When we look into the history of Kathmandu, many things and mythological facts about the valley surprises us. The history of Kathmandu connected with culture and heritage sounds epic with several historic events and revolutionary acts. From the day of spotting the valley to till today, the land witnessed different rulers and invasions. All their reminiscences in the form of massive buildings, temples, inscriptions, statutes, etc teach about the great history of Kathmandu.
In a few words, Kathmandu’s history starts from Manjushree and then continued to Licchavi’s, Malla’s, Shah’s, and ended with Rana rule. Nearly from 300 BCE, the page of Kathmandu’s history was written.
A Brief History of Kathmandu
Based on different excavations by archaeologists, Kathmandu was first spotted in between 167 BC and 1 AD. According to mythological stories, Kathmandu was created by Manjushree by draining a lake. After different kingdoms ruled Kathmandu, at last in 2006 it got Democracy policy. Overall, Kathmandu valley history can be concluded in three eras of ancient, modern, and contemporary times:
What Ancient Days Says About Kathmandu?
The history of Kathmandu ancient times was mostly derived from Swayambhu Purana. As per the traditional mythological stories and books, Kathmandu was a massive and deep lake called “Nagdaha”. It’s a lake of snakes. But Bodhisatwa Manjushree drained the lake with his sword by making water flow out from the place. Then, he established Manjupattan city. After some time, Banasur named demon closed the way not to drain the lake. This time, Lord Krishna killed the demon Banasur and he made one of the Gopalas as the king.
After Gopalas, the region was ruled by Aabhirs, Somavanshis, Mahispalas, and Kiratas. Licchavis from Indo-Gangetic plain defeated the Kiratas and established their dynasty in 400 AD.
Licchavi's Time : The major things taken place under Licchavis are the first permanent Buddhist monasteries, the introduction of Newars, and as a trade center between India and Tibet. Due to permanent Buddhist monasteries, here Newars population emerged, which were still located in Kathmandu. They are well-known artists throughout Asia at that time. During the Licchavi era, trade between India and Tibet is the key factor for Kathmandu’s wealth.
At this time, Managriha, Kailaskut Bhawan, and Bhadradiwas architectural buildings were built. In the Licchavi era, Gunakamadeva ruler founded the city Kathmandu by adding Koligram and Dakshin Koligram. Trade and Newarism culture are prior aspects of Licchavi rule.
Malla's Time : After the Licchavi era, Malla era was continued. From Tirhut, Mallas reached north to the Kathmandu valley due to attacks of Muslims. During the Malla period, a serious earthquake made the city drawn into a bad condition of lost many lives, destruction of many architectural buildings, and loss of literature in several monasteries. Trade also badly affected during this time. But during Mallas, standard Nepali currency was established in trans-Himalayan trade.
In Malla's time, the major aspects such as architecture, esthetics, and trade played a vital role in the development. For example, cities like Lalitpur, Kantipur, Bhaktapur, and Kirtipur was founded during this time. Simply, a major development was drawn to Kathmandu during Mallas. At this time, stone inscriptions, fine architectural buildings, temples, medicine, law, morals, books, tantric tradition, etc were found. Some of the fine architectural buildings of the time are Kathmandu Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Krishna temples, and others. Till today these are the known marvels of Kathmandu.
How Modern Era Influenced Kathmandu?
In 1768, the Battle of Kathmandu ended the rule of Malla and a new kingdom known as the Gorkha Kingdom was rooted. After it, Rana rule came into power. During the modern era, military structures, western European architecture, economic exploitation, distinctive religious, and rule of authority was observed.
Shah's Time : In early Shah rule, Gorkha kingdom was the dominating one. They started conquering Kathmandu with the Battle of Kirtipur. Finally, they made Kathmandu as the capital of Gorkha empire. During their reign, Nepali architecture and diverse cultures were experienced in the city. Trade was completely abolished because of continuous wars. Due to wars, here new modern military structures were established. The major architectural works of this time are the nine-story of Basantapur and the nine-story tower of Dharahara.
Rana's Rule : With the Kot Massacre, Rana rule was established in Nepal. At the time of Rana, the alliance of anti-British was shifted to pro-British. This led to the construction of western European architecture buildings. Notable constructions of this time are Garden of Dreams, Singha Durbar, Narayanhiti palace, and Shital Niwas. But under his rule, modern developments such as first college, school, hospital were built. These are the important contributions of the rule.
How Kathmandu followed Democracy due to Contemporary Issues?
In 2001, crown prince Dipendra murdered his father and mother and nine other royal family members. Later he was also died by shooting himself. Then, the new king Gyanendra took control. At last in 2006, democracy was followed by the people of Kathmandu and in 2008 Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) won elections with a great majority. Finally, in 2008 Kathmandu was under Democracy. Even though, due to the fall of the Communist Party, some protests have taken place on the government.
From ancient days to contemporary times, Kathmandu seen several new implementations and some times worse situations. But the Malla period’s architectural styles and Rana rule’s development in education and health made some drastic changes to the city. However, the city with all dimensions inherited from its history, made the nation choose it as the capital.