Dharahara is a popular tourist destination located in Sundhara, Kathmandu. The nine-storey tower provides a beautiful panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley. This historically significant monument is recognized as UNESCO as a part of the architecture in Kathmandu but was unfortunately completely knocked down in the 2015 earthquake. The Dharahara stood tall again after six years. Here are some facts about Dharahara that you need to know :
1) Second tower built by Bhimsen Thapa
Dharahara was the second tower built by Bhimsen Thapa in 1832. The first tower was built eight years earlier in 1824 and was two storeys taller than present-day Dharahara. The Dharahara was built for Queen Tripurasundari, who was the niece of Bhimsen Thapa.
During the earthquake of 1834, both towers survived but the first Dharahara suffered severe damage and was completely destroyed in the 1934 earthquake. The nine-storey Dharahara was also damaged in a later earthquake with only two storey remaining. The later Dharahara was renovated by Juddha Shumsher and Janga Bahadur Rana. Since then the only tower built by Bhimsen Thapa remained which is known as present-day Dharahara. The tower is also known as Bhimsen Sthamba or Bhimsen Tower.
2) The tallest building of Kathmandu at that time
Dharahara was the tallest building in Kathmandu until skyscrapers were introduced. The 203 ft tall Dharahara was the tallest building from where the panoramic view of Kathmandu valley could be seen.
3) It Was Built As A Military Watch Tower
Dharahara was not built as a view tower but actually, it was built as a military watchtower. The panoramic view of Kathmandu valley from the Dharahara made it easy to foresee any incoming attacks from neighbouring places. The military would monitor every angle of the Kathmandu Valley and if any suspicious activities are seen nearby, they would blow bulges from the top floor to warn and assemble the soldiers.
4) Different Architecture
The architecture of Dharahara was designed in a Mughal and European style. It resembled an Islamic minaret. The statue of the Hindu deity Shiva was placed on top of the tower.
5) Open to the public
Dharahara was open to the public after 2005 only. Before then, only authorized personnel were allowed to visit Dharahara.
6) Steps to panoromic view
The tower had a spiral staircase comprising 213 steps. The eighth floor of the tower held a circular balcony for spectators which used to provide a panoramic view of the Kathmandu valley.
7) The collapse after the 2015 earthquake
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2015 completely destroyed Dharahara with only the base remaining. The Dharahara is said to have been broken into two parts before falling to the ground. This killed many people who were there to view the panoramic view from Dharahara. More than sixty bodies were found in the rubble. Many were injured and survived the tragedy.
8) The new Dharahara
After the collapse of Dharahara in 2015, the new Dharahara was inaugurated on 24 April 2021, six years after the collapse. The new Dharahara looks similar to the old one, however, it is equipped with modern amenities. It stands 72m high (236ft) and has 22 storeys. It has a garden, a museum and a fountain, as well as two lifts to make it more accessible. The new Dharahara will have a mini-exhibition theatre on the 18th floor, a mint museum, a ‘Green Park’, a musical fountain, a vehicle parking area, a souvenir shop and a food court, among other attractions. The new Dharahara is not open to the public yet.