The Historical Hitis of Kathmandu Valley

8, Apr 2022 |

Hitis, or Dhungedharas are traditional water spouts through which water was supplied to the public in both, ancient and current times.

A ‘Hiti’, commonly known as a Dhungedhara, is a traditional water spout through which water was supplied to the public in ancient times. 


Each hiti consists of an intricate stone carving that resembles a powerful animal like an elephant or crocodile, through which water flows continuously into a deep basin. These fountains are connected to underground reservoirs, lakes and ponds and channel a reliable source of water to the masses. Ingeniously engineered, these dhunge dhara are typically constructed under street level to allow the water to flow smoothly through the faucet.


  1. Narayan Hiti
Photo Credit: Riam Basnet

Narayanhiti in Kathmandu, is a significant landmark in the valley. Situated east of the main durbar entrance, the Royal Palace Museum takes after its name. The hiti is characterised by 3 spouts, one of which is gold plated while the other two are made of stone. Interestingly, the elephant trunks etched into the spout bend backwards instead of conventionally bending forwards.

Narayan Hiti in Kathmandu, the dhunge dhara near the palace, has three spouts, one is gold plated and two are made of stone. The stone spouts look very different from what one would expect. The 'elephants' trunks of the “hitimangas” are bent backwards instead of forwards. According to local legends, this was caused by an event that occurred during the reign of King Dharmadeva:


The water had stopped flowing  from the NarayanHiti, and the king consulted the astrologers for an answer. The astrologers informed him that a human sacrifice of an individual with 32 virtues would bring back the water. Since only the king and his son met the criteria for this absurd solution, King Dharmadeva decided to trick his son Manadeva into sacrificing him. He instructed his son to slay the first man he found sleeping in Narayanhiti that night and went to lie down near the hiti himself. Prince Manadeva slaid him with his sword, only to discover that he had killed his own father, The hiti began working again but the spout recoiled in horror of what it had observed.


There are other iterations of this legend, but by far, this one seems to have the most grasp among the local communities.


  1. Naag Pokhari Hiti
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Built in 1678 by Jitamitra Malla from a natural spring, the Naga Pokhari (Royal Bath) in Bhaktapur is also considered a hiti. The water pours from a gilded, stone tap into a sunken basin. Architecturally, huge snakes encircle the perimeter of the basin, symbolising “Naags” - powerful deities that take the form of water serpents. As you walk down to the basin, some artistic carvings will catch your eye.


This specific hiti is unique as the spout drains into a pond within the basin itself. 


  1. Maru Hiti
Photo Credit: Riam Basnet

Maru Hiti is a significant landmark within Kathmandu Durbar Square. Legend states that the name “Maru” was derived from an incident when the ‘Rudrakshya’ placed on the spout went missing. The word “maru” translates to “lost” in the Newari Language. This hiti is still active and residents around the Basantapur area resort to its use for their daily water supply.


  1. Manga Hiti

Manga Hiti, in Mangal Bazaar, is considered to be one of the oldest operational dhungedharas in record. It was built in 570 AD (492 Saku Era), by the reigning Licchavi monarch and is situated directly across the Bhimsen Temple in Patan Durbar Square. The basin is shaped like a cruciform, and consists of 3 intricately carved Dharas. These dharas are shapes in the shape of a Makara (mythical crocodile-like beast). 

Photo Credit: Bidhyash Dangol



  1. Lho Hiti
Photo Credit: Aayas D Joshi

The oldest water spout in Bhaktapur dates back to the Lichhavi dynasty around the 12th century A.D. Lho hiti in particular is one that is still an active source of water for locals today. This dhungedhara is situated near Golmadhi Temple.


join our newsLetter

powered by : nepal traveller digital publication pvt. ltd

developed by : Web House Nepal