ARCHITECTURE IN NEPAL
History of Architecture 3
Archt. Clarissa L. Avendaño
sem AY 2012-2013
Lies between two great eastern civilization:
1. India - west, south and east
2. China - Tibetan autonomous region of the
People's Republic of China in the north
I. GEOGRAPHICAL INFLUENCES
• Total land area is 147,181 square kilometers
• Three old capitals
Topographically divided into 3 regions:
• Himalaya to the north
Mt. Everest (8,848 m) - highest point
• Hills consisting of the Mahabharat range and the Churia Hills
• Terai to the south
• Crossroads of ancient civilization of Asia.
• Named after a structure in Durbar Square called “Kaasthamandap”
"wood + "covered shelter."
Three Main Cities:
2. Bhaktapur or Bhadgaon
3. Patan or Lalitpur
Karmali river, Népal
Himalayan Peaks, Nepal
II. CLIMATIC INFLUENCES
• Ranges from sub-tropical in
the low lands to Arctic
II. GEOLOGICAL INFLUENCES
• WOOD used as columns ,beams,
rafters and for construction of doors,
windows and stairs.
• METALS copper, iron, brass, bronze
were commonly used. As it was
expensive it was used on religious and
door facings, lattice- works, door latches.
• NATURAL STONE sedimentary
rocks or metamorphic stone gathered
from the quarries situated on the north
and south sides of mountain slopes.
• BRICKS AND TILES - mud bricks
were used for construction of walls. Clay
tiles were extensively used for roof
coverings and for courtyard paving,
terrace floors and floor coverings.
III. HISTORICAL AND SOCIAL INFLUENCES
• Newars and Gurkhas (of Tibetan Mongol stock) settled in early
times and established an indigenous style in art and architecture
which has never been modified.
• Art flourished during the reign of Mulla Rajas (13th
• Hinduism predominate
religion with 86.5% of the
IV. RELIGIOUS INFLUENCE
• Buddhism (Tibetan
Tantric) is next largest
• Islam, 3.5%
• Temples, shrines, monuments and
monasteries are extremely active with
devotees burning butter-lamps, singing
hymns, chiming temple bells and playing
Buddha with third eye on his forehead -
symbolizes enlightenment in both Buddhism
• Characteristic architectural heritage:
1. STUPAS/CHORTEN – oldest monuments
• Drawn from both cultures – India
Maju Dega, Kathmandu
plan and section
Traditional Materials and Construction
Technologies used in the Kathmandu Valley
Caterina Bonapace and Valerio Sestini
o Newar Architecture by the indigeneous inhabitants of
o Typical formal feature is the monumental pillar supporting
a metal superstructure adorned with mystical symbols,
group of divinities and portrait statuary of royalties.
o Newars developed their
own architectural styles
and technology, mainly
based on two building
materials: wood and clay
(bricks) with metal used for
o Street facades of houses,
usually planned with
interior courtyards are
•generic name used to describe plazas
opposite old royal palaces in Nepal.
o Typical formal feature is the
monumental pillar supporting a metal
superstructure adorned with mystical
symbols, group of divinities and
portrait statuary of royalties.
Metal Statue of RAJA BHUPATINDRA MALL, DURBAR
o Buildings are of 3 storey: Ground floor- served as a shop,
recessed beneath an overhanging first floor which is overhung by
the upper level.
Each floor is supported by
brackets and struts, ornately
curved and sometimes
Trabeated system of
construction. Wooden posts,
beams and struts used in the
houses are clear
intermingling of the structure
• Covered with special clay
tiles (jhingati) with metal
ROOFS – most striking architectural feature:
•Double pitched roof with the ridge on the line of the central spine wall.
The structure is of timber and comprises columns on the central line.
•Hovering roof form with bracket support overhanging precariously on
building walls with bracket support.
•Set one over the other in a Pagoda form.
• Protect brick walls in mud
mortar from the rain and
• Dwelling - 1000mm
• Vihara - 1500mm
• Temples-up to 4000 mm.
Windows have intricate lattice
LABORATE WOOD-CARVING ON
BHAIRAN TEMPLE AT BHATGAON.
• Craftsmanship can be seen in the lavished works on the pillars,
lateral pilasters, lintels and beams or on the brackets which
support the projecting eaves of the roofs.
• Lintels over openings are of timber and often in three parts,
stepping upwards towards the inside.
Fully decorated with carvings,
embossing, tinkling bells and
Lion Gate of Taleju Temple at Makhan Tole, Kathmandu
Houses in rural parts of Nepal are made up of stones and clay
• Conical spire in 13
diminishing tiers symbolizing
the 13 Buddhist heaven with
• Square base which has a
large pair of human eyes –
symbolizes the “All Seeing
• “All Seeing One” embossed in metal and ivory on each of the 4 sides.
Blending Nepali and classical architecture - Kathmandu, Nepal
• Lalitpur (the city of beauty) – ancient name
• Circular in shape and situated about 3 miles south-
east of Kathmandu, a short distance from the
southern bank of the river Bagmati.
• The Durbar Square, built in the reign of Raja Beer
Deva in 299 A.D .
• City full of Buddhist monuments
• Shiva temples with fine bronze gateways, deities and
• Ancient royal residential square of Malla
• Consist of the following:
1. Golden Gate
2. A place of 55 windows
3. The Lion Gate
4. Statue of Bhupatindra Malla
5. The biggest bell in the whole
6. Pagodas and Sikhara temples
DURBAR SQUARE (Mangle Bazaar)
Lunch on the roof looking at the old Palace- Patan
Newar town with monuments, palaces, pagodas and columns made of
carved wood defines the root of Newa/Nepali architecture
DURBAR SQUARE , KATHMANDU
• Typical sikhara spire with
clusters of small pavillions on
each side of the 3 arcaded
• Carved stone frieze depicting
romantic Krishna legend.
• Dates from the reign
of Raja Ranjit Malla in
• Famous as the richest
piece of art in the
• Old palace of brick walls remarkable for its carved
balcony with 55 windows. built by Raja Yasksha Malla
in 1427 AD.
Place of 55 windows (National Gallery)
• Famous for its arts
• Erected by Raja
Yaksha Malla in
• Stands on the banks of the Bagmati, dedicated to Lord Shiva
• Holy Region of Hindu, and community of Nepalese Buddhists.
• Consists of stone and wooden temples, with a burning ghat by
4. SACRED TOWN OF PASUPATI (17th
• Dedicated to Lord Shiva the guardian deity of Nepal
• Temples and shrines with golden gilt roof and large richly carved
• All the dyings are brought for cremation.
• Original pagoda styled
temple before 6th
• One of the most
famous places of
Hindu pilgrimage in
The Kali (black) Bhairab is one of Shiva's forms.
5. BHAIRAB TEMPLE
• One of the oldest Hindu
temples of the valley
dedicated to Vishnu
constructed in the 3rd c.
CHANGU NARAYAN TEMPLE
• Also known as Bhaktpur(Bhaktapur) "city of devotee".
• Home of medieval art and architecture .
• Regarded as the oldest city of the valley .
• Has its origin in the time of the Lichhavi rulers. Later in
889 A.D .
• The city has as altitude of 4600 feet above the sea . It
is 9 miles east of the Kathmandu.
• Mark of Nepalese temple designed in 1700 AD.
• Shows significant innovations
1. increase of roof storeys and plinth steps on the one
2. Introduction of an open gallery surrounding the shrine
cella on the other
• Integrated various styles of near-contemporary
monuments to make a convincing political and religious
statement while erecting a temple to his personal deity.
• The result is a building of the utmost harmony, defining
mature rules and canons of temple design to be observed
until the end of the Malla rule.
• Monasteries and temples – important for its
relationship to Persia and Central Asia.
• Huge group is carved out of a sandstone cliff face,
interior honeycombed with sanctuaries and
assembly halls extending for nearly 2 k. with painted
niche at the end each sheltering a vast Buddha
• Eastern Image is 37 m. – enlarged 3rd
• Western Image is 54 m. – 5th
c., example of eclectic
cosmopolitan influences of Buddhist art.
• Statues are prototypes of colossal image cult which
later appeared in China and Japan
• Structural technique:
– body and head rough hewn from the rock
– Features and drapery modeled in mud mixed with
straw , with lime plaster finished painted and gilded.
• Rock cut sanctuaries and assembly halls – reflect
building types once existing in Gandhara influenced by
Graeco- Roman-Sassanian styles
• Other features:
– Cupola roofs spanning with arched squinches the
square chamber angles in anticipation of the Sassanian
– lantern roof
– Coffered dome
– Elaborate system of hexagons (each containing a
seated Buddha image)
– Triangles rising to a central octagon.
According to the world press, this Buddha was destroyed by the Taliban.