Temple in concrete row

  • Conservationists slam Department of Archaeology over Mahadev Temple issue
  • mahadev temple reconstruction
- ANUP OJHA, Kathmandu

May 18, 2018-

Heritage conservationists and activists have denounced the use of concrete while rebuilding the historic Gopaleshwor Mahadev Temple in Pharping, Dakshinkali Municipality-6.

A group comprising conservationists and local residents on Monday submitted a memorandum explaining their concerns to the Department of Archaeology (DoA) office in Babarmahal.

The ongoing reconstruction of the temple, that dates over 5,000 years, violates archaeological norms, the group said.

The Ancient Monument Preservation Act stipulates buildings over a hundred years old be preserved in their original form.

“Contractor Ram Prasad Pyashi has used concrete in the foundation of the temple. The contractor has mixed sand, mud and cement to construct the wall to make the structure strong. Though the intent may be noble, the addition of concrete undermines the value of our heritage, that is why we are at the DoA’s office,” said Narendra Shrestha. He visited the DoA office with a group of people from Pharping village. Around 50 people had signed the memorandum.

The DoA has allocated Rs 37.5 million to reconstruct the temple, 24km south of Kathmandu. Historians say the original structure of the temple had pagoda style architectural design. The earthquake on April 25, 2015 damaged the temple.

Talking to the Post, temple priest Sushil Parajuli said, “Rebuilding the temple without modifying its original structure should be the objective.” Parajuli leads the rituals at the temple for four decades now.

Pharping resident Surendra Acharya, 43, who prays regularly at the temple, said, “I perform the daily religious rituals and worship outside the temple for three years now. It is inconvenient. I request the authority to rebuild the temple quickly without compromising its original design.”  

Other residents said a separate canal through which water flowed to the temple has stopped. In the month of Shravan, the Shiva’s linga at the temple premises would submerge in water. This does not happen now.

“Water does not enter the Shiva linga area after the contractor’s crew cemented the surrounding area. The alteration in the structure prevents natural bathing of the Shiva linga. This ends one important ritual of our era,” said Acharya.

Culture, religion researcher and law student Sanjay Adhikari said, “The DoA can use cement or other concrete materials to reconstruct ancient monuments that have historical value only if traditional materials are not available. Even this must be done after consulting heritage experts.”

The department has not done feasibility study before staring the reconstruction work. They do not have experts’ suggestions or any paper detailing guidelines to the contractor, Adhikari said.

This is not the first mismanagement by the department.  Conservationists had criticized the department for allowing the contractor, appointed by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, to use concrete while reconstructing the historic Balgopaleshwor Temple at Rani Pokhari as well as using concrete while repairing Jaya Bageshwori Temple in Pashupati last year.

After the public outcry, the DoA stopped the Rani Pokhari project. The department, arguably, bungles in its work because it lacks standard operating procedures for conserving heritage structures. If there is indeed such a template, then either, the officials do not know about it or they are not implementing it, other conservationists opine.

 The DoA works under Nepal Government and is responsible for archaeological research, protection and conservation of heritage monuments in the county.

Published: 18-05-2018 07:14

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