Wednesday Jul 6, 2022
Wednesday Jul 6, 2022

Hanuman Dhoka Palace: 7 years later

The Hanumandhoka Palace premises’ complete revival after the earthquake is just over the horizon, here we look at what made this possible and what prolongs it from attaining completion


Nepalnews
2022 Jan 12, 8:08,

It’s been almost seven years since the entire nation was faced with one of its most harrowing days in its entire history. The 2015 earthquake left Nepal and its citizens in a sorry state; buildings toppled, lives lost, monuments destroyed and spirits broken. Since the tragedy, there has always been a gnawing fear in the back of the minds of the people yet they still rallied through hardships and slowly rebuilt the beautiful city, Kathmandu Valley. With iconic monuments such as the Dharahara and Rani Pokhari today rebuilt and back to its former glory, the valley’s soul still finds itself on the mend. Hanuman Dhoka compound and all its monuments still find themselves under construction to date.

Out of the 92 total monuments that were affected in the earthquake 25 monuments are still under construction, while for 17 monuments the repair hasn’t begun yet, for the rest of the 30 monuments have been renovated to completion. In conversation with Sandeep Khanal, Chief Officer of the Hanuman Dhoka Palace Supervision Committee he says, “The reason the work on 17 of the monuments haven’t even started 7 years after the incident is because these monuments are interlinked with the other monuments that are being reconstructed right now. Work on one cannot begin until the other is complete.”


It’s been almost seven years since the entire nation was faced with one of its most harrowing days in its entire history. The 2015 earthquake left Nepal and its citizens in a sorry state; buildings toppled, lives lost, monuments destroyed and spirits broken. Since the tragedy, there has always been a gnawing fear in the back of the minds of the people yet they still rallied through hardships and slowly rebuilt the beautiful city, Kathmandu Valley. With iconic monuments such as the Dharahara and Rani Pokhari today rebuilt and back to its former glory, the valley’s soul still finds itself on the mend. Hanuman Dhoka compound and all its monuments still find themselves under construction to date.


Out of the 92 total monuments that were affected in the earthquake 25 monuments are still under construction, while for 17 monuments the repair hasn’t begun yet, for the rest of the 30 monuments have been renovated to completion. In conversation with Sandeep Khanal, Chief Officer of the Hanuman Dhoka Palace Supervision Committee he says, “The reason the work on 17 of the monuments haven’t even started 7 years after the incident is because these monuments are interlinked with the other monuments that are being reconstructed right now. Work on one cannot begin until the other is complete.”


This photo shows 'Hanumandhoka Durbar Square' taken on 16 December 2012.
Photo Courtesy: Saroj Pandey
This photo shows 'Hanumandhoka Durbar Square' taken on 16 December 2012. Photo Courtesy: Saroj Pandey

“For instance, the work on the “Maju-Dega Statue” cannot begin until the “Kamdev Statue” is completed. Similarly the “Agam-che monument” cannot be worked on until the work on “Mohan Chowk & Chandni Chowk” isn’t complete.” adds Khanal. 7 years later 80% of the total structures that were damaged have now been completely renovated to its former beauty mostly through foreign help.


The Japanese Government has assisted in the development of “Agam-che monument” and some other structures around Hanuman Dhoka. The Chinese Government that sponsors the work on the 9 storey “Taleju” has however halted recently. Undertaken by Chinese construction workers, the reconstruction and maintenance has hit a roadblock due to COVID. The workers returned to China and have been unable to return since.


Locally, The HanumanDhoka Palace Supervision committee itself conducts a few reconstruction projects, currently rebuilding Prithivi Narayan Shah’s Private quarters, “Gaddi Baithak”, “Deva Taleju” and a few more along with the National Municipality Office. The funds for these undertakings sourced from the Members of Parliament Fund, Government allotted budgets and donations.


Basantapur Durbar Square
Basantapur Durbar Square

Talking about the stumbling blocks that the project faces Khanal says, “Budget is the more obvious issue that needs to be addressed, along with this there’s also a lack of resources, certain old temples for their renovation need long logs which isn't readily available in the market which can lead to the delay in construction. If the government in tandem with us and the Timber Corporation Nepal were to make these logs available, it would not only make the construction faster but also provide business to another wing of the government itself. The coordination between agencies is vital for the construction and needs to be a lot better for the accelerated finish that we’re looking for.”


“Along with the monetary and resource aspects of the process, there’s also the skill application level to the construction. Lately, workers who have the necessary skills to replicate and maintain these ancient structures are scarce to find, if the government and concerned authorities provided proper training to the manpower maybe scarcity of such skilled labor wouldn’t even be a concern.” adds Khanal.

The lack of skilled manpower in these niche fields is truly one that plagues a country that looks to rebuild itself back to its former beauty. Rajesh Chitrakar, one of the painters working at the courtyard inside Taleju Bhawani voices his concerns on the youth’s interest in his field, “If there’s no scope for the new generation why would they want to work in this field? Currently the woodworking scene is profitable so that’s not a problem, however painters like us who only use natural colors to paint on wood are decreasing by the day. The government or any concerned authorities need to come up with proper incentives and plans to keep our youth interested in our ancestral profession, make them see the importance of this field by in return providing them a proper means to make ends meet on the monthly. It's not only ‘let’s rebuild and save the temples’, it should also be ‘save the artists who make them”

READ ALSO:

temples Hanuman Dhoka Reconstruction earthquake Taleju Bhawani Chitrakar
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