Golden gate in Palace at Bhatgaon
Photographer: Taylor, Clarence Comyn
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the ; part of a collection of albumen prints taken by Clarence Comyn Taylor between 1863-65, which constitute the earliest photographs of Nepal. Taylor, a soldier in the East India Company's army, was badly wounded in the Indian Uprising of 1857 and turned to Political Service, arriving in Kathmandu in 1863 as Assistant Resident. At this time the British had started a project to document the people and monuments of the Indian sub-continent using photography. Taylor fortuitously was a capable photographer and took images of Nepal for the Government of India. This image is described by Taylor in his List of pictures as, 'No XII. The golden gate in the Palace at Bhatgaon. It was put up by a Newar Rajah in 1754. The carvings above and on either side of the doorway represent Hindoo Deities symbols &c'.
The youngest of the three city-states of the Kathmandu Valley (the other two being Patan and Kathmandu), Bhaktapur grew in prominence from the 9th century AD, due to the opening of a new trans-Himalayan trade route. Like Kathmandu and Patan, it has a Darbar Square at its centre, endowed by succeeding kings with monuments both sacred and secular. The Golden Gateway (Sun Dhoka), covered with gilt-copper sculpture, was erected by Ranjit Malla in 1753-54 and dedicated to the goddess Taleju, the tutelary deity of the Mallas. At the centre of the metal gate or torana is an eight-headed and three-armed form of Taleju, above her is a heavy frame containing Garuda, Nagas or serpents and floral motifs. Running down either side of the door are figures of deities including a skeletal Kali, and in the top corners of the inner frame are two lifelike lizards. On either side of the Golden Gate are large copperplate inscriptions. The Panchapanna Jyale Darbar or 55 Window Palace is on the right and the shadow at the bottom right of the photograph is cast by the pillar portrait of Bhupatindra Malla.