Nepal reminiscences on lost heritage through images
By Shweta Sharma
Staring disbelievingly at the Basantapur Durbar Square here, which is now part-rubble and part-broken, Manisha KC hopes her country’s “lost heritage” is returned to its glory, “like it was before the devastating earthquake”.
“This is what our heritage is all about. This is the old palace area before it shifted to rayanhiti (Palace Museum); it should be rebuilt,” the 24-year-old student told IANS.
But, for now, she takes consolation from the fact that she has photographs of the Durbar Square - before and after - to reminisce on.
“I have taken photographs of the rubble too. As it will take at least some years for it to be rebuilt… I can revisit it any time I want by seeing the images,” she said.
She added that it felt “extremely disheartening” looking at the site, which is now nothing but rubble.
Like Manisha, many Nepalese are visiting heritage sites, tourist destitions and other popular points here, clicking photographs of the ruins that now remain and talking about what was there and what the future holds in store.
Many locals could be seen clicking images and even selfies with the ruins that just over two weeks ago were intact.
Ninety percent of the ancient heritage of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur has been damaged in the devastating earthquake that rocked the Himalayan tion on April 25 and it would take at least seven to 10 years to rebuild it, according to Nepal’s Department of Archaeology.
These ancient heritage sites and monuments were the major attractions of these three cities, with classic architecture and rare style holding historic importance.
The owner of a shop selling tea leaves in the area told IANS that he saw the “entire Durbar Square complex being destroyed but could not bring himself to click an image”.
“I just couldn’t do it…and now I am angry about it,” he added. According to reports, around 80 percent of the temples in Basantapur Durbar Square have been destroyed.
The death toll in the quake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale has reached 7,912, according to the latest update of the Nepali home ministry on Saturday morning, which also said 17,871 people were injured.
Pointing towards a yellow-coloured guesthouse, which now has one of its floors buried under the ground in the Machha Pokhari (fish pond) area here, local resident Ravindra Karki told IANS that he had come to see “what remains of the area”.
Taking over, 35-year old Karu Keshi said: “Can you believe that there was another building right next to this six-storeyed building you see here? Now all that you can see are broken bricks.”
On asking why she was clicking images, the housewife said: “This is for me to compare what this side of the road looked like...I hope there are no more bodies lying buried.”
At the Dharahara tower - which was a nine-storey, 61.88-metre-tall structure at the centre of Sundhara in Kathmandu and which many locals describe as like their “guardian which stood tall” - Harikishore Shreshtha, a doctor, was posing for a picture being clicked by his son.
“This tower came crumbling down following the 1934 quake, and today it again lies in rubble. Over 250 lives were lost here. It is essential to rebuild it as it has its own story. But this time, using stainless steel,” Shreshtha told IANS.
The tower was built in 1832 by Nepal’s first prime minister, Bhimsen Thapa. It was built as a military watchtower but became one of Kathmandu’s key landmarks. Similar images were being clicked at the Pashupatith Temple, Swayambhuth Temple and the Durbar Square in the Patan area. “I have an image with the Pashupatith Temple in the background,” 30-year-old Kumar, who was hesitant to give out his persol details, told IANS while clicking a selfie in the temple compound. “The only difference is, that this picture would show the cracks,” he added. (IANS)
(Shweta Sharma can be contacted at email@example.com)