Introduction
   
 

Bhaktapur is one of the three main cities of Kathmandu Valley. The name of the city is derived from different appellation. During the Lichhavi Period (3rd century – 9 century AD) it was called as Khopring Drang followed by Bhadgaon and Bhaktapur in medieval and modern Nepal respectively. In the vernacular language of Kathmandu Valley the place is known as Khopade and Khopadesa.

In the inscription issued jointly by Shivadeva and Amsuvarma of Sambat 516(594A.D.) the people are addressed to as the inhabitants of Khopring drang, which shows that the name of the place as Khopring drang and this inscription, is located at Golmadhi Tole in present Bhaktapur.The historians have narrated the word Drang as village, and tala as, developed settlement with market area. Therefore, there must have been many villages and settlements in and around the then Kathmandu Valley.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square
 
 
The history from 9th to 12th century goes almost blank in Bhaktapur. Gopal Raj Vamsavali and other chronicles credit Anand Deva as the founder of Bhaktapur city in 267N.S. (1197A.D.) and also mentions that he had built a royal palace called Tripura. Although we do not accept this to be fully true, it shows that Anand Deva could have transformed the village Khopring drang into Bhaktapur city. The royal palace of Bhaktapur city is located almost at the centre of the city. Most of the monuments located in and around Bhaktapur Durbar Square were constructed during seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. During early medieval period, the palatial location was called with different names such as Tripura Durbar, Thanthu Rajkula, and Vasantpur Durbar and so on.

55 Windows Palace
   
 

Like other royal palaces of the Kathmandu Valley, Bhaktapur Durbar Square is also dotted with many courtyards (chowks), royal buildings, stone spouts and temples dedicated to different Gods and Goddesses and an example of high architectural buildings erected during different centuries by different kings. The Durbar Square, as in the medieval period, did not serve only as the royal residence but also as an administrative centre as well.

Mul Chowk, the main courtyard of the Durbar Square is the oldest part still surviving. The courtyard was made in 1324A.D.


Chyasing Degal
   
 

Therefore, in order to write the history of this Durbar, we must peep into the contemporary political situation of the valley.

The important of this city was enhanced from the beginning of the medieval period because it became the royal seal of undivided Nepal during that time.

From the second half of thirteenth century to the early half of fourteen century, Abhaya malla and Rudra Malla were in the throne. During their time, the political situation was in turmoil.


Bhairav Temple
   
 

In 1324 Gayasuddin Tughluk of Delhi Sultanate vanquished the state of Simaraungarh and King Harisimha Deva fled to the hills in order to save himself, he died in a place called Tinpatan near Dolakha in route to the Nepal valley. His wife Deval Devi and son Jagat Singh could reach Bhaktapur palace, then called Thanthunim Durbar and got the shelter there as s refugee. They established their tutelary deity “Taleju” brought by them in Bhaktapur Durbar. Because of the entry of Taleju for the first time in Bhaktapur, it remained an important issue among the Malla rulers of the Nepal valley in the days to come. Whether the Tripura palace constructed by Anand Deva and Thanthunim Durbar were the same or different one? And where was that located? And who constructed Thanthunim Durbar? Needs further investigation.


Durga Temple
   
 

Sometime, after Deval Devi got refuge in Thanthunim Durbar, the king Rudra Malla died without a male heir apparent in the throne. Therefore, Nayak Devi, the infant daughter of Rudra Malla, was declared as the heir to the throne of Thanthunim, and the queen mother Padumal Devi looked after her and Deval Devi assisted in that situation. Slowly Deval Devi did not lag behind to extend the hand in the politics which led to a short lived political conflict in the palace.

Nayak Devi was married to a prince brought from Baneras for the first time but soon became the widow. Then Deval Devi married her son Jagat Singh to widow Nayak Devi .


Nayatpol Temple
   
 
In this way Deval Devi got into the ruling families of Kathmandu Valley. Nayak Devi had delivered a daughter and was named Rajalla Devi who was full claimant of the throne. She was married with Jayasthiti Malla who was brought from outside by Deval Devi, most probably from Tirhut region. Being the husband of Rajalla Devi, Jayasthiti Malla also started to participate in the politics of the country.Being an able and shrewd politician, Jayasthiti Malla could capture all the political power in 1307 AD. And he became the sovereign king of Bhaktapur. During his reign Bhaktapur could achieve allsorts of developments- economic, social and cultural. But it does not seem that Jayasthiti Malla did make any royal palaces. From which royal building did he rule is not clear. Therefore, it seems that he also must have ruled from the same Thanthunim Durbar as his predecessors.

Silu Mahadev
   
 

 In 1428 A.D. King Yakshya Malla came into power in Bhaktapur. He enlarged his country and encircled Bhaktapur city with moats and defense walls pierced with defense gates. Although there is no evidence of the construction of a Durbar by him, it is often mentioned by the historians that the famous Tripura Palace was erected during his reign. He is also credited as the founder of Yaksheswar temple now standing in the palace complex.

After the death of Yakshya Malla, in 1482, his son Raya Malla ascended the throne of Bhaktapur. But he was a very gentle king; his gentleness was exploited by his second brother Ratna malla and broke the country into two. Then he started to rule from Kantipur as an independent king from 1484AD. Onwards. In this way the greater Nepal valley having capital as Bhaktapur divided into two independent states-Bhaktapur and Kantipur.


Yachheswor Mahadev Temple
   
 

After that many kings like Pran Malla, Vishva Malla, and Jagajyoti Malla ruled from Bhaktapur Durbar but no significant evidences left about their contributions in Bhaktapur Durbar.

King Naresh Malla did some renovation work in the Taleju temple and added a couple of windows of sandal wood in Mul Chowk in 1637 AD.

Jagatprakash Malla, who ascended the throne of Bhaktapur in 1644A.Dmade a palace known as Vasantpur but unfortunately we do not know how the architecture of this building was? No documents give any information about its architectural from. He also extended Taleju Temple and established a temple dedicated to Bhavani Shankar near the western entrance of the Royal Palace, along with a mandap in the precinct of Mul chowk.

   
 

Jitamitra Malla became the king of Bhaktapur in 1672 A.D. his reign was very important from the art and architectural point of view. There was some sort of competition in constructing and decorating the royal palace complexes among the contemporary kings in the valley. An inscription in 1678 A.D. states that the royal palaces Thanathu Dubar with stone spouts, gardens, and courtyard were constructed by him. Also, he restored Kumari Chowk and established the images of Astamatrikas and gilded the roof of Taleju. He established the tympanum and offered the big bell to the Taleju. The intricately carved wooden tympanum above the main entrance to the Mul Chowk is also the contribution of Jitamitra Malla.

Jitamitra Malla was succeeded by an equally illustrious king Bhupatindra Malla in 1696 A.D. He is credited with the building of the grand palace with ninety nine courtyards and fifty five windows.At present, we can see only fifty five window palace and a few remaining courtyards among the ninety nine courtyards.Only half a dozen of courtyards (chowks) are exciting such as- Mul Chowk, Bhairav Chowk, Ita Chowk, Malati Chowk, Siddhi Chowk and Kumari Chowk.


Golden Gate
   
 
Bupatindra Malla constructed the Malati Chowk and established a golden spout. Also the Taleju temple was embellished with golden pinnacles after restoration of it. The rare example of Bhupatindra Malla’s contribution is the Fresco paintings in the fifty five windows palace.
   
 

These paintings are the depiction of different stories as narrated in Ramayana and Mahabharat. The central figure of the painting is of Viahvaroopa. This is one of the rarest wall paintings of Nepal. The stone images of Nara Singh, Hanuman and golden statue of his own are other examples of his contribution. In architectural field, in addition to the palace, another remarkable contribution is the Nyatapola temple erected in 1702 AD adjacent to the palace in Taumadhi Tole. This is the tallest Pagoda in Nepal and is also the landmark of the country which has been proved to be the great attraction of the tourist. Nobody would miss to praise its beauty and grandeur. This single monument could attract thousands of tourists each year. Another contribution is the temple of Bhairav just few meters away from the Nyatapola and was built a decade after the inauguration of Nyatapola.

After Bhupatindra Malla, his son Ranajit Malla ascended the throne in 1722AD. He was the last king of Bhaktapur. His contribution in the Durbar Square is the golden gate. It was built in 1753/54. The art work has been proved to be a master piece of reposes work. It has been praised by the international art critics as the jewel of the entire are works created in Asia during the period.


Narayan Temple
   
 
Listing in the World Heritage List
   
 

The Bhaktapur Durbar Square had been listed in the world Heritage List of UNESCO in 1979 and became a pride of mankind.