Enduring Legacy of the Ranas

Narayanhiti Durbar

The Ranas’ most lasting legacy to the nation was a style of buildings completely different in scale and design from the traditional architecture prevalent in the Valley before. Most of them were done in white plaster in neo-classical, Baroque or industrial style and had columns of different orders besides large French windows. In 1847, Jung Bahadur Rana built Narayan Hiti Durbar for his brother Rana Uddip Singh. Constructed in neo-classical style, the building was remodeled and made larger in 1889. Narayan Hiti Durbar became the Shah Kings’ royal palace right until the monarchy was overthrown in the 1990s. Today, it serves as a museum. The Foreign Ministry is also located here now.

Thapathali Durbar

Jung Bahadur Rana also built the Thapathali Durbar for himself besides the Bagmati River. Built in colonial style, it was a very large complex in its heydays. Now, much of the palace has been demolished while the main part houses the Nepal Rastra Bank. In 1903, Chandra Sumshere constructed the Singha Durbar as a residence for himself. Around the seven quadrangles of Singha Durbar are more than one thousand rooms. Once, it was one of the largest buildings in South Asia. Later, the country’s parliament was established in the complex besides the offices of many ministeries. Nepal Television too is located here.

Lal Durbar

Bahadur Bhawan, built in 1889, was later transformed into the Royal Hotel, the country’s first hotel. It became defunct in due time and currently, Bahadur Bhawan serves as the offices of the Election Commission of Nepal. In 1890, Bir Shumshere built the Lal Durbar, one part of which was renovated later into the Hotel Yak and Yeti complex, a five star property. In 1893, Bir Shumshere also constructed the Seto Durbar, most of which perished during the great earthquake of 1934. Today, only a small part remains which can be seen on the west side of Durbar Marg.

Keshar Mahal

Bir Shumshere then built Phora Durbar next to his palace in 1895. It was famous for its many gardens and fountains. It was completely dismantled in 1960 and made anew into a club for Americans in Nepal. In 1894, Juddha Shumshere’s son, Agni Shumshere, built the Agni Bhawan on the north side of the royal palace. It was later remodeled into the Hotel Shanker in 1964 so as to increase accommodation capacity for the many visitors expected for the king’s coronation. Another durbar near the palace was Keshar Mahal which was built in 1895. It too was reputed for its gardens and water fountains. Today, the garden has been completely renovated and is a must-visit site for everybody. The complex also houses the Keshar Library and the Ministry of Education. The present Rastrapati Bhawan was originally called Sital Niwas which was built in 1923. Sital Niwas suffered extensive damage during the 1934 earthquake and much of it was rebuilt. Photo By: Museum Syndicate

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