Kathmandu Durbar Square is a famous tourist destination in the captivating Kathmandu Valley. Also known as "Basantapur Durbar Square," "Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square," or simply "Durbar Square," it is accessible within walking distance of Thamel. This historical site once served as the palace for the Malla and Shah rulers of the city.
Together with Patan Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square, it makes an array of spectacular Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley. This historical site once served as the palace for the Malla and Shah rulers of the city.
Since 1979, UNESCO has recognized the historical and cultural significance of Kathmandu Durbar Square, recognizing it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Kathmandu Durbar Square was surrounded by spectacular architecture and vividly showcases the skills of the Newar artists and craftsmen over several centuries.
The Kathmandu Durbar Square housed the palaces of the city's rulers, the Malla and Shah monarchs. In addition to these buildings, the plaza is surrounded by quadrangles, which display courtyards and temples. It is known as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, after a Hanuman statue that stands at the palace's entrance.
The Kathmandu Durbar Square is a temple complex with historic architecture. Durbar Square is a 1-kilometer walk from Thamel, and once there, you can explore some of the bigger temples.
The numerous structures may be very confusing, so here are a few sights to explore in Kathmandu Durbar Square to ease you out.
asantapur square is occupied by a big open market. There is a great collection of antiques, jewelry, and handicraft items there
The Kumari Ghar:
It is one of Kathmandu's most famous buildings and is most likely the major reason tourists visit Durbar Square.
The Kumari Ghar is the residence of the Living Goddess Kumari and is believed the incarnation of Goddess Taleju.
Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur each have their own Kumaris, the most notable of which is the Kumari of Kathmandu Durbar Square.
This Garuda statue stands in front of the Trailokya Mohan Temple's western entrance. The garuda figure is significant because it depicts the culture and traditions of the Lichchhavi era. Rajmata Riddhilakshmi built this garuda statue with folded hands. Nepal Telecom's Namaste Prepaid service features a kneeling Garuda as its logo.
Trailokya Mohan Temple:
Trailokya Mohan Temple was built in 1680 and dedicated to Vishnu/Narayan. Trailokya Mohan Temple is best accessed from the other side of Kumari Ghar.
Gaddi Baithak is a white neoclassical edifice designed by Rana Prime Minister Chandra Shamsher in 1908.
Kasthamandap is a public wood pavilion and pilgrim shelter with a shrine of Gorakshanath inside. It was built with the wood of a single sal tree around the 12th century. The city of Kathmandu is named after this building.
Seto (White) Bhairab: A large carving of a strange-looking creature said to be made in 1794, popular among pilgrims during the Indra Jatra festival.
The large sculpture of Kaal Bhairav, the fierce form of Lord Shiva, was sculpted during the 5th or 6th century and later rediscovered in the 17th century.
One of the oldest structures in Durbar Square with strange, erotic carvings situated on the roof struts with 3 doors that appear to give you access to the temple with only one that opens.
The most impressive temple in Kathmandu Durbar Square is Taleju Temple. Taleju is 35 meters tall and has 12 smaller temples surrounded by four gates.
The "Hanuman Dhoka," or Hanuman Gate, stands on the west side of Durbar Square. It is the palace's main entrance, guarded by a standing statue of Lord Hanuman, and has even given the palace its name. Hanuman is dressed in a crimson robe and carries an umbrella. A crimson paste has been applied to the face. On the left is a stone sculpture of Lord Narasimha (the half-man, half-lion avatar of Lord Vishnu), eating the demon Hiranyakashipu
Hanuman Dhoka Palace Museum:
Kathmandu's royal palace, known as the Hanuman Dhoka Durbar, was originally founded during the Licchavi period (4th to 8th centuries AD), but the palace complex was expanded considerably by King Pratap Malla in the 17th century.
Once you buy the ticket to the Hanumandhoka Durbar Museum, you will see the orange-colored Hanuman statue at the entrance gate. During the early Malla dynasty, the palace complex was known as Gunapo, but after the establishment of the Hanuman statue, by King Pratap Malla in 1672 AD, it became known as Hanumandhoka.
The entrance gate (dhoka) is made out of gold gilded copper sheets which were commissioned by Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa to replace the short wooden gate, which you can see to your left once you enter the golden gate.
The first statue you will notice to your left is the black stone icon of Narasimha. The rulers of Nepal were inspired by the Narasimha - half lion, half man incarnation of Lord Vishnu where he has to destroy the enemy who cannot be killed by a man or animal, during the day or at night, not indoors or outside.
Beyond the image of Narasimha, there is an audience chamber of the Malla Kings known as Sisa Baithak. There still lies a Malla throne with spacious seats covered with white cloth and cushions where Bajracharya priests of 18 main bahal (monasteries) of Kathmandu offer kisali (offering betel nut with a coin on top of rice in a ceramic dish) during the priesthood of their sons. Mask dancers also offer kisali during their 12 yearly festivals as a major event to this Malla King’s throne. On the wall are pictures of the Shah Kings of Nepal with Crown Prince Trailokya who passed away before ascending the throne.
At the east wing of Nasal chowk inside the glass panel lies the icon of Mahavishnu moved from the temple outside Hanumandhoka palace during the 1934 earthquake for safekeeping.
Next, we see palanquins displayed inside the glass panel. Royal Palanquin is a large gold gilded silver palanquin with two panels decorated with a lattice window design. It was used during the wedding ceremony of the Late Queen Aishwarya Shah and Princess Shruti Shah. It has also been used to carry young royalties during their rice feeding ceremony.
The next Myana is shaped in the Mughal style which was used to carry the dead body of the Late King Tribhuvan Shah and Late Queen Aishwarya to perform their last rites.
Next, there is a small shrine to the Dancing Shiva (Natyeshwor) from which the courtyards get their name. During the Malla period, the Nasalchowk courtyard served as a royal theatre with masked dance performances practiced and presented here.
Adjoined with Natyeshwor shrine lies Dashain Ghar where Sardul Jung Company performs rituals for the “Dashain” and plants, jamara during the Dashain festival.
Shardul Jung Company is a dedicated section of the Nepali army commissioned directly by King Prithvi Narayan Shah for the protection of the palace premises from 1768 AD.
Their barrack is situated inside the palace area. Major city festivals start and end with the procession of the Shardul Jung Company. Their duties range from protecting the treasury of the old palace area to providing security in major festivals associated with Hanumandhoka Durbar Palace Complexes such as the chariot festivals of White Machhindra Nath and the living goddess Kumari.
Next to Dashain ghar at the eastern side of Nasalchowk courtyard, Royal thrones used by Shah King's crown princes, and princesses are on display inside the glass panels.
At Nasalchowk Dabali nine Kings of the Shah dynasty had their coronations from 1775 to 1975 AD starting from King Pratap Singh Shah to King Birendra. It is the largest courtyard out of ten existing courtyards of the Palace.
A sundial is carved on one of the stone pieces of the courtyard. Can you find it and explain how this ancient technology works to track time?
On the northwest corner of the rooftop of Nasal chowk, there rises a small temple known as Agam Chen. The traditional family shrine of former Malla kings is restricted to the public.
Directly across the rooftop from Agam Chen on the northeast is another temple with a round and five-tier unique architectural structure of Panch Mukhi Hanuman- Hanuman with five faces. The idol is offered puja daily with secret rites.
To the north of Nasal chowk lies Mohan Chowk built in 1649 AD by King Pratap Malla as their residential area. When the hill states rulers visited Kathmandu, they were entertained as guests in this courtyard. At the center, lies sundhara the golden water spout sculptured with birds and animals as if crowded together for a splash of water. It is said that King Rajendra was imprisoned in this part of Hanumandhoka after the Kot massacre, in 1847 AD.
Beyond this chowk to the north lies Sundar chowk which has a private bath for the queens of the Malla dynasty. There lies a beautiful stone sculpture of Kaliyadaman. Similar to Mohan chowk, it also has a golden water spout that is used to fill the water tank- Jaldroni outside the wall of Hanumandhoka palace. Malla rulers collect sacred water from this water spout to perform rituals for their deities.
Currently, both these chowks (Mohan Chowk and Sundar Chowk)are prohibited to the public due to undergoing renovation after the 2015 earthquake.
VASANTAPUR CHOWK(LOHAN CHOWK)
At the southwest corner of Nasal chowk lies an exit that passes into Vasantapur chowk, also commonly known as Lohan chowk after the large single-stone block you can see in the middle. This courtyard was built during the reign of King Prithvi Narayan Shah as the residential quarters of the Shah rulers. The nine-storey Durbar is also known as Vasantapur Kailash (Vasantapur tower) along with Vilas Mandir. This is the tallest pagoda-styled residential palace in Nepal. This courtyard was formerly ringed by four red-colored towers constructed by King Prithvi Narayan Shah, representing the four ancient cities of the valley. The upper parts of the Basantapur (Kathmandu) Tower and Bhaktapur Tower (Lakshmi Bilas), but the Kirtipur Tower and Patan (Lalitpur) Tower (known more evocatively as the Bilas Mandir, or House of Pleasure) are still standing.
Currently, Vasantapur Durbar is undergoing renovation. After the restoration work is completed, galleries will be dedicated to the Shah rulers of Nepal. From the upper terrace of Vasantapur chowk, one can observe the restricted chowk of the Hanumandhoka palace complex like
Mul chowk, Trishul chowk, Daakh chowk, Masan chowk and Vayu chowk (Lamo chowk).
Mul chowk is the restricted courtyard that lies east of Nasal chowk built along with Taleju temple in 1564AD. It is open to the public once a year in Nawami during Dashain. Accession to the throne of Malla Kings used to take place in this courtyard including their social and religious functions.
Dashain chowk is situated at the eastern side of Mul chowk with a storehouse named Dashain ghar to plant jamara for the Nepal government. A huge well is built to offer pure water for Taleju diety. Near this well, a stone seat is allocated to keep the vases of Changu Narayan for worship during its festival twice a year.
To the northern side of this chowk like Trishul chowk with Taleju temple and three stone columns built during the Malla dynasty. Trishul chowk got its name from the presence of a huge stone trident icon located in this courtyard. There is an Agnishala and a Dabali constructed during that period. To the east side of this chowk is a stable where Taleju’s horse is still kept. There are stone icons of Garuda, Vamsa Gopal, and megalithic stones located around this pond.
To the east side of Dashain ghar, you will see a pond with the Naga (serpent hood) on top of the tall wooden column. It is said to have been taken by King Pratap Malla from Tagwo pukhu (large pond) in Bhaktapur and placed here in 1663 AD. Around this pond are beautiful stone sculptures of elephants, Parvati and Chatrachandreshwor icons, and a shiva temple.
Hanuman Dhoka Museum Art Gallery
Next to NAG POKHARI, there is the Hanuman Dhoka Museum art Gallery, No photography is allowed.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many durbar square in kathmandu ?
There are three Durbar Squares in Kathmandu. They are:
1: Kathmandu Durbar Square (also known as Basantapur Durbar Square or Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square)
2: Patan Durbar Square
3: Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Each Durbar Square holds historical, cultural, and architectural significance and is a major attraction for tourists visiting the Kathmandu Valley.
Where is kathmandu durbar square located ?
Kathmandu Durbar Square is located in the heart of Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, and is accessible within walking distance of Thamel.
When was Kathmandu durbar square enlisted in unesco world heritage site ?
Since 1979, UNESCO has recognized the Kathmandu Durbar Square as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Entrance Fee for the Kathmandu Durbar Square ?
The entrance fee is 150NPR for SAARC nationals and 1000NPR for other nationals. The ticket counter is available at all major entrance points into durbar square. The ticket is valid for one day only, You can convert this ticket to a long-stay ticket if you frequently pass through the durbar square area.