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Government opens Hanuman Dhoka treasure house

KATHMANDU: A 23-member government team opened two store rooms on the historical Hanumandhoka Durbar Square premises, believed to contain treasures, and found some antiques, head of the team said.

The team under Bhesh Narayan Dahal, director-general at the Department of Archaeology, inspected the rooms as per a March 2 Cabinet decision, barring media persons from the rooms on ‘security grounds’. Dahal informed that the team found nothing valuable in one room, while in the other, it found 15 metal and wooden boxes and seven safes.

The treasure houses in Bhandarkhal, towards the left end of the famous nine-storey temple on the palace premises, had never been unlocked after the then Rana prime minister Chandra Shumsher renovated it in 1913. Although the palace was popularly held to be the storehouse of national wealth at a time when banks did not exist, there was no solid evidence to prove this fact, as the treasuries remained locked away.

Dahal informed that they found 42 pieces of silver each the size of a brick, 90 smaller pieces of silver, a Buddha idol, karuwa and kalash in the second store room. “We are yet to open the boxes and safes. We will soon inform the public about the whole probe,” he said. The boxes and antiques found in the store room are now in the custody of the Nepali Army, which guards the durbar square. Officials said they opened the store rooms for renovation work and for displaying the valuables to the public.

The unlocking and exploration took over eight hours and a lot of physical effort from Army personnel of the Shardul Jung Battalion, which guards the palace premises, including the treasure houses. The area around the entrance to the main gate of the treasury was overgrown with nettles, which the Army cleared in the morning before officials reached the site at around 10 am. The officials then tried to break the locks, which took them nearly two-and-a-half hours, as the locks were held together with several iron rods penetrating the roof and rooted underground.

The Hanumandhoka palace has yielded many treasures in the past too. In 1991, over 1,000kg of gold and silver jewellery was discovered in a room beside the Gaddi Baithak (the kings’ living room). The entire palace complex is spread over five acres in the heart of Kathmandu. The then royal family lived there until 1886, after which they moved to the Narayanhiti Palace.

Archeologists say Thursday´s revelation would help understand economic system of the Malla era as well as the early modern Nepal.

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