Temples at Hanuman Dhoka in dire need of renovation
KATHMANDU, Feb 2: Half a dozen historical temples within the Hanuman Dhoka World Heritage Site are awaiting a facelift since a long ago. However, the authorities do not seem concerned about the fading beauty of the ancient structures.
Gorakhnath Temple, built by King Prithvi Narayan Shah, is on the verge of collapse due to a Peepal tree growing from its roof.
The king is believed to have been blessed Gorakhnath that he would rein any place he set his foot on. The temple has a footprint, believed to be of Gorakhnath, which is also a under threat of ruin.
There is an ancient tradition of worshipping the footprint with a long procession led, by a band playing traditional musical instruments, heading to Gosain Kunda of Rasuwa district from the Gorakhnath Temple on the occasion of Janai Purnima.
The Krishna Temple, situated opposite to the Hanuman Dhoka Museum, once enjoyed equal importance as the Krishna Temple at Patan Durbar Square. Its roof was also adorned with 21 artistic pinnacles just as the Patan temple. However, its importance diminished after the temple collapsed in the devastating earthquake of 1934.
The locals say the then government had built a small temple at the same place after it collapsed. But the 6.8 Richter scaled earthquake that occurred in 2011 again destroyed the temple. “The wooden pillars have several cracks. They can fall anytime,” said Rajan Maharjan, a local. It puts the safety of visitors in jeopardy.
The idol of lord Krishna was shifted to the nearby temple of Chyasing Deval, after the latest quake, Maharjan added.
Similarly, Laxmi Narayan temple, the tutelary deity established by Joshi people of Newar community, has become weak at base and has tilted. The Hanuman Dhoka Conservation Area authority has used supports on all four directions to prop up the wooden pillars of the temple.
Likewise, Kasthamandap, also famous for housing Lord Shiva´s image (Bhuteshor Mahadev) is also in a dire need of renovation.
The Simha Sattal, built during the reign of Malla King Laxmi Narsingha Malla , has become badly damaged with continuous water leakage creating several holes on the roof.
Bhagwati Temple, built by Jagajjaya Malla, is also in a sorry state.
Though the authority paved the basement last year, the tree growing from its roof still remains a threat.
The roots spreading underground can still damage the pavement after a few years, says another local Uddhav Karmacharya, adding, “The tree would have never been a problem had we cut it in the beginning.”
Around 400 tourists from India and other countries visit the site daily, according to the Hanuman Dhoka Area Conservation Program of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC). The office has collected Rs 10 million in revenue in four months from mid-August to mid-December.
The Department of Archaeology (DoA) and the KMC every year revises the entrance charge for the foreigners. The authority has set Rs 750 each for non South-Asian visitors and Rs 350 for the tourists coming from South Asian nations.
The officials admit that the threat prevails in the cultural heritage sites of Bhaktapur and Lalitpur as well.
Sensitive to handle due to involvement of multiple authorities: Hari Kumar Shrestha, Program Officer of the Hanuman Dhoka Area Conservation Program under the KMC
The DoA, Guthi and the KMC collectively handle the area, which sometimes create technical problems in coordinating efforts among all the authorities.
The DoA has estimated around Rs 40 million for renovation of Krishna Temple. Similarly, the process to estimate the renovation cost of Laxmi Narayan Temple is also afoot. The Simha Sattal is in the worst condition among all the temples. But the Guthi had rented the ground floor of the temple and the tenant has refused to leave despite our requests. The archaeology office had initially prepared an estimate for its renovation, but works did not move ahead.
We have asked for re-estimation on current rate. The KMC itself is not authorized to run any project without receiving consent of the DoA, which has also caused a delay.
No renovation project since long: Rajan Maharjan, member of Jyapu Guthi Samaj
The cultural heritages are getting older which need regular renovation and reconstruction. The ever increasing visitors, most of whom do not care about the sensitivities of the sites, are themselves a threat. The government has not repaired any of the temple and infrastructure in the area in the running fiscal year. The Gakuti temple is under construction since the last two months. Its construction has also been halted citing budget deficit. We have been demanding that the government use all the revenue collected from the site for the renovation.