Photos of Kathmandu Durbar Square, centre of Nepal’s capital

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Kathmandu Durbar Square, centre of Nepal’s capital

The Kathmandu Durbar Square (Basantapur Darbar Kshetra) is the centre of Nepal’s capital. It is in front of what was the royal palace (Durbar) of the Malla and, after 1769, the Shah kings. It is surrounded with spectacular buildings, showcasing the skills of Newar artisans, who, over the centuries, built magnificent temples and courtyards, with intricate woodcarvings.

Garuda statue, Maju Dega temple
Maju Deval temple
Maju Dega (Maju Deval) temple
Shiva Parvati temple
Kala (Black) Bhairab
Windows in Kumari Chowk
Basantapur Durbar Square
Vegetable market, Durbar Square
Market in front of Kasthamandap
Women in the market
In Indra Chowk
At a small temple, Indra Chowk
Seto Machindranath Temple
Carvings, Seto Machindranath Temple
Narrow street, Kathmandu
At a Shiva temple, Kathmandu
Temple near the river
Children playing, Kathmandu
Offer in Pig Alley
Washing place, Kathmandu
Market in “Pig Alley”
Procession, Kathmandu
Playing a long horn, Kathmandu
Religious music, Kathmandu Durbar Square

Royal palaces at this site were constructed as far back as the Licchavi kingdom in the third century. However, the present palaces and temples are from much later and have been renovated over the centuries. Significant events have happened at this square, like the coronations of the last kings of Nepal. Since Nepal opened itself to the outside world, after the end of the Rana autocracy in the early 1950s, Kathmandu Durbar square and its surroundings have become very popular with tourists. In the early 1960s to late 1970s, young backpackers flocked to the area, when marijuana and hashish were freely available, and hippies renamed streets “Freak Street”, “Pig Alley” or “Pie Alley” for its famous pie shops. The government banned production and sale of drugs in the late 1970s, and since then shops cater more to trekking and cultural tours.

The most spectacular sights are the temples, the intricate woodcarvings, like the windows in Kumari Chowk and the bustle of daily life on the markets around the area. Tragically, several temples and other buildings collapsed in the earthquake that struck Nepal on 25 April 2015. More than 30 monuments came down in the Kathmandu Valley, over a hundred were damaged. As an example, the Maju Dega temple at the heart of Kathmandu Durbar Square area completely collapsed; but reconstruction has begun. It will be many years before the square will look again like on these photos, that were taken in 1979.