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    Kathmandu Durbar Square- UNESCO World Heritage Site

    Nepal, a small country on the lap of the Himalayas (Mountains), lies between two big nations China and India, in the southern part of Asia. A land you will never forget once you visit- a land of snow-capped and high mountains, secret river valleys, old well-preserved cities, different styles of temples, affectionate peoples, and captivating folkways. Nepal offers unique pleasures for wanderlust. 

    Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is the oldest city of Nepal and one of the ancient civilizations, rich in culture and unique architecture, and has seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, among them Kathmandu Durbar Square is one. The old part of the city is accompanied by narrow medieval streets and lovely small shrines, and old palaces. Here, people can find distinctive Pagoda and Shikhar-styled temples, stone, and wood sculptures. Kathmandu city is filled with many hidden places to explore, and Kathmandu Durbar Square is one of them.

    Kathmandu Durbar Square

    Kathmandu Durbar Square also called “Basantapur Durbar” and “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”, which has over 50 temples, and 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 structures, temples, and 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.

    Where is Kathmandu Durbar Square?

    Kathmandu durbar square is located at the center of Kathmandu, near the famous tourist area Thamel; 1.6km. You can walk from Thamel to Kathmandu Durbar Square, as it takes about 20 minutes. Also, you can catch a rickshaw, which is enjoyable to explore the Asan, Indrawchok, and New road areas, and also you can take a taxi, which takes about 10 minutes.

    But, the most effective and comfortable way to explore the area around Kathmandu valley would be taking a ride with private vehicle drivers. For this you can contact private vehicles or you can contact us thus we can connect the drivers with private vehicles.

    History of Kathmandu Durbar Square

    Kathmandu Durbar Square held palaces of Malla and Shah kings, who once ruled over Kathmandu city. The square was constructed as part of the durbar back in the 17th century but after the earthquake in 1934, the durbar was affected worst, it had to be reconstructed and redesign, and in 1979 Durbar Square was enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage site.

    Malla Dynasty

    Kathmandu Durbar Square was declared a Royal Palace by King Ratna Malla, he then started ruling the city. Until the mid-18th century, many more Malla rulers ruled over Kantipur city from this palace.

    Shah Dynasty

    After conquering Kathmandu valley by Prithivi Narayan Shah in 1769, Kathmandu was declared the Capital city and began ruling over the country. Kathmandu durbar square experienced numerous changes and construction. From the Capital city of Kathmandu, the Shah dynasty ruled for 240 years over Nepal. Shah Kings changed the palace from Basantapur Durbar Square to Narayanhiti Palace, in 1963, after King Mahendra constructed it. Later, Basantapur Durbar Square was declared into a museum, where we can visit and see the memories of the Malla and Shah kings.

    Renovation in Kathmandu Durbar Square after the Earthquake in 2015 

    Sadly, Nepal was hit by the worst earthquake again in 2015 after 1934, when thousands of people lost their lives and their homes. The country was greatly affected by the earthquake, and some buildings in Kathmandu Durbar square were also affected. Many homes in and outside the Kathmandu valley have been restored fastly as true uplifting spirits of people around there and government agencies during these hard times. 

    Although some of the major structures of Kathmandu Durbar Square were destructed in Earthquake in 2015 when you take a walk through the palace area, some are restored and reconstructed already, some are still in restoration and reconstruction, and also you will see some fine buildings, temples which were not much affected too. However, all these still give you the feeling of the ancients all over the civilization of Nepal.

    Top Sights/ Places to Visit in Kathmandu Durbar Square

    The Status of Hanuman

    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, 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

    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, state that it was erected in 1810. The beautiful inscriptions are so extravagant and have a story behind them.

    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. In the central part, God Krishna's image and the other two on the right, favorite consorts, Rukmini and Satyabhama. All the images are from Malla’s time (1641-74).

    Nasal Chowk

    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, the 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

    Mohan Chowk lies to the north of Nasal Chowk, was the residence of the Malla Kings of Kathmandu, was built in 1649 during the Malla regime, and later, was repaired and modernized in 1822, by the 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

    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 the wood carving in the center, the whole building contains equal historic value to Nepal. The Nine-story palace is also called Basantapur tower, which is on the southwest of the quadrangle, and the tower marks the Nepalese style, which has also established a precedent for the coming generation.

    Taleju Temple

    Taleju temple is one of the fine examples of elegant works 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, and is dedicated to Hindu Goddess Taleju Bhawani. Only Hindus 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

    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 a 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 and Kumari Ghar

    Kumari Chowk, which 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, which 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

    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

    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, and 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's appearance. At the center, is the image of the saint Gorakhnath, and in 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

    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.

    The Great Drums

    Located near 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 on a copper plate, in the keeping of one who plays the drums.

    The Kal Bhairav Statue

    The Kal Bhairav Statue 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 people come here to pray and offer food.

    Gaddi Baithak

    Gaddi Baithak Palace is one of the unique and famous European-designed buildings in Kathmandu Durbar Square. It was constructed in 1908 after the Rana Prime minister visited Europe and was inspired by European design. Now, many ceremonies are held at Gai Jatra here.

    Shiva Parvati Temple

    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 and Parvati as a couple is right above. Hindu people mostly visit during the Teej festival season and on Monday.

    Kathmandu Durbar Square Entry Fee

    Below, the entry fee for foreigners, Nepalese in Basantapur Durbar Square, and inside the museum is enlisted:

    Place Entrance including Museum 
    Foreign National including China:- NPR 1000
    SAARC Nationals:- NPR 150
    Nepalese:- FREE
    Remarks:- Below 10 years have free entry!

    Tips While Visiting Kathmandu Durbar Square

    Basantapur square, as it lies at the center of Kathmandu valley, has small streets, and is quite crowded with pedestrians, and local people, and busy with traffic. On the courtyards, near Gaddi Baithak, you can see handicraft markets, where you can see many attractive handicrafts and buy them at an affordable price.

    The best time to take a walk around to see the beauty of durbar square is evening. In the evening time, the temperature would be low, best to take a walk, and the lights around the palace, also you can visit the handicraft market around durbar square. Also, you can visit during the morning time, as it would be low temperature, and less crowded, you can walk and visit around durbar square, but you can’t visit museums. But the museum is open during day time only.

    Conclusion

    The above article about Kathmandu Durbar Square is not enough to describe the beauty of this area, and its phenomena. Those beautifully carved exotic and erotic sculptures, Hindu shrines, fine palaces, temples, and courtyards have so deep historical stories, which are worth visiting. Besides, you can find restaurants that serve Newari foods, and many other restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy the other normal foods, and beverages and watch the views from there.

    Kathmandu Durbar Square is a must-visit place, while you are here in Kathmandu Nepal, as this place is a treasure house of historical culture and arts, which embrace the unique experience, making people a great destination to explore in a day in Kathmandu.

    As the Statement there, “Heaven is a myth, Nepal is real” Nepal is heaven for the wanderlust and the people who have a deep interest in understanding history and culture. Nepal has 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites consisting of both natural and cultural heritage sites, along with this it has many other beautiful places, where you can go for trekking, rafting, hiking, and excursion, also mountain climbing, bungee jumping, mountain climbing, canoeing, and many more things to celebrate on your holidays and vacation. 

    Besides this, with all the beautiful natural and cultural heritage sites, you will get warm greetings and hospitality from people all time while you are here in Nepal.

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    Jyoti Karki is an expert travel blogger. She has been writing blogs for a long time. Along with writing about diverse locations. She personally travels to many different places, went hiking and trekking in Nepal, and has also visited several areas of India and enjoys writing on her blogs about them.

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