A multi-tiered traditional pagoda-style temple next to a historic building with a green balcony, set against a blue sky with scattered clouds, at Kathmandu Durbar Square, with people sitting and walking around the courtyard.
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Hanuman Dhoka

They say that history is the window to the past, and in the heart of Kathmandu, Nepal, stands Hanuman Dhoka, a living testament to a bygone era. But there's more to this architectural marvel than meets the eye. As you step through the iconic Hanuman Gate, you'll be transported to a world filled with tales of kings and queens, intricate wood carvings, and sacred temples. But what lies beyond the gate? What secrets are hidden within the courtyards of Nasal Chowk, Mul Chowk, and Mohan Chowk? Join us as we embark on a journey to unravel the mysteries of Hanuman Dhoka.

History of Hanuman Dhoka

The history of Hanuman Dhoka dates back to the Licchavi period, from the 4th to 8th centuries AD, and it has since undergone significant expansions and renovations. Originally built as a palace during the Licchavi era, Hanuman Dhoka was later expanded by King Pratap Malla in the 17th century, transforming it into a grand complex. This expansion included the addition of temples, courtyards, and other architectural features. One such courtyard is the Nasal Chowk, which was constructed during the Malla period and holds great historical significance. It was in this courtyard that royal coronations took place, symbolizing the transfer of power within the kingdom.

In the 19th century, during the reign of the Ranas, the Tribhuvan Museum was built within the Hanuman Dhoka complex. This museum showcases artifacts related to the Shah Dynasty and provides insights into the rich history of Nepal. The museum holds great cultural importance and serves as a testament to the legacy of the Shah kings.

Today, the Hanuman Dhoka complex stands as a majestic symbol of Nepal's history and heritage. It encompasses various architectural wonders, including the Degutaleju Temple, Jagannath Temple, and Basantapur Tower, all of which add to its historical significance. The complex has witnessed the rise and fall of different dynasties, including the reign of King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who united Nepal and established the Shah Dynasty.

The Hanuman Gate

Located on the west side of Durbar Square in Kathmandu, the Hanuman Gate serves as the entry point to the Hanuman Dhoka palace complex. This gate holds great historical and cultural significance, attracting visitors from all over the world. The gate features a standing statue of Lord Hanuman, believed to have been erected in 1672. This statue is not only a remarkable piece of art but also holds a special place in the hearts of locals, as it is believed to provide divine protection to the palace and its inhabitants.

The Hanuman Gate is adorned with intricate carvings and decorations. These carvings showcase the architectural and artistic craftsmanship of the time, leaving visitors in awe of the attention to detail and the skill of the craftsmen involved. Additionally, near the gate, inscriptions in fifteen different languages can be found, further adding to its historical significance and serving as a testament to the multicultural nature of the area.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Hanuman Gate is the occurrence of miraculous events. According to local beliefs, the statue of Lord Hanuman at the gate has been known to exhibit miraculous occurrences, such as oozing milk. These occurrences are seen as a sign of divine protection and are considered highly significant by devotees.

Nasal Chok

Nasal Chok, situated on the east side of Hanuman Dhoka in Kathmandu, serves as a historic courtyard where significant events, such as the coronation of King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah in 1975, took place. This courtyard is adorned with intricately carved wooden frames and doorways, showcasing the exquisite craftsmanship of Nepal. Within Nasal Chok, you will find the Panch Mukhi Hanuman Temple, dedicated to Lord Hanuman, and the Basantapur Tower, a majestic structure that adds to the grandeur of the courtyard.

Nasal Chok holds great historical and cultural significance. It houses the throne of the King Malla, a symbol of power and authority during the Malla dynasty. Additionally, portraits of the Shah Kings, who have ruled Nepal for centuries, can be found within the courtyard. These portraits serve as a reminder of Nepal's rich and enduring monarchy.

The highlight of Nasal Chok is undoubtedly the coronation of King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah in 1975. This momentous event marked the beginning of a new era for Nepal. The courtyard was filled with jubilant crowds as they witnessed the crowning of their beloved king.

As you explore Nasal Chok, you will be captivated by the architectural marvels that surround you. The intricate wooden frames and doorways showcase the exceptional skills of Nepali craftsmen. The courtyard's serene ambiance creates a sense of tranquility, allowing you to immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of Nepal.

Mul Chok

Mul Chok, dedicated to Goddess Taleju Bhawani, is a place of significant religious rituals within the Hanuman Dhoka complex. This courtyard holds historical and religious importance, making it a must-visit site for those seeking a deeper understanding of Nepal's rich cultural heritage.

As you enter Mul Chok, you will be greeted by a magnificent golden Torana, an ornate archway that symbolizes the divine presence of Goddess Taleju Bhawani. This grand entrance sets the tone for the sacredness of the space and invites devotees to engage in religious practices and observances.

Inside Mul Chok, you will find images of Goddesses Ganga and Yamuna, symbolizing purity and auspiciousness. These deities are revered by devotees who come here to seek their blessings and offer prayers.

One of the highlights of Mul Chok is the golden waterspout, known as Sun Dhara. It is believed that the origin of this waterspout is linked to this courtyard. The golden waterspout not only adds to the aesthetic appeal of the space but also holds deep religious significance. Devotees often use the water from Sun Dhara for ritualistic purification purposes.

The Hanuman Dhoka complex itself has a long and storied history, and Mul Chok plays a vital role in preserving this heritage. It serves as a place where devotees can connect with their spiritual beliefs and engage in religious rituals, keeping the traditions alive.

Mohan Chok

Mohan Chok, a section within the Hanuman Dhoka complex, is known for its architectural beauty and historical significance as a royal residence. This area consists of two courtyards, Sundari Chowk and Mohan Chok, both renowned for their stunning architecture. Mohan Chok features a ritual bathing pool and intricate Lichhavi-era carvings, which add to its grandeur.

Throughout history, Mohan Chok has served as an important part of the Hanuman Dhoka complex, functioning as a royal residence. It has witnessed the lives of kings and queens, and its walls have undoubtedly held countless stories of power and prestige. The architectural beauty of Mohan Chok, with its intricate carvings and exquisite craftsmanship, stands as a testament to the skill and creativity of the artisans of that time.

However, like many other structures in the Hanuman Dhoka complex, Mohan Chok suffered significant damage during the devastating 2015 earthquake. As a result, it is currently closed for reconstruction. Efforts are underway to restore its former glory, ensuring that future generations can appreciate its historical significance and marvel at its architectural beauty.

The reconstruction of Mohan Chok is of utmost importance not only to preserve the cultural heritage of the Hanuman Dhoka complex but also to showcase the resilience of the Nepali people. It serves as a reminder of the rich history and traditions that have shaped the nation.

As reconstruction progresses, the architectural beauty and historical significance of Mohan Chok will continue to captivate visitors. It will stand as a testament to the enduring spirit of the Nepali people, who are committed to preserving their heritage for generations to come.