Pokhara’s iconic Ratna Mandir opens to general public

Bijay Nepal 29 May 2023
Pokhara’s iconic Ratna Mandir opens to general public

POKHARA: Ratna Mandir, a beautiful palace on the shores of Fewa Lake, has been opened to the public on the occasion of Republic Day.

Minister for Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation, Sudhan Kiranti, formally opened Ratna Mandir to the general public on Monday. Speaking on the occasion, Minister Kiranti said he was hopeful that the Ratna Mandri would contribute to the tourism industry of the lake city.

With the opening of Ratna Mandir, the winter retreat of the Nepali royal family, tourism entrepreneurs are hopeful that it will be yet another attraction for tourists visiting Pokhara.

Ratna Mandir was built by the late King Mahendra and dedicated to his younger Queen Ratna. Following the Royal Palace Massacre of 2001, all properties belonging to the royal family were transferred to the Nepal Trust as per the Nepal Trust Act of 2007. Ratna Mandir subsequently came under the ownership of the Nepal Trust.

Locals of Pokhara had long been demanding that the heritage of Shah kings be opened to the general public. Yangjom Sherpa, a member of the Nepal Trust Governing Board, stated that the palace has been opened targeting both domestic and foreign tourists.  “However, due to security, sensitivity, and technical reasons regarding the historical artifacts within the palace, the inner part of the palace will continue to remain closed to the general public,” he said. “We will gradually open areas inside the palace.”

View of Fewa Lake and Raniban forests from the palace balcony.

What’s inside?

Ratna Mandir premises also houses another palace named Hima Gria. Both these palaces are renowned for their aesthetics and natural beauty. One can enjoy the breathtaking view of Fewa Lake and Raniban forests across the lake from the palace premises. Ratna Mandir served as the residence for members of the former royal family when they visited Pokhara. The palace was named after Ratna, the younger wife of King Mahendra.

Construction of the palace began in 1956 and was completed in 1958. After Mahendra’s demise, the palace came under the ownership of King Birendra. Later, another palace Hima Griha was built on the Ratna Mandir premises in honor of King Mahendra’s brother Himalaya Shah.

Ratna Mandir is spread over 21 ropani, while Hima Griha covers 10 ropani. Together, both palaces occupy a total of 174 ropani of land in the lakeside area of Pokhara. Ratna Mandir alone covers 111 ropani which also houses the Bhagwati Dal Battalion of the Nepali Army.

The main building of Ratna Mandir has 11 rooms. On the ground floor, there are guest rooms, a dining room, the living quarters for the king’s bodyguard, and a lounge. Similarly, the second floor has five rooms, along with a sitting room adjacent to the main hall where only members of the royal family were allowed to hold meetings.

The second floor also has a room where the royal family played board games such as carom board and chess, as well as cards. The associated materials from that time have been carefully preserved. Additionally, the second floor contains three guest rooms, including the bedroom of the crown prince. These rooms were used by members of the royal family. The top floor has the queen’s bedroom and the prayer room.

The surroundings provide ample space for relaxation and scenic views. Rattan furniture, including beds, chairs, tables, and other furnishings, can be found in every room. The main room houses decorations and gift items, while various artifacts used by members of the royal family, ranging from kitchen utensils to cosmetics, have been meticulously preserved.

The walls are adorned with portraits of former kings and princes, along with handicraft items and captivating paintings showcasing Nepali art. Equipment such as television, radio, and telephone sets used by the royal family has been kept intact.

(All photos Bijaya Nepal)

Published On: 29 May 2023


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