Kathmandu Durbar Square, at the heart of Nepal's great capital city, has been a centerpiece of life for centuries. A centerpiece of history, art, and culture, the historic square and courtyards are included in many vacations, especially when sampling the culture tops the list of things to do. Like Royal Chitwan National Park, Kathmandu Durbar Square is included on a list of world treasures kept by UNESCO, the cultural organization of the United Nations. This World Heritage Site in Kathmandu encompasses the square as well as other cultural treasures unique to the Kathmandu Valley. UNESCO also honors and protects two Hindu temples, Pashupati and Changu Narayan. Two Buddhist stupas make the list, two sacred spaces which draw pilgrims and tourists to their annual festivals and daily religious events. Nepal's Patan temple is a part of the World Heritage list, as is Bhaktapur, an old city at the edge of the valley, known for its temples and art. At onetime, it was the capital of Nepal.
When you spend time in the square in Kathmandu, you'll have a chance to visit this important heritage site recognized by UNESCO. This portion of the World Heritage Site in Kathmandu is a hub of culture, art, architecture, history, politics, and spirituality. Visitors who are not Nepalese need to pay a small entrance fee, which also allows access to to the places to explore, including palaces and temples.
At one time, the square in Kathmandu was the realm of the royal family, for centuries setting the stage for coronations and official happenings. Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah was crowned king in here in 2001, following in a long line of Malla and Shah rulers. Over the various centuries, various rulers made their mark on the square, combining various architecture styles from the east and west.
Part of the palace, where the kings ruled and lived, remains open as a museum. First built during the 1600s, the amazing structure is a memorable addition to Kathmandu holidays. As the most dominant structure of the square in Kathmandu, the palace is worth a look. While you're exploring, you should take time to see a stone inscription from the seventeenth century, with writings from several different languages, as well as the intricately carved wood panels and doors. The palace is part of the inner square, along with the Hanuman Dhoka, which also served as a royal dwelling place.
Visitors to this world heritage site in Kathmandu also can poke into the Mahendra Museum and the King Tribhuwan Memorial Museum. Both honor important rulers in Nepal's history. Manhedra was the king who spurred the building projects, while Tribhuwan was a twentieth-century ruler, remembered for his efforts towards equality and democracy.
Many temples are located in and around Kathmandu Durbar Square. As active religious sites, access is limited to people of different faiths. Even if you can't go inside, you can still admire the architecture, art, and design from the outside. The Taleju temple is one of the oldest, dating to the sixteenth century. Built by Mahendra and dedicated to the goddess Taleju Bhawani, the temple features three roofs and elevated platforms arranged like a pyramid. A temple to the goddess Kumari Gar features carvings of several different deities. On Tuesdays, you'll likely see lines of people waiting to worship at the Maru Ganesh temple. The people living in the Kathmandu Valley look to the Ganesh in the four corners of the valley to protect their land.
Because the square is such a popular place to visit, it's included in many preplanned vacation packages. You also can ask at your Kathmandu hotels for directions and insider's tips on what to see.