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ARCHITECTURE OF NEPAL

General Info

Nepalese architecture is another art that has become an important part of the country's cultural heritage. Stylistically, it may be divided into three broad groups-the pagoda style, the Stupa style, and the Shikhara style.

The Pagoda Style

This style refers to multi roofed structures with wide eaves supported by carved wooden struts. Windows, either latticed or grilled, are usually projecting, while the roof is generally topped off by triangular spires enclosing an inverted bell of stucco or burnished gold. The pagoda style shows the finest specimens of the architectural genius of Nepal. The style was later adopted in China and from there spread to other Asian countries. For this, the tribute goes to a young architect sculptor painter named Balbahu, (or Araniko as the Chinese call him), who led a delegation of eighty Nepalese artists to Tibet during the late 13th century at the invitation of the Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan. The best example of the pagoda style in the Katmandu Valley is Kasthamandap a wooden pagoda built in the Malla period; this is also the structure from which the capital city is derived. The nine storied Basantpur Palace built by King Prithvi Narayan Shah is another outstanding pagoda specimen. The Pashupati, Taleju and Changu Narayan temples are also notable examples.

The Stupa Style

The Swayambhu and Baudhanath Shrines are Nepal's first examples of stupa or Chaitya style. This style is purely Buddhist in concept and execution. The outstanding feature of stupas is a hemispherical mound topped by a square base supporting a serried of thirteen circular rings. Narrowing towards the top these are crowned by parasol. The four sides of the square base or the Harmika, as it is called, are painted with pairs of mystic "all seeing eyes." The stupas in Patan, said to have been built by King Ashoka, are considered to be the most ancient stupas of Nepal.

The Shikhara style

The Shikhara style forms yet another architectural design found in Nepal. The super structure of this style is a tall curvilinear or pyramidal tower whose surface is broken up vertically into five or nine sections. The final section consists of a bell-shaped part at the top. The Krishna temple in Patan, consecrated by King Siddhi Narasingh Malla is the finest specimen of the relatively less popular Shikhara style.

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