These two linked facilities have a history dating back to the early twentieth century, when the British, while not a colonial force in Nepal, were the only Western influence on the Rana government and its backers. The Kaiser Mahal is located across from the western entrance to the former Royal Palace, created for Field Marshal Kaiser Sumsher Rana, son of the Mharajah, and designed in Edwardian style.
But that's all in the past. Today, the Garden of Dreams is a welcome respite from the noise and chaos of the Thamel commercial district, even though the entrance fee of 200 NR (about USD 2.00) seems a bit steep. In addition to those seeking simple calm, the garden is also a draw for lovers, whether secret or otherwise, who find little nooks and benches suited for canoodling.
The architecture ranges from dull to moderate, and I must say it's not really a botanical extravaganza. Here's what I shot:
Adjacent to the Garden of Dreams, you will find the Kaiser Library. It's free, as it is a public library in the Kathmandu educational system. However, it is around the corner from the Garden, and inside a government complex labelled something like Department of Money Laundering Investigation. There are military police at the entrance, who will ask you what your business is. You just have to say you want to visit the library. Schoolchildren were doing exactly that. So did I.
As the guidebooks promised, this is an extraordinary place. It's definitely a library, even though many of the books are not on shelves in the reading rooms, but in sort of lockers in the halls. But it's the furniture, the nick-knacks and the photos that make this such an interesting spot. Not to in any way de-emphasize the books!
The last pic is obviously a memorial to Field Marshal Kaiser Shumsher Jang Bahadur Rana, whose personal collection was donated by Her Highness Krishna Chandra Devi Rana as per the will and in memory of her late husband, to form the heart of the collection. It isn't a mausoleum, though, but an active library with children, college age students and adults all making use of it during my visit.
Even a bad library is better than no library, and this one is a treasure!