History of Kathmandu: A Detailed Article

Kathmandu has been one of the best places to take a break from the heavy workload that every millennial has to face, every traveller should know the background story of this beautiful city. The history of Kathmandu dates back to ancient times. Most part of the history being famous regimes from the rulers, the city is one of the ancient cities in Asia. Get ready to learn something unique about a city that has been the “tourist hub” in the modern era.

The Ancient Kathmandu Valley

Most of the Archaeological explorations indicate that Kathmandu and its sister towns are the oldest towns in Asia. Their history dates back to 167 BC and 1 AD. In the year 1992, some workers started digging out a trench for the foundation of a house in Maligaon in Kathmandu. While digging, they found a life-size standing male figure carved in pale sandstone. It was made in the Kushan style and the sculpture was donated by an early Licchavi monarch named Jaya Varman. Many authors have claimed that it is the sculpture of Jaya Varman himself. The most interesting fact about this sculpture is that it is one of the oldest known sculptures in Kathmandu.

History of Kathmandu As Per Its Architecture

The Kathmandu  Valley was invaded multiple times
Source
Kathmandu has faced multiple changes in its architecture. The Kathmandu Valley is located at 400 feet and is situated in the lap of central Himalayas. Its history is famous because of a myth that tells how Bodhisattva came down from the north and cleaved the Kathmandu valley rim to release the waters of an enormous lake. This made the valley habitable for the propagation of Buddhist teachings and faith.

During the 4th and 9th centuries, the Licchavi kings had established the valley’s most ancient sacred sites. However, it was the Malla kings of 13th to 18th centuries who created the extraordinary environment that Nepal is famous for. The iconic Kathmandu was built by the Mallas and it was centred upon a palace complex with a temple-filled square adjacent to it. The Newars developed a uniquely distinctive style of architecture. The famous “pagoda” temple is a clear example of uniqueness in the architecture of the Newars. During ancient times, the art became so famous that it spread to the court of Kubilai Khan in Beijing.

The valley was later on invaded by King Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha in mid 18th century. The Malla kings were unsuccessful in uniting with each other against him and were displaced. After winning against the Mallas, the Shah king relocated his court from Gorkha to Hanuman Dhoka palace in Kathmandu. The king changed and improved Kathmandu’s architecture and added a wing to the palace. Most of the design was in the Newar style.

The History of Kathmandu

As the Shahs established their rule over the Gorkhas, the Ranas became powerful. The first recorded Prime Minister was Jang Bahadur Kunwar in the year 1846. He was followed by a succession of Rana Prime Ministers, which lasted till 1950. The Rana rule from Kathmandu was mainly about governance by a land aristocracy, with the government functioning as a façade.

During this period, the Shahs were the monarchs but the real power was with the Ranas. The Nepali Congress party was founded in the year 1946. In 1948, the country’s first constitution, the Government of Nepal act was established. But, then Prime Minister, Padma Shamsher Rana resigned in the wake of opposition to the new constitution from the conservative Ranas. However, by 1950, the Ranas fell into an open conflict with King Tribhuvan as they suspected the Nepali Congress Party’s conspiracy against Rana power was plotted by the King. During this period, Government troops rebelled and over 140 Ranas joined the dissidents.

Historical Changes in Nepal’s timeline

The iconic palace
Source
After the death of King Tribhuvan in the year 1995, King Mahendra assumed the throne. This year was instrumental in transforming the status of Nepal on the global stage as the country became a part of the United Nations in 1955. A new constitution was promulgated in the year 1959 as the previous constitution was rejected by many policymakers of the country. Later in 1960, King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Deva adopted a new constitution which was formulated in the country. There were cases of massive civil unrest in Kathmandu because following the death of King Birendra and nine other members of the Royal family, King Gyanendra assumed direct control of the state. Later in 2006, Democracy was restored in the country and the Maoist parties gained the majority in the 2008 elections, there was the formal abolition of monarchy that particular year.

History of tourism in Kathmandu

Tourism in Nepal
Caption Link
The tourism sector in Kathmandu and Nepal started after the first successful ascent of the mighty Mount Everest by Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary. Initially, Nepal was closed for foreigners due to some policies implemented during the Rana regime. After Nepal became a democratic country, foreigners were welcomed to explore the beautiful city of Kathmandu.

The 2015 Earthquake!

The 2015 Nepal Earthquake
Source
Unfortunately, Kathmandu and Nepal have witnessed one of the worst earthquakes ever in the form of the 2015 Nepal Earthquake. A magnitude of 7.8 shook the entire nation and about 600,000 structures in the capital city of Kathmandu were destroyed. The UNESCO Heritage sites were brutally destroyed and many people were left homeless. The Nepal Government declared a state of emergency after the earthquake and the army was asked to help out the local people.

Members of the SAARC and many other countries like Taiwan, China, USA, UK and many more to name quickly responded by sending aid and rescue. Many NGOs and charitable trust helped the locals to get back to normal life as the U.S. Army, Nepal Army, and the Indian Army chopper were used for the rescue operation and to supply relief material for the people in need.

This had hampered the status of Nepal as a “tourist destination” as most of the sites were destroyed due to the earthquake. A “Nepal is Safe” slogan started circulating in the international market in order to help the country to regain its status as a “tourist destination”. Now, the tourism sector has recovered from the loss in 2015 and the city of Kathmandu has been the centre of attraction for many tourists due to its uniqueness.

Some Interesting Facts!

Here are some interesting facts about Kathmandu,
  • The name Kathmandu is derived from the 16th century Kasthamandap Temple, which is said to have been made from a single wood.
  • The seven groups of historical monuments, buildings, and public spaces make up the Kathmandu Valley UNESCO world heritage site that attracts millions of tourists worldwide.
Whenever we discuss Nepal, the first thing that comes up is the city of Kathmandu. Home to UNESCO world heritage sites, the city is one of the most important places on the planet.

This post was published by Tatwamasi

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