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The Transformation of a Royal Palace

Chapter 3: The Palace Building


Patan Darbar as seen from North-West

Keshav Narayan Chowk is the Northern-most part of the Patan Darbar palace complex, with the dominating Degutale temple next to it. It is the site of the earliest Malla palace in Patan and rests on the even older foundations of a Buddhist monastery which it replaced long ago. It was also called Caukvatha or Chaukot Darbar, the Four-Cornered Fort, in reference to its four tower pavilions and to the originally open terrace in between them. Of these corner pavilions, only the two front ones are still in place.

Although the date of its original construction remains unknown, repeated renovations of the palace have been recorded. For the last time under Malla rule, it was rebuilt in 1734 to its present shape


North-wing and Kesav Narayan Temple

East Wing

North-East Wing


(above) longitudinal section, seen from South
and (left) ground floor plan after restoration

Above: The main courtyard as seen from the entrance arcade; Below: The main courtyard as seen from above


The quadrangle of Keshav Narayan Chowk opens into arcades (dalan) on three of its sides, supported by pairs of carved timber pillars. The small domed shrine in the courtyard is devoted to Lord Vishnu as Mani Keshav Narayan - from which the common name of this part of the palace derives.

The Eastern wing (behind the temple) that had collapsed in the 1934 earthquake was rebuilt thereafter with double of its original width.

Since 1950, it was used as one of Patan’s first public schools.

After its restoration between 1983 and 1992, the court quadrangle now looks again as it did when inaugurated in 1734. An open balcony runs around the four sides under the eaves connecting the rooms on this floor which has no internal corridor. The yellow flags are remnants of Bernardo Bertolucci’s set decoration for his film “Little Buddha.”

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