Evolution of bathroom in context of nepal

“Mallas”, “Shahs” are few of the words we nepalese repeatedly study in history of nepal when the nation was a kingdom. We people usually have general information about the history of the then kings and the past dynasties they belong to. But when we try to explore more, sanitation is one of the prime ways out to examine the civilization back then but many times it is often overlooked. From the past to the present nepal, sanitation and waste management has been much improved. The phases nepalese went through and the changes they brought along in sanitary scope is interesting to look back.

The first indoor toilet ever found in Nepalese history is in Hanuman Dhoka Durbar which still stands there living but remains dilapidated. Two toilets can be seen in the northern building of the Vayu Chowk, one of the first and other on the second floor. Vayu Chowk is believed to have bedrooms for the royal family members after Pratap Malla. The eastern wing used to be living quarters for Pratap Malla, which constitute ten courtyards and is the oldest part of the palace. The purpose for the construction of in-house toilets was a convenience for the royal family members. The toilets on the second floor could be reached from two entrances, one directly from stairs outside in the courtyard and the other from the third floor. The two numbers of toilets designed back then can be predicted to be for separate male and female compartments. The technology they used to follow is as simple as present but the chambers used were different. The wastes from the toilets were collected to large chamber pots named as “Ghampos” from a small four-inch hole in the southern end of the roof on the floor below. It is placed in two small 3 feet by 10 inch rooms. The first-floor toilet consisted of three pans, all facing north.

During Shah dynasty, Ghampos got replaced with Copras, which were generally smaller in size. They were more elegant and sizable for royalty. An individual toilet can also be found in the third floor of the eastern wing of the palace which was constructed when King Rajendra Shah was put under house arrest. Despite the damages from the last earthquake, the toilet is still intact.

The earliest drainage system dates back to 1895, which introduced the first piped water supply system, the Bir Dhara network (1891-1893). With this, Pani Goshwara Adda was also established which gave limited private and community standpipes. Such services were not only distributed through Kathmandu valley but also place outside of the capital city like Birgunj, Amalekhgunj, Palpa and Jajarkot. The project was implemented under the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage (DWSS), initially by the Department of Irrigation. It was by the year 2019 B.S. when the Doctor’s Quarters of Bir Hospital was connected by City Sewer Line.

Much earlier, Mallas developed traditional “Hitis”, stone spouts, dhunge dharas which are well documented by scholars. These are interconnected with underground water channels. The channeling of water source and the “dharas” is complicated. Usually, the dharas have been seen to be placed at a lower altitude and sources at higher land so that the water flow remains constant. The sources of water for these dharas are large water reservoirs like ponds and lakes.

Today, many of us follow “Vaastu” for the placement of various spaces in a built structure, especially for residence. As for bathroom space, Vaastu suggests Northern or Western region of North-West corner of the building. The corner is also known as “Vayvya kon”. If in case this corner is not possible for bathroom, then preferred space according to “Vaastu” is Southern or Western or Southern region of North- East corner of the building, also known as “Ishan kon” or South West corner, also known as “Neshrtya kon”. South west corner is actually not good for bathroom as per Vaastu but is preferred for master bedroom that needs a bathroom attached with it, in that case, bathroom is placed in this corner next to the bedroom. Similarly, the South East corner known as “Aagneya kon” is also not good for bathroom, the placement of bathroom/toilet should be strictly avoided as per Vaastu recommendations. The corner is preferred as the best for placement of puja room where God dwells. This corner is believed as the sacred corner of the building and should be given for sacred activities like worshipping, cooking, water storage, etc. But one should be careful about the fact that the extreme corners of any quarters are not good for the placement of bathroom/toilets. Southwest corner and North-east corners should be strictly restricted for bathroom. North-east placement of toilet is considered inauspicious and is believed to bring negative energy into the building, only very rare of the rarest cases for providing the ultimate solution, it can be used for bathroom, else it is strictly prohibited as per Vaastu. Many residents complain about a lot of troubles caused due to this wrong placement of Bathroom. But placing kitchen in this specific corner can solve this problem which ultimately gives an appropriate space next to kitchen towards west for the bathroom. These will also inlet morning sun rays coming from the East which is considered very beneficial for health of human body after a bath.

Similarly, Vaastu suggests that the slope of the bathroom floor to be made towards North and East so that the water drains to the North-east corner of the bathroom. Talking about the internal layout of a bathroom according to Vaastu, the washbasin and shower should face North-East, North or the East. If a changing room has to be added, it should be in the West or the South direction. The bathtubs should be placed either at the East, the West or the North-East direction of a bathroom. The commodes or pans should be North or east facing. The placement of windows and ventilators is good on the east or the north so that the bath can be taken in the east or the north side. Mirrors and doors of the bathrooms are preferred to be placed in the east or the north, but the southern wall is not good for this purpose. Heater, power points, switches, etc. like electrical appliances should be placed in the South-East direction of a bathroom. Cloth hangers should be fitted in the north-west corner of the bathroom. Dark-colored tiles like dark red, dark black are not considered good, thus use of such colored materials should be avoided as well.

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