Interested in increasing the literacy of his people, King Pratap Malla had this 14 to 15 script inscription installed alongside one of the palace complex's main water spouts located near the entryway to the palace. Mentioned in the inscription is the fact that King Pratap Malla himself was fluent in all of the 14 to 15 scripts . . .
At the entrance to the palace, a peculiar life size image is seen squatting on a massive stone pillar. The image belongs to the mighty monkey god from the Epic Ramayana. He was the most trusted servant of Lord Ram and performed superhuman activities throughout the war to help Lord Ram retain his beautiful wife Sita. There are myths that he is a form of Lord Shiva too. This image was commissioned by King Pratap Malla in 1672 AD. Lord Hanuman was a great patron to Malla kings because they are believed to be the direct descendants of Shri Ram Chandra. The Malla kings, therefore, kept the image of Hanumans at their Durbars as a measure against tevils. He is also considered to be virtuous. Malla Kings also decorated their flags with Hanuman because it supposed to bring victory in wars. Another similar image of Hanuman is seen towards the western entrance to the palace complex, which is also known to be built by King Pratap Malla on the very said date. These two Hanuman idols have been the reason behind the naming of the palace as Hanumandhoka Palace.
At the entrance to the palace, a life size image of a squatting Hanuman – the mythological Hindu monkey god – can be seen. It was installed at the entrance door by King Pratap Malla as a symbol of protection to the palace. The idol, along with the adjacent golden door, has been the reason the palace is named as Hanumandhoka Durbar . . .
A peculiar life size image is seen squatting on a massive stone pillar as soon as one approaches the Golden Door – the primary entrance to the palace. The image belongs to the mighty monkey god from the Epic Ramayana. He was the most trusted servant of Lord Ram and performed superhuman activities throughout the war to help Lord Ram retain his beautiful wife Sita. There are myths that he is a form of Lord Shiva too. This image was commissioned by King Pratap Malla in 1672 AD. Lord Hanuman was a great patron to Malla kings because they are believed to be the direct descendants of Shri Ram Chandra. The Malla kings, therefore, kept the image of Hanumans at their Durbars as a measure against evils. He is also considered to be virtuous. Malla Kings also decorated their flags with Hanuman because it was supposed to bring victory in wars. Another similar image of Hanuman is seen towards the western entrance to the palace complex, which is also known to be built by King Pratap Malla on the very said date. These two Hanuman idols have been the reason behind the naming of the palace as Hanumandhoka Palace.
The literal meaning of Agam Chhen is hidden temple. The name has been given not because the temple is covert in nature, but because it was a sacred – and private – space only the Malla rulers were allowed to visit. The temple housed the family deity of the Malla kings, hence being the reason for prohibiting anyone from entering inside the temple . . .
The Agam Chhen temple towers over the northwestern section of the Nasal Chowk, adjacent to the Panchamukhi temple that rises at the northeastern section of the quadrangle. The word Agam Chhen is literally translated to Hidden Temple or the Secret Temple. It was named so because no one, except for the Malla rulers, were allowed to enter the temple. The reason was because the shrine housed the traditional family deity of the Malla rulers. Therefore, the name actually came from its private nature rather than something that was covert.
Degu Taleju, similar to the Taleju Temple, has been dedicated to the goddess Taleju – the favorite goddess of the Malla rulers. Located in Masan chowk, this temple was built by King Pratap Malla. In fact, the faith of the king was so strong that he has built a column outside the palace premises featuring himself, praying the goddess with utter devotion . . .
Degu Taleju, similar to the Taleju Temple that lies to its north, is dedicated to the fearful god of power – Taleju Bhawani. The three storeyed temple lies in the Masan Chowk and is somehow shorter than the Taleju Temple at Trishul Chowk.
Actually, the lower part of the temple is just an ordinary living quarter and the main shrine starts high above the ground. The access to the temple is from the lower building. The roof of the temples are gilded, and from the corner of the roofs hang double banners. Architecturally, the temple is beautiful – especially the window carvings on the second floor that are panelled in silver. The temple enshrines the family deity of the Malla rulers.
This temple was built by King Shiva Malla in 1620BS. However, both the Shah as well as the Malla rulers have added to its grandeur. The north facing silver door was presented by King Girbana Yuddha Bikram Shah in 1815 BS. Devali Puja of the tutelary deity is done here by the Newar community.
Taleju Temple is considered as the most prominent temple of the entire Hanumandhoka Palace premises – both in terms of architectural as well as cultural significance. The fact that none other buildings in the valley, including the palace monuments, were allowed to be built bigger than the temple justifies the importance of the goddess for the Malla monarchs . . .
The Taleju temple, or Tulaja temple is one of the most iconic temples in the Kathmandu Hanumandhoka Durbar premises. The temple, lying in the Trisul chowk, can't be missed by any vistors visiting the Durbar square because it's simply just magnificent in every form. It has managed to create a majestic grandeur around it, especially with its rich architecture. The Taleju Bhawani temple is an annex to the Kathmandu Hanumandhoka Durbar complex. It stands on a base-mound in a huge courtyard. Its entrance is also different one. You need to get in through the street that is leading to Indra Chowk. By the entrance, there is a two storeyed Shiva temple on the left side along with a huge peepal tree, which has a beautiful image of Lord Vishnu and Garuda under it. This temple,as suggested by its name, is dedicated to Goddess Taleju. It was built in 1564 AD by King Mahendra Malla and is the most famous of the three temples designed in the valley dedicated to Goddess Taleju. The worship of Goddess Taleju was first introduced by Harisimha Deva of Simraungadh in Nepal Terai. Taleju devi became the prominent deity of Malla rulers ever since King Jaya Sthiti Malla (1382-1395 AD) came into power.
The temple is about 36 meters in height and rests ona twelve tiered plinth. The main door is on the south side and is highly ornamented with motis of Shakta cult. It denotes the superb example of Nepal's fluency in terracotta art. Like with other devi's temples, it is guarded by two lions. At the base of the temple, there is a Hanuman temple, which is about 15 meters above the ground. On ascending the temple steps, the step broadens, creating a big platform which has a wall for further protection. Outside these protection walls, there are 12 pagodas with two roofs in Nepali style. There are 4 other similar pagodas inside the wall at four corners. Each of these temples house an image of a deity. Its spire has the attributes of the Taleju goddess. The enclosing wall has four different walls on all four sides. On entering through the gates, we move further up the temple. On the southern side, there is another door. On passing through it, you can see large stone statues of men and animals. They are also the protectors of the temple. At the top, on the final stage of the plinth, two big bells can be noticed. One of them was erected by King Pratap Malla in 1564 AD and the other was built by King Bhaskar Malla in 1714 AD. These bells are rung during the routined worship of Goddess Taleju.
The temple itself is three storeyed. All its three roofs are covered with gilt copper. Rows of small wind bells are hanging on the rims of all three roofs. Metal banners embossed with images of various deities are hanging from the corners of the first and second roofs. Specially designed kalashas (holy vases) are suspended from the upper roof. On the topmost roof, there are golden spires on all four corners. There is a golden central spire at the center top of the roof. All the spires are in the form of an inverted bell with four golden roofs. A trident is also attached to the pinnacle. A bronze face, which probably belongs to the goddess, peers from the central windows of the second and third storeys. There is a balcony in two sections. Each side of the screened balcony has two figures of six large gods with eleven small images and supporting animals at the corners. The struts are also gilded with some erotic carvings too. The inner entrance to the shrine also has three large bronze statues on pillars, which were probably donated by other kings.
This majestic temple houses the image of Taleju goddess which was brought as a trophy from Ayodhya, India. It is believed that King Rana Bahadur Shah had damaged the main image of the goddess in the 18th century. Roy Chaudhary (1912 AD) has also dictated that the chief image was destroyed by a young king in agony of his quarrel with royal priests. They had opposed his marriage to a Brahmin girl since he was of the Kshetriya brethren. There is another belief too that the Taleju temple has a pointed diamond transmuted from the frontal bone of a Himalayan yogi. The arrow which Ram shot to kill Ravana, the king of Lanka, in the epic Ramayana had this pointed diamond at its top. Nobody except the king and the royal family members are allowed to enter the main sanctum. Non-hindus are completely prohibited from the temple. For Hindus too, it is only opened once a year on the ninth day of Dashain festival which falls in September/October.
Singha Dwar is another primary entry gate to the palace. This door is called as Singha Dwar because of its humungous size and the lions (singha) embellished on its surface. During the ninth day of Dashain – the only day Taleju Temple is opened for public visit – this door is used by the public to enter Trishul chowk and pay their respects to the goddess . . .
Singha Dwar is the entry gateway to the Taleju Bhawani Temple. It got its name from its iconic design which features lions embellished on its surface. This door is only open during the ninth day of the Dashain festival. On this day, people enter the Trishul Chowk through this door, and they pray the Taleju Bhawani temple. The water jar that’s brought from Changunarayan is also brought through this door.
Interestingly, the size of the door is humungous because the Malla rulers had a belief the gateway to a powerful goddess as Taleju should be something that’s equally majestic.
The Trishul Chowk is not only home to the Taleju Temple and the sacred trident. The spacious courtyard also houses an exclusive structure – opposite to the colossal aforementioned temple – which served as an altar to offer oblations and libations from the Malla rulers into the sacred fire as a means of impressing the Goddess . . .
On a first sight, this structure could confuse any visitor that it’s a normal house. However, this structure is the agni sala, or we can say yagya platform. The Malla rulers used to perform fire rituals and offer their oblation to the mighty goddess Taleju from this structure.
Located in the Dashain chowk, the Dashain Ghar was built by the rulers for a single purpose only – to store the jamaras (sprouts grown during the festival of Dashain which signify blessings for longevity and success) that would be used on the day of Dashain tika as a conferring from the royal family to the public . . .
Before getting into Dashain Ghar, it’s slightly important Ghaṭasthāpanāmarks the beginning of Dashain. Literally, it means placing a kalasha or a pot, which symbolizes goddess Durga. Ghaṭasthāpanā falls on the first day of the festival. On this day the Kalash is filled with holy water and is then sewn with barley seeds. Then the Kalash is put in the center of a rectangular sand block. The remaining bed of sand is also seeded with grains. The priest then starts the puja by asking Durga to bless the vessel with her presence. This ritual is performed at a certain auspicious time which is determined by the astrologers. The goddess is believed to reside in the vessel during Navratri.
The room where all this is done is known as the Dasain Ghar. Traditionally, outsiders are not allowed to enter it. A family member worships the Kalash twice every day, once in the morning and then in the evening. The Kalash is kept away from direct sunlight and holy water is offered to it every day, so that by the tenth day of the festival the seed will have grown to five or six inches long yellow grass. This sacred grass is known as jamara. These rituals continue until the seventh day.
At the entrance to the Nasal chowk, a lifelike sculpture of the man-lion god – Narsimha can be seen. According to Hindu mythology, Narsimha is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu who was responsible for the death of the "immortal" demon Hiranyakasyapu. King Pratap Malla had installed the statue in the palace as an apology to the furious God for imitating him . . .
As one passes through the golden door towards Nasal Chowk, they’re greeted by a striking black image of Narsimha on their left. The sculpture and the artwork of the icon are at their finest, which almost gives a feel that it’s real and living. Narsimha, according to the Hindu mythology, is a half-lion, half-man incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu had taken this form to defeat the mighty demon – Hiranyakasyapu. Hiranyakasyapu had been granted a boon that he could neither be killed by any humans or any beasts. Therefore, defying all odds, Lord Vishnu wittily took this form and ended the life of the treacherous evil demon on his lap, as represented in the figure.
This icon was built by King Pratap Malla. He was an avid dancer and musician. Therefore, during a ceremony, he had mimicked Narsimha and performed his art. However, the God was enraged at the act, and he warned the king in his dreams about his actions. Therefore, according to anecdotes, the king had installed the icon as an apology to the furious deity.
Panchamukhi Hanuman Temple, as the name suggests, has been devoted to the holy Hindu god – five faced Hanuman. King Pratap Malla was very spiritual and tantrik in nature. He had built this temple – as one of the chaukwath in the courtyard – to pray his offerings to the monkey god as well as perform and practice his tantrik practices and meditations . . .
On the north western corner of the Hanumandhoka Palace lies the five roofed unique round Pagoda style temple – Panchamukhi Hanuman Temple. It’s five storeyes are decked in red and gold, and they’ve been dedicated to Pancha Mukhi Hanuman (Five faced Hanuman). The temple is believed to have been built somewhere around 1655AD by King Pratap Malla as a shrine to practice his acts of spirituality. King Pratap Malla has been speculated throughout history to have been a very spiritual ruler.
Astonishingly, the Panchamukhi Hanuman Temple didn’t face much repercussions compared to the fate of other temples in the palace premises after the devastating earthquake of 2015. .Spurred by an understanding by the Hanuman Dhoka committee that this unique five-tiered temple had become fundamentally unstable over the years, the restoration project was underway before the earthquake, with funds in place, although the physical reconstruction work had not yet begun in April 2015 when the earthquake struck. Due to the hard-work and the fortuitous circumstances of having cash in hand, the work on fortifying and restoring the Panchmukhi Hanuman temple began in earnest in September, 2015 after following all legal procedures such as allocating the contract to the lowest bidder (according to government rules), as well as a rigorous research process that defined the parameters within which the three Steering, Consultative, and Working Committees moved in concert to execute the multi-pronged (research, re-construction, monitoring, documentation) approach required for a successful restoration. Currently, the temple is towering as it did on its prime.
Located in the Nasal chowk, Nasadyo Temple is dedicated to the god of dance. The Malla rulers took the arts of music and dance very seriously, and it's the reason they have dedicated a temple to the God. Even today, people who take dance as a sacred art, pay their visits to the temple to ask for blessings from the God . . .
The Nasal Mandir or the Nasaleshwar Mandir lies on the eastern walls of the Nasal Chowk. This small shrine dedicated to Nasaleshwar (or the Dancing Shiva) has been the reason the courtyard has received its name as Nasal Chowk. During Indra Jatra, the Nasal Chowk was used, among other purposes, as a royal theatre too. Dignified dancers from all over the state practiced and danced in this same courtyard. It was the reason the temple of the god of dance was established in this quadrangle. During the Malla era, this temple saw a lot of dancers who came seeking blessings before their performances. Although the practice has declined these days, musicians still come here to pray to the God. When a village musician decides to train a few disciples in his art, he brings them here before the training programme, and they serenade the Dancing Shiva in supplication for his blessings on their effort.
Adjacent to the Dashain chowk, lying opposite to the Nag Pokhari, there is a small Pagoda style temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It houses a shiva-linga of the four faced form of the mightiest god of Hindu mythology Lord Shiva. However, after the devastating 2015 earthquake, we can no longer see the Pagoda structure. Only the stone sculpture is present there . . .
Opposite to the Nag Pokhari and the Dashain Chowk, we can notice a Pagoda style temple that has been dedicated to Lord Shiva. It houses the four faced icon of Lord Shiva in the form of Shiva Linga. Currently, we can’t notice the Shikar style shrine that houses the Shiva Linga because of the devastating earthquake from 2015. However, the icon still exists in the designated place, and it is open for visit and prayers.
The concept of four faced Shiva Linga is actually fascinating. Our ancient doctrines dictate that we can regard both four faced and five faced Shiva Lingas as similar. The five-faced mukhalinga is called pancha-mukhalinga. The five faces relate Shiva to the classical elements, the directions, the five senses and five parts of the body. These represent Shiva's five aspects: Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusha and Ishana. A four-faced linga is said also to represent the five aspects of Shiva, the fifth aspect is center, the shaft itself or is assumed to be emerging from the top of the shaft and denotes the formless Absolute. Thus, a four-faced mukhalinga can also be called a pancha-mukhalinga ("linga with five faces" of Shiva). These four-faced lingas are the most commonly found mukhalingas.
Each palace of the Kathmandu valley – Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Lalitpur – has a nag pokhari. It features a gigantic column of the serpent (nag) god lying atop a shallow pond. These were constructed with the belief that serpents provide security to the palace – much similar to how Hindus paste the deity's picture at their doors in the hopes of divine protection . . .
During the Malla era, it was an established culture of establishing a Nag Pokhari in all three valley kingdoms of Kathmandu. This Nag Pokhari, which lies opposite to the Dashain ghar is also one of those serpent columns that was built in that era. It’s a belief that such Nag Pokharis were constructed for the purpose of security from the evils.
Architecturally, the Nag Pokhari is spectacular. It features an image of a golden serpent spreading its hood in a dazzling fashion atop a large column over a shallow pond. Even the path to the Nag Pond is equally, if not more, beautiful. The stairs leading to the pond consists of two elephants on either side, and both of them give a majestic ambience to the pathway. Even the plates which wrap the columns are made from the gold, and this tells us a lot about the ambition of Malla kings with special decorations.
This Nag Pokhari actually has an interesting story behind it. It’s actually believed that this temple was not created in Kathmandu or by any Kathmandu rulers. Once, King Pratap Malla had ventured to Bhaktapur to attack the palace and claim it as his own, but he had failed because of the tight fortifications of the palace. But he had established his stronghold around the surrounding neighborhood of the palace. Therefore, he decided to loot the area and enrich the Kathmandu city. The column was one of the images that dazzled him, and he brought it to Kathmandu and established it here in the Nag Pokhari.
The outer walls of the Masan chowk houses the humungous face mask of Sweta Bhairav (one of the forms of Lord Shiva). The architecturally majestic mask accurately portrays the enraged nature of the deity. The door enclosing the mask only opens during the Indra Jatra festival to serve local alcohol to the entranced devotees through its mouth . . .
On the outer walls of the Masan Chowk, we can see a gigantic demon mask enclosed inside a gate that is only partially opened from its bottom. This mask belongs to Sweta Bhairav – the angriest form of Lord Shiva. The temple of Swet Bhairav is one of the eight Bhairav temples which is situated in the Basantapur area. Actually, the Bhairav mask was created as a display during the Indra Jatra to drive away all the evils – which is an established culture passed down for generations. The gate enclosing the mask is completely open only on the day of Indra Jatra. On that day, traditional Nepali liquor and rice beer is distributed from a pipe coming out of the mouth of Bhairav, and people line up and struggle in hordes – which further increases the fun and prominence of the festival – to get a taste of the “blessing” from the god.
Bhagwati temple, located at the outer walls of the Masan chowk, is prominently known for being the home to the goddess Nuwakot Bhagwati. Although the temple was built in the Malla era itself, people mostly remember its ties with King Prithivi Narayan Shah, who was the responsible person for bringing the image after his conquest of the valley kingdom . . .
This Bhagwati Temple is very popular for being the home to Nuwakot Bhagwati – who is considered to be one of the mightiest Hindu goddesses. She was apparently brought to the temple by King Prithivi Narayan Shah from Nuwakot after his victory over Kathmandu. We can easily presume the faith that the king had over the goddess from this very fact itself. As an interesting fact, this temple wasn’t actually built by the Shah King. It was built during the Malla period, but the icon of the deity residing in the shrine was stolen. King Prithivi Narayan Shah just made this a new home for the goddess he dearly believed in. Some of the other names of Bhagwati Temple are Nuwakot Bhagwati, Kanhel Bhagwati. Pujas are still done every day in this temple.
God of all forms of arts, music, dance, and performance, a Natyeshwor Mandir sits in the middle of Masan Chowk. Various other gods and goddesses of the arts, music, dance, and performance decorate the four main struts of this temple, alongside two bells. Unsurprisingly, the Masan Chowk was used for various artistic dance and music performances . . .
The Natyeshwor Mandir located at Masan Chowk bears a special significance in understanding the cultures of Hanumandhoka Palace during the Malla era. This temple was constructed in the name of the god of dance – Natyeshwor. This helps us speculate the notable emphasis the Malla rulers gave to the art of dancing, which can be further evident from the stories such as the anecdote of Narsingha and King Pratap Malla. In terms of architecture, although the temple is comparatively smaller (especially because of the presence of the gigantic Degu Taleju temple adjacent to it), the architectures are spot on. They present the momentous beauty of Nepali woodcraft in an exquisite manner.
Contrary to all the other massive temples present in the Hanumandhoka palace premises, the Devi Mandir is a peculiar sight. Located in the Nhula Chhen chowk – built by King Jaya Prakash Malla – it's distinctive because of its interestingly small size. The temple is still in use, and prayers are still made every day here . . .
Located in the Nhula Chhen Chowk, this temple is an interesting sight in the Hanumandhoka Premises – the reason being its size. Compared to the colossal, monolithic temples surrounding the entire palace, this temple is actually very very small. However, regardless of its tiny size, it embodies one of the mightiest goddesses of the Hindu mythology – Devi. It was actually built by King Jay Prakash Malla as a house for the mighty goddess. Prayers are still made regularly, and people still worship the goddess in hopes of receiving the blessings for mighty strength in life.
Bayu Temple, dedicated to the air god, is responsible for the nomenclature of the courtyard – Bayu Chowk. We don't know much about the temple or its origins, but its relations can definitely be aligned with the story of Hanuman. The air god, according to Hindu myth, was the father to the monkey God. However, just like the air, this temple has a mystery to it . . .
The Bayu Temple is located in the Bayu Chowk and has been the responsible factor for the nomenclature of the quadrangle. At first glance, it looks like a simple temple. But the gajura at the apex of the temple helps us distinguish it as a temple. Actually, the temple and the entire quadrangle have been shrouded in mystery for there are no documentations regarding it. However, one small inscription from the time of King Pratap Malla has suggested the existence of the temple. The inscription states that the air god was worshipped each year on a specific day, and it most possibly was alluding to this temple. If the inscription was truly pointing towards this temple, we can understand that this existed before the time of King Pratap Malla, providing us few insights on the possible origins of the temple and the quadrangle.
During the Malla era, it was believed that the members of the royal family visiting the Budhanilkantha statue (an important temple devoted to Lord Vishnu at Budhanilkantha) would introduce tribulation to the royal family. Hence, wary of the omen, the Malla rulers had “brought” a similar life-size image of the alluded deity in the palace as Jalasayan Narayan . . .
The icon of the Jalasayan Narayan – the form of the Narayan sleeping above an ocean – is located north to the treasury garden. There’s actually an interesting anecdote regarding the origins of the Jalasayan Narayan Temple. As the story goes, King Pratap Malla had sought to create an icon of Narayan similar to the one at Budhanilkantha because it was considered an omen if any members of the royal family went to the temple. When he asked for permission from the Budhanilkantha Narayan, he received a divine command in his dream to not craft a new icon. Rather, he was specifically instructed to bring an existing icon from a pond near Gyaneshwor and establish it in his palace. He obliged to it, and now we can see the majestic stone icon resting atop a small pond at the Bhandarkhal Garden.
Lord Krishna, who brought Gopals to Kathmandu, is considered to be one of the most prominent deities of the Hindu mythology. The Kaliyadaman statue at Sundar Chowk also features Lord Krishna himself. This temple, adjacent to Shardul Jung gulma, was constructed as a prayer-house to the lord in hopes of winning his good favor and blessings . . .
North to the Jalasayan Narayan Temple and adjacent to the army barrack, there is a shrine dedicated to the Vansha Gopar – or the krishna. Inside it, there are two images of Krishna and Gopinis. Based on the artwork and the design structure, it has been speculated that the temple was built somewhere near the 18th century. The art of Krishna shows him with eight hands deeply lost in the music of the flute he is playing, while the two female icons on either side of the deity are entranced in his melody and dancing effeminately. From an artistic perspective, this icon ranks among the best works of the time.