Bhaktapur, a former royal capital of Nepal, was a national treasure with its huge collection of priceless and ancient artworks, and monuments.
That was until Apr 25, when ancient stone-carved artworks were toppled and monuments dedicated to the gods were struck down by an earthquake. The 7.8-magnitude quake, which claimed thousands of lives around the country, has left Durbar Square in ruin, and the future of this tourist and pilgrim-drive community in jeopardy.
Most of the guesthouses and restaurants, normally busy during this period of good weather, are shut or empty. There is little festivity in the streets and alleyways.
The oldest school in Bhaktapur was completely destroyed and its principal has called for well-wishers to help contribute either funds or manpower to try and rebuild the school. People left homeless have been sleeping in the classrooms. Still, children within the school grounds continue to play on a rickety slippery slide by a perimeter fence that is now just stacked rubble.
The town's tourist information centre is entirely surrounded by broken brick, it appears unlikely to open for some time. The streets beside it are occupied by first aid tents, water stations and phone charging facilities.
There are few foreign tourists in Bhaktapur now, though their return will be critical for the rejuvenation of this cultural hub, said Melinda Parvex, a tourist from Switzerland. Yet despite her fear after the earthquake, Melinda said she never thought of returning home early. "When it was shaking, many people started to cry and pray. People started to try and help rescue others," she said.
"For me it was impossible to go back to Switzerland, I've been here for four months and I have many friends who need help. If I go back I will have too much tension about my friends, so I will stay for one month and do my best to help them," she said.
Tashi Dorjee is another visitor from Sikkim in India, who said he was not afraid to return to a place he has visited many times in the past. He said it was a sad feeling to walk among a place now so damaged that was once so prosperous. "I love this place, it's very nice. So this time I feel very sad in my heart," he said. "I'm seeing that all the buildings and all the temples are collapsed, so I feel very unhappy."
A light wind flicks a swirl of red dust from the fallen mortar into the air. A pack of dogs breaks the melancholy with a brief burst of territorial savagery. Even they have not forsaken this place.
Children in a nearby school, also with major cracks in its main structure, play a pick-up game of cricket, loudly shouting and laughing with youthful exuberance, perhaps unable to comprehend the history that has been lost all around them. In time, perhaps they will grow to understand, and perhaps see for themselves how a country rebuilds.