Human Dhoka is a complex of structure with the Royal Palace of the Malla Kings and Shah dynasty. The royal family lived in this palace till 1886, where after they shifted to Narayanhiti Palace.It was expanded by King Pratap Malla in the 17th centuary.The Hanuman Dhoka(Hanuman Dhoka Durbar in Nepali) gets its name from the stone of Hindu monkey god, Hanuman, and it is near the entryway. The statue dates from 1672; the god’s face has long disappeared under a coating of orange vermillion paste applied by generations of devotees. ‘Dhoka’ means door in Nepali.The stone inscription outside is in fifteen languages.
The Hanuman Dhoka originally housed 35 courtyards, but the 1934 earthquake reduced the palace to today’s 10 chowks (courtyards).
Sadly, the palace was hit hard by the 2015 earthquake and damage was extensive. At this time, the palace was closed for reconstruction, but it will be open again when this work is complete.
|Location||Durbar Square, Kathmandu|
|Significance||Former Royal Palace of the Malla Kings|
|Major Attractions||Nasal Chowk and Basantpur Temple|
|Distinctive Feature||The place is home to dozens of monkeys|
|Famous For||Coronation of Nepalese Kings|
Sites To See
The following sites offer a glimpse of the culture, religion and history of the Nepal Kingdom.
- Taleju Temple
- Kal Bhairab (God of Destruction) Statue
- Nautalle Durbar
- Nasal Chowk
- The Gaddi Baithak
- The Statue of King Pratap Malla
- The Big Bell
- Big Drum
- The Jagnnath Temple
The Palace Entrance
We start from the entrance of the square. On entering the palace or Durbar square, there lies 17th century statue of Hanuman, covered in red clothes and holding an umbrella. This is a highly revered statue by the believers of Hinduism. On the left is an interesting sculpture of Lord Narasimha, the half-lion incarnation of Lord Vishnu, tearing apart the demon Hiranyakasipu. The statues and sculptures are indeed overwhelming.
In Nepali ‘NASAL’ means ‘dancing one’. Assuming that the palace reopens,your first taste of the royal palace will be this handsome courtyard inside the main entrance. The Nasal Chowk courtyard got its name from the beautiful image of Dancing Shiva, on east side of the Chowk.Nasal Chowk was constructed in the Malla period, but many of the building around the square are constructed in Shah dynasty(Rana period). The Chowk has historical importance considering it was the place where King Gyanendra was crowned in 2001.
Beyond the door is the large Narsingha Statue , Vishnu in his man-lion incarnation, in the act of disembowelling a demon. The stone image was erected by Pratap Malla in 1673 and the inscription on the pedestal explains that he placed it here for fear that he had offended Vishnu by dancing in a Narsingha costume. The Kabindrapur Temple in Durbar Sq was built for the same reason.
Next is the Sisha Baithak, or Audience Chamber , of the Malla kings. The open verandah houses the Malla throne and contains portraits of the Shah kings.
Panch Mukhi Hanuman Temple
At the northeastern corner of Nasal Chowk stands the damaged Panch Mukhi Hanuman Temple.This venerable temple dedicated to Hanuman.It has five circular roofs. Each of the valley towns has a five-storey temple, although it is the great Nyatapola Temple of Bhaktapur that is by far the best known. Hanuman is worshipped in the temple in Kathmandu, but only the priests may enter.
Basantpur Temple ( बसन्तपुर दरबार / नौतल्ले दरबार )
The Basantapur Durbar(Nau-talle Dubar) stands high in nine storeys and is one of the tallest structure of Durbar Square. The palace is a brilliant epitome of Nepali architecture.Modeled of brick and wood and designed with rows of artistic windows, multiple roofs, intricately carved struts and a finial, the Basantapur palace is reminiscent of a forgotten era – the olden times of Kings and artists.
It was built by King Prithivi Narayan Shah.The Basantapur or the Manor of Spring was created by Prithvi Narayan Shah as a pleasure villa. All the floors are of different height. The lower three storeys of the Basantapur palace give the appearance of a Newar farmhouse. The fourth and sixth floors have an arcade inside the screen of large wooden antique windows reminiscent of Mughal palaces. The fifth and eight storeys are comparatively small and are there for merely support and transition. The fourth and seventh levels have large window groupings in the center that project forward a little and serve as a balcony.
Mul Chowk, dedicated to Taleju Bhawani,the goddess of the royal Malla family, it was complately dedicated to religious functions.There is a small Taleju Temple with a golden torana in the south side of the courtyard. Non-hindus are not alloed in the square but you can get views from the doorway in the northeastern corner of Nasal Chowk.The entrance to the temple is flanked with images of the river goddesses Ganga and Yamuna. Degu Taleju Temple is another triple roofed temple built by Shiva Singh Malla that is also dedicated to Taleju.
On the northern side of Nasal Chowk, a beautiful beautiful carved doorway leads you to the Mohan Chowk. It was built in 1649, was the residential courtyard of the Malla kings,which rank as the oldest parts of Hanuman Dhoka. t was mandatory for a Malla king to be born here to become heir to the throne; an example cited to this belief is that of Jaya Prakash Malla who faced difficulties during his reign, even though he was the legitimate heir, because he was born ealsewhere.
At the center of the courtyard, there is a golden waterspout, known as Sun Dhara.The Malla kings would ritually bathe each morning at the golden waterspout, whose waters allegedly flow from Budhanilkantha in the north of the valley. It is an ornately carved spout sunk several metres below the courtyard level.
Tribhuvan Museum lies on the west side of Nasal Chowk,overlooking the main Durbar Square area, was constructed by the Ranas in the middle to late part of the 19th century after they wrested power from the royal Shah dynasty. Ironically, it later became a museum celebrating King Tribhuvan.It contains an exhibit of items of the past Kings of Nepal. It has excellent stone carvings, several spectacular thrones, jewel-studded ornaments used for coronations, weapons, furniture, wooden temple carvings, and a coin collection.
Sadly, this wing of the palace bore the brunt of damage in the 2015 earthquake.There was a recreation of the king’s bedroom and study, which contains the king’s personal belongings. This site is only for seeing from a distance. The southeast corner of the courtyard has the King Mahendra Memorial Museum where two thrones are also on display.
Good To Know
There is a 17th century stone inscription in the Hanuman Dhoka that is set on the wall of the palace with writings in 15 languages. It is believed that if anybody deciphers this entire inscription, the milk would flow from the spout, which lies just below the inscripted stone wall. Some people say that the inscription contains coded directions to a treasure King Pratap Malla has buried beneath Mohan Chowk of Durbar Square.