Most of the cultural centres of Nepal are concentrated in and around the Kathmandu Valley; among those cultural sites, the important one is the Kathmandu Durbar Square also known as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square. Located at the heart of ancient city Kathmandu, it is a complex of beautiful temples and shrines, both of Hindu and Buddhist. Most of them are built in the pagoda style embellished with intricately carved exteriors, built between 12th and 18th centuries. The Durbar Square, with its old temples and palaces, epitomizes the religious and cultural life of the people. It is here that kings of Nepal are crowned and their coronations solemnized. Until the early 20th century the Durbar Square was the King’s residence. It is a living open museum of Nepal.
The name Hanuman-Dhoka durbar came from the statue of Hanuman established by King Pratap Malla at the entrance of the royal palace in 1672 A.D. The nine storeyed residence built by King Prithivi Narayan Shah in 1770, is called Basantapur Durbar. The whole complex is also known as Kathmandu Durbar Square. The palace complex was originally founded during the Lichhavi Period; but as it stands today, most of it was constructed by King Pratap Malla in the 17th century. The palace was renovated many times in later years. The architectural remains and art objects existing within the palace complex now range from the Malla, Shah and Rana periods of Nepal.
The Durbar Square area is actually made up of two sub areas. The outer complex is renowned for numerous interesting temples such as Kumari Ghar, Kasthmandap, Shiva-Parvati Temple, Jagannath Temple, Big-bell etc., while the inner complex comprises the old palace area, Hanuman-dhoka and its courtyards such as Nasal Chowk, Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk, Lohan Chowk, Mohan Chowk, Basantapur Durbar and others. There are many temples in the inner complex also, most notable being the Taleju Temple dedicated to the female royal deity. The area includes tem courtyards these days, but prior to the great earthquake of 1934, the area was expanded up to New Road Gate include thirty five courtyards.
The hanuman-Dhoka Royal Palace is included in the protected monument zone along with other private building s. The site was enlisted in the world Heritage site of UNESCO along with other six monument zones of Kathmandu Valley in October 1979.
Besides the magnificent temples and shrines, other interesting aspects are the various festivals, cultural activities and traditions of the people followed over centuries, which are presented in the Durbar square. The major festivals include Indrajatra, Dashain, Gai jatra, Machchhindra-nath jatra, etc. These are the occasions when people from all over the city gather here to observe their centuries old tradition. All the carvings and architecture in this area are exceptionally fine which make the architecture in Hanuman-Dhoka Durbar Square among the most important sights for travelers to see.
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