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Dwarika's Hotel is a unique place in South Asia. It is a living example that tourism need not destroy heritage and the environment. On the contrary, it has demonstrated that a proper blending of cultural restoration and tourism leads to the preservation of historical artifacts and contributes to the growth of skills and culture that would otherwise have eroded from the crass commercialism of today. It has shown that heritage can be preserved and be used for further preservation works. In fact, it could be the model to demonstrate what must be done to preserve the look of Kathmandu Valley - a stepping stone towards the larger and more gigantic task of rehabilitating the uniqueness and beauty of Kathmandu currently experiencing severe environmental stress of uncontrolled modernization.
HISTORY OF A MISSION
In 1952, the late Dwarika Das Shrestha was out jogging when he came upon some carpenters sawing off the carved portion of an intricately engraved wooden pillar. It had been part of an old building which had been torn down to make room for a modern structure. Amidst the rubble, lay the bits and pieces of exquisitely carved woodwork several centuries old, ready to be carted off as firewood as the carpenters were merely trying to salvage reusable wood.
As he stood amidst the ruins, Dwarika Das Shrestha experienced all the anguish that a sensitive soul feels when witnessing the destruction of the sublime and the beautiful by wanton and crass commercialism of modern times. He was confronted with the visible signs of destruction of an ancient culture which still lived in him as part of his heritage. Kathmandu's Newari art and traditions have a rich legacy of exquisite wood carvings, distinctive temples, sculpture, bronze works, terra-cotta work and the unique lifestyle of its people itself. Seeing the beautiful carvings destroyed, he could not control himself. Out of sheer impulse, he gave the carpenters the new lumber that they required and took the old ruined carved pillar.
This impulse, born from the inner anguish of his spirit, became progressively a hobby, a passion and a lifetime work. As soon as he heard that an ancient building was going to be torn down to make way for a modern structure, he would rush to the spot and buy as much of the ancient wood carvings as he could before they were sold as firewood or lost in other ways for ever. If he was able to buy only a part of an artistic work because other pieces had been lost or he did not have enough money, he would still do so and try to recover the missing parts later. Often he would discover their historic significance in the process. In one instance, he was able to trace and acquire a missing piece after twenty-five years.
As his collection grew, Dwarika Das Shrestha was faced with the problem of storing these bulky works of art which were scattered all over his garden in makeshift sheds. It was then he decided to construct a building in the old Newari style of Kathmandu using the carved doors and windows he had rescued from destruction. The edifice which was built to give the ancient works of art a new life is now one among several buildings of Dwarika's Village Hotel. These buildings contain some of the best woodworks of olden times restored to life and made to function for a modern age within the traditional architectural setting.
In the process of giving new life to a dying art, Dwarika Das Shrestha began to realize that anything beautiful of yesteryear was born of a larger context of culture. This context too had to see a renaissance if the beautiful elements therein were to function aesthetically.
Dwarika's Hotel acquired its guiding philosophy with this realization. The experience of .running a travel agency, which Dwarika Das started in 1970 as Kathmandu Travel and Tours, had proved to him that tourism could be used as a means to employ Nepali people and help finance the restoration of the unique Kathmandu Valley heritage he held so dear. A small guest house was started on the family premises with the idea of using rental income to finance the art collection. As the collection evolved into restoration work, ideas slowly began to develop in him about the most appropriate use of the collection. Because the wood carvings were often from long-lasting teakwood, they were still usable for the original purpose for which they were artistically created - as doors, windows, pillars, lintels etc.
But the carved windows could not be put on any concrete building, they had to be used in old Newari-style brickwork found in old temples and buildings of Kathmandu Valley. Such tapered glued bricks, where mortar was not seen from the outside, were not manufactured anywhere anymore. So he specially had these bricks manufactured in the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley. Similarly, to replace missing parts of the woodcarvings, carpenters had to be re-trained to become ancient carvers. Dwarika Das and his wood workers also had to re-examine the lore and rituals of ancient times so that the significance of the carved deities on each strut or lintel became apparent.
At Dwarika's, attempt is being made to revive traditional architecture which is disappearing everyday. It is a revival of the traditional architecture but adapted to the needs of the modern world without losing its original character. In trying to encourage and revive the traditional architecture, Dwarika's has had to replace expensive woodworks with terra-cotta designed bricks so as to make it affordable by, common-man and maintain the traditional designs and motives.
In this way, the recreation of the context from which such beauty evolved led to the evolution of an institution whose primary objective was the restoration and preservation of materials, skills and the living heritage of Kathmandu Valley itself.
The hotel is not simply another commercial operation, it is mainly the manifestation of an effort to restore and preserve a culture and a heritage. The late Dwarika Das Shrestha realized that a massive restoration work without a firm commercial foundation would eventually not be financially possible. This perception shaped his decision to give his beloved wood carvings not a dead museum-like setting but a living environment. In a museum, they would be fossils of a dead past, whereas at Dwarika's Hotel, art lovers could not only see the art but live and enjoy within it and at the same time contribute to its upkeep and maintenance as hotel guests. This sustainable heritage conservation is the difference from other heritage restoration projects where the heritage itself is used to create a funding for its own conservation.
This approach makes Dwarika's Hotel a unique place in South Asia. Nowhere else is heritage restoration being attempted in a way that rejuvenates it and makes it a part of today's living environment. Recognizing this highly original and challenging effort, PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) awarded Dwarika's its first PATA Heritage Award in 1980.
In the attempt to bring the refined elements of XV century art into the XXI century, Dwarika's is in a constant struggle of self-exploration. Every element, from the design and manufacture of bricks, engineering, restoration of workshops for wood carvers to the training of workers to think and act as in the best possible ways that their foe bearers might have done five centuries ago, has had to be explored and recreated. In this way, Dwarika's represents the larger process of revitalizing a sublime element of a Nepali, as well as a world heritage.
Dwarika Das Shrestha passed away on 10 February 1992, but his work continues. His vision of cultural restoration and revival based on a strong feeling for the beauty of a bygone era but resting on today's sound commercial common sense, guides the work and activities of the establishment he has left behind.
A woodcarving school has been established within the hotel premises. There are thirty woodcarvers and carpenters employed in the school's workshop. Some have been there for twenty years while others move on to different lucrative jobs after their training and apprenticeship. It is but one example of an ancient sense of beauty being restored to a living present based on sound commercialism.
In the days to come, Dwarika's will create a foundation to take up the challenge of expanding its architectural heritage revival endeavor and will try its best to identify the priority private owned heritage and restore them with active participation of the owners. The terra-cotta designed bricks introduced to replace the expensive wooden artifacts will be brought for use extensively. This will motivate local people to use local materials and craftsmanship at much lower cost and make traditional building styles more accessible to the common man.
The training of young people into skills of carving will be gradually institutionalized to produce more and more young skilled craftsman who will have a inner feeling of our traditional heritage as they go out to work professionally.
Another aspect of our foundation will be to hire school teachers and train them about the importance of architectural and cultural heritage and environment so that they could return to their schools to create awareness among the young students.
Another aspect which the foundation will work on is to identify and restore architectural heritage of privately owned houses and create them into bed and breakfast guest houses. This way the owners will be encouraged to keep up the restoration work through the income generated from the bed and breakfast and the heritage will live on.
Dwarika's hopes to be able to give a valuable contribution in the preservation and conservation of the architectural and the cultural heritage of Nepal which it sees as part of the World Heritage, as well as be an example for others to follow.
Guests enjoy a tradition of casual elegance; comfort assured by an uncommon attention to detail and personal service.
74 Deluxe Rooms and Suites. Each of the rooms has its own character and individuality. There are 16th century windows in many, while there are private courtyards attached to others. Buddhist symbols on hand printed curtains and bed spreads are used with traditional fabrics and accessories.
Spacious and luxurious, our suites and rooms have been individually designed with imagination and taste. Each one different and unique: you will find all the amenities of a luxury hotel; but perhaps what you will appreciate more is the elegant comfort of your room; handsomely appointed with handmade fabrics and furniture custom designed from traditional patterns.
It has been called "a charming hotel", "a museum", "a palace".... to me its all that and more: it's a temple where man and his family devoted their lives to lovingly preserve here Nepal's history, culture and art. My deepest recognition to Family Dwarika Das Shrestha.
RESTAURANTS & BARS
The lore of Nepalese food is entwined with taboos of religion, superstition and caste. This has produced a satisfying, sustaining and healthy cuisine.
Dwarika's Hotel, winner of the PATA Heritage Award now offers you not only the secrets of Nepalese art, architecture and hospitality but KRISHNARPAN. A special Nepalese restaurant in an historic and beautiful setting.
For the best recipes of Nepal, the finest meat, vegetables, aromatic spices, purified oils and saffron are selected by the chef every day to create for you an exotic meal from 6 to 20 courses.
"It was a step into exotic culture of the Himalayas!" -Guest, 6/2/95
KRISHNARPAN invites you to capture a moment of history of a rich and ancient culture, to dine at tables designed with centuries old lattice woodwork, served on antique traditional plates and glasses by charming hosts and hostesses dressed in different ethnic wear.
Come share a mystical experience of the past with us at KRISHNARPAN!
"More than a dinner a token of an old civilization."-Guest, 15/1/95
TORAN Restaurant and gardens.... all day international dining including Continental, Chinese, Indian specialties and fresh pastries and snacks.
Dwarika's an oasis for lovers of the real thing, a lifestyle and experience that can become addictive.
"What a treasure this place is. A true haven of heavenly delights, visuals, audio and gastronomical experience." -Guest
"Exquisite! world class service. The holiday stay of a lifetime. Congratulations and best wishes for future success of your wonderful model of culture, heritage and training." -Guest
LIBRARY LOUNGE...ideal place to spend a cozy evening by the fireplace, sipping your before or after dinner drink. Exclusive meeting point for friends or, spending a quite evening in solitary splendor, browsing into the books in our library.
Blending graceful architecture, gracious service, warmth and devotion to detail. Dwarika's reflects the understated luxury of an earlier era.
Fusion The Bar at Dwarika's
Fusion The Bar at Dwarika's... the newest happening spot in town. Live blues and Jazz music, alcoholic, non-alcoholic drinks and great food in a fusion atmosphere of the traditional and new. Let the spirit live!
SWIMMING POOL... after a hot days sight seeing, dip into cool clear water!
"Dwarika's is a place
where past meets present
where splendor meets luxury and hospitality
where the spirit of imagination meets reality
where the hearts touches Nepal".
Our exquisite swimming pool is reminiscent of the 12th century Malla Dynasty baths that were fit for Kings.
DWARIKA'S FOR BODY AND SPIRIT....
Special in-room massages to enjoy after a day's excursion.
A dynamic massage which balances the energy in the body through stimulating pressure points along energy lines and passive yogic stretches.
A massage utilizing traditional herbal oils to promote the body's natural healing process.
Deep Tissue Vibration Massage
A relaxing deep tissue oil massage, which loosens and softens muscles and joints and relieves stress and fatigue.
Traditional Newari Massage
Given with a soothing blend of herbal oils, using acupuncture points and spinal cord relaxation to stimulate breath and energetic circulation.
Dwarika's 79 spacious guest rooms and suites are all individually designed. There are 16th century windows in many, while there are private courtyards attached to others. Buddhist symbols on hand printed curtains and bed spreads are used with traditional fabrics and accessories and exotic carpets. The four poster king-sized beds in some while others have twin beds befitting royalty. The rooms have unique perspectives and exudes tranquility and elegance.
Rates are valid From 1st Jan - 31st Dec 2013
(Rates in US Dollars)
|HIGH SEASON RATE
(1st Jan - 30th April / 1st Oct - 31st Dec)
|Heritage Rooms||Heritage Suites|
|Single||245.00||Heritage Junior Suite||360.00|
|Double||255.00||Heritage Exec. Suite||425.00|
|Extra Bed||60.00||Royal Suite||1800.00|
|SUMMER SEASON RATE
(1st May - 30th September)
|Heritage Rooms||Heritage Suites|
|Single||190.00||Heritage Junior Suite||360.00|
|Double||200.00||Heritage Exec. Suite||425.00|
|Extra Bed||60.00||Royal Suite||1800.00|
|Meal Start from|
|Above Heritage room and Suite rates are on per night/room only basis. All the above rates are subject to 10% Service charge and 13% VAT. Rates are subject to change without prior notice.|