The English meaning of Durbar is Palace. Kathmandu Durbar square also known as Basantapur Durbar Kshetra, is one of the three durbar square in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. Kathmandu Durbar Square is enlisted in UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Durbar square is surrounded by the hypnotic architecture and vividly showcased the skill of the Newari artist and craftsmen over the couples of centuries. Talking about the origin of Royal Palace, before moving to Durbar square it was situated in the Dattaraya square. The Kathmandu Durbar Square held the places of Malla Dynasty and Shah Dynasty who ruled over the Kathmandu city. This durbar square is also popularly known with the Name of Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square and this name is derived from the statue of Hanuman (The monkey devotee of Lord Ram) inside the entrance gate/place.

History of Kathmandu Durbar Square

If we look at the construction history of royal palace in Kathmandu durbar Square and the site, dates back to as early as the Lecchavi Period in the third century. In the early scriptures in the different places of square the two name are clearly mentioned they are Gunapo and Gupo which state that the the places of Kathmandu Durbar Square was built by the Licchavi king Gunakamdev (King ruling late in thenth century).

Kathmandu became independent city under the rule and commanding of King Ratna Malla (1484-1520), the palaces over the square became the royal palaces for Malla Dinasty Rulers. After invading of Kathmandu valley King Prithivi Narayan Shah preferred Kathmandu Durbar Square for his palace. Some subsequent Shah Dinasty kings continued to rule from the durbar square until 1896 when they moved to Narayan Hiti Palace.

Though there is no any proved written archive which concretely states the History of Kathmandu Durbar Square but the construction of the palace is credited to Shankhardev (1069-1083).  There is still controversy of the establishment of Taleju bhawani temple situated at northern side of the palace. The controversy is that Ratna Malla is said to have built the Taleju temple in 1501, but there is no any other temple and even any structures which is in Vihara style. But in fact, Taleju Bhawani temple was said to have built by Mahendra Malla.

In any of our historical inscription the construction of Kernel Chowk is not clearly described. Though, Kernel Chowk is most probably the oldest courtyards among all in the square. The Narayan Temple popularly known as Bhagavati Temple, rises above the mansion surrounding it and was added in the early eighteenth century during Jagajaya Malla. The name behind the temple is something interesting, when the idol of Narayan was stolen then the Shah Dinasty king Prithivi Narayan Shah replaced the image of Bhagavati at the same place and completely transformed the name of temple as Bhagvati.

The temples built by Mahendra Malla (1560-1574) are Jagannath, Kotilingeswara, Mahadev, Mahendreswara, and the Taleju temple. After the reign of King Mahendra Malla, his successor isn’t seemed to have any major addition to the durbar square. During the reign of three generation after Mahendra Malla, the only one construction to have occurred in durbar square was the establishment of Degutale Temple which was dedicated to mother Taleju Bhawani.

 Under the reign of Pratap Malla (1641–1674) the durbar square was extensively developed. It is said that he was an intellectual, a pious devotee and highly interested in arts and cultural codes. He had given a self name “Kabindra” which meaning is King of the poet.  As the starting of his reign he started to construct new temples, shrines, stupas, rebuilt some old temples, and enlarged his royal palace. The low and narrow Newari style traditional entrance gate was constructed by him at the front of the Kathmandu Durbar Square which was latterly transferred to the entrance of Mohan Chowk. He was the king with far-sighted vision. Pratap Malla placed the statue of Hanuman in the concept that Hanuman would be one of the determining strengthen to the army and his home (Palace).

The entrance of the durbar square leads towards Nasal Chowk (It is the courtyard where the holy fire rituals, yagyas and coronation performance take place.). Nasal Chowk was named after Nasadya, the God of Dance. During the reign of Pratap Malla the sacred Mask dance and the cultural dramas were widely performed in Nasal Chowk. In one of the drama, it is belived and said that Pratap Malla himself played a role of God Vishnu and the spirit of Vishnu remained in the body of King Pratap Malla even after finishing of the play. This incident hits the king hard and he consulted with his tantric leaders, according to the tantric leaders he ordered a stone image of Lord Vishnu in the incarnation of him as a Nara Simha (The god in the form of half-human and half lion) and transferred spirit into the stone. This extraordinary and finest image of Narasimha was made in 1673 and it is still available in Nasal Chowk. Pratap Malla during his reign constructed Sundari Chowk where he had placed a slab and write a description there in fifteen language indicating that, if anyone understands the inscription then the Tutedhara (a fountain set of water tap in the outer walls of Mohan Chowk) produce milk instead of water. However, he has constructed the many structures for his luxury but he has addressed more importance of others’ devotion towards deities. Just next to the palace Pratap Malla built Krishna temple, the Vamsagopala in the beautiful octagonal shape in 1649. Furthermore, he constructed 5 suprimposing roofed Agamachem temple, donated metal doors for Taleju temple in 1670, built Shiva temple, Indrapura temple and carved hymns on the wall of Jagannath Temple.

Pratap Malla also beautifies the durbar square with many changes and revisions on the structure which was built before his reign. He decorated his palace by adding fountains, ponds, and bath around palace. In Sundari Chowk, Pratap Malla established a low bath with a finest golden fountain. He built many ponds in the durbar square area.

After the death of Pratap Malla, The durbar square area turns into a political arena after three decades of his reign there was not a huge changes in the construction in durbar square. Radhilasmi (The widow queen of Pratap Malla) erected the tall temple of Shiva currently known as Maju Deval near the Garuda image in the square.

Jayprakash Malla was the last king of entire Malla dynasty in Kathmandu. He has built temple for kumari (Living Goddess) and Durga (Currently known as Kumari Bahal) in her virginal state.

After the end of Malla Dynasty Shah Dynasty raised in Nepal. Under the Shah dynasty two of the most unsual temples was built in the Durbar square area. One is Nautale (A nine-storied building currently known as Basantapur Durbar) and another is Vilasamandira (Currently known as Basantapur/Tejarat Chowk) which is just annexed to the Basantapur Durbar. Archives on the durbar square state that these both buildings were constructed or built by King Prithivi Narayan Shah in the year 1770. There is not a proper date but between 1785 to 1794 Bahadur Shah (Ruled as the regent of eldest nephew King Rana Bahadur Shah) has built a temple in the name of Shiva and Parbati. Another most significant donation during the time of Rana Bahadur Shah is donation of metal-plated head of Swer Bhairav near the Degutale Temple in the occasion of Indra Jatra in 1975.

By the influence of European Architecture the Rana prime minister Jung Bahadur Rana built Gaddi Durbar in European Architecture Style.

Visiting to Durbar Square:

Kathmandu Durbar Square opening time is 10:00AM – 05:00PM every day, except Saturday (Public Holiday in Nepal). The entry fees are as per mentioned below in table.

NationalityEntrance Fees in NPR
ForeignersRs 1,000
SAARC countries citizensRs. 200
StudentsNo Entry Fee

Major attractions that you visit in Kathmandu Durbar Square are as below:

  1. Taleju Bhavani Temple
  2. Trailokya Mohan Narayan Temple
  3. Jagannath Temple
  4. Hanuman Dhoka
  5. Kalbhairav Temple
  6. Kumari Bahal
  7. Kabindrapul Temple
  8. Singha Sattal
  9. Gaddhi Baithak
  10. Ashok Binayak
  11. Shiva Parvati Temple
  12. Kotilingeshwara Mahadev Temple
  13. Bhagwati Temple
  14. Degutale Temple
  15. Indrapur Temple
  16. Tana Deval Temple
  17. King Pratap Malla’s column

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