Introduction to Kotling

Kotling was a central court in Kathmandu in front of the Hanuman Dhoka Palace. The court was named after the Kotlingeshwor Temple, built by Mahendra Malla near the court.

However, the nature and frequency of the cases of the Kotling heard vary. The Kotling court held authority over civil issues involving society, Property and similar matters.

Later, the court concentrated on various types of largely civil issues, such as social cases and social disputes. Dware resolved the majority of instances that began at the local level.

Therefore, those who were unsatisfied with the final verdict of Dware or Pratihar had the right to go to Kotling. It acted as a court of appeal or appellate court. Even if the final verdict of this court was unsatisfactory, the individual could request a review in the King’s court.

The Kotling court held jurisdiction over civil matters and social well-being problems. As a result, it functioned more or less as a societal court, dealing with societal concerns rather than horrific crimes. The officer who presided over the Kotling court was known as Karmadakshya or Nyayakari.

 They were government officials with extensive understanding of the Shastras who the monarch trusted to administer justice. This court was supposed to be quite powerful at the Period. It might impose various penalties, including financial penalties, fines, and imprisonment.

Its primary responsibility lies in hearing cases per the king’s advice and orders through Rajagya, Sanad, etc., and the basic principles of Dharma Shastras.

Pratap Malla and Kotling

King Pratap Malla used to take large criminals accused of heinous crimes to the Kotlingeshwor Mahadev Temple to make them confess the truth by touching the temple. The accused could defend themselves and provide arguments in their defence by speaking the truth.

During his reign, King Pratap Malla also implemented a practice where he would take the guilty. The guilt had to be proven to the Kal Bhairav Temple beyond a reasonable doubt, and light and fire had to be put in their ears.

If the guilty moved in any way, they would be provided the death penalty without exception.

Later, King Pratap Malla introduced the provision of confession through a legal officer. Generally, a Brahmin would analyze the evidence with Dharma Shastras as their basis and provide a just final verdict.

King Pratap Malla ordered a court near Mohan Chowk in Kathmandu, where an accused would confess in the Kotlingeshwor Temple. The Malla King believed in dispensing fair justice that was equitable and based on evidence collected without prejudice. Therefore, the Kotling Court was established.

Functions of Kotling Court

Hearing of  Civil Cases

The Primary Function of this Court was the Hearing of Civil Cases. These Cases formed many of the complaints and requests made upon the King. Therefore, it was necessary to make a legal court to deal with these complexities. It decreased the Pressure on the King and the Administration.

Final Verdict of Cases

After the Hearing of Cases was complete, Kotling Court needed to conclude the case. This would generally be done by weighing the evidence on both sides and giving the rightful decision.

Appellate Court

The Kotling Court wasn’t the First Instance Court during the Malla Dynasty. The Complainees had to go through Different Stages of Legal Tribunals or Officers before coming to this Civil Court.

First, they need to register the complaint to Panchaliks. If they aren’t satisfied, they must register it with Dwarik or Pratihar.

Only after they are dissatisfied with both cases can they come to the Kotling Court. Also, if the Individuals weren’t content with the decision of this Court, they can further appeal it to the King.

Based on Dharma Shastras and Rajagya’s

Although the Officers of this Court were given relative Freedom in their decision, they couldn’t exceed the boundaries of Dharma Shastra.

They were the main source of Law and the Actual Body of Law during the Malla Dynasty, and the Kings governed using the Dharma Shastras. Therefore, they needed to limit themselves as per these Socio-Legal Texts and Orders of the King.


Kotling was an Important Court/Tribunal of the Malla Dynasty upon whom the Karmadakshya or Nyayakari resided. They were knowledgeable of the Shastras and generally Brahmin in nature.

The presiding officers, known as Karmadakshya or Nyayakari, were knowledgeable in the Shastras and trusted by the king to dispense justice.


Pokhrel, A. (2023). Kotling – Itihasaa. Encyclopedia of Nepali History. https://itihasaa.com/malla-administration/kotling/