Durbar Square is the old city heart of Kathmandu - it was here that the Royal Palace once stood. In fact, Durbar means Palace. While the royal family moved elsewhere around a century ago, the square retains its importance as a crossroads in the city. If you, like me, imagine one square, you are in for a surprise: Durbar Square consists of several squares, all linked by streets and alleys. All combined, the maze of squares and streets, alleys and quiet corners makes for a great destination to just wander around and explore. Getting lost here would be a major achievement even for those without a sense of direction, since the area is small enough. After exploring, you might want to just sit down and watch life pass by from one of the many temples with stairs.
Historically, Durbar Square was not only home to the old Royal Palace, but also the location for crowning ceremonies of kings. Nowadays, while there are still many temples and the old Royal Palace to see, the main function of Durbar Square seems to be a social one. Locals gather here to meet, to chat, I saw romantic couples on the stairs of the temples, families with kids playing in a quiet corner, but also people setting up stalls and selling all kinds of things. Apart from the "sights" of Durbar Square, it is one of the best places in Kathmandu to see the colourful Nepalis go about their lives.
Even though I had heard that there was an entrance fee to Durbar Square, I did not realize this was really the case until I approached from Pyaphal Tole. For non-Nepalis, the entrance fee needs to be paid at a booth on the street, which gives you access for the rest of the day. I then expected to enter a well-preserved square with free access to the temples and palace, but this was not the case. Much worse: you have to share the square with a lot of traffic coming from all sides; if you are not careful, you might be hit by one of the many vehicles crossing the square. Temples are under reconstruction, and I can well imagine that the fumes of traffic do a lot of harm. It is amazing that Durbar Square is not traffic-free; after all, it is a World Heritage Site, for which foreigners pay entrance fee.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Durbar Square (Nepal). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Durbar Square. Read more about this site.