 2015 Nepal Earthquake.

The Historical First Name

The Golden Temple in north Patan is as ancient as the city. The cobblestones date back to the origin of this ancient city. The first inhabitants were the Newari. These groups of people called the city “Yala”. These facts and statistics provide the complete information of Patan’s history, and hence, Patan gained the status as the oldest city in Nepal.

The Dream Which Inspired a King to Build a Temple

The iconic Krishna Temple.
The Krishna Temple, located at the Patan’s Durbar square, was built in the year 1637. According to legend, this temple was created because of King Siddhi Narasigh Malla’s dream. He saw Hindu gods Radha and Krishna standing in front of his palace. While he was fighting against a neighbouring kingdom, Narasigh emerged victorious after offering prayers to defeat all his enemies. To offer his devotion, the king built a replica of the temple inside the courtyard.

Legends in Relation with Patan and Kumbeshwar Temple

The Kumbeshwar Temple.
The Kumbeshwar Temple is one of the most iconic pilgrimage sites in the ancient city of Nepal. It is one of the oldest temples in the city. There is a story according to the history of Hinduism that relates to the Kumbeshwar temple with Patan. The Hindu deity Shiva was poisoned to save the world. As a result, to come back to standard form, Shiva cast his trident at a mountain situated at Gosainkunda, Nepal. As a result of which water erupted, and a lake was formed. The lake thus forms the source of water at Kumbeshwar which is situated in present-day Patan.

As Patan has transformed into a major city, the sources of the sacred water are closed to prevent the water from being polluted. The city hosts the historical Kumbeshwar Mela in August during which the holy water is opened up for all.

The city of Patan consists of many iconic pilgrimage structures. The Ashoka stupa and the Kumbeshwar Temple present the historical image of the city. Without any doubt, the history of Patan is the kernel of the country’s heritage and tradition.

This post was published by Tatwamasi

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