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Kathmandu Durbar Square

Explore Kathmandu Durbar Square in Nepal

Patan, Bhaktapur & Kathmandu Durbar Square
Home to more than fifty temples, Kathmandu Durbar Square is also often called the “Museum of Temples.” The beautiful wood carvings and the large amount of history held within the square, has left many a first-time visitor astonished

kathmandu durbar square – durbar square – kathmandu durbar square nepal

kathmandu durbar square - durbar square - kathmandu durbar square nepal

kathmandu durbar square - durbar square - kathmandu durbar square nepal

kathmandu durbar square - durbar square - kathmandu durbar square nepal

A durbar square is a plaza or open area in front of a royal palace of a previous dynasty. Durbar Squares have temples, gardens, fountains, and statues located in them.

The term durbar is from a Persian word meaning “palace” or “a court held by a prince”.

Durbar Squares are historic reminders of past kingdoms situated in Nepal. In the Kathmandu Valley, three of these historic sites have been declared UNESCO World Heritage sites

These three Durbar Squares are the remnants of the Newar kingdoms, which existed independently in the Kathmandu Valley before they united in 1743 AD.

Though we are going to focus mainly on the Kathmandu Durbar Square, we will briefly mention the other two durbar squares as they are also World Heritage sites.

Patan Durbar Square

Patan Durbar Square
Taken in Patan Durbar Square, Kathmandu Valley, NEPAL. (Photographer: AMRIT CHIMIRE)

The oldest of the three squares in Nepal is the Patan Durbar Square.

It is situated in the ancient city of Lalitpur, which is thought to date back to the third century BC.

This royal palace and square are considered the cultural center of Kathmandu.

Many cultural festivals are held in Patan every year, and the city has become famous for its cultural heritage.

The Patan Durbar Square is filled with metal statues and wood carvings showcasing the skill of the dynasties’ artisans.

Patan Durbar Square is home to the three-storey Hiranya Varna Mahavihar Temple, also known as the Golden Temple.

With its golden exterior and golden images of Buddha, it is no wonder where the name came from.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is an architectural wonder, built using a combination of wood carvings and sculptures.

The temples were built in shikara and pagoda styles around the Fifty-five Window Palace.

The palace is built of wood and brick, and was constructed by King Yakshay Malla in the 15th century AD.

The palace acquired its name from the fifty-five windows carved from sandalwood. 

Most of the palace and some of the surrounding temples had to be renovated or rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1934.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur Durbar Square in Kathmandu Valley, NEPAL. (Photographer: WOLFGANG REINDL)

Depicted in the photograph at the beginning of the article is a wooden statue in Kathmandu Durbar Square, Nepal.

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu Durbar Square
Historic buildings of Kathmandu Durbar Square in the city of Kathmandu, NEPAL. (Before the 2015 earthquake)

This is thought to be one of the most spectacular architectural achievements of the Malla dynasty. Paired with its great socio-cultural history, the Kathmandu Durbar Square is a national treasure.

Consisting of three interlocking squares, with multiple alleys and streets, the Kathmandu Durbar Square spills history with every step you take. 

Basantapur Square is the southern square. In earlier years, the square housed elephant stables, but now the streets are filled with shops and stalls to enjoy.

Basantapur Square is also home to the Freak Street alley, which pays homage to the global hippie craze of the 1960s and ’70s.

Kathmandu Durbar Square
Temple Architecture at Kathmandu Durbar Square, Kathmandu, NEPAL. (Photographer: MB STEYN)

To the west is what most think is the first square as it is home to an array of temples and famous sites. Opposite them, to the north-east, is a smaller square with an ornate Malla palace at its center.

Kathmandu Durbar Square is home to more than fifty temples, such as Kumari Bahal, the Jagannath Temple, and the Taleju Temple.

Each temple has its own unique features. The Taleju Temple, for example, is known as the tallest temple, and the Kumari Bahal is the home of the “living goddess”.

The temples are also unique in their woodcarvings, decorations, and styles. The Jagannath Temple is well-known for the erotic wood carvings on the roof.

One of the best-known statues at the site is the Kala Bhairab.  An imposing 4-5 meter statue, it is thought to represent Lord Shiva’s reincarnation in the form of the Lord of Terror.

The statue depicts the lord holding a sword and an enemy’s head, along with dharma vessels in his other hands.

Unfortunately, in 2015, an earthquake did significant damage to many of the temples, statues, and surroundings. Much of the site has been rebuilt and reinforced by UNESCO.

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