Binod Joshi/AP
Hanumandhoka palace in Kathmandu.

Nepalese Palace, Scene of Royal Murders, to Open as Museum

February 24, 2009 07:24 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Kathmandu’s royal palace, where 10 members of the royal family were murdered in an explosion of gunfire eight years ago, will open as a national museum on Friday.

Crime Scene to Become Museum

On Thursday, the Narayanhity National Museum in Kathmandu will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda; it will open to the public the next day The palace was home to the world’s only monarchy in a Hindu kingdom, until last June when King Gyanendra and his wife Komas were ousted by the current prime minister’s Maoist party.

In June 2001, Nepali Crown Prince Dipendra took his own life in the palace’s Tribhuvan Sadan mansion, after killing former King Birendra, Queen Aishwarya, and their two children. The mansion will be just one exhibit in the museum, which will cost Nepalese citizens 100 Nepalese rupees (NRS) for admission, and foreign tourists NRS 500 (about $6).

“We are putting up a sign saying this is where the massacre occurred in 2001 and subsequently, the mansion was pulled down,” says Spokesman of the Ministry of Culture and State Restructuring Jal Krishna Shrestha to the Times of India. In the nearby rooms, you can still see traces of the marks left by the hail of bullets.”

Background: Nepali king dethroned, ending 239-year-old monarchy

In May 2008, Nepal’s newly elected Maoist government held true to campaign promises and made the country a republic. Amid cheering from Maoists supporters and a doleful King Gyanendra, Nepal was officially declared the world’s newest republic.

The deposed sovereign was given just over two weeks to vacate the 1970s palace, declared the Maoist-majority parliament, elected in April.

According to Indian national paper The Hindu, as of April 12, results showed The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) “leading in a majority of the 50 constituencies.”

Some fundamentalist Hindus believe that the king of Nepal is a reincarnation of the god Vishnu. According to the Associated Press, however, King Diapendra’s slaughter of several palace members in 2001 “helped pierce the mystique” held by the dynasty. Gyanendra then rose to the throne, although rumors that the new king was involved in the mass murder did not help his popularity.

His dissolution of Nepal’s civil government in 2005, done in the name of quelling the Maoist insurgency, only heightened the fighting that was wracking the Himalayan countryside.

Nepal had been embroiled in a bloody civil war since 1996, when the Maoists, opposed to the constitutional monarchy, attempted to form a one-party communist republic. The war resulted in more than 12,000 deaths, and close to 100,000 displaced persons.

Gyanendra wound up restoring the government in 2006, bringing in Maoist leaders for peace talks. His power then began to wane. In December 2007 the Maoists and the ruling Parliamentary alliance decided that the monarchy would be terminated after the 2008 elections.

Today, the country that boasts one of the world’s greatest natural wonders—Mount Everest—ranks as one of the poorest nations.

Opinion & Analysis: “Nepal’s Perilous Ascent”

Related Topic: “Bhutan Votes in First-Ever National Election”


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