Nepal: Heritage Lost To Nature’s Forces
Nepal is still grappling to come to terms with Saturday’s devastating quake and the gruesome aftershocks that continued till Sunday. As the death toll continues to rise and grieving family members try to come to terms with this inexplicable loss, there is one loss which perhaps has no hope of resurrection or restoration. Yes I mean the architectural legacy of Nepal that succumbed to the mighty forces of mother Earth and do not hold out much hope of regaining their past glory.
Here is a look at some of the greatest architectural edifices that faced the maximum devastation:
The Durbar Squares
In a country where seven monument zones make for World Heritage Sites, the Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Bhakatpur and Patan are also the most important cultural and social hub. The trio comprise of the oldest cities of the Kathmandu Valley and these squares constituting palaces, courtyards and temples have suffered irreversible and extensive damage. The top tier of the 9-storey Basantpur Tower in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square has collapsed and the Garud Pillar now stands as a mere relic of what was once an architectural genius. The 3-storey Kasthamandap temple, from where the city of Kathmandu derives its name, is now just a heap of wood.
The main temple in Bhakatpur Durbar has lost its roof and the more important Vatsala Durga Temple which dates back to 16th century and known for its gold pagodas and sandstone walls is entirely devastated.
The Durbar Square in Patan, a city founded in the 3rd century, is more a heap of rubble and wood now, far removed from the architectural treasure trove it has been.
Another huge casualty has been the towering lighthouse type edifice built by Nepal’s first Prime Minister in 1832, the Dharahara Tower. In what is just a stump now, it perhaps also embodies the unique spirit of the Nepali populace. In the gruesome earthquake 80 years ago, this 200-stepped tower had suffered huge losses and was then re-built.
Apart from these marquee monuments, the losses suffered in the Buddhist temple complex in Swayambhunath and Boudhanath and several temples across the country is beyond words but perhaps the way the stupa in Swayambhunath stands or the stoicism with which the Pashupatinath temple stands, it is hoped the the Nepali resilience will help the valley emerge a winner from these huge losses.