Car gifted by Hitler to Nepal king awaits new home

KATHMANDU Mon Jun 16, 2008 2:22pm EDT

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KATHMANDU (Reuters Life!) - A car gifted by Adolf Hitler to a Nepali king is likely to be displayed in a palace museum after the Himalayan nation abolished the 239-year-old monarchy and the ousted King Gyanendra quit the palace.

Officials said a 1939 Mercedes Benz presented by the Nazi leader to King Tribhuvan, Gyanendra's grandfather, is now rusting at Nepal's main Narayanhiti palace grounds.

It is lying there for more than three years after an engineering college in Kathmandu, which was using it to train mechanics, said it did not have enough money and spare parts to restore the antique car.

But now efforts are being made to display the car in the palace, which the government says will be turned into a museum.

"We should display it in the new museum," said Govinda Prasad Kusum, a senior bureaucrat preparing an inventory of the property and other valuables of Gyanendra, which will be in possession of the government. "The car will be a major attraction there."

A special assembly elected in April overwhelmingly voted to abolish the monarchy last month and gave Gyanendra 15 days to vacate the pink pagoda-roofed palace, which he did last week.

The car was manually carried by scores of laborers for several days from Nepal's southern plains to Kathmandu in 1940, when the mountainous country had no roads.

Tribhuvan used the car when the Kathmandu valley had no other motor transport.

But after his death in the 1950s, the car gathered dust in the premises of the Thapathali Engineering Campus which used it as a model to train the mechanics there.

Its hood and doors are coming off, the inside of the bonnet is rusting and seats are torn, an official said.

Nepal, wedged in the central Himalayas between China and India, opened up to modern development in the 1950s.

It has a more than 500,000 vehicles including motorcycles, running in a road network of about 17,000 kilometers (10,625 miles) now.

(Editing by Bappa Majumdar and Sanjeev Miglani)

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