April 13, 2024, Saturday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Dharahara and view towers in the Kathmandu Valley

The Nepal Weekly
August 15, 2023
Existing Dharahara also known as Bhimsen Stambha

By Purna N. Ranjitkar

The Kathmandu Valley has been a cultural hub since thousands of years back. Architectural development was a part of the procedure in the past. Swoyambhu was the only place which situates on a hillock at west of Kathmandu and can take a view of the valley from this high point. Changu Narayan, BaghBhairava are also visible places. We still can see Nyatapau Degah, Kumbheswar temple and some other standing as taller structures existing in the valley. KailashkutaBhawan was believed to be one of the tall and beautiful building existed long long ago. This was mentioned by the great Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang (born in 602 and died in 664 AD). Likewise, there was another nine storey temple existed in Lalitpur which was famous as Guita Degah.   

Dharahara is a modern structure, stands as the tallest in the valley. Recently constructed the Kathmandu Skywalk Tower is another tall structure. Kathmandu View Tower, one other tall structure to be constructed (it is under construction). It may take a longer time to see it complete as the construction works is carried out very slow speed.

Dharahara also known as Bhimsen Stambha was first built in 1832. The existing Dharahara is a 72-metre-tall. The circular balcony of the tower provides a panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley. It also had a 5.2-metre (17 ft) bronze mast on the roof.

The first Dharahara was built by Mukhtiyar (the designation is similar to Prime Minister) Bhimsen Thapa.

Dharahara was constructed for military usage as a watchtower. When incidents of national importance occurred, bugles were blown from the top floor of the tower. This was the signal for soldiers to assemble.

Dharahara as the first tower was built eight years earlier in 1824 (1881 BS) at Thapa’s residence, that situated at south-east of Sundhara(the golden water spout), near Bhotebahal of Kathmandu. It got torn in half during the earthquake of 1834 and was never rebuilt. It was only a year later (in 1835) that BhimsenThapa built the second Dharahara, along with the Sundhara, for Queen Lalit Tripurasundari Devi, who happened to be a niece of Bhimsen Thapa.

The tower was collapsed due to big earthquakes in 1834, 1934 and 2015 and rebuilt with modified designs. In the 25 April 2015 Nepal earthquake most of the tower collapsed, but the base part remains as an evidence. Construction of the ‘new’ tower was commenced in 2018.

The architecture of Dharahara is designed in both Mughal and European style. The tower was an attraction for domestic tourists. This was opened to public from 2005 until its collapse in 2015.

On April 24, 2021, Prime Minister of Nepal officially inaugurated the opening of new replica Dharahara Tower which is built just at the side of old tower remains. The new 22 storey tower stands. Just like old tower. The total cost of the new tower is estimated to be at 3.48 billion Nepalese Rupees.

Recently a tall tower in the valley has been opened for public. The Skywalk Tower located at Kamaladi near Durbar marga was opened on June 30, 2023. It is a massive structure of 78-meter height. The tower lets visitors walk on glass panels and enjoy a birds-eye view of the city. Wonders Nepal has built the milestone “view tower” in the nation’s capital.

It has been claimed to be the tallest skywalk tower in South Asia.

The Skywalk Tower

The tower is built on a land of over 13 ropani 4 ana. There is a plan to add bungee jumping in the near future.

The Skywalk Tower Kathmandu allows 500 people aboard at a time. However, the company plans to let in only 250 to 300 people in the initial phase. The visitors can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the Kathmandu valley and can walk on a transparent glass floor on top of the tower. It is a place to climb high above the ground and walk in a completely transparent glass structure. Walking on a completely transparent glass structure in the tower feels like walking in the sky, from where you can see the garden, market and moving vehicles on roads.

There is an elevator and a ladder as well to climb up, people can use elevator to reach above or also by walking. The walking space on top of the tower is 2000 square feet and has a 6 feet high glass railing around it.

There will be space for yoga, restaurants, other entertainment facilities and will have garden, shopping center, restaurant on the ground floor.

Visitors can use one of the 2 elevators to reach the 18th floor and then reach the 22nd floor to observe the outside view. The Kathmandu Sky Walk has been completed with an investment of Rs 2 billion.

Kathmandu View Tower is a building, currently under construction. It is planned to be Nepal’s tallest building at 130 Meters (426ft) with 29 stories.

Construction on Kathmandu View Tower commenced on 14 August 2016. However, in 2023, it was reported that only 30 percent of work on the building had been completed.

The project consists of construction commercial complex at Old Bus Park, east of Tundikhel and south to the premises of Nepal Electricity Authority. The building planned to have 2 basements and 30 other storeys with a total floor area of 81,764 sq m. It will be the tallest building in Nepal after completion. The total estimated cost of the project is NPR. 4,500 million.

On the 29th floor, a ‘view tower’ would allow locals and tourists to savour the wonderful vista of the city; on the basement, local buses would wait for passengers going around the city. The tower would be the go-place for shopping, cinema and dining. The company would build and operate the building for 30 years, and hand it over the KMC. The development and investment on view towers including reconstruction of Dharahara do not carry any aspirations linked to history, culture, architecture of the rich Kathmandu Valley culture and tradition. These are good for simply entertainment to the locals and tourists.