An Introduction to Hanumandhoka Durbar Square

Built in the mid Sixteen century, Hanuman Dhoka is a pristine ample craftsmanship of the rich tradition and culture of the Malla Dynasty. From the prolific craftsmanship of the Mallas to the later added Western European influence by the Ranas, the Durbar Square hold a special amalgamation of the east meets the west.

Moving on from centuries, it has seen the rise and fall of many Kings from Mallas to the recent Shahs witnessing their glory of fame and pride. Registered to the world heritage site, this palace stands testament to the glorious tradition of Kingship in Nepal. With several complexes connected together spreading in about five acres explicates historical and traditional values; the Hanuman Dhoka Durbar square is a live example of the rich culture and tradition.

The durbar Square has ten courtyards flourishing with statues and artifacts enthrall the vision where one gets nostalgic towards this museum of time. The palace was once residence of the Shahs till the late seventies, when the royal residence shifted to the Narayanhiti Palace. The old palace still has its ritual and ceremonial importance where the King of Nepal were crowned and their coronation ceremonies would take place here.

Starting off from the east entrance, a big statue of Hanuman (Monkey god) welcomes you inside; it is believed that King Pratap Malla had set-up the statue there to scare away bad and evil spirits from his palace. It dates back to the 1672. Moving on to the lobby, a half-man, half-lion incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Narasimha Avatar appears on the left side of the lobby. The statue is carved in a big black stone where the craftsmanship clearly highlights the prolific style of the Malla dynasty. The statue portrays the Narshimha Avatar killing the Herainyakasyapu the demon who threaded the world with his evil and outcaste the practice of the religion.

Similarly, with the pride of royalty, a big inscription lies just in front of the palace. The inscription is laid on a stone in 15 different languages by King Pratap Malla in the glory of his regime.

Nasal Chowk: Literally meaning the Dancing courtyard, the Nasal Chowk or Courtyard is dedicated to lord Shiva where a big status of the Natraj is placed on the east side of the courtyard. The courtyard was build by the Malla kings where once it use to serve as their private residence of the then kings but in the transcending flow of time, it was further recaptured and portions were added to the current state by the powerful Ranas where the western influences can be widely seen. In the open veranda faming the pride, still lays the throne of the Malla kings which orchestrates the richness and power of the wide spectrum of their regime.

Highlighting the famous Basantapur Tower at its door step, the Nasal Chowk welcomes the arrivals with its glorious craftsmanship and tradition where the carved windows and doors simply wow in plethora of the craftsmanship. From the tower you can see the 360 view of the Kathmandu in the most profound way where the beautiful mountain range adds colors to the view. Apart from that, the stringent taste of exotic and erotic carvings with in the struts on the façade, one can feel the rich influence of the great Kama sutra. It is believed that the Malla kings use to see the city below from the towers where these towers served as a medium of observatory.

The courtyard has witnessed the rise and fall of many kings where the courtyard is live testimony to the coronation ceremony of the King s of Nepal. In this quest the Late King Birendra and the last king of Shah Dynasty King Gynandra were both crowed king here in this courtyard.

Mul Chowk: Dedicated to the Taleju Bhawani, the Mul Chowk or courtyard holds a special enigma to its presence. Located in isolation with minimal rituals happening in the courtyard is open only in specially occasion and festivals for ritual and tantric ceremonies. With in the periphery is located a two storey Pagoda style temple which holds mystery to its origin where history defines it as an enigma of Hinduism.

The goddess Taleju was the main deity of the royal Malla family where after centuries’ she still holds a strong presence among kathmanduties. Especially in the ninth day of Dashain the Mul chowk gets lively where the priest sacrifice 108 animals in fulfill the century’s old tantric ritual. On that particular day the temple is opened for general public and it is believed that on that particular night the goddess, she comes down in the temple and endowed her presence. The temple is located at a height where it can be view from most parts of the Kathmandu.

Mohan Chowk: Built in 1649 by the Malla Kings, the Mohan Chowk or courtyard has a significant role in the history of Malla dynasty. More or less it was related to royalty and was closely associated with the Malla kings. It is believe that to become a Malla king you needed to be born in the Mohan Chowk which testifies its glory during those days. In the middle of the Courtyard lies a golden waterspout which in the ancient days was used by the Malla kings for their daily dip. Beautiful artistic tower are located in the four corners of the courtyard. Currently the Mohan Chowk is out of display.

Tribhuwan Museum: Example of the western architect, this portion of the durbar square was build by the Ranas in the 19th centuries. The Tribhuwan Museum is an explanatory example of the time and royalty that witnessed the various aspects of art, craft, technology, fashion and other amenities of the country that highlighted royalty and their lifestyle. It strongly exhibits items of stone carvings, several spectacular thrones, Jewel-studded ornaments used for coronations, weapons, furniture, wooden temple carvings, and coin collections.

With highlighting the glorious life style of the King’s of Nepal an exact replica of King Tibhuvan bedroom is also on display. Dedicated to the King Mahendra a small section on the southeast corner highlights the two thrones of the King.

The Hanuman Durbar Square is a exemplary audience that has witness the past in a glorious tradition showcasing and transcending the pride, honor and culture of the country where it stand tall with the pride of craftsmanship and culture in the most profound way of a time’s kaleidoscope.

Shreedeep Rayamajhi

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