The Himalayan Times, 19 Dec 2017
The iconic Kasthamandap, which was destroyed by the 2015 earthquake, might finally be reconstructed, within two years.
Kathmandu Metropolitan City is rebuilding the seventh century heritage.
Spokesperson of KMC, Gyanendra Karki told THT that the office has already formed a committee for reconstruction and allocated a budget of Rs 190 million for the purpose. Karki said “We are hoping to complete the reconstruction within two years, which is most likely by the end of 2019.”
“We finally took the responsibility of rebuilding the monument after the vigorous efforts to include all the bodies failed. This only delayed the reconstruction process” he added
The reconstruction process of Kasthamandap had remained in limbo after the earthquake due to various conflicts among government bodies and locals regarding the authority for the reconstructing body and conservation norms to follow. “We have formed a steering committee to start the rebuilding process which includes locals, renovation experts, cultural experts and members from Department of Archaeology. The committee is chaired by KMC Mayor Bidhya Sundar Shakya, and now the reconstruction will start very soon,” Karki said.
According to the spokesperson, all the necessary designs and architectural framework are being finalised and the reconstruction will start after recollective consensus of every stakeholder related to it.
Out of the allocated budget of Rs. 190 million, KMC is planning to spend Rs 130 million to buy necessary wood from Timber Corporation of Nepal. The remaining 60 million will be spent on reconstruction of the building.
The reconstruction of the oldest temple was put to halt in 2016 when DoA started rebuilding the historic temple using of steel and concrete. The reconstruction was then put to rest followed by large protests from the public and conservationists demanding that the originality of the temple be maintained.
KMC then took charge of rebuilding the temple through Public-Private Partnership model. The decision was also rejected by the public after KMC published an advertisement calling for bids from private construction companies. Furious about the decision, locals demanded that they needed their participation in the reconstruction and that the private vendor should not be given authority to rebuild the temple.
Public and local leaders at Basantapur then formed a group called ‘Campaign to Rebuild Kasthamandap’, calling for financial support from locals and international donors. The drive however also received criticism as it was not creating a credible environment to uphold such responsibility.
Regarding the disappointment related to the campaign, a local activist in Basantapur, Bishnu Raj Shrestha said, “Locals must not be given responsibility to collect funds and rebuild such an important heritage, it will only open the door to more conflicts among people. Reconstruction is solely the government’s duty.”
KMC has finally taken charge to rebuild the temple by itself after all the failed attempts.
It was thought that the ancient temple was constructed in the 17th century, but this was proven wrong when a study of the foundation after the earthquake showed that the temple dated to the 7th century.
Historians and conservationist discovered large foundation walls at the site linked by double rows of timber pillars. Within the foundation, they excavated several phases of the Shah and Rana era renovations. They also found that the original pillars had rested on a copper plate and the saddle stones had a gold foil mandala in them.
Unlike other heritage sites, where a large number of intact architectural design can be reused in the reconstruction process, only the foundation of Kasthamandap is supposed to be intact in the reconstruction process according to KMC.