Hanuman Dhoka is Kathmandu’s royal palace, once the seat of power for the kingdom. Home to the royal courts of both Malla and Shah dynasties, it was built during the fourth and eighth centuries and is an important part of Kathmandu’s UNESCO-listed Durbar (or “palace”) Square. Although damaged in the 2015 earthquake, it remains a must-see site.
In the Ramayana, one of the Hindu national epics, Hanuman was the faithful monkey sidekick of hero Ram. In Hinduism, the bright-red monkey god has a devoted following of worshippers. A statue of a red-robed Hanuman from the 17th-century marks the entrance to his namesake palace complex, known as the Hanuman Dhoka. Constructed under both Malla and Rana rule, the sprawling set of courtyards, temples, towers, and royal quarters was the official residence of Nepal’s monarchs until the royal palace moved to Narayanhiti.
Hanuman Dhaka contains many of the city’s standout architectural gems, like the centuries-old audience chamber for Malla royalty. Opt for a guided tour to get in-depth commentary on the UNESCO-listed historical structures and learn about the city’s ongoing reconstruction efforts. Admission is already included in the cost of Durbar Square admission tickets. Some tours include a visit to the Asan and Indra Chowk bazaars.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The one-time home of all of Nepal’s monarchs in one sprawling royal complex.
- Check before you click: Photography is only permitted in the outer courtyards of the Dhoka.
- Keep an eye out for the offerings given to the statue of Hanuman at the entrance of the square.
- Wear comfortable footwear and be prepared for a short walk between sites.
- Plan on allotting at least 30 minutes to explore the Hanuman Dhoka’s outer structures.
How to Get There
Kathmandu’s Durbar Square is a short walk through the Old City from Thamel, where most of the city’s guesthouses and hotels are grouped. You can also arrange for a taxi ride, although many guided tours include private hotel pickup.
When to Get There
Kathmandu is a year-round destination, but you can time your visit for cultural and religious festivals like Tihar, the Hindu festival of lights, or Indra Jata, when Durbar Square fills with thousands for a chariot-led procession through the streets. If you’d rather avoid the crowds, then plan a morning visit on a routine workday. Fall and spring have mild temperatures. Prepare for chilly winters and rainy, hot summers.
A Secret Stone Inscription in 15 Languages
In 1664, one of the Malla kings had the outer wall of the Hanuman Dhaka inscribed in 15 different languages, including Greek, Roman, Persian, Arabic, French, and Sanskrit, among others, and had a spout placed right in the middle. Brush up on your language skills before you arrive in Hanuman Dhoka. Legend has it that if one person can decipher all 15 inscriptions, then milk will start flowing from the spout.