Fifth century heritage site left in ruins

- DEWAN RAI, Bhaktapur
Fifth century heritage site left in ruins

Apr 30, 2015-

Two of the four temples on the premises of Changu Narayan square in Bhaktapur have been reduced to rubble by the earthquake that hit the nation on Saturday. The main temple of Changu Narayan, on the other hand, is on the verge of collapse.

Believed to have been built in the fifth century, the two-tiered pagoda is considered to be one of the most unique architectural monuments in the country. The complex itself is a Unesco World Heritage Site, one of the ten such in the country. Five other cultural and religious heritages—Hanumandhoka Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Bouddhanath Stupa and Swoyambhunath Stupa—were severely damaged in the quake.

After the magnitude 7.9 earthquake, the four corners of the main temple of Changu Narayan are falling apart.

“A light shake can now bring down the temple,” said Laxman Bhatta, a pujari at the Kileshwor temple, which lies to the left of the main temple. This temple did not fall during the earthquake but will need to be reconstructed

The remaining temples in the premises, Laxmi Narayan and Seto Mahadev, remain as piles of debris.

The southern corner of sattal—a circle of buildings for pujaris and devotees around the temple courtyard— collapsed during the quake, killing Laxmi Devi Karmacharya, a 80-year-old woman. Karmacharya was the mother of the pujari at Chhinna Masta temple, which survived the 7.9 magnitude jolt.

The Changu village, also part of the heritage site, has also been badly affected. Locals said that around 80 percent of the 200 households have suffered damages, with most of them now lying on the ground in ruins. The buildings that were affected the worst were made of unbaked bricks and earth,

“We were not allowed to build concrete buildings on the heritage site,” said Panchabir Shrestha, a local man whose house collapsed during the quake. But a few concrete buildings in the vicinity were also affected.

Locals blame the rampant mining of sand and stones from the Manohara river and the extraction of ground water for weakening the platform on which the Changu Narayan square perched. Constructed on a single slab of stone, the Changu Narayan temple had withstood the big earthquake of 1934.

Published: 01-05-2015 08:58

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