Museum Building

The History and Renovation of the Palace

Most of the Patan Darbar Square was created in its present form in the 16th and 17th centuries when Patan's prosperity was at its height. The Malla kings ruling over the three petty fiefdoms of Patan, Kathmandu, and Bhaktapur competed not only with each other in war, but also in the construction of the impressive temples and palaces.

The royal palace, now housing the Patan Museum, was built in 1734A.D., on the site of a Buddhist monastery. At that time, it was called Chaukot or "Four-Cornered Fort", for its original palace towers, two of which survive on the principal facade. After the Shahs of Gorkha conquered the Valley in 1769 A.D. and displaced the local Newar kings, the building lost its life as a royal palace. We know little about its use during the intervening centuries.

The 1934  A.D. Earthquake laid waste to the entire Darbar Square and caused the eastern wing of the palace to collapse completely. During rebuilding, architectural proportions and roof configurations were modified according to the scarcities of time and materials of the post-quake reconstruction campaign. The original buildings materials were reused as much as possible, including a large number of early carved windows, doors, and roof struts. Starting in 1950 A.D., the palace housed one of Patan's first public schools, and in the seventies a small museum was established.

In 1982 A.D. the Austrian-Nepalese collaboration began the renovation of the complex, restoring the historical design as far as possible and making the changes necessary for the building's new function as a museum. The earliest views of the structure, 19th century photographs of the principal facade, served as a basis for the restoration. There were no other historical records or drawings, so some of the building's restoration is based on conjecture.