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Narayanhiti Museum

Abhishek Subedi June 4, 2020

Narayanhiti Museum also known as the Narayanhiti Palace or Narayanhiti Durbar was the residence of the former King and Queen of Nepal. During the Shah Monarch, the palace was the centre of state occasions and royal hospitality.  The name Narayanhiti is made up of two words Narayan means Hindu God Vishnu and the Hiti means water spout in Newari language. The museum was constructed in 1963 AD during the Rana regime. It is incorporated in an impressive and vast array of courtyards, gardens and buildings. The current Narayanhiti Durbar was built by King Mahendra in 1963. The palace was designed by the architect BenjaminPolk.

Narayanhiti Museum

Location of Narayanhiti Museum

The Narayanhiti museum is located centrally in the Kathmandu valley. It is located in the Durbar Marg of Kathmandu City. The palace complex is located east of the Kaiser Mahal next to the Thamel. The stunning and magnificent building of the palace increases the beauty of the surrounding. The other landmarks around the palace are Annapurna Hotel, Nag Pokhari and Lazimpat. The property of the palace is spread over the area of 38 acres. 

History of Narayanhiti Palace

During the early Shah Period, the Narayanhiti palace was occupied by the family of Shreepali Basnet( Kaji Dhokal Singh Basnet house). The ownership of the palace was changed from time to time to this period. After Dhokal Sigh Basnet the palace was occupied by Fateh Jung Shah the 6th prime minister of Nepal and his family. During the Kot massacre of 19 September 1846 , both the prime minister along with his father were killed and brothers were exiled from the country. After this massacre the palace was occupied by the frightful and ruthless Rana prime minister Jung Bahadur Rana and his brother colonel Ranodip Singh Kunwar. Colonel Ranodip Singh Kunwar ordered the renovation of the palace and used it as his private residence.

After Ranodip Singh Kunwar became the prime minister of Nepal, he again renovated the palace, but this time he did it more lavishly and extended it into the multi wing palace. On 22 November 1885 during a coup d’etat Prime Minister Maharaja Ranodip Singh Kunwar was assassinated by his nephews, the Shumsher Brothers (Khadga Shumsher, Chandra Shumsher and Dumber Shumsher) somewhere in the southern wing of the palace. After the death of Prime Minister Maharaja Ranodip Singh Kunwar, Bir Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana assessed the throne and took over the Narayanhiti Palace. In 1886 Bir Shumsher renovated the whole palace and built a new palace under the master Nepalese Architect Jogbir Sthapit for his son in law Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah. Thus, Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah moved from the Hanuman Dhoka Durbar to Narayanhiti Durbar.

In the earthquake of 1934, Palace was partially damaged, killing two infant Princesses, daughters Princess of King Tribhuvan. The repair and renovation of the palace was done under Colonel Engineer Surya Jung Thapa and a new Portico and Grand Staircase was built. During 1963, King Mahendra ordered the demolition of the old palace and construction of a new palace. The new palace is built in Nepalese architecture style under the design of Californian architect Benjamin Polk. The final design of the palace was built almost after the decade and ended in 1969. The house warming was done in the Hindu Wedding ceremony of Prince Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev.

The Narayanhiti Palace was sold to the government by the King Mahendra for 70 million Nepali rupees.  The very saddening death of the King Bir Bikram Shah Dev along with his family members and brother Dhrendra Shah and other royal servants took place in 2001 known as the Royal Massacre. The then palace where this crime took place was demolished after some days of incident. After the 2006 revolution to bring democracy in the country, King Gyanendra was noticed to leave the palace within 15 days. Thus, this palace was turned into a public museum with all the valuable objects in Nepal.

Design of The Narayanhiti Palace

The palace stands on the floor space of 40838.28 square feet and is divided into three parts, the wing, the state wing and the private wing. The palace has a total of 52 rooms called sadan and are named after 75 districts of Nepal. The interior of the palace is designed in the late Victorian Style.

  • Reception Hall

Reception hall of the palace is named after the Kaski district of the nation and named as Kaski Sadan. The hall is decorated with the full sized taxidermy of Bengal tiger in charging posture at each other. The tigers were hunted by King Mahendra and king Birendra. There is the life size of portraits of the Shah Monarchs throughout the walls along the staircase. These portraits were painted by the artist Amar Chitrakar. During the Shah regime this hall was the Palace where Royal families gave audience to politicians and performed the oath ceremony of the Prime Minister and heads of constitutional bodies of Nepal.

  • Throne Room

The throne room also known as the Gorkha Baithak is the centre of the Palace. It is right above the reception hall. It is built in the Hindu Pagoda style where its top is about 60 feet tall with the beautiful and stunning 48 feet chandelier hanging from it. The ceiling has the four columns each representing Naga, decorated with garish Hindu deities Astha Matrikas and Astha Bhairava. 

Narayanhiti palace has a large garden with ponds and temples. The highlights of the place are the impressive throne and the banquet halls. It has bedrooms with surprisingly modest designs. Bullet holes can still be seen on the walls of the Main building where King Dipendra took his own life after murdering his family members. The visitors cannot take cameras and mobiles with them as they have to put everything inside the locker. They are mostly curious about the morbid location where the prince killed his family. The visitors can also get a glimpse of the beautiful and stunning diamond studded crowns, which is the real jewel of Nepal. This museum is one of the most captivating heritage buildings in the country of Nepal with many beautiful sights and historical sites to visit.

The Narayanhiti Museum has a yearlong history from the Rana regime to the Shah dynasty. This beautiful palace is packed with both domestic and international visitors who are curious to observe the former house of the Kings and Queens. Not only it carries historical values but also the arts and architecture here are worthy of praise.

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