Life in Basantapur Durbar Square, Kathmandu

A quite oasis amidst the rush of the city, this place projects a beautiful intermingling of the ancient culture and the modern way of living. Kathmandu Durbar Square or Basantapur Durbar Chetra is located at the center of the city and is one of the three royal palaces (Durbar Square) in the Kathmandu valley. This area held the palaces of Malla and Shah Kings who ruled over the city. Now, it is a popular destination for national as well as international tourists.

“It is extremely humbling to see people find happiness in small things and gather the courage to earn their livelihood even after the destructive earthquake,” says Malar, 28, a Malaysian tourist. The place is surrounded by Hindu and the Buddhist temples. Most of the monuments seem to date from the 15th to the 18th century and comprises of beautifully embellished exteriors and brilliantly carved wooden architecture.

The chanting of the prayers and the sound of the temple bell seem to wake this place up early in the morning. The strong belief in culture and tradition among the residents of the Kathmandu valley can be clearly observed in this area. Youngsters can often be spotted enjoying the afternoon sun and taking photographs with their friends.

“We wanted a place to go to after classes and this seemed like the perfect one,” says Shrishti KC who seemed to be enjoying the company of her friends. The center of attraction of this place will definitely be Kumari, the Living Goddess of Nepal. Numerous tourists are gathered everyday around the courtyard of ‘Kumari Ghar’ which is a three story brick building beautifully decorated with wooden carving of numerous gods and goddesses. Nepali artists don’t mind spending an entire day in this hassle free area exploring their creativity and admiring the beautiful heritage.

“I came here from Pokhara for a workshop,” said Man Sunwar who is an artist and a painter. “The beauty of this place cannot be defined in words, the more time I spend there the more exciting it gets,” he added.

Gautam Shakya is a shopkeeper and has been selling goods in this area for more than twenty years now. He, however, seems to be disappointed with the government for not rebuilding this area after the earthquake of 2015. “They have not even reconstructed one monument,” he exclaims sadly. “These monuments are UNESCO World Heritage sites and great sources of income for Nepal. I do not understand why the government is not taking a serious note of this,” he adds.

Happily speaking in Mandarin with her Chinese customers, Goma Budathoki, who sells junk jewelries and singing bowls on the streets of Basantapur, tells us that she learnt English and Mandarin from her customers. According to her, the influx of the tourists has definitely been less after the earthquake, however this business is helping her educate her children and she is extremely satisfied. “Nepalis often tend to litter this place with plastic wrappers while the tourists seem to have better sense and look for a dustbin,” says Sunita Duha, a municipal sweeper.

– pratik.rayamajhi123@gmail.com | PRATIK RAYAMAJHI | myrepublica.com