Kathmandu Durbar Square – Hanuman Dhoka
Kathmandu’s Durbar Square is the site of the Hanuman Dhoka Palace Complex, which was the royal Nepalese residence until the 19th century and where important ceremonies, such as the coronation of the Nepalese monarch, took place. One of three Durbar (royal palace) Squares in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Time and again the temples and the palaces in the square have gone through reconstruction after being damaged by natural causes or neglect. Several buildings in the Square collapsed due to a major earthquake on 25 April 2015. Presently there are less than ten quadrangles in the square. The Hanuman Dhoka originally housed 35 courtyards, but the 1934 earthquake reduced the palace to today’s 10 chowks (courtyards).
Durbar Square was surrounded with architecture which showcases the skills of the Newar artists and craftsmen over several centuries. Kathmandu‘s royal palace, known as the Hanuman Dhoka, was originally founded during the Licchavi period (4th to 8th centuries AD) but the compound was expanded considerably by King Pratap Malla in the 17th century.
The Kathmandu Durbar Square held the palaces of the kings who ruled over the city. It is known as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, a name derived from a statue of Hanuman, the monkey devotee of Lord Ram cloaked in red and sheltered by an umbrella, the statue dates from 1672, the god’s face has long disappeared under a coating of orange vermillion paste applied by generations of devotees.
Hanuman statue marks the dhoka (entrance) to the Hanuman Dhoka. The entrance leads to Nasal Chok, the courtyard where most royal events such as coronation, performances, and yagyas, holy fire rituals, take place.
The construction of royal palaces at this site dates back to as early as the third century. Even though the present palaces and temples have undergone repeated and extensive renovations and nothing physical remains from that period. When Kathmandu City became independent under the rule of King Ratna Malla (1484–1520), the palaces in the square became the Royal Palaces for its Malla Kings.
The square has been the center of important royal events like the coronation of King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah in 1975 and King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah in 2001.
The temples are being preserved as national heritage sites and the palace is being used as a museum.