Kathmandu Durbar Square also called “Basantapur Durbar” or “Hanuman Dhoka” is an old durbar square at the center of Kathmandu city, built during the Malla regime. Possibly the most interesting part of this Kathmandu city is Kathmandu Durbar Square, containing a number of the sculptures, finest temples, and monuments in the valley.
Kathmandu Durbar Square is home to palaces, courtyards, and temples, also honored as “the museum of temples”, has over 50 temples, is the largest concentration of old buildings. It is the top tourist attraction destination without a doubt. Visitors to this area are welcome to visit the stunning structures with detailed stone-carved monuments, and wood carved panels and windows.
As those stone and wood carvings, building structure, temples, palaces all are significant and carry history and many more stories in Kathmandu Durbar Square. Thus you can take a walk around the square and explore it. Here, some of the most iconic historic sites that you must have to visit are listed. The major attraction of Kathmandu Durbar Square are as follows:
Standing on the left of the main entrance of Kathmandu Durbar Square, the Hindu God, depicted in the form of a monkey, was erected in 1972 by King Pratap Malla. The stone idol is coated with red pigment, and is always clothed in red, and is further honored by the golden umbrella placed over its head. Hanuman Dhoka was named after this statue.
The Golden Door is the main door of the palace, right of the image of Hanuman. Guarded by a pair of stone lions, God Shiva sits on the right lion and Goddess Parvati on the left. The inscriptions above the door, states that it was erected in 1810. The beautiful inscriptions are so extravagant and have a story behind all this.
Above the Golden door, to the left side, there are three interesting images, in a niche formed by large window openings. Tantrik influence is indicated by the multiple arms, skulls, and terror images. At the central part, God Krishna image and the other two on the right, favorite consorts, Rukmini and Satyabhama. All the images are from Malla’s time (1641-74).
After passing through the Golder Door of Hanuman Dhoka Palace, one enters Nasal Chowk, triangular and the largest of ten courtyards inside the palace. Most of the buildings that surround the courtyards are dated from the Shah period and the images there date from the Malla period. There is a small shrine of Nasaleshwar on the eastern side, and a courtyard named after this. The main entrance is situated at the northern end, left of which is the throne from the Malla regime still occupying a position of prominence. At a distance end, a full nine-stories building rising is the Basantapur Palace, built by Prithvi Narayan Shah after conquering Kathmandu valley.
Mohan Chowk lies to the north of Nasal Chowk, was the residence of Malla Kings of Kathmandu, was built in 1649 during the Malla regime, and later, was repaired and modernized in 1822, Shah regime. Sundhara, a folden water spout is one of the central features of Mohan Chowk, the spout is lined with 36 images of gods and goddesses, all of them works of art.
Basantapur Chowk, people from Nasal Chowk, can pass into it from the doorway at the South-east corner. The outstanding feature of the courtyard is wood carving in the center, the whole building contains the equal historic value of Nepal. The Nine story palace is also called Basantapur tower, which is on the south-west of the quadrangle, and the tower marks Nepalese style, which has also established a precedent for the coming generation.
Taleju temple is one of the fine examples of elegant work of art in Kathmandu Durbar Square. Located in Trishul Chowk, an appendage of Hanuman Dhoka Palace was built in 1564, 14th century during the Malla regime, is dedicated to Hindu Goddess Taleju Bhawani. Only Hindu can visit the temple, once a year on the ninth day of the famous festival Dashain. The temple rests on a 12-stage plinth. Many images reflect different meanings. The main door is found on the south side, there are large stone images of men and beasts, believed each has a powerful protecting force. The main features inside the temple are Golden statues of ten-armed goddesses including the shrines to Both Kumari ( Nepal’s living Goddess) and Taleju.
Mul Chowk was first built during Malla Regime, 1664, and later it was rebuilt in 1709 giving its current appearance. It is square-shaped like Vihar or Buddhist monastery, surrounded by a two-storeyed quadrangle.
Besides the above-mentioned courtyards and temples of Hanuman Dhoka Palace, there are several other fascinating and historic temples in the vicinity.
Kumari Chowk, lies on the south side of Basantapur, is the home of the Kumari “ Living Goddess”, who is also considered to be an incarnation of Goddess Taleju, was built during the Malla Regime. The home is a 3-story quadrangle well decorated with fine woodcarving. The building consists of finely made windows, from where Kumari appears from time to time, to see and be seen by her admirers with the company of guardian priestesses. She leaves home only during a religious festival time like Indra Jatra. So Luckily we can see her.
During the Indra Jatra festival time that holds around August or September every year, the Kumari is carried in Chariot, across the Kathmandu main streets.
Trailokya Mohan Temple was built in 1680 during the Malla regime, it rests on a five-stage plinth and has three roofs. The roof of the temple is carved with images of God Vishnu and the whole temple is dedicated to Vishnu.
Kasthamandap is a huge, open temple locally known as Maru Sattal, and has a long history. Kastha mandap was built from a single sal tree; and Kathmandu got its name from Kastha Mandap. The temple is three-storeyed, has an open ground floor, underlining its original purpose as a public building. The decorations and carving have greatly influenced the originality, and have brought closer to the shrine appearance. At the center, the image of the saint Gorakhnath, and each of the four corners is an image of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god built during the Malla regime, and its beauty is further enhanced by the golden roofs.
The great bell has been the main attraction around the palace, without this the palace would seem incomplete. The bell was erected by King Rana Bahadur Shah in 1787. The bell is rung only when worship is offered in Degu Taleju.
Located near to the great bell, two large drums were made during the Shah regime and are stuck while worshiping Degu Taleju. A buffalo and a goat must be sacrificed twice a year, for an inscription of copper plate, in the keeping of one who plays the drums.
The Image of Kal Bhairav located next to Hanuman Dhoka, was carved from a single stone, is undated, and was established in its present location by Pratap Malla. Kaal, the Nepali language means death and Bhairav is a god and the image represents Shiva in his destructive manifestation. Such large single stone images are very rare in Nepal. Hindu peoples come here to pray and offer food.
Gaddi Baithak Palace is one of the unique and famous European designed buildings in Kathmandu Durbar Square. It was constructed in 1908 after Rana Prime minister visited Europe and was inspired by European design. Now, many ceremonies are held at Gai Jatra here.
Shiva Parvati Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva ( the god of destruction) and Parvati ( a supreme Goddess), located in Durbar Square near Kumari Ghar. The two huge stone lions guarding the front door represent the protector, and the statue of Shiva Parvati as a couple are right above. Hindu people mostly visit during the Teej festival season and on Monday.