kathmandu durbar square
Kathmandu Durbar Square, also known as “Basantapur Durbar Square” or “Hanumandhoka Durbar Square”, a short walk from Thamel about 15 – 20 minutes, a popular tourist destination in Kathmandu, is one of the most visited landmarks in the capital. The site has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. Its historical significance, beautiful Newari architecture, and vibrant markets make it an attractive place to visit. A large earthquake on April 25, 2015, destroyed and cracked several builds in the square.
Patan Durbar Square in Lalitpur, Bhaktapur Durbar Square in Bhaktapur, and Kathmandu Durbar Square in Kathmandu are one of the three Durbar Squares (“Durbar” means palace in Nepali) inside the Kathmandu Valley.
History of Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square is the Durbar Square where the Malla and Shah kings were once coronated and from where they ruled the country from 1768 (when Kathmandu became the capital city of Nepal) to 1896 (when the royal residence was shifted to Narayanhiti Durbar). Kathmandu gets its name from the wooden mandapa, a 7th-century building located in Durbar Square (unfortunately, the wooden mandapa was destroyed by the April 2015 earthquake).
Durbar Square is believed to have been built around the Lichhavi period to the third century. But major temples, buildings, and monuments were built by the Malla kings between the 13th and 18th centuries.
Within the inner precincts of Durbar Square is the site of the old royal palace (known as the Hanumandhoka Durbar Complex). Now, the palaces have been turned into museums.
Even today, Kathmandu Durbar Square is the place where many festivals, ceremonies, and important religious ceremonies are celebrated.
What do you see and visit around Kathmandu durbar square?
- Kumari Ghar
- Taleju Bhawani Temple
- Shiva Parvati Temple
- Kal Bhairav
- Sweta Bhairav
- Akash Bhairav Temple
- Hanuman Dhoka Statue
- Nasal Chowk
- Hanuman Dhoka Palace Museum
- Jagannath Temple
- Chasin Dega
- Kotilingeshwar Mahadev Temple
- Mahendreshwar Temple
- Gaddi Baithak
- Giant Drum and big bell
- Basantapur Square
- Kathmandu’s Local Market, Asan
The Kumari house is the house of the living goddess Kumari, the incarnation of the goddess Taleju. Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur have their own Kumari, of which the Kumari (Royal Kumari) of Kathmandu Durbar Square is the most important.
The tradition of kumari was formally started in 1757 BS during the reign of King Jayaprakash Malla. But this practice may have started in the time of King Trilokya Malla in the sixteenth century. There is a legend that the soul of Goddess Taleju incarnated as a little girl in the Newar Shakya caste. It is believed that kumari lives in Kumari until they reach puberty. Then, the goddess empties the virgin’s body, and the little girl returns to civic life and has to choose a new kumari. The selection process is done by the highest priests. The Kumari is chosen after a special ritual called ‘Battis Lakshmanas’ (’32 characteristics of perfection’).
The living goddess Kumari shows herself in the central window of the kumari’s house from 9 am to 11 am and 4 pm. Photography is strictly forbidden, but you can be blessed if you are lucky. During the Indra Jatra festival, the Kumari can be seen outside her palace.
Taleju Bhawani Temple
Taleju Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Taleju Bhavani, the royal goddess of the Malla dynasty of Nepal. It was completed by Mahendra Malla in 1564. Taleju Bhavani is one of the most beautiful temples in Kathmandu Durbar Square, and it still stands today. Unfortunately, the temple is now not open to the public. Hindus can visit the temple once a year on the ninth day of Dashain. Non-Hindus are forbidden to enter the temple and can only observe the temple from the outside.
Shiva Parvati Temple
Shiva Parvati Temple is an amazing temple dedicated to Shiva and his wife Parvati. It was built in the late 18th century during the reign of King Ran Bahadur Shah, the grandson of Prithvi Narayan Shah. Looking out of the open central window on the first floor, the temple can be easily identified by two wooden idols of Shiva and Parvati.
The large statue of Kal Bhairav, the fierce form of Lord Shiva, was erected in the 5th or 6th century and was later rediscovered in the 17th century. The statue was erected at the Supreme Court during the reign of King Pratap Malla. For a long time, it was believed that a person lying in front of an idol would die. So the skeptics were brought before Kalbhairav, who was afraid, to tell the truth.
Shweta Bhairav represents the dreaded form of Lord Shiva. It was established inside Durbar Square in 1795 during the reign of King Ran Bahadur Shah. The mask is hidden behind a wooden curtain all year round and is taken out only during Indrajatra in September.
Akash Bhairav Temple
Akash Bhairav Temple is another form of Bhairav. It is a beautiful bronze and gold temple dedicated to Akash Bhairav. The Akash Bhairav Temple is believed to have been the palace of Yalambar, the first king of Nepal, about 3,100-3,500 years ago. The head of Akash Bhairav is taken out of the temple once a year and blessed by the living Goddess Kumari on the occasion of Indra Jatra.
Hanuman Dhoka Statue
The red idol of the Hindu monkey Lord Hanuman is located at the entrance of the Hanuman royal palace (“Dhoka” means door in Nepali, hence the name “Hanuman Dhoka”), which is now the entrance to the Hanuman Dhoka Museum. A statue was erected at the entrance of the palace in 1672 during the reign of King Pratap Malla.
Nasal Chowk in the courtyard of Hanumandhoka Durbar. Where Nepali kings were crowned. Although Hanuman Dhoka was not the royal residence after 1896, the coronation of Nepal’s kings (including King Virendra Vir Bikram Shah in 1975 and King Gyanendra Vir Bikram Shah in 2001) continued at Nasal chowk until the end of the monarchy in 2008.
Hanuman Dhoka Palace Museum
Inside the Hanumandhoka Durbar, the Hanumandhoka Durbar Museum was closed after the 2015 earthquake; Although the palace was later opened to visitors, some areas are still closed to the public. However, the Hanuman Dhoka Museum (also called the Tribhuvan Museum) is worth a visit; It has artifacts related to the Nepali monarchy and the entrance is included in your Kathmandu Durbar Square ticket.
The Jagannath Temple is one of the oldest temples in Kathmandu Durbar Square (probably up to 1563). The temple is mainly famous for its erotic carvings. The large platform in front of the temple is a popular place where visitors (tourists and locals alike) feed pigeons. After repairing the pillar of King Pratap Malla, the statue is now standing in front of the temple.
Chasin Dega is also known as ‘Krishna Temple. It is an octagonal temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and his two wives, Rukmini and Satyabhama. King Pratap Malla built the temple in 1649 in memory of his two queens. Unfortunately, Chasin Dega was devastated by the 2015 earthquake. It has now been completely rebuilt.
Kotilingeshwar Mahadev Temple
Kotilingeshwar Mahadev Temple is a dome-style temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The stone temple was built by King Mahendra Malla in the 16th century.
Mahendreshwar Temple is a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This beautiful temple was built in 1561 during the reign of Mahendra Malla.
Gaddi Baithak is a white neo-classical building built by Rana Prime Minister Chandra Shamsher in 1908. The building was damaged by an earthquake in April 2015 but has now been rebuilt. No entry is currently allowed inside the building. But it is said that guided tours will be available soon and there will be a museum on the ground floor.
The wooden mandapa is not a temple; It is a public wooden pavilion with a Goraksanath temple inside. It was made of single-sal tree wood around the 12th century. The city of Kathmandu is named after build this building. The wooden pavilion, which was destroyed by the 2015 earthquake, has now been rebuilt.
Big Drum and bell
During the reign of Ran Bahadur Shah, two large drums and a large bronze bell were used to worship the goddess Taleju. These drums were also used as alarms and to make important announcements. They are now shown on a stage near the Krishna temple.
There is a large open market at Basantapur Chowk. There, you will find a large selection of antique, jewelry, and handicraft products.
Kathmandu’s Local Market, Asan
The iconic local market ‘Asana’ is the perfect place to buy souvenirs and handicrafts, buy authentic local food, spices, clothes, jewelry, and much more.
Kathmandu Durbar Square entrance fee is NPR 150 (INR 94) for citizens of SAARC countries besides Nepali, and NPR 1000 for Chinese citizens and other foreigners, free for children under 10, and for normal Nepali citizen is Rs. 30. This includes also access to the museums of the palace.
If you are a foreigner you need to take a well-known guide.