R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, April 26 – The tourists visiting Nepal in the future will no longer be able to witness the majestic Durbar Square in Kathmandu as the area was totally ravaged by the devastating earthquake that rocked the country yesterday.
The Durbar Square, which was declared as one of the World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO, always used to be one of the most favoured spots of the tourists. Thousands of tourists visiting Nepal used to flock to the area every day, particularly in the morning and evening hours. The area was also a favourite destination of the locals because of presence of a number of temples in the area. During festivals, long queues of people thronging the temples used to be a common sight.
This correspondent had an opportunity to visit the historic place during one of the visits to Nepal a few years back and was mesmerized by the eyecatching beauty of the area. The open courtyard of the Square is surrounded by spectacular architectures, including temples. The old palace of the Nepal Kings is located on one side of the Square.
As no vehicle was allowed inside the courtyard, the visitors can roam around freely and the children used to enjoy themselves in the courtyard. Small traders used to take advantage of the presence of thousands of people, mostly tourists, in the Square to set up makeshift stalls to sell different items, particularly traditional Nepali artifacts. Different sizes of khukris (a Nepali dagger) of different sizes, right from full-size ones to small decorative pieces, were available in such makeshift stalls along with other items like different sizes of prayer wheels. Almost all tourists haggled with the traders over prices of the items.
Though it is believed that some of the constructions in the Durbar Square area started way back in 1060s, the recorded history of construction in the area is available from the 15th century. The area had the palaces of the Mallah and Shah kings of Nepal. Though the palace of the kings was later shifted, some important events like coronation of kings used to be held in the Durbar Square. The old palace was transformed into a museum but the tourists were allowed to visit only one part of it.
Unfortunately, a number of magnificent structures, which once used to be one of the main tourist spots in Nepal, was ravaged by the fury of Nature yesterday along with the palace.