kathmandu - then and now

Excerpt from HISTORY OF NEPAL by Pundit Shew Shanker

… On reaching the top of the Chandragiri pass, a stranger is at once impressed with an idea of the denseness of the population of the valley. Besides three large towns, which are conspicuous objects in the view, there are many smaller towns and innumerable hamlets, studded all over the higher grounds and slopes of the hills; and in addition to these, in almost every field there appears to be a cottage. The natives themselves estimate the population of the valley at about half a million, and probably this is not far from the truth.
Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, stands near the centre of the valley, in Lat. 27º42′N., and Long. 85º36′E. It is situated at the junction of the Bagmati and Vishnumati rivers, but lies closer to the latter, extending along its eastern bank for about a mile. When seen from above, its shape is very irregular, but it is said by the natives to resemble the Khora or sword of Devi. It is known by several names, such as Yindesi, Kantipur, and Kathmadu or Kathmandu. It is said to have been founded by Gunakamadeva, in 723 AD.
The town is built on no regular plan; but the main street may be said to run nearly north and south, and it is crossed at various angles by several others, while between these is a network of narrow dark lanes. The population, including that of the suburbs, is stated at 50,000, but probably 30,000 would be nearer the truth. The houses are from two to four stories high, and are all built of brick and tiled, except in the suburbs, where the roofs are of thatch. The better class of buildings is elaborately ornamented with plaster and paintings, and the houses in general possess large projecting wooden windows or balconies, which are richly carved. Some of the windows represent a peacock with outspread tail; others contain groups of figures of gods, men, griffins, horses, birds, lizards, etc., and are surrounded by garlands of flowers. The carving, as a rule, is bold and well-executed, but the best specimens are to be found on the older buildings, as the taste for it seems to be dying out. In several parts of the town there are small open spaces, paved like the streets with brick and stone. In these the markets are held, and in the mornings they are quite gay with the flowers, fruit and vegetables exposed for sale…
Here are few pictures of Kathmandu in the past and in the present. The images are copyrighted, hence thumbnail previews only.


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