Watching Over Kathmandu Durbar Square

KATHMANDU, Nepal — In Durbar Square, a complex of buildings that served as the former royal headquarters of the ancient Kingdom of Kathmandu, beautifully carved wooden structures spread out amid the city’s hustle and bustle.

The site’s prominence dates back to the 3rd century, although actual construction of the square in credited to Sankharadev (1069–1083), followed by additional buildings in the subsequent centuries.

Although no longer used for official royal functions, Durbar Square retains its ceremonial importance, serving as the coronation site of Nepal‘s King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah in 1975 and King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah in 2001.

One of the first details I noticed — because they looked like two tiny, oddly-colored people peering out of a window — was a carving of deities Shiva (“The Auspicious One”) and Parvati (the Hindu goddess of love, fertility and devotion), gazing down from their top-floor perch at the pedestrians, tourists and merchants at the edge of Durbar Square.

(Note: These photos were taken before the April 2015 earthquake that devastated the city.)

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A building in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square. At top, Shiva and Parvati look down from their top-floor perch. (Photos by Bruno J. Navarro) 

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