National Art Museum; the Simhadhwaka Durbar of Bhaktapur

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National Art Museum; the Simhadhwaka Durbar of Bhaktapur image
Image by Dinesh Ranjitkar

The national art museum of Bhaktapur is one of the best acquisition hubs of medieval as well as the lichhavi art and history. That was a former palace then named Simhadhwaka Durbar. For the reason of having an image of a pair of stone lions.

King Bhupatindra Malla erected it in 1698 A.D. Also, picturesque it as Malatichwok. But locals prefer to call it Simhadhwoka layaku rather than Malatichwok. Later, in 1960, the Government of Nepal and the Department of Archaeology set it up as the National Art Gallery.

The National Art Museum was inaugurated by Bishwesvar Prasad Koirala. He was Nepali Congress Supreme and the very first elected prime minister of Nepal.

Consequently, this museum is the best among the three museums of Bhaktapur. You can easily find this place, once you enter the Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The two stone images of lions pleasantly embrace you.

simhadhwaka durbar

Simhadhwaka durbar

Along with that, another stone sculpture of Hanumanta-Bhairav and Nar-Shima also shows you the way toward the museum.

Statue of Hanumante Bhairava

Statue of Hanumante Bhairava

Statue of Narshima

Statue of Narshima

Notwithstanding, this museum has a small acquisition. But, it has a good collection of manuscripts and chronicles, which date back to the 11th century. Similarly, it is the home of ancient Paubha Scroll paintings, tantric cloth paintings. Also, the artefacts of bronze, brass, stone, and wooden images.

This architecture is not in its fundamental shape after the devastating earthquake of 1934 A.D. Yet, was also harmed in the quake of 2015. But, it is protecting a lot of unique discoveries in it. That includes the stone varieties on its ground floor.

The ground floor of the National Art Museum

As you enter the National Art Museum, you would find a counter where you have to pay and take the tickets. Advantageously, you won’t need to buy tickets for another two museums of Bhaktapur ( wood carving museum and the brass and bronze museum), once you buy one over there.

The tour of the Museum starts with the masks of Nava Durga, the most prestigious deities of the Bhaktapur, and the statue of four-handed Ganesha. Along with that, you can notice some stone inscriptions on your right-hand side.

The next room separated by a door somehow offers you more than the old inscriptions and masks. You would encounter the four-faced shivaling and other reverse statues of Surya, Kubera, Vishnu, Ardhanareshwor, Tara, Laxmi Narayan, and many more.

With that, this floor displays the most erotic paintings of god and goddess, specially dedicated to the Bhairava and his shakti. The description regarding those paintings says that the bhairava over here is shown in an extensive system of yogic union with his shakti, Bhairavi.

Simply looking at these paintings, one can see them engaging in sexual posture but the philosophy of such posture is quite different from what one sees through eyes. Those postures depict the tangible expression of the metaphysical concept that salvation results from the yogic union of the male and female organs.

However, there is one more image consisting of Mahasambhara that portrays the Mahasambhara, one of the popular deities of the Vajrayana cult of Buddhism in his extensive system of Yogic union with his shakti, Bajrabarahi.

The first floor of the National Art Museum

The very first floor of the National Art Museum is filled with paintings of different eras. And, it has an all-embracing paintings collection of airbrushing Vasundhara, Ganesh Shakti, Mahisa Sambhara, Vajra Yogini, Asta Bhairava with their shakti, and Shiva. It also has the classic paintings of Krishna Leela and Madhukaitavabadha.

The images of various kings and princes after King Prithi Narayan Shah are also depicted over there. The very first thing that you would notice over there is those immense memories of the kings.

Furthermore, the stage has centuries-old written inscriptions which apparently make us wonder and think about the inventions of that era. On top of that, the handwriting is super good.

Some extra notes

  • You can buy books related to paintings, woodcarvings, brass, and bronze over there. But the cost differs for Nepalese citizens and foreigners.


Books For Nepalese For Foreigners
Thankas and paintings Rs.750 Rs.1000
Kasthakala (about the woodcarving)-written in Nepali Rs.450
Dhatukala (about the brass and bronze)-written in Nepali Rs.350
Kalakriti vivaran-written in Nepali Rs.600
  • You need to pay a little amount to enter there. You can check out the entry fee of other heritages sites of Nepal at the following link. Entry fees of the Heritage sites.
Sites Non-SAARC Nationals  SAARC nationals  Chinese Nationals Nepalese Remarks
National Art Museum Rs.150

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Rs.10 for the students

Includes admission to the woodcarving museum as well as brass and bronze museum.


Yes, you need to pay Rs.50 to Rs.150, as per your passport and nationality. But, once you buy tickets over here, you won’t need to buy another at Museums of Dattatraya Square. So, keep them safe for later.

This museum is also called Smhadhwaka durbar because of the two stone images of the lion that is established at the entrance of the palace.

Yes, you can take your cameras over there but need to pay extra charges.

You can see the hundreds of years old portraits of different deities over there along with the ancient handwritten scriptures.

The entrance fee to enter Bhaktapur Durbar Square varies as per nationality. It costs, Rs.1500 for Non-SAARC nationality, Rs.500 to SAARC, and for Chinese citizens, and free for the Nepalese.

Yes, it lies within the Bhaktapur Durbar Square.

It would be a pleasure to sneak around Bhaktapur Durbar Square. It doesn’t matter when you will visit there. But if you are interested in temples and worshipping then the morning would be the best time to be present there.

Yes, there are restaurants and cafes on-site, convenient for all kinds of visitors.

It was in 1960 when the Government of Nepal and the Department of Archeology set up this palace as the National Art Gallery.


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  • Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Municipality, Bhaktapur District, Nepal.

  • 27.672217, 85.428480
View on Google Maps


  • It was also called Simhadhwaka Durbar because of a pair of the stone images of lions.

  • It was set up as as the National Art Gallery in 1960 by the Government of Nepal and the Department of Archaeology.

  • It is the home of ancient Paubha Scroll paintings, and tantric cloth paintings.

  • The one of the oldest artifact that you could see there is the stone sculpture of a female, made in 9th century.

Other places around Bhaktapur Durbar Square

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