National Museum

National Museum information

Around Swayambhunath , Nepal
Street Tahachal
+977 1 4271504
More information
foreigner/SAARC Rs 100/40, camera/video Rs 50/200
Opening hours
10.30am-4.30pm Wed-Sun, to 2.30pm Mon Apr-Oct, to 3.30pm Wed-Sun, to 2pm Mon Nov-Mar
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Lonely Planet review

Around 800m south of Swayambhunath at Chhauni, the walled compound here looks a little moth-eaten and overgrown, but there are some interesting treasures on display and the museum is never crowded.

As you enter the compound, turn left to reach the Judda Art Gallery , which contains some exquisite stone, metal and terracotta statues of Nepali deities and fabulous paubha cloth paintings. Look out for the 1800-year-old life-sized statue of standing Jayavarma, only discovered in 1992, as well as the statue of buffalo-headed Sukhavara Samvara with 34 arms, 16 feet and 10 faces! You can climb to the top of the mandala-shaped building for great views of Swayambhunath, but watch your footing as there are no guard rails.

At the back of the compound is the temple-style Buddhist Art Gallery . As well as Buddhist statues, votive objects, thangkas and manuscripts as big as coffee tables, there are some informative displays on mandalas (geometric Buddhist diagrams). A highlight here is the eighth-century stone depiction of the birth of Buddha, showing Queen Maya holding onto the branch of a tree.

To the north of the main compound, housed in a handsome Rana-era palace, is the Historical Museum , which displays a blood-thirsty collection of weapons, including the personal kukris (daggers), katars (punch-daggers), tulwars (curved swords) and khandas (hatchet swords) of such national heroes as Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of Nepal. Note the leather cannon seized in the 1792 Nepal-Tibet War.

In the same building, the Natural History Museum displays stuffed animals and old bones, including, bizarrely for this landlocked location, the jaws of a whale. Upstairs are the rather matter-of-fact Numismatic and Philatelic Museums.

Ticket sales stop an hour before closing time; bags must be left in the free lockers at the gate.