Patan Durbar Square is situated at the centre of Lalitpur city. It is one of the three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of its attraction is The Ancient Royal Palace where Malla Kings of Lalitpur resided.
It was formed in the period of Malla kingdom during the rule of king Siddhi Narshing Malla before 1900 bs it is one of the oldest durbar square.
The three main courtyards in the palace are Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk. Besides these courtyards, the complex boasts impressive temples, religious shrines, and historical places, all noted for their exquisite carvings and beautiful display of ancient Newari architecture.
Mul ChowkIt is one of the most famous and largest courtyards among the three main chowks. At its center is located Bidya Temple, and Taleju temples stand around the courtyard.
Sundari ChowkSundari Chowk is to the south of the Mul Chowk. It is designed with sunken tank known as Tusha Hiti.
Keshav Narayan ChowkKeshav Narayan Chowk is towards the northern part with Degutale temple next to it.
It is best known for its rich cultural heritage, particularly its tradition of arts and crafts. It is also called as city of festival and feast, fine ancient art, making of metallic and stone carving statue. At the time of the 2001 Nepal census it had a population of 162,991 in 68,922 individual households
Lalitpur is believed to have been founded in the third century B.C. by the Kirat dynasty and later expanded by Licchavis in the sixth century. It was further expanded by the Mallas during the medieval period. There are many legends after its name. The most popular one is the legend of the God Rato Machhindranath, who was brought to the valley from Kamaru Kamachhya, located in Assam, India, by a group of three people representing three kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley. One of them was called Lalit, a farmer who carried God Rato Machhindranath to the valley all the way from Assam, India. The purpose of bringing the God Rato Machhindranath to the valley was to overcome the worst drought in the valley. There was a strong belief that the God Rato Machhindranath will make rain in the valley. It was due to Lalit's effort that the God Rato Machhindranath was settled in Lalitpur. Many believe that the name of the town is kept after his name Lalit and pur meaning township.
Lalitpur said to have been founded by King Veer Deva in 299 A.D. but, there is unanimity among scholars that Patan was a well established and developed town since ancient times. Several historical records including many other legends also indicate that Patan is the oldest of all the cities of Kathmandu Valley. According to a very old Kirat chronicle, Patan was founded by Kirat rulers long before the Licchavi rulers came into the political scene in Kathmandu Valley. According to that chronicle, the earliest known capital of Kirat rulers was Thankot. Kathmandu, the present capital was most possibly removed from Thankot to Patan after the Kirati King Yalamber came into power sometimes around second century A.D.
One of the most used and typical Newar names of Patan is Yala. It is said that King Yalamber or Yellung Hang named this city after himself and ever since this ancient city was known as Yala..
The city was initially designed in the shape of the Buddhist Dharma-Chakra (Wheel of Righteousness). The four thurs or mounds located on the perimeter of Patan are ascribed around, one at each corner of its cardinal points, which are popularly known as Asoka Stupas. Legend has it that Emperor Asoka (the legendary King of India) visited with his daughter Charumati to Kathmandu in 250 B.C. and erected five Asoka Stupas, four in the surrounding and one at the middle of the Patan. The size and shape of these stupas seem to breathe their antiquity in a real sense. There are more than 1,200 Buddhist monuments of various shapes and sizes scattered in and around the city.
The most important monument of the city is Patan Durbar Square, which has been listed by UNESCO as one of seven Monument Zones that make up the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site. The seven monument zones were included in the World Heritage List in 1979 as one integrated site. The monument zones are declared as protected and preserved according to the Monuments Preservation Act of 1956.
Patan City was planned in Vihars and Bahils. Out of 295 Vihars and Bahils of the valley 56% of them are in Patan. The water conduits, stone spouts, Jaladroni (water tanks), artistic gate ways, Hindu temples and Buddhist Vihars adorn the city. The in built cultural heritage like the royal palace, with intricately carved doors and windows and beautiful courtyards adorned with exquisite icons enhance the beauty of the city. Such art pieces are found in stone, metal, terracotta ivory and other objects. All these artifacts exhibit artistic excellence of the craftsmen and the whole city looks like an open museum.