Any Nepali can speak endlessly about what an ancient country Nepal is. We need barely any provocation to go off about our rich and diverse culture. But so many of us never seek to explore the true history of our country. The most that we know of Nepal is the outskirts of our own hometown, and we know little to nothing about all the historic events that took place in these parts.
To be honest, conservation efforts are nowhere close to being enough — especially when you think about how old our cultures are. But, the various museums around Kathmandu do a good job of capturing a snapshot of our history. And if you’ve never visited a bunch of museums in Kathmandu of your own free will, then you are definitely missing out on a lot.
Here are 8 of the best museums in Kathmandu — for a fun date, or a cultural day out.
1. Patan Museum
You might be familiar with the fact that each of the three Durbar Squares in Kathmandu Valley have a museum. Patan Museum is the one at Patan Durbar Square. Lalitpur Metropolitan City routinely garners praise for its thoughtful and sustainable administration. Patan Museum reflects this tenor with its well-curated exhibits that give you a deep dive into the history of Newar art and culture.
2. The National Museum, Chhauni
The National Museum in Chhauni is especially designed to cater to all audiences — foreigners, Nepalis, and every age group. The museum has special sections dedicated to earth’s biological history, with some interesting exhibits being a pair of huge mammoth tusks. It also has installations to showcase the different cultures of Nepal.
Most interestingly, the National Museum holds some of the oldest artefacts of any Nepali museum, including artworks that are over 2000 years old and 10,000-year-old human remains recovered from different parts of Nepal.
3. The Military Museum, Chhauni
One can expect the Military Museum to have some unique artefacts found nowhere else, and it would be completely justified. The museum, which sits right across the road from the National Museum, contains exciting objects from the modern Nepali history, including a Rolls Royce gifted by Queen Elizabeth II and a military plane. You will get to explore the history of the Nepal army through the various objects and artefacts in the museum. The most interesting objects at this museum must definitely be the weapons and military garbs from the time of King Prithvi Narayan Shah.
4. Narayanhiti Palace Museum
The Narayanhiti Palace Museum is the location of the infamous royal massacre of 2001. This museum gives you a unique look at the secret life of Nepali’s royalty. The museum takes you through the different private rooms of King Birendra and his family, the numerous gifts they received, and ultimately the courtyard and billiards room where the royal massacre took place.
5. Tribhuvan Museum, Hanuman Dhoka
The Tribhuvan Museum, better known as the Hanuman Dhoka museum, is a great place to visit for a deep dive into ancient Nepali culture. Its exhibits are spread across a sprawling complex, an old durbar. The old artworks on display, along with their explanations written down on plaques, will easily keep you busy for hours.
6. Music Museum Of Nepal
Among the countless aspects of Nepali culture that require urgent preservation efforts, Nepali folk music is a major one. The remote corners of the Nepal are a treasure trove of authentic Nepali folk music and instruments and they are on the verge of dying out.
The Music Museum of Nepal, situated in Tripureshwor, is a mission by a single person to preserve Nepal’s dying musical heritage. The museum has preserved countless folk instruments of Nepal and also has a library of recordings. You might be surprised to find many Nepali instruments there that you didn’t even know existed!
7. National Ethnographic Museum
The National Ethnographic Museum at Bhrikutimandap aims to educate visitors about the diverse cultures that make up Nepal. A great museum for school-going children as well as foreign tourists, this museum properly illustrates different nepali cultures with life-sized installations and various cultural artefacts.
8. Museum Of Nepali Art
The Museum of Nepali Art, better known as MoNA, is situated at the premises of Kathmandu Guest House in Thamel. More than a museum, this institution is an art gallery with a focus on traditional Nepali art forms. A visit to MoNA will prove fruitful based on the artworks on display during that time period — you can explore the works of new artists following the age-old paubha tradition, and view the works of “western styles juxtaposed in local cultural context”.
Well, there you have your travel itinerary. We hope you get to check off all the museums in Kathmandu from the list. Meanwhile, make sure to follow Yeti Yap for more of such content.
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