Where did the Dharahara’s bricks go?

- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu

Nov 23, 2018-

As work to rebuild the iconic Dharahara finally begins three years after the devastating earthquake, heritage conservationists and historians have expressed grave concerns over the status of the structure’s salvaged bricks.

“We had urged the Department of Archaeology and the Kathmandu Metropolitan City to preserve the bricks but they were dumped at Tundhikhel,” said heritage conservationist Rabindra Puri.

Bricks from the collapsed Dharahara tower remained at Tundhikhel ground, largely unattended, exposed to the elements until last September. And then the KMC staff began moving the bricks.

“The broken bricks were taken to Dasharath Stadium and used to surface the race track while those that were still in good shape were handed over to the Department of Archaeology,” said KMC City Police chief Bishnu Prasad Joshi.

The DoA official, however, said that the KMC never handed over the bricks from the Dharahara to the department.

“We don’t know where those bricks were taken. Some of the bricks still remain at the Tundhikhel and we plan to use them to rebuild the Dharahara,” said DoA spokesperson Ram Bahadur Kunwar.

Asked about the whereabouts of the bricks from the Bhimsen Thapa-era tower, KMC Spokesman Gyanendra Karki said he had no knowledge on the matter and suggested that the Post contact the KMC City Police instead.  

As things stand, a large number of bricks salvaged from the detritus of the Dharahara tower are missing without any trace, as feared by heritage conservationists.  

 “This is a sheer negligence from the authorities. Those bricks and artefacts are deeply connected to our identity, but now the government agencies that were supposed to preserve them have lost them,” said Alok Siddhi Tuladhar of the Save Heritage Campaign.

Raju Man Manandhar, joint secretary at Heritage Conservation and Government Building Construction Division of the National Reconstruction Authority, said it was too late to raise the issue. “We admit that we were not concerned about the issue at the right time, and that is our fault.

The Department of Archaeology should have worked on it,” he said.

Manandhar noted that all was not lost, referring to the Shiva statue and the 16-foot pinnacle of the Dharahara that are safe at the Chhauni Museum. Also known as Bhimsen Tower, the Dharahara was destroyed in the devastating earthquake of April 25, 2015.

The historic edifice was built in 1832 by Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa. The Dharahara had also suffered damage in the 1934 earthquake and was rebuilt during the time of Prime Minister Juddha Shumsher Rana.

The reconstruction project has been granted to GIETC-RAMAN J/V, a Nepal-China joint venture. The project, with a cost of Rs3.45 billion, is expected by to be completed in two years.

Published: 23-11-2018 07:07

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