Once the center of political life in Nepal, Kathmandu’s Durbar Square is now a Unesco World Heritage Sight right in the center of downtown. Durbar means palace, and this area was once the palace and center of government in Nepal. Now, tourists and locals alike folk to the area to enjoy sites of the old palace and temples, as well as watching life pass you by.
Most of the buildings date to the 17th or 18th century, as many of the original older structures have been destroyed by one of the many earthquakes that hit Nepal. There isn’t one main square, but rather three that are connected by a promenade. I came in the side entrance and started my tour is Basantapur Square, which is largely used today as a souvenir market. The architecture here is more modern, with a couple large white buildings, including the Durbar Square Museum. Right on the corner there is a western-style coffee joint, which has a perfect view of the action while sipping on some java.
Next I wandered to what could be considered the main square, Durbar Square which has the massive Maju Deval. A shiva temple, this step structure towers over the surrounding buildings and provides a nice view at the top. You can watch as vendors try to sell flowers or bicycle tuk tuks leave with new passengers. It’s easy to spend a half an hour just watching people here.
Next I went into the Tribhuvan Museum, which is situated inside the old palace. Here, you can get a quick history of the previous royal families of Nepal and insight into some of the modern history that has shaped Nepal. The museum itself is ok, but its the surrounding structure and getting to wander through the palace that is truly the interesting part. You can see the pictures of the royal family at public events, but also private photos of the family inside the palace.
Once you exist the museum, you’re greeted by the final square, which is absolutely filled with pigeons! There are kids and tourists feeding them, and they are perched on every roof around the square. In the center of this square is another temple, as well as some interesting statues of Hindu gods. The entrance fee to the site is a little steep (7500 rupees or about $7.50) but you can validate your ticket for the entire duration of your trip. Then you can come and visit whenever you want! They light up all the temples and buildings at night, so coming back to get a totally different feel for the site would be an excellent experience. Plus there are tons of little souvenir and craft shops in the square to explore, which god knows I did!