“Masankali Chowk” is one of the most mysterious royal courtyards in the ancient Hanuman Dhoka Royal Palace also known as Kathmandu Durbar Square in Kathmandu.
As you enter through the main gate of the palace, you reach a large rectangular “Nasal Chowk”, from there “Kandel Chowk” to the west and further west, you will find yourself in “Masankali Chowk”.
Masan meaning crematory ground and Kali is the wrathful form of Goddess Durga. Historians agree that Masankali Chowk was deliberately hidden from the public eyes because in effect it was a crematorium for members of the royal family who passed away within the palace either due to a pandemic or even worse a murder. Voila, the reason why this courtyard was so secretive.
The courtyard boasts of intricately carved artistic windows in wood all around, a two-storied “Masankali” temple in the centre and a well dug next to a tall tree that adorns this square. Sadly this courtyard has been overlooked over the years and is overpowered by rampant weed and other wild vegetation.
It is apparent that the goddess Masankali has not been worshipped for a very long time. Though small in size, the statue of Masankali is still intact along with her attributes and inside the wall next to the temple; the water is deep and standstill. It was widely believed that subsequently after the secret cremation of the members of the royal family, the leftover ashes were decanted into the well. The water from the well is believed to flow south-west underground meeting the holy Bishnumati river.
The truth about the secret “Masankali Chowk” is still far from public knowledge and access. If given opportunity to the right hands, this place can bring many historical facts and events to light.