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The royal cities of the Kathmandu valley: political and religious organization.

 Durbar square. Bhaktapur.
Durbar square. Bhaktapur.
 Temple Nyatapola. Bhaktapur
Temple Nyatapola. Bhaktapur.

by Anne Vergati, Director of Research at the CNRS.

The capital cities of the ancient Malla kingdoms, Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur are designed in the form of mandala, a diagram that represents the world in the form of a circle where the divinities are arranged from the center according to the cardinal points and the intermediate points. The gods and goddesses of the local pantheon are arranged in a concentric circles around a central divinity always according to the cardinal points. The houses of the inhabitants will be arranged according to the social hierarchy around the king located in the center of the city with the Royal Palace and the temple of the tutelary goddess Taleju. It is important to emphasize that it is not only a religious organization but also a political and social organization from the center of the capital city where the king and his court are located, and therefore in the center of the world. The central position of the king also shows that he was close to the gods: the kings of Nepal are the avatars of the god Vishnu. This arrangement of divinities in concentric circles is made not only at the level of the city but also at the level of the kingdom. In the inscriptions and texts the whole valley of Kathmandu is designated under the name of Nepalmandala.