10 Interesting facts about the Kathmandu Durbar Square that might surprise you

Are you traveling to Nepal?

Well, then you need to visit the Kathmandu Durbar Square.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site houses more than 50 temples, 3 palaces, and is one of the best things to do when you are in Kathmandu.

If you are visiting the Kathmandu Durbar Square, you might want to read my complete guide, which will tell you all about the entrance fee, what to look out for, and give you some tips and tricks.

Or you can obviously read my 10 reasons why you should definitely visit the Kathmandu Durbar Square if you are in two minds whether to visit or not.

In the meantime, here are 10 interesting facts about the Kathmandu Durbar Square you might not have known.

All the wood from the Kasthamandap came from a single tree

One of the temples in Kathmandu-Durbar Square, the Kastamandap, was supposedly completely carved from the wood of a single tree. The carvings of the Kastamandap, from which Kathmandu gets its name, are incredibly intricate and beautiful.

Sadly, the wood that you see on the Kastamandap today is not the original, as the temple was completely destroyed during the 2015 earthquake. However, it is still very nice to imagine all this wood coming from one single tree.

A godess is living on the Durbar Square

There is a little goddess that lives on Durbar Square. In Kumari Ghar, you will find the house of the Kumari, who is a living goddess—a young girl chosen through a series of ancient and very mythical tests. They believe that she embodies the goddess Durga. The Kumari can live in Kumari Ghar until she reaches puberty (gets her first period), and she rarely appears in public except during certain festivals. The little will be carried everywhere since her feet cannot touch the ground.

Royal ghosts wander Hannuman Dhoka

The palace on Kathmandu Durbar Square, Hanuman Dhoka, is also home to some very important ghosts. Legend says that the old palace on this square is inhabited by the ghosts or spirits of ancient and former kings, the Malla, who used to live there. When you’re visiting the beautiful courtyards, especially at dusk, you might feel an eerie silence, even though the palace is in the middle of the city.

One of the temples is known for its erotic carvings

One of the temples on Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, the Jagannath Temple, is known for its erotic carvings. If you look up at the struts of the Jagannath Temple, you will see small tantric erotic statuetted carved in the wood of the struts. It is also probably one of the oldest temples in Kathmandu, dating back to 1563. It also survived the terrible earthquake, largely undamaged, which is also amazing news.

The Dhunge Dhara is connected to an underground network of tunnels

On the square, you will find a large basin filled with water, which is called a dhunge dhara. It’s where people normally do their laundry or get their water. The stone spouts from this dhunge dhara are believed to be connected to a very big and complex network of underground tunnels that stretch to various parts of the city. These tunnels were supposedly constructed by mystical architects called the Karmarajas.

The Durbar Square is a mix-and-match of styles and influences

Kathmandu Durbar Square is a true mix and match of styles and influences. Both the square and the buildings around it reflect Kathmandu’s important historical position as a trade hub between China and India on the Silk Road. Here, you can see a lot of influences from Mongolia and Tibet to the north and, obviously, also India to the south.

There is a statue that might have required human sacrifices

Did you know there were some human sacrifices at Kathmandu Durbar Square? The Kaal Bhairav temple is the only temple where a human sacrifices might have been publicly offered.

It is said that during the reign of the Malla kings, the deity Kaal Bhairav was used as a kind of lie detector.

A criminal would be asked if they had committed any crimes and if they lied in front of Kala Bhairav, they would immediately die, spraying blood from their mouth.

Legend has it that Kaal Bhairav was placed near that temple and in return, he asked for human sacrifices occasionally. So the tantric, who is a powerful shaman, agreed only on the condition that they would sacrifice criminals who were not confessing to their crimes.

Swet Bhairav offers devotees alcohol

On Kathmandu Durbar Square, you will see a large wooden window through which the mouth of a big statue, Kaal Bhairav, protrudes. These windows are opened once a year during Indra Jatra.

During this festival, a rice wine called Chyang flows through a bamboo straw for the devotees on Indra Jatra. Drinking this Chang is said to bring good luck throughout the year.

The big bell rings 108 times every morning

On Kathmandu Durbar Square, you will find a large bell and you might also catch a glimpse of two very large drums in a tower. Every day at 9 AM on Kathmandu Durbar Square, this bell is rung 108 times along with people beating the big drums. This is believed to ward off evil spirits. The bell and the drums were also used in the protection of Kathmandu; they would ring the bell and beat the drums if enemies were nearby.

The earthquake uncovered numerous previously hidden artifacts

The devastating 2015 earthquake that reduced many temples on Kathmandu Durbar Square to rubble actually uncovered numerous previously hidden artifacts. Many of these artifacts were stowed away in walls or hidden in temples. These discoveries helped historians and archaeologists understand more about the medieval period of Kathmandu and Kathmandu Durbar Square.

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