King Pratap Malla. (1624-1674A.D.)

King Pratap Malla is well known historical king who ruled Kathmandu, but there are some interesting facts about this legendary king many are unaware of.

King Pratap Malla’s statute at Hanuman Dokha surrounded by cowgirls with his queen

“I will make such a pond that five hundred years from now, our descendants will look at it and say: how did he do that?”

Pratap Malla was the king of Malla Dynasty of Kathmandu, his exact date of birth according to the history is from 1624-1674 A.D.He was one of the King responsible for some magnificent and beautiful architectural structure around the Kathmandu.He was originally from Maithili origin and the way he came to the throne is also very interesting and controversial at the same time.His father was King Lakshmi Narasinha Malla according to the historian data. Pratap Malla was very skilled in the administrative work and still it is not clear but he had his father imprisoned on the grounds that his father was insane and not fit to rule. After imprisoning his father he sat in the throne in 1641 A.D.

One thing about Pratap Malla was he was a very ambitious King and at that period of time Kathmandu Valley was divided into three territories. He wanted to unify those into one but no matter how hard he tried, either by diplomatic way or by war he did not succeed in unifying the Kathmandu, Lalitipur and Bhaktapur as one.

historical painting of Pratap Malla

Even though he failed to unify the three Kingdoms into one, one thing he succeeded in doing was he extended and secured the border of Kathmandu, plus he had the monopoly over the trade with Tibet.Hence the economy of Kathmandu developed very well due to the trade with Tibet and during his reign he was responsible for construction of majority of Durbar square. So if we look at the history of Kathmandu it was one of the times of cultural and economical development during his reign.

Some of the interesting facts about King Pratap Malla were:

  • He has been said to have raped a virgin girl, reason being unknown later the girl died due to the incident. Aftermath he felt so guilty about the act that he wanted to clear up the sin and according to his consultants, he set up hundreds of Shiva Linga at Pashupati and also installed his statue with his two queens. Apart from that he also performed Koti Hom, and the most unique part of what he did was he weighed gold on one scale and himself on the other side and gave the gold to the charity. Imagine the amount of gold that he gave in charity, no other Kings has done such act.
  • Pratap Malla was literature lover, he himself was a poet and he himself gave him the title of Kavindra, which means Kings of poets.He was interested in building temples , he built the image of Hanuman beside his palace. His major architecture can be seen in the building of Kala Bhairav in front of current Hanuman Dokha and the temple of Gusheshwari as well. He is also the King who offered golden umbrella to the Pashupatinath temple.
top part of the temple has the gold in it courtesy of Pratap Malla.
  • He also had great respect towards Buddhism and he is the one who introduced Seto Machchhindranatha Jatra.
Pratap Malla was the one who introduced Seto Machchhindranath Jatra.
  • One of the important and significant monument he has created and is still intact until to date is the Kal Bhairab statue.
this statue is made up with one stone
  • He also was responsible for building Kabindrapur, and he also built Hanuman Dhoka.

King of Poets

Hanuman Dokha
  • Pratap Malla had five sons: Bhupendra Malla, Chakrabartendra, Nripendra, Mahipatendra, and Parthibendra, he wanted his sons to have experience in the administration of the country even during his own lifetime. With this aim in view, he made them rule over the country for one year in turn, but unfortunately, his second son Chakrabartendra Malla died the day after he took over the administration of the country. He was trampled by the elephant and died a brutal death.This death deeply shocked his wife and he tried every possible way to cheer up his wife.He desperately wanted to see smile in his wife’s lips and so he announced anyone who could make his queen smile would be rewarded. This led to the festival of Gai jatra where the people would mock important people of the society. This made the queen smile and the King started the tradition of Gai Jatra. King also commanded, that every family who has lost the family member would participate like the parade in Gai Jatra.
Children dressed as a holy cow participates in a parade to mark Gaijatra Festival at Hanuman Dhoka in the capital on Tuesday. People celebrate this festival to ask for salvation and peace for their departed loved ones.
  • Apart from the festival the King also commanded the construction of Rani Pokhari, according to the demand of his beloved wife. The only problem was he needed lot of water. and the pond had to be sacred as it is a devotion towards his son. It was a lot of work and they filled the water with 51 sources from sacred rives and ponds of Nepal, Ganga and Gandaki to name few. There is a image of God Narayan installed and it resembled the image of Budanilkanata.This image is like that of budhanilkantha. It is said that budhanilkantha told the King in the dream not to see him. Since then the  kings of Nepal do not visit Budhanilkantha. According to the historian King Pratap Malla himself said “I will make a pond that surpasses everything I have done before in my life. There will be bathing ghats along the shores. And stone spouts for drawing water. An oasis of calm right outside the city gate which will shine like a jewel. I want the pond to remain the envy of Patan and Bhaktapur forever. I will make such a pond that five hundred years from now, our descendants will look at it and say: how did he do that?”
Rani Pokhari a heritage having a tragic story
  • Pratap Malla died a sudden death. While he was watching the religious dance of Harisiddhi, he fell down unconscious and died. After ruling for 33 years, he died in 1674. During his reign for thirty-three years (1641 A.D. to 1674 A.D.) there was peace and prosperity at home and no danger from outside.
  • The death of Pratap Malla still remains a mystery. As the history suggests he died a very strange sudden death. This happened when he was watching the religious dance of Harisiddhi, he suddenly fell down unconscious and died. He ruled for 33 years, and died in 1684. During his reign of 33 years from 1641A.D to 1674 A.D, there was peace and prosperity in his Kingdom. He successfully built so many landmarks which today some still stands still challenging the time and changes of it.
Harisiddhi dance where King Pratap Malla had his last look

Whatever the idea towards the King Pratap Malla hits you as a reader, from my point of view apart from the sins he has done…he has left many landmarks that we Nepalese should be proud of and the festivals he has started reamains the tradition that we all should be proud of. Either it is Seto Machchhindranatha Jatra or Gai Jatra or yearly opening of Rani Pokhari.

This message goes not only to the people of Nepal but people across the globe who are intrested in the culture of other countries.

My end note would be he was one of the greatest living King who is a legend and should not be forgotten.

a legendary king

Leave a Reply