Space in front of Durbar, Bhatgaon [Bhaktapur]
Photographer: Herzog and Higgins
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph from an album of 30 prints credited to Herzog and Higgins, taken in ca. 1901 and part of the Curzon Collection. Bhaktapur (or Bhadgaon), 11 kms east of Kathmandu and 10 kms north-east of Patan, is the youngest of the three former city-states of the Kathmandu Valley. Very little associates it with the Lichchavi period (300-800 AD) and it seems to have grown in mediaeval times with the opening of a new trans-Himalayan trade route. It became powerful as the capital of the united Malla kingdom. In the 15th century when the kingdom was divided in three parts, it had to share its supremacy in the Kathmandu Valley with Patan and Kathmandu. This resulted in each city-state being embellished with architecture and spacious quadrangles as successive rulers tried to outdo one another. Bhaktapur, Patan and Kathmandu each have a Durbar Square built around the royal palace. It was a king of Bhaktapur who helped usher the end of the Malla dynasty by asking the Gurkha leader Prithvi Narain Shah to assist him in a feud with Kathmandu. With this pretext, the Gurkhas conquered the Valley by 1769, Bhaktapur being the last of the three cities to capitulate. In the photograph the Lion Gate entrance to Malati Chok in the western part of the royal palace is at the left and in the rear to the right is the column with the statue of Bhupatendra Malla (1699-1722) placed on top in an attitude of worship, facing the eastern wing of the palace. Bhaktapur was ravaged in an earthquake in 1934, and its modern Durbar Square is less grand than those in the other two cities.