Kathmandu Durbar Sq.

Kathmandu Durbar

The Kathmandu Durbar Square: Holds the palaces of the Malla and Shah kings who ruled over the city. Along with these palaces, the square also surrounds quadrangles revealing courtyards and temples. The square is presently known as Hanuman Dhoka, a name derived from the statue of Hanuman, the monkey devotee of Lord Ram, near the entrance of the palace. The preference for the construction of royal palaces at this site dates back to as early as the Licchavi period in the third century. Even though the present palaces and temples have undergone repeated and extensive renovations and nothing physical remains from that period, names like Gunapo and Gupo, which are the names referred to the palaces in the square in early scriptures, imply that the palaces were built by Gunakamadev, a king ruling late in the tenth century. 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. When Prithvi Narayan Shah invaded the Kathmandu Valley in 1769, he also favored the Kathmandu Durbar Square for his palace. Other subsequent Shah kings continued to rule from the square until 1896 when they moved to the Narayan Hiti Palace. However, the square is still 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. Though there are not any written archives stating the history of the Kathmandu Durbar Square, the construction of the palace in the square is credited to Sankharadev (1069-1083). As the first king of the independent Kathmandu City, Ratna Malla is said to have built a Taleju temple at the Northern side of the palace in 1501. For this to be true then the temple would have had to have been built in the vihara style as part of the palace premise surrounding the Mul Chok courtyard for no evidence of a separate structure that would match this temple can be found within the square. The construction of the Karnel Chok is also not clearly stated in any historical inscriptions although it is probably the oldest among all the courtyards in the square. A Bhagavati Temple, originally known as a Narayan Temple, rises above the mansions surrounding it and was added during the time of Jagajaya Malla in the early eighteenth century. The Narayan idol within the temple was stolen so Prithvi Narayan Shah replaced it with an image of Bhagavati, completely transforming the name of the temple. The oldest temples in the square are those built by Mahendra Malla (1560-1574). They are the temples of Jagannath, Kotilingeswara Mahadev, Mahendreswara, and the Taleju Temple. This three-roofed Taleju Temple was established in 1564, in a typical Newari architectural style and is elevated on platforms that form a pyramid-like structure. It is said that Mahendra Malla, when he was residing in Bhaktapur, was highly devoted to the Taleju Temple there; the Goddess being pleased with his devotion gave him a vision asking him to build a temple for her in the Kathmandu Durbar Square. Then with a help of a hermit, he designed the temple to give it its present form and the Goddess entered the temple in the form of a bee.

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