Kathmandu Durbar Square, popularly known as Basantapur Durbar Kshetra, is one of the world heritage sites of Nepal. It was listed in 1979 by UNESCO.
Out of three durbar squares situated in Kathmandu Valley; Kathmandu Durbar Square is one of the durbars located in mid of the Kathmandu valley. The word durbar represents the royal palace having temples, statues, courtyards, and many palaces.
History of Kathmandu Durbar Square
It is believed that the Kathmandu Durbar Square construction started during the early rule of Lichhavis. The durbar was named after the Lichhavi King, Gunakamadev in the 10th century as Gunapo and Gupo. The name of the palace can be found in sculptures.
Later, during the regime of Malla King Ratna Malla, the durbar was home to royals. Several constructions such as fountains, statues, and temples (Taleju temple) took place from (1484–1520). In 1769, Privithi Naryan Shah, the great King, conquered the Kathmandu valley and started living in the royal palace.
The Durbar Square host important royal functions such as the coronation of Kings. There was a major change in durbar square during the regime of the Shah and Malla dynasties. Enlargement of the durbar including its courtyard, temples, and chok, and much more construction was made.
Restoration and Refurbishing
In 2000 the restoration process took place which was funded by World Monuments Fund (WMF). During the restoration, the focus was on the three main temples of Durbar in pagoda style.
The main damage was in roofs that were rebuilt, and masonry repairs (wall art or wall preservation) were done. In addition, WMF preserved the architectural sculptures, and the fabrics of the plinth and pavement were restored.
On top of it, WMF provided Nepalese professionals and artisans training in international standards of architectural documentation, research, and conservation of durbar. Hence, the restoration of the Indrapur temple was completed in 2002, the Narayan Temple in 2003, and accordingly the Jagannath Temple in 2004.
On 25 April 2015, Nepal faced an earthquake of 7.9 magnitudes which reversely affect durbar square. This resulted in making the buildings and temple weak also the Kasthamandap, one of the oldest remains of the durbar.
Present Condition: Kathmandu Durbar Square
Currently, the durbar is open to the public but only a specific part can be visited. Nepalese people visit the temples with faith and pride.
Major Attractions of Kathmandu Durbar Square
Taleju Temple, one of the popular Hindu temples, worships Taleju Bhawani. The goddess of the royal goddess of the Malla dynasty.
The temple was built in 1564 by the Malla King Mahendra Malla. The temple is open to visitors only one day a year on the 9th day of Dashain, the main festival of Nepal. To reach the temple one can go to Hanuman Dhoka, Kathmandu Durbar Square.
The Golden Door
The entrance of the Kathmandu durbar square is made up of gold; commonly known as the golden door.
Living Goddess Kumari
Goddess Kumari is one of the living goddesses in the world, an incarnation of Taleju Bhawani. You can get visit the living goddess in Kumari Ghar.
The Ghar was built by King Jaya Prakash Malla in 1757 and is located in Layaku Marg, Kathmandu.
Trailokya Mohan Temple
The Trailokya Mohan Temple is dedicated to God Narayan/Vishnu. The temple’s walls and the roof are carved with Vaishnavite images. It is one of the tallest temples in Layaku Marg, Kathmandu.
During Indra Jatra, the dances are performed portraying the 10 incarnations of God Vishnu. It is a five-storied temple with a Garuda statue kneeling before it.
Kasthamandap is the name you hear often when you talk about durbar square and it is located in Maru, Kathmandu. It is often popular with names such as Maru Satta by the locals.
It is a three-storied public wooden shelter constructed for the passerby to rest. The shelter was built around the 16th century by King Laxmi Nara Singha Malla. It is believed that the shelter is made up of only one tree.
The great bell & two large drums
You can notice the huge bell along with the drum nearby the Taleju temple. Every day the bell is rung 108 times in the morning and the evening of the day.
Along with the bell ringing, you can hear the drums beating also. This process cut off the evil spirits.
The Image of Kal Bhairav
There is the statue or image of Kal Bhairav near Kathmandu Durbar Square. Kal Bhairav is worshipped during Jatras. The statue of Kal Bhairav is made up of a single stone.
Shiva Parvati Temple
The Shiva Parvati Temple is located in Kathmandu Durbar Square itself. It was built by Bahadur Shah. The temple has statues of Shiva and Parvati looking down from the window.
Gaddi Baithak Palace
Gaddi Baithak Palace has a neoclassical palace design. It was built by Chandra Shumsher Jang Bahadur Rana in 1908. You can find the palace in Layaku, Kathmandu Durbar Square.
Opening hours and Entry fees
The opening hours of the square itself are 24/7, but some of the specific places within the square may have different operating hours. Generally, these places are open between 9 am to 6 pm. However, it’s always advisable to confirm the opening hours with the relevant authorities before your visit, as they may vary depending on the occasion or special events.
The entry fees for different nationalities are as follows:
- Nepalese citizens: No entrance fee is charged.
- SAARC Nationals (excluding Nepalese citizens): NPR 150 per person.
- Other Nationals: NPR 1000 per person.
Children below the age of 10 years are usually exempted from the entry fee and don’t require an entry ticket.
The ticket fee generally covers the cost for all attractions within the square, except for the museums inside. Therefore, you won’t need to pay any additional fees for the included attractions after paying the entrance fee upfront.
Remember to carry your identification documents or proof of nationality to avail the appropriate ticket price at the ticket counter.
Guide and Tips
Here are some additional tips and guidance for your visit to Kathmandu Durbar Square:
- Plan your visit: Take some time to research and plan your visit in advance. Identify the specific attractions or landmarks you would like to see within the square and create an itinerary accordingly. This will help you make the most of your time and ensure you don’t miss out on anything important.
- Be prepared for crowds: Kathmandu Durbar Square is a popular tourist destination, especially during peak seasons and festivals. Be prepared for crowds and try to visit during non-peak hours if you prefer a quieter experience.
- Photography: The square is filled with stunning architecture, intricate carvings, and beautiful statues, making it a photographer’s paradise. However, some temples and sites may have restrictions on photography or charge a separate fee for camera usage. Respect the rules and regulations regarding photography and be mindful of other visitors while taking pictures.
- Bargaining: If you plan to shop for souvenirs or items from local vendors, be prepared for some bargaining. Bargaining is a common practice in Nepal, so don’t hesitate to negotiate prices to get a fair deal. However, remember to do it respectfully and with a friendly attitude.
- Stay hydrated: The weather in Kathmandu can be quite hot and humid, especially during the summer months. Carry a water bottle with you and stay hydrated throughout your visit.
- Respect the historical artifacts: Kathmandu Durbar Square is home to many ancient and historically significant artifacts. It’s important to respect these treasures and avoid touching or damaging them. Follow any guidelines or instructions provided by the authorities or guides to ensure the preservation of these cultural treasures.
- Learn about the history and culture: Take the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of Nepal while exploring the square. Engage with locals, ask questions, and immerse yourself in the rich heritage of the area.
By following these tips and guidelines, you can have a memorable and enjoyable experience exploring the cultural wonders of Kathmandu Durbar Square.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Kathmandu Durbar Square important?
It is one of the world heritages of Nepal. Though it is a royal palace; the durbar symbolizes Nepalese culture and beliefs as there are temples and palaces. These temples reflect all religions as Hinduism and Buddhism.
In addition, the durbar adds historical significance too.
What is the condition of Durbar Square at present?
Durbar Square is currently open to visitors but only a specific part is open as a museum. The temple within the premises of Durbar as Taleju, Hanuman Dhoka, etc can be visited by Hindus and Buddhists.
Who built Kathmandu Durbar Square?
Kathmandu Durbar Square was built by Malla Kings in the 12th and 18th centuries.
How many Durbar Squares are there in Kathmandu Valley?
There are three squares in the valley: Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, and Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
Is Kathmandu Durbar Square a world heritage site?
Yes, Kathmandu Durbar Square is a world heritage site. It was listed in 1979 by UNESCO.
How to get around in Durbar Square?
You can get around in Durbar Square by taxi, private hire, or on foot. Generally, it is a sightseeing destination for tourists. Tour guides are there to guide you throughout the way.
When was the Taleju temple built?
Taleju temple was built in 1501 by Ranta Malla on the Northern side of Durbar Square.