Kathmandu Durbar Square

17, Nov 2020 | nepaltraveller.com

The historical place holds a cultural enigma that prevails the ages-old cultural importance.


Kathmandu Durbar Square is an ancient courtyard situated in the heart of the capital city, Kathmandu. The historical place holds a cultural enigma that prevails the ages-old cultural importance. Durbar, literally in Nepali, is "palace." The palace offers a glimpse of the old rich architecture around every corner of the place. Once home to the kings of the Malla and Shah dynasty, the square is an esteemed site for the Buddhist and Hindus rituals, ceremonies, festivals, and the king coronations. Surrounded by ancient statues, a series of courtyards, temples, architectural structures, wood carvings, etc., the place revives the antiquated art.

The Durbar Square area has three main squares. To the south, there is the Basantapur Square area that used to be elephant stables, whereas now, it has become a place for souvenir stalls. The major Durbar Square area is in the west with many temples and historical sites. The second durbar square area is in the northeast that leads to the entrance of the Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square. Forward in the same direction is Makhan Street that is now a famous pedestrian street.

Listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a heritage walk around the place is something that one must not miss once in Kathmandu.


The architectures and structures of the place are believed to be built from the 15th – 18th century. Nevertheless, the construction of the palaces and the square itself are believed to have started as early as the 3rd century during the Lichhavi period.

According to the old scriptures referred to as the Gunapo and Gupo, the palace was built by the tenth-century ruling king – Gunakamadev. The history of the Kathmandu Durbar Square is not much clearly scripted in the archives; yet, the credits of the palace construction is given to Sankharadev (1069-1083).  Later in the 14th-15th century, under the reign of King Ratna Malla, the square became the royal palace. After King Prithvi Narayan Shah invaded Kathmandu in 1769, it became the palace of the Shahs until they moved to Narayan Hiti Palace in around 1886. The city's kings once were crowned in the Durbar Square and the spectacular legacy was carried on in the courtyard of the place. The coronation of King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah in 1975 and King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah in 2001 are some of the main royal events taken place in the square.


  • Kasthamandap Temple

The translation of Kasthamandap is "Kathmandu" in Nepali. Considered as the oldest construction of the city, the temple is believed to have been built from a single Saal tree. The locals believe that the whole city is built around the temple, and the city also got its name from there. The temple has Gorakhnath and many Ganesh statues inside it. Previously, it used to be a gathering place of the community local people while later, it was made the temple of Gorakhnath.  

  • Kumari Bahal

The house built by Jaya Prakash Malla in 1957 is the residence of Kumari, the living goddess of Nepal. The three-storey building has exquisite wood carvings of Buddha, peacock, and others on the balcony. The premises also have a temple built in both pagoda and gumba style, a mixture of Buddhist and Hindu culture. It is because a young girl from the Buddhist Newari culture is selected to be the Kumari until her puberty.  Her public appearances are only on festivals like Indra Jatra, where she roams the city on a special carriage, and if lucky enough, one can see her in the Kumari house on some days where see comes on the window for just a little time.

  • Hanuman Dhoka Durbar

One of the main places here is the Old Royal Palace on the eastern side. It is the largest existing historical site containing the art collection and insight into the culture and architecture of ancient Nepal. The place got its name as there are statues of Hanuman guarding the palace. The legend that Hanuman punished the evils and praised the good supports the belief that it was in the entrance so that it would strengthen the army and protect the home. The durbar is now a museum that consists of the historical things from the Malla kings. Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Palace also reflects the history of the Shah dynasty.

  • Taleju Temple

Built by King Mahendra Malla in 1549 AD, Taleju Temple is the tallest of all structures standing 35m tall on 12 storeyed square bases. The most magnificent and important temple in the Durbar square area, it has many little temples, stone carvings of lions, monsters, etc. The temple has a statue of goddess Taleju Bhawani, considered as the royal goddess. The temple was only open for the royal members in the past while it now welcomes visitors also in festivals like Dashain.

  • Kaal Bhairab

The statue of one of the reincarnations of Lord Shiva, Kaal Bhirab – the lord of terror lies in the north of the durbar. It stands 4 to 5 meters high in its fearful form, holding a sword, enemy's head, and dharma vessels in its six arms. The 17th-century statue represents the terrifying aspect of Lord Shiva.

Shiva – Parbati Mandir​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
The Shiva Parbati Mandir, also built in the 17th century, is one roofed temple designed in the Newari style. On the ground floor, the temple enshrines Navadurga – a group of nine goddesses while on the upper floor, it has wooden images of Shiva and Parbati looking out at the passerby. There are two huge stone lions guarding the door. The temple builds in the Malla period is a perfect representative of the Newari architectures of the historical time.

This exceptional cultural site has many more to offer like the Mahendreshvara Temple, Jagannath temple, Dequtale Temple, Vilar Temple, Manju Deval, Kageshwor Mahadev Temple, Laxmi Narayan Temple, etc. Also, to mention the courtyards, the major ones are Kernel Chowk, Mul Chowk, Mohan Chowk, Nasal Chowk, and Sundari Chowk. After the 2015 massive earthquake, many structures in the area were destructed and are in the renovation and reconstruction process. Yet, the place manages to keep the heritage importance and reflect the local and architectural artwork of the olden royal centuries.  


Bhaktapur Durbar Square


Sagarmatha National Park

Chitwan National Park

UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Nepal

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