The Narayanhiti Palace Museum

The Narayanhiti Palace Museum

The Narayanhiti Palace Museum (aka Narayanhiti Durbar) served as the primary residence of Nepal's monarchy for over a century until 2008. It was here that, in June 2001, King Birendra, Queen Aiswarya and six other royals were shot dead by Crown Prince Dipendra before Dipendra turned his weapon on himself; the apparent motive was revenge, after the King and Queen refused to approve the Prince's marriage intentions.

Birenda's replacement, King Gyanendra, was deeply unpopular, and Nepalis voted to abolish the monarchy in 2008. The new parliament promptly gave Gyanendra 15 days to vacate the Palace. The opening of the Palace Museum by Nepal's prime minister in February 2009 was a highly symbolic event.

The Palace comprises 52 rooms (19 are open to the public) and occupies 74 acres. It was designed by American architect Benjamin Pol in the style of a contemporary pagoda. The Museum showcases the belongings of former royalty, such as pictures of Queen Elizabeth II taken when the Windsors were on friendly terms with the Shah dynasty.

Visitors comment on the Palace's chintzy decor, including extensive gold-plating, numerous chandeliers and a large tiger-skin rug. The Museum's extensive grounds are open to visitors; look out for fruit bats and 20 foot-tall bamboo.

One morbid feature is of note: the Museum's buildings and grounds identify the places in which members of the royal family perished during the 2001 massacre (including the place on a small footbridge where Dipendra shot himself). One of the most interesting things to do in Kathmandu.