A white building with arched Gothic-style details and blue informational plaques on either side of the entrance where people are passing through. There are benches and potted flowers in the foreground.
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Who Built Dharahara?

Have you ever wondered about the mastermind behind the iconic Dharahara Tower in Kathmandu? The story of who built this architectural marvel is shrouded in mystery and intrigue, with various historical figures playing a role in its creation. From the initial design to the actual construction, the journey of Dharahara's creation unveils a captivating narrative that sheds light on the rich history and cultural significance of this towering structure. So, who was the visionary behind Dharahara, and what secrets lie within its walls?

Historical Background of Dharahara

Originally constructed in 1832 by Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa in Kathmandu, Nepal, Dharahara, also known as Bhimsen Tower, stands as a historical landmark with a rich background. Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa built this iconic tower for Queen Lalit Tripura Sundari, showcasing his architectural prowess and dedication to the royal family. The tower, standing at 50.2 meters tall and boasting 9 stories, quickly became a symbol of Nepal's cultural heritage and unity.

Despite facing the devastating 1834 earthquake, Dharahara withstood the tremors and was later reconstructed in 1934 by Prime Minister Juddha Shumsher. Renamed as Bhimsen Stambha in honor of its original architect, Bhimsen Thapa, the tower continued to embody the strength and resilience of the Nepalese people. This renaming emphasized the historical significance and the enduring legacy of Bhimsen Thapa in Nepal's history.

Over the years, Dharahara has evolved into a public monument, welcoming visitors since 2005 to explore its impressive structure. The addition of a circular balcony on the 8th floor offers breathtaking panoramic views of Kathmandu, allowing tourists and locals alike to appreciate the beauty of the city from above. Dharahara stands not only as a historical testament but also as a symbol of freedom and unity for all who visit.

Architectural Design and Construction

Constructed under the direction of Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa in 1832, the architectural design of Dharahara Tower in Kathmandu, Nepal, showcased innovative features that set it apart as a symbol of cultural heritage and unity. The tower, standing at 50.2 meters tall with 9 stories, was a marvel of design and engineering during its time. Here are some key architectural details:

  1. Spiral Staircase and Elevator: At the heart of the tower was a spiral staircase with 113 steps, allowing visitors to ascend to the top for breathtaking views. Additionally, a rare feature for its time, an elevator was available for those who preferred not to climb the stairs.
  2. Circular Balcony: The 8th floor boasted a circular balcony, providing visitors with panoramic views of the Kathmandu Valley. This architectural element not only added to the aesthetics of the tower but also enhanced the overall experience for those who reached its summit.
  3. Innovation and Resilience: The design of Dharahara Tower was not only aesthetically pleasing but also showcased innovative engineering practices for the era. Despite the challenges of the time, including the 1834 earthquake that destroyed the original tower, its architectural design and construction stood as a testament to human ingenuity and resilience.

Key Figures Involved in Building

Key individuals crucial to the construction of Dharahara Tower in 1832 AD under Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa's leadership included Queen Lalit Tripura Sundari, for whom the tower was built. Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa oversaw the original construction of the tower, which unfortunately was destroyed in an earthquake in 1834. The second tower, known as Dharahara, was specifically constructed for Queen Lalit Tripura Sundari, showcasing the importance of her role in the project.

After the devastating earthquake of 1934, Prime Minister Juddha Shumsher took charge of the renovation of Dharahara, emphasizing the tower's significance in Nepalese history. The rebuilding efforts under his leadership aimed to restore this iconic structure to its former glory and maintain its historical importance.

Dharahara stands tall at 50.2 meters, boasting 9 stories and a remarkable spiral staircase with 113 steps. The tower's design and construction not only reflect the architectural prowess of the time but also highlight the collaborative efforts of key figures like Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa, Queen Lalit Tripura Sundari, and Prime Minister Juddha Shumsher in shaping Nepal's cultural heritage through this enduring landmark.

Significance of Dharahara in Nepal

The enduring presence of Dharahara in Nepal's architectural landscape highlights its profound significance as a historical watchtower and communication hub in the heart of Kathmandu. Built in 1832 AD by Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa, this iconic structure served multiple purposes throughout its history, contributing to the rich tapestry of Nepal's heritage and culture.

  1. Historical and Heritage Importance:

Dharahara stands as a testament to Nepal's architectural brilliance and historical legacy. It not only served as a watchtower to monitor potential threats but also acted as a communication tower, aiding in relaying messages across the region. Its construction marked a significant period in Nepal's history, reflecting the power and influence of Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa.

  1. Architectural Resilience and Symbolism:

Renovated by Prime Minister Juddha Shumsher after the devastating 1934 earthquake, Dharahara symbolizes the resilience of Nepali architecture. Its reconstruction showcased the determination of the Nepali people to preserve their cultural landmarks and historical sites, making it an enduring symbol of strength and perseverance.

  1. Panoramic Views and Cultural Significance:

With its towering height of 50.2 meters and a circular balcony on the 8th floor, Dharahara offers breathtaking panoramic views of Kathmandu. Beyond its architectural marvel, the tower holds immense cultural significance, attracting locals and tourists alike to experience the beauty and history it encapsulates.

Restoration Efforts and Future Plans

Restoration efforts for Dharahara, the iconic watchtower in Kathmandu, have undergone significant progress since its reconstruction following the 2015 earthquake. The reconstruction project, spearheaded by Raman Construction and costing Rs 3.48 billion, aims to restore Dharahara to its former glory. Scheduled for inauguration on April 24, 2021, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli will officiate the opening ceremony, marking a significant milestone in the restoration journey.

The reconstruction project has not only focused on rebuilding the physical structure but also on incorporating modern amenities while preserving the historical significance of Dharahara. The new design includes 22 storeys, a museum, garden, fountain, parking lot, shops, and an observation room, offering visitors a blend of historical context and contemporary facilities.

With a rich history dating back to its construction by Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa in 1832, Dharahara holds immense cultural and architectural importance for Nepal. The restoration efforts symbolize a commitment to preserving the country's heritage while adapting to the needs of the present-day populace. As the reconstruction nears completion, Dharahara stands as a testament to resilience and the enduring spirit of the Nepalese people.