Durbar Square

Kathmandu, Nepal


Durbar squares, a generic term for the plazas opposite royal palaces in Nepal, can be found throughout the country. Kathmandu is the political, commercial, and cultural hub of Nepal and the durbar square located there is one of the country’s most significant. There, the symbiosis of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Tantrism, which permeate Nepalese culture, can be openly seen in its multiple palaces, temples and courtyards. Kathmandu’s Durbar Square was built between the twelfth and eighteenth centuries by the Malla kings and, to this day, remains the focal point of the city.

How We Helped

Conservation work at Durbur Square began in 2000 and focused on the three pagoda-style temples located immediately outside the entrance of the Kathmandu Royal Palace. All three of the temples had severely damaged roofs and were in a state of advanced deterioration. WMF provided technical assistance and, working with the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, developed and implemented a structural strengthening system to combat the damage incurred from seismic activities. The roofs were rebuilt, incorporating state-of-the-art seismic strengthening measures and a full program of documentation, masonry repairs, and conservation of architectural sculptures. Damaged fabric on the plinth and surrounding pavement was also restored. In addition, the projects included on-the-job training for a team of Nepalese professionals and artisans in international standards of architectural documentation, research, and conservation. Restoration of the Indrapur Temple was completed in 2002, followed by the Narayan Temple in2003, and the Jagannath Temple in 2004.

Why It Matters

The prominence, historic importance, and beauty of the buildings at the entrance to the Kathmandu Royal Palace made the integrated conservation of the square a high priority for the government. The restoration initiative reinvigorated both the site and community and helped to establish a new paradigm for the preservation of Nepalese built heritage.

Last updated: October 2015.

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