Kathmandu Durbar Square in front of the old royal palace of the former Kathmandu Kingdom is one of three Durbar (royal palace) Squares in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Several buildings in the Square collapsed due to a major earthquake on 25 April 2015. Durbar Square was surrounded with spectacular architecture and vividly showcases the skills of the Newar artists and craftsmen over several centuries. The Royal Palace was originally at Dattaraya square and was later moved to the Durbar square.
The Kathmandu Durbar Square held the palaces of the Malla and Shah kings who ruled over the city. Along with these palaces, the square surrounds quadrangles, revealing courtyards and temples. It is known as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, a name derived from a statue of Hanuman, the monkey devotee of Lord Ram, at the entrance of the palace.
Though there are no written archives stating the history of Kathmandu Durbar Square, construction of the palace in the square is credited to Sankharadev (1069–1083). As the first king of the independent Kathmandu City, Ratna Malla is said to have built the Taleju temple in the Northern side of the palace in 1501. For this to be true then the temple would have had to have been built in the vihara style as part of the palace premise surrounding the Mul Chok courtyard for no evidence of a separate structure that would match this temple can be found within the square.
Construction of the Karnel Chok is not clearly stated in any historical inscriptions; although, it is probably the oldest among all the courtyards in the square. The Bhagavati Temple, originally known as a Narayan Temple, rises above the mansions surrounding it and was added during the time of Jagajaya Malla in the early eighteenth century. The Narayan idol within the temple was stolen so Prithvi Narayan Shah replaced it with an image of Bhagavati, completely transforming the name of the temple.
The oldest temples in the square are those built by Mahendra Malla (1560–1574). They are the temples of Jagannath, Kotilingeswara Mahadev, Mahendreswara, and the Taleju Temple. This three-roofed Taleju Temple was established in 1564, in a typical Newari architectural style and is elevated on platforms that form a pyramid-like structure. It is said that Mahendra Malla, when he was residing in Bhaktapur, was highly devoted to the Taleju Temple there; the Goddess being pleased with his devotion gave him a vision asking him to build a temple for her in the Kathmandu Durbar Square. With a help of a hermit, he designed the temple to give it its present form and the Goddess entered the temple in the form of a bee.
His successors Sadasiva (1575–1581), his son, Shiva Simha (1578–1619), and his grandson, Laksmi Narsingha (1619–1641), do not seem to have made any major additions to the square. During this period of three generations the only constructions to have occurred were the establishment of Degutale Temple dedicated to Goddess Mother Taleju by Shiva Simha and some enhancement in the royal palace by Laksminar Simha.