Poor handling of Balgopaleshwar restoration worries UNESCO

GYAN P NEUPANE

KATHMANDU, Sept 2: The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu on Thursday expressed serious concerns over the inappropriate rebuilding of Balgopaleshwar Temple at the center of Ranipokhari pond.

“Such practice raises serious questions on the creditability of future heritage rebuilding in the Kathmandu Valley, including major sites such as Kasthamandap and Majudega of the Hanumandhoka Durbar Square Monument zone,” reads the statement released by UNESCO on Thursday.

Balgopaleshwar Temple at the center of Ranipokhari pond.(Republica)

UNESCO has requested both the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) and the Department of Archaeology (DoA) to ensure that the rebuilding process is appropriately monitored and supervised by the DoA.

“We trust that the KMC and the DoA will take concrete and effective steps to maintain and preserve the religious, cultural and historical significance of the temple,” statement further reads.

UNESCO had also sent a letter to the KMC and the DoA last week drawing their attention to the inappropriate rebuilding of temple.

Ram Bahadur Kunwar, spokesperson at the DoA, has informed that both bodies have agreed to restore the temple to its previous shape using traditional materials.
“We have agreed to correct the technical faults during the temple’s reconstruction,” Kunwar told Republica on Thursday. “It will be preserved keeping its archaeological value in mind.”

The DoA had asked the KMC to suspend the temple’s reconstruction work about a week ago amid criticisms that the renovation was carried out using modern materials and techniques.

However, Kunwar declined to confirm when the suspended resconstruction work would resume.

The temple was damaged by last year’s devastating earthquake and KMC has been carrying out reconstruction of the temple since the last three months.
Some experts and activists have been expressing serious objections over the reconstruction work of the historic temple. According to them, the use of concrete in pillars and foundations is against the archaeological norms.

UNESCO has welcomed the strong community involvement that first brought to attention the rebuilding of Balgopaleshwar Temple.

First appeared in Republica national daily

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