Dwarika’s Hotel is a unique place in South Asia. It is a living example of how cultural restoration and tourism can complement each other, leading to the preservation of historical artifacts and the growth of a rich cultural industry, earning its esteemed title of a living museum. What began as an impulsive action grew into a passion, and soon Dwarika Das Shrestha’s commitment to saving, documenting and restoring artifacts took on a life of its own. He envisioned, the ancient Newari style houses using the rescued carvings will treasure a new lease of life and the appreciation of Nepal’s ancient cultural history will live on forever.
The history of The Dwarika’s Hotel is intertwined with the life and times of its founder, Mr. Dwarika Das Shrestha. Dwarika Das Shrestha was an extraordinary human being – a true visionary who was acutely aware of his own identity, the changing world around him and his responsibility towards it. His story is one of inspiration borne out of struggle and torment, the relentless pursuit of an aesthetic ideal, and one man’s determination to make a difference.
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.
His ability to see a role for the past in the present and to act upon an idea is what made Dwarika Das Shrestha a real visionary and an inspiring individual. With the help of his wife, Ambica Shrestha, he started exploring entrepreneurial avenues to assist in the development of Nepal’s tourism and finance his passion for conservation.
They knew that many people would be interested in coming to Nepal, to tour its heritage sites, and to experience its natural beauty. Towards this end, in 1969, Dwarika Das Shrestha went on to establish one of the first travel agencies in Nepal, Kathmandu Travels and Tours.
Dwarika was confronted with the visible signs of destruction of an ancient culture which still lived in him as a part of his heritage; the legacy of Kathmandu comprises of exquisite wood carvings on its houses. Distinctive temples, and sculptures, bronze and terracotta work, and the unique lifestyle of its people and their colorful festivals derived from the mythology of their religions. Less than half a century after opening, the country, its culture and art have become one of the main attractions for the tourists.
The furniture was crafted by families of traditional carpenters, and the linen, textiles and embroideries were hand woven and used in Nepali patterns. In all purposes, Dwarika Das Shrestha took some of the finest elements of Nepali crafts, and presented them in a way that had not been done. As soon as he heard that an ancient building was going to be torn down in the process of “modernising” Kathmandu with concrete buildings, he would rush to the spot and buy as many wood carvings as he could.
In 1964 Dwarika decided to construct the first Nepali-style brick building with the collected woodcarvings in his garden. This was the nucleus out of which later gradually grew the Dwarika’s Hotel and Resort.
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 still stays with Dwarika’s Group profoundly.
The Dwarika’s Hotel situated in Kathmandu and The Dwarika’s Resort situated in Dhulikhel(an hour drive from kathmamndu) is run by the Shrestha Family.