Baber Mahal Revisited (BMR) – A tribute to Rana Architecture

Located south-east of the city near the Singha Durbar government offices, Baber Mahal Revisited (BMR) is a unique complex that can be called a museum of Rana architecture. The Ranas, who ruled Nepal from 1846-1951, were responsible for introducing a unique blend of European, Indian and local architecture.

Original Baber Mahal
Baber Mahal Revisited Entrance

Bhavna & Gautam SJB Rana
Palace Facade of BMR

Till 1996, the area where Baber Mahal Revisited stands, housed a cowshed and a guard house. Turning down lucrative offers from builders and developers, Gautam SJB Rana, who owned this plot, decided to transform it into a tribute to his Rana ancestors. He sought the help of an American architecture graduate from Harvard and MIT, who was involved in restoring historic buildings and temples in the Valley since 1990. Together they decided to bring this little corner of history back to life. Six Newari craftsmen, whose great grandfathers had built the Babar Mahal & Singha Durbar, were employed to bring this project to fruition.

Baber Mahal Stable Then
Baber Mahal Stable Then

Baber Mahal Revisited Now

There are five courtyards inside and all the courtyards resemble some or the other palaces of the Valley. The entrance is a reduced replica of Singha Durbar porch.There’s another Chowk whose facade is a copy of Thapathali Durbar, the former residence of Jung Bahadur Rana while the Newari Chowk is reminiscent of the hybrid Nepali-European architecture once abundant in Patan. There is another courtyard with a replica of a fountain in Keshar Mahal, and another with the re-creation of a wall in Bal Mandir. Mul Chowk is the biggest courtyard where the front on one side is a replica of Babar Mahal. This is the hub for social gatherings and functions. The antique windows also adds to the old world charm as these are all salvaged from houses marked for demolition in the old city. The rooftops have an interesting gingerbread decoration of tin sheets copied from Hotel Shankar. No two buildings are of the same height. Some are single-storeyed others two, but even the ones with the same number of floors are not of equal height. At one corner, a tower has been added. At another, the roof raised. The idea was to break the monotony of the ground and make the complex look like a small city in itself. Building materials like mud mortar and lime plaster for the walls and metal sheets for the roof adds to the old Rana period aura of the complex.

Architect's initial sketch of BMR

A fabulously well planned area, this reconstructed historic building now hosts some of the finest Nepalese art and artifacts stores, pashmina outlets and a contemporary Nepalese art gallery , The Siddhartha Art gallery.

Birds Eye View of BMR

Baithak, Chez Caroline, Sol, are some of the world class eateries and lounges, where one can relax and take in the Nepalese atmosphere with a taste of international cuisine and drinks.