Hanuman Dhoka

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The Hanuman Dhoka in the 1850s, during the Kumari Jatra festivities
Hanuman Dhoka, the gate leading to the courtyard of the old Royal palace of Kathmandu. On its left is the statue of Hanuman.
Multi-language inscription.
Nasal Chowk with the Basantapur Tower.
Mul Chowk
Taleju Temple
Vishnu Temple (left) and Indrapur Temple (right) at Kathmandu Durbar Square.

Hanuman Dhoka is a complex of structures with the Royal Palace of the Malla kings and also of the Shah dynasty in the Durbar Square of central Kathmandu, Nepal. It is spread over five acres. The Hanuman Dhoka Palace (Hanuman Dhoka Durbar in Nepali) gets its name from the stone image of Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god, that sits near the main entryway. 'Dhoka' means door in Nepali.[1]

History[edit]

The eastern wing with ten courtyards is the oldest part dated to the mid 16th century. It was expanded by King Pratap Malla in the 17th century with many temples. Sundari Chowk and Mohan Chowk in the north part of the palace are both closed. In 1768, in the southeast part of the palace, four lookout towers were added by Prithvi Narayan Shah. The royal family lived in this palace till 1886, where after they shifted to Narayanhity Palace. The stone inscription outside is in fifteen languages and legend states that if all the 15 are read milk would spring from the middle of stone tablet.[2]

Description[edit]

Hanuman Gate[edit]

The "Hanuman Dhoka" proper, or Hanuman Gate, is located on the east side of Durbar Square. It is the entry gate to the palace, where a standing statue of Hanuman (monkey god), dated to 1672, guards the palace. Hanuman is decked with a red cloth and an umbrella. The face is smeared with a red paste. On the left is a stone sculpture dated to 1673 of Lord Narasimha (the half-man, half-lion incarnation of Lord Vishnu), devouring the demon Hiranyakashipu, which is credited to Pratap Malla period according to an inscription on the pedestal of the image.

Nasal Chowk[edit]

Ahead of the main entrance, adjoining the Hanuman Temple, is the Nasal Chowk courtyard ('Nasal' means "dancing one") named after the image of dancing Shiva located on the east side of the square. This is the square where Birendra was crowned as king in 1975, on the platform in the middle of the courtyard. At the south side of the courtyard, stands the nine storey Basantapur Tower. While the courtyard was built during Malla Period, the buildings around it, which depict intricately carved doorways, windows, and struts, were creations of the Rana rulers. Nasal Chowk is a rectangular in a north–south direction with entrance from the northwest corner. Near the entrance is an intricately carved doorway with carvings of four gods that leads to the private apartments of Malla king. A golden image of Maha Vishnu is seen now in an open veranda on the eastern wall, as the original Maha Vishnu Temple in the square, which housed this image, was destroyed in the 1934 earthquake. Other structures in the courtyard are: the Audience Chamber of the Malla kings in the northeast corner, the throne of the Malla kings in an open verandah and portraits of the Shah Kings.[2]

The Panch Mukhi Hanuman Temple (five faced Hanuman) dedicated to Hanuman is in the northeast corner of the Nasal Chowk. It has a unique design of five circular roofs. The temple priest is the only person who can enter the sanctum of the temple.[2]

The Basantapur Tower ('Basantpur' means "place of Spring") is located on the south of Nasal Chowk. It is a nine-storey tower from the top of which a panoramic view of the palace and city could be seen. Erotic images are carved on the struts of this tower. This tower is one of the four red towers that King Prithvi Narayan Shah built delimiting the four old cities of the Kathmandu Valley namely, the Kathmandu or the Basantapur Tower, the Kirtipur Tower, the Bhaktapur Tower or Lakshmi Bilas, and the Patan or Lalitpur Tower.[2]

Mul Chowk[edit]

Mul Chowk, dedicated to Taleju Bhawani, is a courtyard with two storey buildings all round that are exclusive places for religious rites. Taleju Bhawani is the tutelary goddess of the Malla family. Talegu Temple with a golden torana (door garland) is located to the south side of the courtyard. During the Dasain festival, deity of Talegu is shifted to this temple. The entrance to the temple is flanked with images of the river goddesses Ganges and Yamuna. Degu Taleju Temple is another triple roofed temple built by Shiva Singh Malla that is also dedicated to Taleju.[2]

Mohan Chowk[edit]

Mohan Chowk, built in 1649 to the north of Nasal Chowk, was the residential courtyard of the Malla kings. It 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. At the center of the courtyard, there is a golden waterspout, known as Sun Dhara, said to be spring sourced from Budhanilkantha, in the north part of valley. It is an ornately carved spout sunk several metres below the courtyard level and the Malla kings used it for their daily ablutions. The four corners have towers. To the north of this chowk is the Sundari Chowk.[2]

Museums[edit]

On the west side of Nasal Chowk, the Tribhuwan Museum has exhibits of items of the grandfather of King Birendra. Exquisite stone carvings, several impressive thrones, jewel-studded ornaments used for coronations, weapons, furniture, wooden temple carvings and a coin collection are on display at the museum. King Tribhuwan's bedroom, study and personal effects have been recreated and preserved here. This part of the palace, next to Durbar Square, was built by the Ranas in the mid to late 19th century.

The southeast corner of the courtyard has the King Mahendra Memorial Museum where two thrones are also on display.[2] [3]

References[edit]