Dwarika Das Shrestha, the man behind The Dwarika’s Hotel
Dwarika Das Shrestha, the founder of the The Dwarika’s Hotel is one of the most well known businessmen in Nepal. Born to a Newari family during the time of revolution in Nepal (1950s), he was sent to India for his schooling at the age of six. He returned to Nepal in the early 1950s after completing his education with a degree in law and commerce.
He came back with a dream of helping Nepal gain its past glory and his first business was the establishment of the Paras Hotel, first hotel in Nepal, in the year 1952. It was the time when Nepal was not even known to the world and tourism was yet to develop. The customers mainly consisted of Indian and Nepali pilgrims who came to visit the Pashupatinath Temple and during that time charging religious pilgrims for providing shelter was disrespectful and he had to face the rage of his family.
Despite the disapproval of his family, bought a land in late 1950s and built a small family home using some of the ancient windows he had collected. It is the same place where The Dwarika’s Hotel is stands today and the first window he used can be seen in the Fusion Bar inside the hotel. He was criticized for using the old windows by the people who thought it was a reflection of poverty and failed to understand the cultural value of it. He, with the help of his wife Ambica Shrestha, started exploring entrepreneurial avenues to assist in the development of Nepal’s tourism and finance his passion for conservation. Realizing that many people would be interested in coming to Nepal to tour its heritage sites and experience its natural beauty, he established one of the first travel agencies in Nepal named Kathmandu Travels and Tours in 1969. He spent six months in Japan trying to establish himself in the market and his failure there made him establish a travel agency in Delhi and started to secure tours to Nepal through it. Soon, his business became successful and the days of glory for The Dwarika’s began with the coronation ceremony of King Birendra in 1972. There were no hotels left to book anymore for all the official visitors as all of them were packed and in order to accommodate their own guests, the Shrestha family moved into a rented house and converted their own home and apartments into a make-shift guest house. The feedback they had received from the guests inspired them to build a hotel in the same style and this is how The Dwarika’s Hotel came to existence.
Dwarika Das Shrestha wanted to recreate the environment of 15th-17th century where the tourist and Nepali would have sensation of the original. The awards and honors received by the hotel for its excellent services recognized him for his remarkable contribution towards heritage conservation. However, before completing his vision for the hotel, Dwarika Das Shrestha passed away in 1992. Although he is not among us, his vision and his legacy is still kept alive by the efforts of his family he left behind.