Cultural heritage Dwarika’s Hotel
Dwarika’s Hotel is an authentic experience of Nepal’s ancient cultural heritage. It houses an extensive collection of artifacts from the 13th century onwards, and the buildings and courtyards house some of Nepal’s best craftsmanship.
The hotel’s history which is intertwined with the life and times of the late Dwarika Das Shrestha, also credited with establishing the first hotel in Nepal, Paras Hotel, in 1952. During this time in Kathmandu, ancient mud, brick, and wooden houses were being superceded by concrete structures. One chilly morning, as he was jogging past the ruins of an old building in front of Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, he came across two carpenters sawing off the intricate carvings on an old wooden pillar and using the wood to keep a small fire going.
Shrestha, who was among the first to understand the true value of Nepal’s amazing cultural heritage, was shocked at this flagrant disregard for what was clearly a part of the rich Newar culture of art and craft. He bought the ancient old wooden pillars from the carpenters. Thus began his lifelong quest to collect ancient Newari woodwork. In the late 1950s, he bought the land upon which Dwarika’s Hotel is now located and built on it a small house in which he incorporated ancient windows as part of the design. In 1964, he constructed a small apartment for renting out above the cowshed using some of the pieces from his collection. The rentals allowed him to continue expanding his collection and to hire three master carvers which enabled him to start a heritage workshop to restore his collection to their former glory.
In the meantime, in 1969, he established one of the first travel agencies, Kathmandu Travels and Tours. During the coronation of King Birendra in 1972, the capital faced an acute shortage of hotel rooms. To accommodate their own guests, Shrestha and his family moved into a rented house and converted their own home, along with the apartment, into a guest house. Guests loved his place which became the inspiration that led to the establishment of the hotel in 1977. The hotel deservedly went on to become an authentic experience of Nepal’s ancient cultural heritage. It houses an extensive collection of artifacts from the 13th century onwards, and the buildings and courtyards house some of Nepal’s best craftsmanship. Located close to the famous Pashupatinath temple and a stone’s throw from Boudhanath stupa, it is just a few minutes away from the airport.
The hotel’s 79 rooms and suites have been designed to seamlessly mesh contemporary lifestyle with the Newari style of living. Interspersed with age old artworks, all the rooms provide access to the antiquated art of the Newars dating as far back as the 14th century. Other details include linen that is organically produced and hand woven, and custom designed handmade furniture. At the same time no compromise has been made in ensuring amenities that rival the best luxury hotels. A variety of restaurants and a bar provide a range of culinary experiences from the world over. The spacious courtyards, amidst a setting that invokes the architectural grandeur of Kathmandu’s ancient civilization, are a unique feature of the hotel and provide an ideal location for all-day lounging and informal dining. Two specialty restaurants provide excellent options as well – Krishnarpan is perfect for a Nepali fine dining experience Mako is recommenede for the best Japanese food in Nepal, while the multi cuisine all-day restaurant Toran serves a range of tasty appetizers and scrumptious meals. The Fusion Bar overlooks a swimming pool designed as a replica of 12th century royal baths of Nepal.
To conclude, Dwarika’s Hotel is a luxurious retreat and an experience to treasure. Aptly enough, it was awarded the prestigious 1980 Pacific Area Travel Association’s (PATA) Heritage Award.