With the emerging interest in tourism Basantapur, i.e., Kathmandu Durbar Square is believed to be the most sought destinations of Nepal. It is considered to be a living paradise for a culture seeker due to the presence of old durbars, temples, shrines, monuments, and monasteries while for the other popular time traveler’s the area is filled with activities like city excursions, shopping and eating authentic foods. The area got indeed blessed with a rich cultural heritage, wide traditional practices, codes of manners, costume, literature, and religion.
Thus having lived in the valley for 25 years of my life, I believe the area to be the most happening one inside Kathmandu valley. Thus I am putting up few interesting things that you can do while you are roaming around the Basantapur area.
Where and how to reach?
Basantapur area is located in between the prime locality of New Road, Indra Chowk and Thamel area. The place is 2 km away from the New Road gate and must be walked on the busy street and fancy shops of New Roads from the main street of the Nepal Airlines Corporation office which is known as RNAC.
To reach the Basantapur area, one can take a local transport like tempo, micro bus or local bus till RNAC ( which costs you around NPR 20). After that one must walk nearly for about 15 minutes to reach the territory of Basantapur. One can also take a private taxi which would charge you for around NPR 200-500 depending on the distance of your residence.
When entering the heritage site, the tourists must pay the amount of NPR 100 as an entry fee as it is a UNESCO declared heritage site while the SAARC country travelers get some amount of discount on the levied charge.
Where to go inside the Durbar Square?
When entering the Basantapur area from the New Road side, one gets greeted with the food aroma, fancy souvenir, street shops and at the same time take a glance of Nepalese Historic monuments which would surely be a feast for your eyes.
1.The Durbar Square Museum:
The old Durbar Square is known as Hanuman Dhoka and was built by the Malla dynasty. The Durbar Square opens from 10 am to 3 p.m all the day besides Tuesday its closed while on Friday its open from 10:30 to 2:00 pm and costs an entry fee of NPR 1000 for foreigners and NPR 150 for SAARC countries travelers. Inside the museum one can take the glimpse of old portraits, sculptures, and thrones of the rulers who ruled Nepal.
Even though the Malls built the palace, the museum consists of the belongings used by the Shah dynasty before the country was declared a Democratic state. The castle comprises of the elements utilized by the Kings and Queens followed by the awards and gifts received by them while they ruled the country.
Sadly due to the recent earthquake of 2015, some parts of the Kathmandu Durbar Square palace had collapsed and is going through construction while the foreigners can still visit the remaining areas of the palace.
In the same area of Hanuman Dhoka, there is “Kumari Ghar.” The old pagoda-style house is a place where The Living Goddess Kumari ( the incarnation of goddess Taleju) resides. The tradition of Kumari has been practiced for centuries and has been giving continuation till date. When talking about the myth of Kumari, the girl from the Shakya and Bajracharya caste belonging to Newari community is picked while the chosen girl shall be worshiped as Kumari till she attains her menstruation period. Every day the Living Goddess gives her blessings to her visitors at around 4 p.m at her resident through her window while during festivals like Indra Jatra, Bisket Jatra the goddess is taken for a temple tour via her chariot.
Kasthamandap is the building after which Kathmandu was given the name and which the legend had built by using a single sal tree. The building was constructed to provide shelter to every people passing by in 12th Century by Malla King. The building today is utilized for the purpose of conducting a religious ceremony, small business (like selling religious materials) and it still exists despite facing the 2015 earthquake. One can look at the architectural skills and at the same time sit and take refreshment by gazing around the locality of the busy area of Basantapur.
4.Shop till you drop:
The another thing you can do inside the Basantapur area is to buy the beautiful handmade stuff as a souvenir. You can buy beautiful jewels from the street shop right next to Kumari Ghar or can buy some beautiful Thaka Paintings, Nepali paper diaries, t-shirts, bag, postcards, small antiques from the shops around the corner of Durbar square. The prices for the stuff can be bargained with the shopkeepers and can be bought at a discount of 20-50% depending on your bargaining skills. While at the same time you also have 99 shops right next to Himalayan Java Basantapur where you can get stuff at NPR 99.
5.Embrace your tummy with local foods:
The another activity what you can do inside Basantapur area is eat the local Nepalese food prepared by the localities of the area. Nearby the shops of Kasthmandap and Kumari Ghar you can get several bakery items. While in the corner of Hanuman Dhoka next to small Pashupati Nath temple you can try your hand in eating local vendor foods like Pani puri, chatpatye which costs you around NPR 30-40 per plate ( but mind it the food can be spicy enough to upset your stomach if you are not found of spices).
You can also try out Momo of famous Narayan Dai located at the entrance of Basantapur area from the New-road side. You can ask anyone for the momo shop and enjoy the meal while there are several other pose restaurants like Old Durbar for the authentic continental and Nepalese food and Himalayan Java for the creamy coffee treat.
Know more about Durbar Square:
Kathmandu Durbar Square is popular place for the activities for carrying out campaign programmes in the form of street awareness. It is also a destination where religious activities like Indra Jatra take place. Similarly during the Monarchy period Kings and Queens had a crowning ceremony in the central courtyard of Durbar Square. It is a most desirous place for youngsters for every day there is a night market where one can get branded stuff like shoes, bags at a very affordable price. The area has also got used for the entertainment purpose like concerts and every year the youngsters of Basantapur club organize street festivals to promote the tourist areas.
Well, this area is certainly the heartthrob of every Nepalese people and especially for me as I thoroughly enjoy the nightlife and chaos of the area accompanied by aromatic foods.