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Nepal loses cultural shine post devastating earthquake

Nepal loses cultural shine post devastating earthquake
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Reduced to piles of rubble and splintered wood, Nepal’s rich cultural heritage has suffered a devastating blow from a massive earthquake that tore...

Reduced to piles of rubble and splintered wood, Nepal’s rich cultural heritage has suffered a devastating blow from a massive earthquake that tore through the country, experts said Sunday.

In the heart of Kathmandu, many of a cluster of temples and statues built between the 12th and 18th centuries by the ancient kings of Nepal have collapsed, killing scores and trapping others underneath.
The nine-storey Dharahara tower, a major tourist attraction in the city’s Durbar square with its spiral staircase of 200 steps, was reduced to just its base when the 7.8-magnitude quake struck at lunchtime on Saturday.
“I had just bought tickets to climb the tower and was at its base when I felt a sudden shaking,” Dharmu Subedi, 36, said from a hospital bed in Kathmandu. “Within minutes, the Dharahara had crumbled to the ground with maybe more than 100 people in it,” Subedi said.
Unesco was trying to gather information on the extent of the destruction, including at three palace-filled squares in the cities of Patan and Bhaktapur, both former kingdoms in the Kathmandu Valley, as well as in Kathmandu.
“Several temples have collapsed. Two temples in Patan have been completely collapsed, and Durbar Square (in Kathmandu) is worse,” Christian Manhart, Unesco’s representative to Nepal, said.
In Kathmandu, residents were seen clawing through the rubble, using their hands, buckets and shovels to try to find those feared trapped in Durbar Square, which had been crowded on Saturday with local and foreign tourists.
The monuments are the “social, religious and urban focal point of the city” which has a rich history of Hindu, Buddhist and Tantrism religion and culture, Unesco says on its website.
Expert P.D. Balaji cast doubt on whether the monuments could be completely rebuilt, saying television footage showed extensive damage. “What I can say is that it's an irreparable loss for Nepal and the rest of the world,” Balaji, head of the history and archaeology department at the University of Madras, said.
Many Hindu temples including, the iconic Kasthamandap have been destroyed or badly damaged. Several temples, including Kasthamandap, Panchtale temple, the nine-storey Basantapur Durbar, the Dasa Avtar temple, Krishna Mandir, were demolished by the quake.
Kasthamandap, which inspired the name Kathmandu, is an early 16th century wooden monument.Prushottam Lochan Shrestha, a historian, said these monuments could be lost forever, as rebuilding them is technically difficult and expensive.
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