NEPAL: Art & Culture – Hanuman – dhoka Durbar Square @Kathmandu City

Done with the CSR event on the 4th day of our Nepal trip, we tucked into a quick lunch and set out to explore the art and cultural side of Nepal.
Hanuman -dhoka Durbar Square is located in the heart of Kathmandu City and is enlisted in the World Heritage Site of UNESCO along with 6 monuments zones of the Kathmandu Valley in October 1979.

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With it being in the heart of the city, we had to navigate through really bad traffic. In the end we ditched our coach and traveled on foot.

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But the human traffic was almost just as bad. Hordes of people are everywhere; on the sidewalk, in the shops and on the streets. Pushing ourselves through the crowd was necessarily at times.

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But as every seasoned traveller have come to realise, all of these are part and parcel of travelling and exploring a new city/country. Strolling the streets with the locals, breathing in the very air of the place and absorbing the atmosphere of actually being right here in the country.

Upon arrival at Hanuman-dhoka Durbar Square, our guide gave us a guide (pun intended) each.

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BELOW: At the entry of the Kathmandu Durbar Square.

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To enter, you would need to have a pass (you will have to pay a tourist service charge) by the KMC (Kathmandu Metropolitan City office).
The revenue collected is being utilized for the conservation, restoration of monument and for tourism promotion. I do not know the fee as it was all taken care of as part of our tour.

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The street leading into the square was lined with small businesses; the most common ones being pashmina shops and food joints.

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As we moved nearer into the inner square, the landscape changed. We were taken back in time. All of us looked around in awe and for those of us with a penchant for the arts and culture, we felt a flutter of excitement for what lies ahead.

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As we strolled deeper into the square, we were distracted by a little busy market selling souvenirs of handicrafts and arty pieces. But it was nearing dark (sun sets early in Nepal during the time we were there in November), thus we had to hurry to cover as much ground as possible. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to browse. 🙁

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Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square consists of a lot of buildings and it’s full of statues and artifacts of great importance. It showcases the the perfect example of the religious and cultural life of the people of Nepal.
The place is popular with both locals and tourists. Obviously the tourists are here to sight-see. As for the locals, they like to hang around or just sit at the stairs of the monuments. This is like a public park to them.

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I had to admit that it was difficult to snap a good picture with the amount of human traffic. All of us had to make do with whatever we could get.
We tried to wait for the crowd to pass but that didn’t turn out very wise as it is almost impossible to get a window gap where there were no one posing in front of the buildings. Moreover, we were always hurried by our tour guides, who had to make sure we are on time for the next item on our itinerary.

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At the risk of being left behind from the group, I managed an unobstructed shot of one of the buildings. This shot took me 20 minutes just in waiting time!

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Anyhow I gave up after that and caught up with the group. Another unhappy point that I had to make here was the hurrying which affects our ability to remember, take notes or even match each building we saw to the ones on our brochure.
In the end, all the buildings and sites ended up in my memory as a blur of beautiful structures. I barely absorbed any information our guide was saying.

I did remember this one though due to its distinctive usage.

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This housed the “Kumari”, the living goddess who is considered an reincarnation of the goddess Telaju.

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It is the 3rd storey of this building that is especially attractive with its fine bay windows, in which the young Kumari appears in the company of her guardian to be seen and admired by the locals and tourists alike.

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However her appearances are based on your luck and request. Our guide requested to her guardian and apparently we were in luck as she wasn’t occupied with prayers or too tired from her day activities. So we were informed that she will come to the window in 5 minutes or so.
No photography were allowed of her and we were reminded very very liberally of the rule. Even holding our cameras in our hands were forbidden in case we managed to sneak a shot. Thus all our phones and cameras were requested to be kept in our bags or at least to have the lens cap on.

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So yes. No photography means no pictures for me to share here either. Anyhow, there’s always good ole Google. (Pic below credited to Google).

kumari

A Kumari is a “living virgin goddess”. A child is selected based on her auspicious horoscope and bore no physical defects in line with “32 perfections” as outlined by the regulations of how a Kumari should be. By tradition, one royal kumari at a time reigns before the mantle is passed to the next little girl.

Since about the age of 6 or 7, this “fortunate” girl, once selected will be waited upon hand and foot, all meals prepared, staying indoors except for 13 annual festivals when she appeared on a chariot. However, the moment she hits puberty, she’s sent back to her home (nothing like the Kumari-Ghar for sure) where reality sinks in. Hard.
I stared at her as she stood at the window for a few moments. While I totally respect traditions, I’m not sure if I agree to such religious beliefs.

Anyhow, moving on.
We left the Kumari -Ghar (Kumari’s residence) and went on to take more pictures as well as explored the rest of the Durbar Square before the sky gets dark.

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Below are more pictures of the heritages sites within Hanuman – dhoka Durbar Square. As I have said earlier, I barely ingested any information though our guide was very hardworking in giving them. There wasn’t enough time nor hands to take both notes and pictures and try to understand whatever he was saying simultaneously.

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Some traditional guard’s uniforms.

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This is the Hanuman statue, the Hindu God who is always depicted in the form of a monkey.

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What was more interesting was the cow that sits rather audaciously right in front of the statue. If you don’t already know, cows are holy animals in Nepal and are reared for their milk, not for their meat. And yes, they have every right to sit anywhere they want.

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This is another one that was memorable building but for an unorthodox reason. It is a temple with erotic cravings on its roof. 🙂

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See any “karma sutra” positions? 🙂

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We then continued to admire more intricately crafted towers and buildings. Frankly, no pictures would be able to portray their mystique, old grandeur and exquisite workmanship. You will just have to visit the square itself when you’re in Nepal! 🙂

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My advice would be to go early in the morning so there are less people and more time for you to slowly explore and appreciate the rich history of the place.

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Here’s the brochure if you need more information about Hanuman – dhoka Durbar Square @ Kathmandu City.

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Next: More historical sites – Patan City and Bhaktapur!

** This is a media trip with the Air Asia team and media from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia. We were in Nepal for the Air Asia X CSR launch of the OCPL programme, a community outreach project in partnership with OLE Nepal.

Nepal 2012 Group Photo

*Group photo credit to Djamilah from Indonesia.

Our 6D5N tour was handled by Incentive Tours & Travels Pvt Ltd who did a fabulous job taking care of us!
For any enquiries about traveling in Nepal, do drop me a comment here! 🙂

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