Sometimes called "the town with a thousand golden roofs" or "the city of fine arts," most local people know it as Lalitpur: Lalita Pura, "the beautiful city."
The city of Patan is located on a high plateau above the course of the Bagmati River, just south of Kathmandu. Sometimes called "the town with a thousand golden roofs" or "the city of fine arts," most local people know it as Lalitpur: Lalita Pura, "the beautiful city." An essentially Buddhist city, Patan was built in concentric circles around its royal palace. Four main roads radiate from the palace to four directional stupas, earth and brick mounds said to have been erected by Emperor Ashoka himself. If true, this would make Patan the oldest Buddhist city in the world. Whether or not this is so, Patan has been an important town since very early times. Inscriptions from the 5th Century refer to King Manadeva's palace, the Managriha or "House of Mana," which might have been located in the area now called Mangal Bazaar, adjoining Patan Durbar Square. The city's great building period took place under the Mallas, particularly from the 16th to 18th centuries. Most of today's leading monuments were built or rebuilt at that time.
With no fewer than 136 classified bahals and 55 major multi-roofed temples, Patan is really the cradle of arts and architecture of the Valley, a great center both of the Newari Buddhist religion and of traditional arts and crafts.