35 Things to Do & Places to See in Kathmandu Durbar Square with Historic Facts
Kathmandu Durbar Square is one of the three durbar squares (palace) located in Kathmandu valley which is all enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Kathmandu Durbar Square is Nepal’s crown jewel attraction for tourists.
It holds utmost importance due to the history it carries along with the spectacular architecture that evinces skills of Newar artists and craftsmen over several centuries. Kathmandu Durbar Square is the area where the tantric blending of Buddhist and Hindu beliefs joins together. It is a historic center of Nepal both in terms of cultural heritage, sovereignty, economics, religion, and pride.
‘Durbar Square’ literally means palaces and yes, Kathmandu Durbar Square was the place from which the kings of Malla and Shah Dynasty of Nepal ruled over the city. Historically, its construction as a palace dates back to Lichhaavi period in the 3rd century.
When Kathmandu city became independent under the rule of King Ratna Malla (1484-1570), palaces in this square became a royal palace for Malla kings. In 1769, King Prithvi Narayan Shah also favored Kathmandu Durbar Square for the palace. Other subsequent Shah kings continued to rule from square until 1896 when they moved to Narayanhiti palace.
Coronation of King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev and King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev in 1975 and 2001 respectively also occurred here and it is a place of historical significance.
Repeated and extensive renovations and construction of different temples have taken place along the Malla and Shah era of Nepal in Kathmandu Durbar Square. As of 1st king of independent Kathmandu city, Ratna Malla is said to have built Taleju temple in the northern side of the palace.
Oldest temples in Kathmandu Durbar Square are those built by Mahendra Malla (1560-1574) which are temples of Jagannath, Kotilingeshwara Mahadev, Mahendreswara. The most extensive development of Kathmandu Durbar Square had taken place in the era of King Pratap Malla. He was an intellectual, pious devotee and especially interested in arts.
Following his coronation, he immediately began enlargements to royal palaces, rebuilt and constructed new temples, shrines, and stupas. In front of the entrance of the palace, he placed the statue of Hanuman thinking that would strengthen his army and be a protection to his palace.
This entrance leads to Nasal chok which was named after Nasadya, God of Dance. A fine image of Nara Simha (half lion and half human form) made in 1673 still lies in nasal chok. The other choks built at about this time were Mohan Chok and Sundari Chok.
However elaborate Pratap Malla’s construction may have been, they were not simply intended to emphasize his luxuries but also his and the importance of other’s devotion towards deities.
Approximately, 10 ft high image of terrifyingly portrayed Kal Bhairav is placed near Jagannath temple. It is the main focus during Durga Puja. Jayprakash Malla, the last Malla king to rule Kathmandu, built a temple for Kumari in her virginal state.
Temple was named Kumari Bahal and structured like a typical Newari Vihara. In this house resides Kumari, a girl who is revered as the living goddess. Also, a chariot was made for her.
Under Shah dynasty, a number of changes took place. Two most unusual temples were built. Basantpur Durbar (nine storied buildings) has 4 roofs and stands at the end of Nasal chok.
It is said that this building was set as a pleasure house. The other temple is annexed to Basantpur Durbar and has four stories. This building was initially known as Vilasamandira but now commonly known as Tejarat chok or Basantpur chok. Temple of Shiva Parvati, rectangular in shape enshrines Nava Durga, a group of goddesses on the ground floor.
It has a wooden image of Shiva and Parvati at the window of the upper floor looking out at passerby in a square. While building a new road, the southeastern part of the palace was cleared away, leaving only fragments of places as a reminder of past.
Coming to the present, Kathmandu Durbar Square is still the most important place to visit in Kathmandu. The historical significance it holds and spectacular architecture never fails to impress the first time, visitors. In the present, we can see that Kathmandu Durbar Square comprises 3 loosely lined squares.
In the south lies open Basantpur Square area, former royal elephant stables that now houses souvenir stalls and off which runs Freak Street. In the west, there is a main durbar square area where you can spend hours watching the world go by. In the northeast, there lies the second part of Durbar square.
There is an entrance to Hanuman dhoka and an assortment of temples. From this open area, Makhan tole continues. Kathmandu Durbar Square is an active public walkway linking many streets together. Though Nepal is a democratic country now and coronations are not going to be held here, people gather in Kathmandu Durbar Square in festivals like Indrajatra, Dashain, Gaijatra, Macchindranath Jatra, etc to mark their centuries’ old tradition.
The major attractions in Kathmandu Durbar Square are Kasthamandap, Trailokya Mohan Narayan Temple, Kumari Bahal, Taleju temple, Basantpur tower, Gaddi Baihak, Maru Ganesh, Mahadev temple, Shiva Parvati temple, Bhagwati temple, Krishna octangular temple, Kal Bhairav, and Jagannath temple. Kasthamandap and Trailokya Mohan Narayan Temple was completely destroyed by the massive earthquake of 25th April 2015.
Most of the southern section of temples were torn down by it and physical cracks of destruction were sent throughout the remaining building.
Previously, Kathmandu Durbar Square was severely destructed during the earthquake of 1934. However, renovations were carried out diligently and it was back into its beautiful form once again. In 1979 it was assigned as a World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
However, after the 2015 earthquake, the works of renovation has not been going at a pace that it should have been. It is a harsh truth but is evident right before us. Kathmandu Durbar Square was the center of pride of Kathmandu and it should be the same for the continuing generations too.
For this, the concerned authority must take serious steps to bring it back into a beautiful form depicting the cultural and historical significance of Nepal.
The concerned authorities, may it be the Department of Archeology, Kathmandu municipality or the departments like Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department should work with its sense of responsibility towards remaking the buildings of the square.
Only then, the continuing generation will be able to take pride in their country’s history. This national heritage should never be consigned to the pages of history so it should be treated without any trace of neglect.
The historic center of the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu
The valley in Nepal, where more than 130 historical and cultural monuments of international importance are located, including several pilgrimage sites for Hindus and Buddhists. Seven sites in the valley are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The oldest of the inscriptions found in the valley dates back to the year 185, the oldest building is about the first century.
There are a large number of famous Buddhist monasteries in the valley. It was formed about 100,000 years ago at the place of the dammed (pond) lake as a result of its catastrophic descent after breaking through the dam into the Chobar Gorge. The local people truly understood the origin of the valley. The Hindu attributed the breakthrough of the dam to the lightning of Krishna, the Buddhist minority-Bodhisattva Manjushri, with the help of a magic sword.
Historically, the valley and the adjacent territories constituted a confederation known as the Nepal Mandala. Until the XV century, its capital was Bhaktapur, until two other capitals, Kathmandu and Lalitpur, were erected. After the annexation of the valley by the Gorkha kingdom and its subsequent transformation into the metropolitan region of their empire. The name Nepal was transferred to each territory conquered by this kingdom.
Kathmandu Valley is the most developed and populated part of Nepal. Most public institutions are located in the valley, which makes it the economic center of Nepal. It is popular among tourists due to its architectural monuments.
The historic heart of old Kathmandu is an open-air museum, a magnificent mosaic of temples, pagodas, pavilions and medieval shrines. Once the residence of the Nepalese royal family and still the home of the Kumari, Durbar Square is the hub of the city, as well as the backdrop for spectacular events. Durbar Square is the square where once the kings were crowned from Kathmandu who exercised their power.
The square is the historic heart of the old city and the place where the most spectacular traditional buildings of the Nepalese capital are concentrated. You can see what the mysterious and distant Nepal breathes and lives in, and its majestic capital, Kathmandu, can be found in the very heart of the city on the Dubar Palace Square.
It is not surprising that, as a rule, this is the first place that is visited by all tourists who have come here from all over the world. Because it is here that all the spiritual and cultural wealth of Nepal is concentrated.
Durbar Square in Kathmandu is the largest palace square of three royal cities (Durbar Square is also in Patan and Bhaktapur). All three areas are recognized by UNESCO as the World Cultural Heritage. In this square, it is easy to lose track of time wandering for hours among its buildings and observing the comings and goings of passers-by from the steps of the imposing Maju Deval.
A very pleasant way to enjoy the atmosphere of the city. Here you can see Nepal as it was a hundred, or even two years ago, when globalization did not get here.
Newcomers may even experience cultural shock by visiting Durbar Square, because this is not Paris or Milan, here in the Nepalese city square life is in full swing nowhere else. A lot of people, noise, exclamations, interspersed with bell ringing and prayer drums, dozens of completely different people from all over the world.
And mixing of different languages, aromas of incense – that’s what real Durbar is. It is both a souvenir market, a place for prayers and religious ceremonies, and a meeting place. It is the center of Kathmandu’s life in all its diversity.
The age of the palace square Durbar has more than a thousand years! During all this time, it has changed countless times, new kings built their palaces and temples here. So Durbar turned into a whole complex of palaces, temples, and galleries, woven together by the original Nepalese architecture.
The square uses to guard the palaces of the Malla dynasty and the Shah who ruled the city. Along with these palaces, the square creates quadrilaterals that reveal courtyards and temples. The Durbar Square area consists of three areas connected to each other. To the south opens Basantapur Square, once a royal stable for elephants.
The main area of Durbar Square, the one with the famous temples, is located to the west. In the northeast, the second part of Durbar Square develops, where you will find the entrance to Hanuman Dhoka and other temples. Makhan Tole stretches north-east from this open space, once the main artery of the city and still the most interesting street in Kathmandu.
Durbar Square is a complex of historical buildings, Buddhist and Hindu temples, palaces, courtyards and streets in the center of the old city. There are about 50 ancient religious temples and monuments of various shapes, sizes, styles, and religions.
The center of this huge complex is the Hanuman Dhoka Palace (Hanuman Dhoka), where all the kings of Nepal were crowned. The square adorns the Hanuman-Dhoka Palace (15-18 centuries). Its numerous courtyards, columns, and statues, pagodas and tombs are combined into a single ensemble. Craftsmen decorated the palace by building towers in the corners, the tallest of them – the Basantapur Tower.
Climbing on it, you can see the beautiful panorama of the old city. And from where they later ruled the state (“Durbar” means the palace). This place to this day is the personification of the power and state of Nepal. Despite the fact that the king no longer lives here, and the current president’s residence has been moved to the northern region of Narayanhiti.
The main entrance to the palace is decorated with golden gates, guarded by a statue of the god Hanuman (1672). In honor of the ape-like deity, it is called the Hanuman palace. Opposite the entrance is the Krishna-Balaram Mandir Octagonal Pagoda.
Two more remarkable places where all the coronations of the rulers took place are the courtyard of Nasal Chowk. As well as the place of an offering of sacrifices during the Dasain festival – the courtyard of Mul Chowk. The fascinating history of the palace can be found in museums that offer various collections of royal things to consider.
Located in the heart of the ancient city of Kathmandu, it is surrounded by Hindu and Buddhist temples. Most of them are built in the form of a pagoda and decorated with intricate carvings, many of which we see here today are dated to the 15-18 centuries.
The Durbar area with its old temples and palaces embodies the entire religious and cultural life of the people. The main points of interest here are Kumari Ghar (Living Goddess), Kastha Mandap, Maru Ganesh, Mahadev Temple, Shiva Parvati Temple, Bhagwati Temple, Old Palace, Saraswati Temple, Krishna Octagonal Temple, Big Drums, Kal Bhairai, Jagannath Temple, Taleju Temple and etc.
In addition to the magnificent temples and shrines, various festivals, cultural events, and traditions flowing from time immemorial are also honored here. During the main holidays – Indrajatra, Dashain, Gaayjatr, Machchkhindra-Nat Jatra and others – people from all over the city gather here to celebrate their age-old traditions.
All the carving and architecture on the square has been exceptionally well. Which Hanuman-Dhoka Durbar undoubtedly highlights among the most important tourist attractions.
You can spend a couple of hours here, looking at the intricate patterns of the wooden carving of palaces, watching hundreds of pigeons that give this square a truly medieval look. Or climb the Maju Deval pyramid temple and look down upon numerous vendors, rickshaws or local guys for which it is a popular meeting place.
Despite the fact that the date of construction of the palace square is considered to be XVII-XVIII centuries (many of the original buildings are much older), a huge earthquake caused damage in 1934. Of course, most of the buildings were restored and in 1979 the entire palace square was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Newar artists and artisans for several centuries decorated the area and created beautiful monuments of architecture. But during the earthquake in 1934, many of them were destroyed, not all were restored, some did not retain their original appearance.
The best place to start the exploration of Durbar Square is one of the oldest wooden buildings in the world, Kastamandap, which means “wooden shelter”. This temple was built in the XII century and it was he who gave the name of the capital, is the oldest building in Kathmandu.
There are legends that the entire pagoda is built from the wood of only one tree, which made it the most famous in Nepal. The entrance to the temple is open to all comers, but photography inside is prohibited.
Another building that you cannot pass by is the Kumari Bahal Palace, which is the home of the only living goddess Kumari Devi in the world. It is believed that Kumari is the human incarnation of the Hindu goddess Taleju.
There are several Kumari in Nepal, but the Royal Kumari in Kathmandu is the most famous and considered the most influential. She is chosen among the girls of the Shakya caste of the Newar people at the age of four or five. The elders choose a new goddess from girls that meets 32 strict selection criteria, ranging from eye color and tooth shape, and ending with a tone of voice.
The elected Kumari moves to live in Kumari Bahal in Kathmandu and is worshiped as a living goddess. Its content falls entirely on the shoulders of the state. She spends most of her time studying and performing religious rites. Several times a year during the celebration of festivals she leaves the palace, and her feet should not touch the ground.
As soon as the first menstruation or significant blood loss occurs for some other reason, the deity leaves the girl and she returns to mortal status. The state provides her with a modest pension of 6,000 rupees per month.
With the search for an orchestra from the former Kumari, there are since it is believed that the man who married her will die young. Despite this, many former Kumari successfully married and live abroad.
It is probably impossible to describe all the architectural details of Durbar because every detail has its long history. For example, the erotic motifs of carving in many temples can tell you about the art of love of ancient India. And the location of the pagodas – the history of the rule of the kingdom of Nepal. In any case, linger on the roof of one of the many cafes overlooking the main square and try to solve all the riddles of this amazing place.
Several buildings in the square collapsed due to the strong earthquake of 25 April 2015. The square was surrounded by spectacular architecture and still shows the skills of Newari artists and craftsmen over the centuries. The Royal Palace was originally in Dattaraya square and was later moved to Durbar square.
The centrality of the square in history
The predilection for the construction of royal palaces on this site dates back to as early as the Licchavi period, ie in the third century. Although the current buildings and temples have undergone repeated renovations, no trace remains of that period. Names like Gunapo and Gupo, which are the names referring to the palaces of the square in the first writings, imply that they were built by Gunakamadev, a king of the late 10th century.
When Kathmandu became independent under the rule of King Ratna Malla (1484-1520), the palaces of the square came into royal residences for the Malla dynasty. When Prithvi Narayan Shah invaded the Kathmandu valley in 1769, he favored this square precisely for his palace.
Subsequent kings of the Shah dynasty continued to rule from the square until when they moved to Narayan Hiti palace. However, the square remained the center of important real events such as the coronation of King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah in 1975 and King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah in 2001.
The most ancient monuments
Although there are no written records attesting to the history of Durbar Square, the construction of the main palace in the square is credited to Sankharadev (1069-1083). As the first king of the independent city of Katmandu, Ratna Malla is said to have built the temple of Taleju in the north side of the palace in 1501.
If this were true, then the temple should have been built in vihara style as part of the palace surrounding the courtyard of Mul Chowk (chowk means square in the Nepali language). In fact, there is no evidence of a separation between the structures that are located within the square.
The construction of Karnel Chowk is not clearly indicated in all historical inscriptions. Although it is probably the oldest of all the courts in the square. The temple of Bhagavati, originally known as the Narayan Temple, rises above the palaces that surround it and was added during the time of Jagajaya Malla in the early eighteenth century.
The Narayan idol inside the temple was stolen, so Prithvi Narayan Shah replaced it with the image of Bhagavati, completely transforming the name of the temple.
The oldest temples in the square are those constructed by Mahendra Malla (1560-1574). They are the temple of Jagannath, Kotilingeswara Mahadev, Mahendreswara and the Temple of Taleju. The latter with three roofs was founded in 1564, in a typical Newari architectural style. And is elevated on a platform that forms a pyramidal structure.
It is said that Mahendra when he resided in Bhaktapur, was very devoted to this temple. The Goddess, satisfied with his devotion, gave him a vision asking him to build a temple for her in the Durbar square in Kathmandu. With the help of a hermit, he designed the temple giving it its present form. So the grateful Goddess entered the temple in the form of a bee.
His successors Sadasiva (1575-1581), his son Shiva Simha (1578-1619) and his nephew Laksmi Narsingha (1619-1641), didn’t seem to have made major additions to the square. During this period of three generations, the only constructions started were the Degutal Temple dedicated to the Mother Goddess Taleju (Shiva Simha). And some improvements in the royal palace (Laksminar Simha).
Under Pratap Malla
At the time of Pratap Malla son of Laksminar Simha, the square was developed further. He was an intellectual, a devotee and above all interested in the arts. He liked to call himself a Kavindra, king of poets and boasted of having learned fifteen languages.
A passionate builder, following his coronation as king, he immediately began expanding into his royal palace. He rebuilt some old temples and built new ones, along with shrines and stupas.
During the construction of his palace, he added a small entrance in traditional Newari style, low and narrow. The door was richly decorated with sculptures and paintings of auspicious deities although it was later transferred to the entrance of Mohan Chowk.
In front of the entrance, he placed the statue of Hanuman thinking that he would strengthen his army and protect his home. The entrance leads to Nasal Chowk, the courtyard instead is the place where most of the real events take place like coronations, shows, and Yagya the rites of the holy fire. He was named after Nasadya, the God of Dance.
During Pratap Malla’s time, sacred masks, dramas, and dances were produced in Nasal Chowk and were quite famous. In one of these dramas, it is said that Pratap Malla played the role of Vishnu and that the Spirit of the Lord remained in the body of the king even after the show.
After consulting his tantric leaders, he ordered a Vishnu stone in his incarnation as Nara Simha, half lion, and half semi-human, and then transferred the spirit into the stone. This beautiful image of Nara Simha made in 1673 is still found in Nasal Chowk.
In 1650, he commissioned the construction of Mohan Chowk within the palace. This chowk remained in the courtyard of the ancient royal residence for many years and it was believed that it could accumulate plenty of treasures under its surface.
Pratap Malla also built Sundari Chowk during this time. He placed a plate engraved with lines in fifteen languages. And proclaimed that those who could understand the inscription would be able to produce a flow of milk instead of the water of Tutedhara, a fountain placed between the outer walls of the Mohan Chowk.
However, the birth of these constructions could have been destined simply to underline its luxuries, besides to show the importance of the devotion towards the divinity. He also made extensive donations to the various temples he had made larger.
Next, to the royal palace, he built a temple of Krishna, the Vamsagopala, in an octagonal shape in 1649. He dedicated this temple to his two Indian wives, Rupamati and Rajamati, as both had died in the same year that it was built.
In Mohan Chowk, he erected the Agamachem temple with three roofs and a single temple with five overlapping roofs. After completion, he restored the Mul Chowk, also making a donation to the adjacent Temple of Taleju to which he donated metal doors in 1670.
He rebuilt the Degutal Temple built by his grandfather, Siva Simha, and the Taleju Temple in the palace square. As a replacement for the Indreswara Mahadeva temple in the distant village of Panauti, he built a temple of Shiva, Indrapura, near his palace. He also had hymns carved on the walls of the Jagannath temple as Taleju prayers in the form of Kali.
At the southern end of the square, near Kasthamandap which was the main intersection of the city for early traders. He built another pavilion called Kavindrapura, the palace of the king of poets. In this mansion, he set up an idol of dancing Shiva, Nasadyo, who today is highly revered by the dancers of the Valley.
In the process of embellishing his palace, he added fountains, ponds, and baths in Sundari Chowk. In particular, the Naga Pokhari pond, in the palace adorned with Nagakastha, a wooden snake that is said to have asked to steal from the royal pond on Durbar Square in Bhaktapur.
He restored the Licchavi stone sculptures such as the Jalasayana Narayana, the Kaliyadamana, and the Kala Bhairava. An idol of Jalasayana Narayana was placed in a newly created pond in the Bhandarkhal garden, in the eastern wing of the palace.
As a substitute for the idol of Jalasayana Narayana in Buddhanilkantha, he channeled water from the Buddhanilkantha to the pond in Bhandarkhal. The Kalyadana, a manifestation of Lord Krishna destroying Kaliya, a water snake, was placed in Kalindi Chowk, which is adjacent to the Mohan Chowk. The scary image of Bhairava is located near the Jagannath temple, this image is at the center of the Chowk cult especially during Durga Puja.
With the death of Pratap Malla in 1674, the general emphasis on the importance of the square came to a halt. His successors maintained a relatively insignificant power and the most important ministers took control of most of the royal government.
Ministers have encountered little influence in these kings and more and more, the interest of the arts and additions to the square has been lost. They focused less on the culture that characterized Pratap Malla during the three decades following his death, governing the city and the country with few minor constructions brought into the square.
These projects include the Parthivendra Malla palace a temple named Trailokya Mohan or Dasavatara, dedicated to Lord Vishnu from 1679. A large statue of Garuḍa, the mountain of Lord Vishnu was added in front of it a decade later. Parthivendra Malla added a pillar with the image of his family in front of the Taleju Temple.
Around 1692, Radhilasmi, the widowed queen of Pratap Malla, erected the high temples of Shiva known as Maju Deval near the image of Garuda. This temple is located on nine stepped platforms and is one of the tallest buildings in the square.
Then the son, Bhupalendra Malla, ascended the throne and exiled the widowed queen in the hills. His death came early, at the age of 21 and his widowed queen, Bhuvanalaksmi, built a temple on the square known as Kageswara Mahadev.
The temple was built in the Newari style and acted as a substitute for the worship of a temple far into the hills. After the earthquake in 1934, the temple was restored with a domed roof, which was foreign to the Newari architecture.
Jayaprakash Malla, the last Malla king to rule Kathmandu, built a temple for Kumari and Durga in his virginal state. The temple was named as Kumari Bahal and was built like a typical Newari vihara. In his house resides the Kumari, a girl who is revered as the living goddess. He also had a cart built for Kumari.
Under the Shah dynasty
During the Shah dynasty that followed, Durbar Square saw a series of changes. Two of the most unique temples in the square were built during this period. One is the Nautale, a nine-story building known as Basantapur Durbar. It has four roofs and is located at the end of Nasal Chowk on the eastern side of the building.
It is said that this building was set up as a pleasure house. The upper floors have Newari, sanjhya and tikijhya style windows. The other temple is attached to the Basantapur Durbar and has four stories. This building was initially known as Vilasamandira, or Lohom Chowk, but is now commonly known as Basantapur or Tejarat Chowk.
The lower floors of the Basantapur Chowk show large wooden sculptures and the roofs are made in popular Mughal style. The state archive that Prthivi Narayan Shah built these two buildings is from 1770.
Rana Bahadur Shah was installed at the age of two. Bahadur Shah, the second son of Prithvi Narayan Shah, established his young nephew Rana Bahadur Shah as regent for almost a decade from 1785 to 1794 and built a temple of Shiva Parvati.
This one-roofed temple was designed in the Newari style and is very similar to the previous ones built by the Malla. It is rectangular in and establishes the Navadurga, a group of goddesses, on the ground floor.
It has a wooden image of Shiva and Parvati at the upper floor window, looking at the passers-by in the square. Another significant donation made during the period of Rana Bahadur Shah is the lacquered metal head of Swet Bhairav near the Temple of Degutal.
It was donated at the Indra Jatra festival in 1795 and continues to play a leading role during the festival each year. This face of Bhairava is about twelve feet tall and is hidden behind a wooden screen for the rest of the year.
After this donation, Rana Bahadur donated a large bronze bell as an offering to the Goddess Taleju. Along with the beat of enormous drums donated by his son Girvan Yudha, the bell was played every day during the daily ritual worship of the goddess.
Subsequently, these tools were also used as an alarm system. However, after the death of his beloved third wife Kanimati Devi due to smallpox, Rana Bahadur Shah, gone mad with grief. Had smashed many images of gods and goddesses including the statue of Taleju and the bell, as well as Sitalá, the goddess of smallpox.
In 1908, the palace, Gaddi Durbar (Gaddhi Baithak), was built using European architectural drawings. Prime Minister Rana who had taken power but not the throne of the country that was held by the Shah (1846-1951) was strongly influenced by the European style.
The Gaddi Durbar is covered with white plaster, has Greek columns and is bordered by a large audience hall, all of which are foreign to Nepalese architecture. The balconies of this Durbar have been reserved for the royal family during the holidays to show the square below.
Some of the parts of the square such as the Hatti Chowk near the Kumari Bahal in the southern section of the square were removed during the restoration after the devastating earthquake in 1934. While the construction of the new road in the south-eastern part of the palace was wiped out, leaving fragments only in places as evidence of their past.
Visiting the square
Durbar Square in Kathmandu is located in the old city and has heritage buildings representing four kingdoms (Kantipur, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, and Kirtipur), built over centuries, being the first during the Licchavi dynasty. More was added and more reforms were made during the reign of the Mallas (ninth century).
The complex has 50 temples and is divided into two quadrangles of the Durbar Square. The outer square has the Kasthamandap, the Kumari Ghar and the Shiva-Parvati temple, while the inner square has the Hanuman Dhoka palace.
Durbar Square is the vital site of Hanuman Dhoka, which used to be the royal residence until the 19th century. And where very important ceremonies, such as the coronation of the Nepalese monarch, took place. The palace is decorated with richly carved wooden panels and houses the King Tribhuwan Memorial Museum and the Mahendra Museum. It is possible to visit the rooms inside the building.
From time to time the temples and palaces of the square passed through reconstruction after being damaged by natural causes or negligence. The temples are preserved as a national heritage and the palace is used as a Hanuman Dhoka Museum. Only some parts of the palace are open for visitors and the Taleju temples are open only to people of Hindu and Buddhist faith.
At the southern end of the square, there is one of the most curious attractions in Nepal, the Kumari Chok. This golden cage contains the Kumari. A girl has chosen through an ancient and mystical selection process to become the human incarnation of the Hindu mother goddess Durga. She is worshiped not only on religious festivals bit daily and makes public appearances at other times. She was also paid a fee for her guards.
Things to See Near the Kathmandu Durbar square
If all the monkeys of Nepal gathered in the Swayambhunath temple complex, then all the capital’s pigeons flew to Durbar Square. This impression is created at the sight of a thick pigeon “layer” covering the roofs and all horizontal platforms.
The reason for the bird pilgrimage is simple. Traders in forage for pigeons settled on the square. Numerous tourists willingly buy it, throw it to the birds, thereby attracting all the new individuals. But pigeons, of course, is not the main attraction of Durbar. The heart of the huge complex is the Hanuman Dhoka Palace.
All the kings of Nepal were crowned in it. From here they ruled the country until the royal dynasty ceased to exist. In addition to the Royal Palace among the tourists, the Kumari Bahal Palace is of great interest. It seems impossible to list all the temples and buildings of the Durbar Palace Square, as there are so many interesting historical and cultural sites located here.
This is an incredible concentration of life and inner strength of Nepal. Durbar, fortunately, is not just a dusty museum, but a place that lives and breathes, like hundreds of years ago. Some of the main attractions of the square are:
1. Taleju Temple on Kathmandu Durbar square Area:
The most magnificent temple in the square stands at its north-eastern end. The temple of Taleju was built in 1564 by Mahendra Malla. Taleju Bhawani was originally a goddess of southern India, but in the fourteenth century, it became the main deity of the Malla, a kind of royal deity. With more than 35 meters of height of the basement at twelve levels, the temple dominates the entire Durbar Square.
The eighth level of the basement forms a wall around the temple, surrounded by twelve miniature temples. It is a temple with three roofs with a pyramidal base. It is an example of typical Newari architecture. It is a very famous temple among Hindus and Buddhists.
It is said that this mandir, or Hindu temple, was built in the form of a yantra (complex geometric representation that reflects the energies of the cosmos and the body) with the advice of the goddess Taleju, who appeared before the king in the form of a bee.
The sanctuary worked by King Mahendra Malla in 1562 AD was devoted to the illustrious divinity of the Malla rulers. Laying on a 12 arrange plinth, the sanctuary is 36.6 meters high. The sanctuary is opened to general society only once in a year amid Dashian (sept-oct).
Those looking for a Taleju Temple inside the Kathmandu Valley are in luckiness, for there are not one, not two, but rather three Taleju Temples here. The first is situated in Kathmandu Durbar Square, the second in Bhaktapur and the third in Patan Durbar Square.
The three expansive Taleju Temples are named after and devoted to Goddess Taleju Bhawani, a holy divinity who has four heads and ten arms. Brilliant statues and metal work portraying the ten-furnished Goddess can be found in different areas around the three Taleju Temples.
Inside the sanctuaries are sanctums to Taleju Bhawani and the Kumari, Nepal’s Living Goddess. Taleju Bhawani was the tribe Goddess of the Malla lords, who ruled Nepal from the twelfth to the eighteenth century, which clarifies the presence of a Taleju Temple in each of the valley’s three primary downtown areas.
2. Krishna Temple on Kathmandu Durbar square Area:
The building was built in 1648 by Pratap Malla, perhaps in response to the magnificent temple built in Patan by the rival Siddhinarsingh and consecrated to the same deity. Inside there are statues of Krishna and two goddesses who, according to a Sanskrit inscription, would have been carved into the image of the king and his two wives.
This octagonal sanctuary devoted to Lord Krishna was worked in 1649 AD by Pratap Malla in memory of his two dead rulers. There is a say in the epigraph that the sanctuary contains the status of the ruler and his rulers speaking to as Lord Krishna and his consorts.
The octagonal Krishna Temple was worked in 1648– 49 by Pratap Malla, maybe as a reaction to match Siddhinarsingh’s eminent Krishna Temple in Patan. Inside there are pictures of Krishna and two goddesses, which, as indicated by a Sanskrit engraving, are demonstrated on the lord and his two spouses. The sanctuary’s Newari engraving fails to say the Lord’s little demonstration of vanity.
3. Jagannath Temple on Kathmandu Durbar square Area:
The picture of Jagannath was introduced in 1563 AD amid the rule Mahendra Malla and the sanctuary is well known for sensual carvings.
4. Stone Column:
The stone section speaks to the statue of ruler Pratap Malla in going to goddess Taleju-The Royal Family Deity.
5. Degutalle Temple:
A tantric goddess speaking to the family god of the Malla Kings is revered in the sanctuary and access is confined to guests. The sanctuary lies inverse the stone section and was worked in 1671 AD by King Shiva Singh and later redesigned by ruler Pratap Malla.
6. Hanuman Statue on Kathmandu Durbar square Area:
Bowing Hanuman, the monkey god, situated on a stone platform and flanked by a couple of lions symbolizes quality and assurance against every single conceivable danger. The Hanuman platform was raised by Lord Pratap Malla in 1672AD.
Shiva-Parvati Temple: Looking north from the plinth of the destroyed Maju Deval, a couple of much-captured white pictures of Shiva and his associate watch out from the upstairs window. The sanctuary was worked in the late 1700s by Bahadur Shah, the child of Prithvi Narayan Shah. In spite of the fact that the sanctuary isn’t exceptionally old by Kathmandu benchmarks, it remains on a two-arrange stage that may have been an open moving stage many years sooner.
The perfect couple Shiva and his associate Parvati watch out from the focal window of the primary floor as the sanctuary was worked amid therein of lord Rana Bahadur Shah.
7. Enormous Bell:
The ringer raised in 1797 AD by King Rana Bahadur Shah is rung just when revere is being offered in Degutalla sanctuary arranged adjacent.
8. Kal Bhairav on Kathmandu Durbar square Area:
North of the Jagannath temple stands the large stone statue of Kala Bhairab. Bhairab is Shiva in his most terrifying appearance, here depicted with six arms and adorned with a garland of skulls. The statue was originally carved from a single block of stone.
Tradition has it that lying while facing Kala Bhairab causes the liar to die instantly. Therefore, this temple served as the Supreme Court of Nepal for a long time. This temple has a 3.7-meter stone image of Kala Bhairava sculpted in the 5th and 6th and discovered in a rice field in the 17th century by King Pratap Malla.
Shiva in his fierce form is known as Bhairav. This is one of the biggest pictures of Bhairav and was raised by ruler Pratap Malla.
Bhairav is a standout amongst the most unsafe types of Lord Shiva and among the different types of Bhairav, Kala Bhairav is the most hazardous one. The exacting significance of Kala is ‘time’ or ‘demise’, henceforth, Kala Bhairav is likewise considered as the ‘Ruler of time or passing’.
Considered as the master of the planetary divinity Shani (Saturn), Kala Bhairav is regularly delineated conveying the executed head of Brahma as it is said that the blame of trimming out one of the five heads of Brahma influenced him to convey the head and meander around as vagabond for quite a while until the point that he was acquitted of the transgression.
The statue of Kal Bhairav is the hypostasis of Shiva depicted in stone as the destroyer god in Kathmandu. Translated from Sanskrit Bhairava means “terrible.” A large black sculpture depicts a multi-armed god with wide-open angry eyes and in a necklace of skulls. His teeth are sharp like a tiger, and snakes serve as earrings in his ears.
He tramples down the demon’s legs and holds a weapon and a severed head in his hands. This gesture means going beyond mental limits. He is worshiped by Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists. Among other things, he is also called the Time Lord, as he is able to help efficiently organize his time and achieve his goals. Another name is “Security Guard”. He protects the traveler and protects the pilgrims. This aspect of Shiva is especially honored in certain schools of Saivism, such as kapalika.
There is a terrible belief which says that the one who lied in front of the statue will immediately bleed to death. Such a deadly price of lies and respect for their culture have led to the fact that even today public servants are taking an oath before the statue and the accused are speaking about their innocence.
In kapalik, Bhairava has 8 main forms – Asitanga (Vishnu), Ruru (Brahma), Chanda (Surya), Krodha (Rudra), Unmatta (Indra), Kapalin (Chandra, or Soma), Bhishan (Yama) and Samhara (Bhairava as such). According to the metaphysical attitudes of some tantras (in particular, “Vigyana-bhairava”), Bhairava is universal undifferentiated consciousness. This is Paramashiva – the highest form of God, which combines Shiva and Shakti.
According to some followers of Swami Lakshmanju – the famous holy Kashmir Saivism – Bhairava – this is the universal form of Shiva – the divine consciousness. Since the universal form of the divine consciousness includes absolutely everything – including all the horrors of the universe – because of this it is called terrifying – Bhairava.
In the narration of Bhagavad-gita, it was Bhairava’s form — the form of universal consciousness — that Krishna showed to his devotee Arjuna. And Arjuna saw in God not only the gracious aspect but also the aspect of devouring death — after which Arjuna asked Krishna to hide this form and reappear in the form of a charioteer.
Legends of Bhairav
The origin of Bhairava can be traced to a conversation between Brahmā and Vishnu told in the Shiva Purana, in which Vishnu asks about Brahma: Who is the supreme creator of the Universe? Arrogantly, Brahma replied to Visnu to worship him as the Supreme Creator.
One day of Brahma he thought, I have five heads, Shiva also has five heads. I can do everything Shiva does and therefore I am Shiva. Brahma thus became a bit selfish, even starting to do Shiva’s work by interfering with Shiva’s duties.
Then Mahadeva (Shiva) threw a small nail from his finger, which took the form of Kala Bhairava who accidentally went to cut off Brahma’s head. Thus Brahma’s skull will be held in the hands of Kala Bhairava. Brahma Kapala in the hands of Kala Bhairava and Brahma of the Ego was destroyed by becoming enlightened. In the form of Kaala Bhairava, Shiva is said to be the guard each of these Shaktipeeth. Each Shaktipeeth temple is accompanied by a temple dedicated to Kal Bhairava.
Kala Bhairava is conceptualized as the Guru(teacher) of the planetary deity Shani (Saturn). Bhairava is known as Bhairavar or Vairavar in the Tamil language where it is often presented as a Grama deva or tutor of the village that safeguards the devotee in all eight directions (Ettu tikku). Known in the Sinhalese language as Bahirawa, he protects the treasures. Bhairava is the main deity worshiped by the Aghori.
Bhairava is an important Newari deity. In all traditional Newari settlements they have at least one temple of Bhairava. Most of Bhairava’s temples are in Nepal and maintained by Newari priests.
9. Maju Deval:
This sanctuary committed to Shiva was worked in the late seventeenth century by Queen Mother Riddhi Laxmi and lays on a nine plinth base ruling the square and charging a decent perspective of the range.
The ocher-colored steps of this temple dedicated to Shiva are a pleasant place to spend some time, especially at sunrise and sunset. The nine-level basement is one of the most popular meeting places in the city. From here you can observe the interesting activity of street vendors of fruit and vegetables, the coming and going of taxis and rickshaws and the bustle of tourists.
The large three-roofed temple offers a magnificent view of the square and the houses of the capital. It is dedicated to Shiva and was built in the year 1692 by the mother of Bhupatindra Malla of Bhaktapur. Inside the temple, there is a lingam of Shiva.
10. Trilokya Mohan Narayan on Kathmandu Durbar square Area:
This Vishnu sanctuary generally seventeenth century close to the Kumari Ghar was based on a five-phase plinth by ruler Parthibendra in memory of his perished sibling. There is a boring picture of the Garuda-the vehicle of Vishnu, close to the sanctuary. Amid Indrajatra (chariot celebration) extensive group accumulates here to see the ten incarnations of Vishnu instituted on the platform.
Kumari Ghar worked in 1757 AD by ruler Jaya Prakash Malla is the place of the living goddess ‘Kumari’ who is accepted to be the incarnation of goddess Taleju the defensive divinity. Kumari regularly gives her approval from the window to the guests.
11. Basantapur Durbar on Kathmandu Durbar square Area:
The Basantapur Durbar otherwise called Nau-table durbar was worked by lord Prithvi Narayan Shah in 1770 AD. Close by there are other high standing pagodas known as Kirtipur Tower, Bhaktapur Tower and Lalitpur Tower.
There is certainly significantly more to see in Basantapur among which are; the Gaddhi Baithak, a European style building, worked in 1908 by the Ranas. Hanuman Dhoka Museum (Tribhuwan Museum), observes King Tribhuwan and his fruitful rebel against the Rana administration, alongside remembrances to King Mahendra and Birendra.
A stone engraving kept in touch with goddess Kalika in 15 dialects including 1 French word by King Pratap Malla in 1664. Legend has it that drain will spill out of the gush in the center, should anybody have the capacity to peruse all the 15 dialects recorded there.
Also, Kala (dark) Bhairab statue with six arms and an alarming face looking towards the north, alongside Jagannath Temple, was said to have been brought by Pratap Malla from the Nagarjuna woodland territory. It is additionally trusted that in before times if individuals remained before this picture and told lies, they would upchuck blood and bring upon them moment demise.
12. Kasthamandap on Kathmandu Durbar square Area:
This twelfth-century wooden building is said to be built from the wood of a solitary tree thus Kathmandu gets its name from this notable building, Kasthamandap. The building was utilized for open social event amid those days. The focal picture of the building comprises of Gorakhnath and there are little sanctuaries of four Ganeshas.
The building, built in the XII century, was originally a shelter (shelter) for pilgrims but was later reconstructed into a pagoda temple dedicated to the ascetic Gorakhnath.