The Nuwakot Palace Complex was once one of the proudest historical monuments in Nepal and still presides over the surrounding landscape from a hill above the tiny village of Nuwakot. The fortress’ elevated status combined with the great views over the valley gave it an important strategic significance back in the 18th century. After all, it was a great spot for observing the ancient trade routes to Tibet, as well as detecting anything that might be amiss from miles away. The complex was built by Prithvi Naraan Shah, the first king and founder of the unified Nepal, after he conquered Nuwakot. The small town and the palace complex from where the new king commanded his armies even served as the capital for several years, before he finally managed to unite the whole Kathmandu Valley behind him. There aren’t any trade routes or wars to be fought any more, but one can still enjoy fantastic views over the surrounding area and the fort is a rather unknown, quiet gem that is still undisturbed by other visitors.
Although one can see signs of the artful architecture of Nepal’s golden age, visitors can also easily tell that the Nuwakot Palace Complex was supposed to withstand even the strongest of attacks. It is literally built like a very thick brick. But the powerful, orange main building, often called the seven-tiered palace with its carved windows and big wooden gallery also has more delicate things to offer, such as intricate carvings and beautiful woodwork. The complex also includes the Bhairavi Temple as well as several other smaller shrines. The Bhairavi Temple with its glowing, golden roof ties into the general purpose of the fortress, as the goddess Bhairavi was attributed to successful military campaigns and many victories were seen as a result of devoted worship at this religious centerpiece of the complex.
Please note that there were significant damages to parts of the Nuwakot Palace Complex in the earthquakes and subsequent aftershocks in Nepal
in late April and early May 2015. The seven-tiered palace was partially destroyed and some of the smaller structures were completely destroyed. Authorities have said they will do all they can to restore historic and cultural sites in Nepal and are assessing the extent of damages.
Nuwakot is located about 77 kilometers northwest of Kathmandu. There are direct busses several times a day, which take about 3-4 hours depending on traffic and the season. It’s also possible to take the bus to Bidur or Trishuli Bazaar and from there, walk the remaining 7 kilometers, a hike that’s mainly uphill.