16 heritage sites facing extinction

Kathmandu, June 26

Boasting seven world heritage sites, the Kathmandu Valley remains a popular tourist destination among foreigners.

However, it has been found that 16 cultural and heritage sites in the Valley are on the verge of extinction.

The Bagmati Action Plan in 2009 had warned that the heritage sites located on the banks of the Bagmati River were at risk due to lack of maintenance, encroachment and rapid urbanisation. Most of these sites either collapsed or were badly damaged in earthquakes last year.

Prakash Darnal, an archaeologist and one of the members of the team that prepared the Bagmati Action Plan, said the devastating Gorkha earthquake badly damaged 16 heritage sites. “We need to preserve these sites as they are the foundation of our civilisation and identity,” he said.

According to Darnal, Shivadev Basaha and Buddha sculpture at Taglung of Budhanilakantha; ghats at Sundarijal; Tokha Chandeswori; temples, sattals (shelter houses) and ghats near Gokarneshwor Mahadev temple; Changu Narayan temple; Shankha Daha to the south of Changu Narayan temple; Mahalaxmi temple in Balambu, Vishnudevi temple in Tinthana; Bombirbikateswor Mahadev of Teku; Pin dyo in Kirtipur, Vishnu Vikranta sculpture at Tilganga; Bhim Mukteswor temple in Kalimati; sattal at Laxmiswor temple in Kankeshwori; and Purneswor temple in Tripureshwor are among the cultural and heritage sites at risk.

Among them Shivadev Basaha has the earliest inscriptions found in Nepal dating back to fourth or fifth century. Tokha Chandeswori is a historically important temple and popular among people from the Newar community.

Changu Narayan is one of the seven UNESCO world heritage sites in Kathmandu Valley.

Archaeologists said most of the patis, temples and shelter houses collapsed in the earthquake and those that remain are also in dilapidated condition.

The Department of Archaeology, which is responsible for the preservation of cultural and heritage sites, said it was in the process of planning and designing reconstruction of damaged and collapsed cultural and heritage sites throughout the Valley.

“It would take time to renovate or build damaged heritage sites as we have to give equal priority to other major structures that were damaged during the earthquake,” said Bhesh Narayan Dahal, director general of DoA .