Temple shut for fourth consecutive Bhai Tika

- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu

Nov 6, 2018-

The authorities’ failure to complete the reconstruction work of Balgopaleshwor Temple, damaged by the earthquake in 2015, ensures it remains closed for the fourth consecutive year this Bhai Tika.

This closure will deprive Hindus who do not have siblings to visit the historic temple to offer prayers on Bhai Tika this Friday. For the fourth consecutive year, people will not get an opportunity to visit the temple and worship because of the lack of coordination between the Department of Archaeology (DoA) and Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) for its timely completion.

  

Before the earthquake damaged the temple, around 3,000 people would visit to celebrate Bhai Tika festival. Balgopaleshwor Temple occupies the central area of Rani Pokhari that spreads in over 63 ropanis. King Pratap Malla built the historic pond, aka Nhu Puku (New Pond), in 1670 in memory of his son to appease the queen.     

As done in previous years, this year too KMC will ferry Balgopaleshwor statue from Chhauni Museum and place it near the main gate in the western part of the temple. 

KMC Spokesperson Gyanendra Karki said, “People will not be allowed to visit the main temple as the pavement bridge that leads to the Balgopaleshwor is frail.” KMC will ferry back the statue to the museum after the daylong public worship. Nepal Army troopers guard the statue in the museum for the last three years.  

The temple received top priority for reconstruction after President Bidya Devi Bhandari laid the foundation stone on January 16, 2016. The ceremony marked the beginning of reconstruction work of all quake-ravaged religious monuments in the country.

According to DoA, the earthquake damaged almost 1,500 religious, cultural and historical monuments. From these, the earthquake destroyed 150 monuments while 621 sustained varying levels of damages.

DoA spokesperson Ram Bahadur Kunwar said, “We have started the reconstruction of over 400 quake damaged monuments in 20 different districts, but we are yet to finalise the design of Balgopaleshwor Temple. Once the Nepal Reconstruction Authority (NRA) approves its design, we will start work.”

More than three years have gone by since the earthquake in 2015, yet the 

NRA remains clueless when the reconstruction of Balgopaleshwor Temple would be complete.

NRA Joint Secretary Raju Man Manandhar said, “The reconstruction work is in limbo. We are still discussing its structural designs with experts. We hope to finalise it soon.  There is a possibility of reconstructing the temple in Malla-era model called the Granthakut structure.”

Initially the KMC had undertaken the reconstruction work of Balgopaleshwor Temple. The metropolis had announced to complete the overall reconstruction work and open it for public on the day of Bhai Tika in 2017. However, it failed to keep its promise.

Later the same year, the KMC faced widespread criticism for using modern materials for a traditional structure. The metropolis handed the reconstruction work to the Department of Archaeology (DoA) on September 21, 2016 after the Unesco sent it a strong letter.

Since the DoA took over the reconstruction work, there has been no significant improvement in work of the temple while government officials continue to ponder over whether to reconstruct it in Grantakut or Rana-era model called Gumbaz.

Published: 06-11-2018 10:57

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