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Kathmandu Durbar Square is located at the center of Kathmandu city. It is a magnificent collection of art, architecture, and culture from our ancestors to date. Durbar square represents the royal palaces and its surrounding, enclosed in a square boundary. Hence, Kathmandu Durbar Square was the royal palace of Nepalese kings for centuries. But now, Nepal is a federal democratic republic country which means the government of Nepal is run by the house of parliament with multi-parties. This Durbar Square is also famous as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar and Basantapur Durbar.
Kathmandu Durbar Square is just 2 km from Thamel and one can reach here in just 10-15 minutes from Thamel. Kathmandu Durbar Square is an important site of Nepal also enlisted in the UNESCO world’s heritage site since 1979. This heritage site is very famous for its art, architecture, culture, monuments and various idols that reflect the culture of our ancestors and skills of various artists and craftsmen of several centuries. A large group of Newar people lives around the Kathmandu Durbar Square. They are the locals; other people from different caste and culture also live around Durbar Square.
The main preference for constructing this durbar square dates back to the Lichhavi period of the 3rd century. This heritage site has experienced multiple renovations and reconstruction which is the major cause of no physical remains from that period. Scripts were found in the durbar square which has names like “Gunapo” and “Gupo”. These scripts imply that these sites dates back to the period of King Gunakama Deva in the 10th century. Even there is no history; Sankhara Deva is credited for the construction of the durbar in a square surrounding.
Kathmandu Durbar Square became the royal palace of various kings of Malla and Shah Dynasty. Various important royal events like Coronation of King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah in 1975 and King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah in 2001 were held in this durbar square. Indra Jatra is celebrated within this durbar square territory.
The Malla Dynasty
Kal Bhairab, Kathmandu Durbar Square (Pratap Malla)
Malla kings ruled over Kathmandu valley since the 12th century. Malla kings used to rule whole kingdom of Kathmandu valley. During the mid-15th century, Kathmandu became an independent city under the rule of King Ratna Malla. He was one of the six sons of Jaya Yakshya Malla and named the city “Kantipur”. Kathmandu valley was divided into 3 kingdoms: Kantipur, Bhadgaon and Yala (Patan). Ratna Malla declared Kathmandu Durbar Square his royal palace and started ruling the city. Different Malla kings then ruled over Kantipur city from Kathmandu durbar square until the mid-18th century.
Constructions and Contributions during the Malla Period
Ratna Malla (1484-1520)
Mahendra Malla (1560-1574)
Shiva Simha Malla (1583-1620)
Pratap Malla (1641-1674)
Jaga Jaya Malla (1722-1736)
Jaya Prakash Malla (1746-1750)
The Shah Dynasty
Gaddi Baithak, Kathmandu Durbar Square (Chandra Shamsher)
After conquering Kathmandu valley in 1769 by Prithivi Narayan Shah, he declared Kathmandu valley as the capital city. Shah Kings ruled over the current territory of Nepal after the unification of Nepal in the mid-eighteenth century. The Shah Kings ruled over Nepal for 240 years from the capital city Kathmandu. During this period, Kathmandu Durbar square experienced a number of changes and constructions.
Constructions and Contributions during Shah Period
Prithivi Narayan Shah
Rana Bahadur Shah
Later, Shah Kings changed their palace from Basantapur durbar to Narayanhiti Royal Palace after King Mahendra built it in 1963. Since then, Basantapur Durbar square was declared as the Basantapur museum with the memories of Shah Kings: Tribhuwan, Mahendra, Birendra, and Gyanendra. Kathmandu Durbar Square experienced heavy destruction during the earthquake of April 25th, 2015. As a result, a lot of temples including Kasthamandap, Maju Dega, Narayan Vishnu Temple, Trailokya Mohan, Octagonal Krishna Temple, Kakeshwor, Gaddi Durbar, and many other monuments were damaged. In contrast, the construction work in this heritage site is in process and some of the monuments have already been re-built.