Boudhanath stupa to get facelift

Gold-coating planned as gilding retreats

Kathmandu, October 10:

Preparations are under way to gild the spire of the Bouddhanath stupa with 14 kg of gold. The gilding will be made on Harmika — a square fence-like structure on top of the dome, painted with a pair of eyes on each face symbolising heaven — and on the ‘13 steps’, a structure above the Harmika going up spirally. These steps symbolise 13 steps to nirvana.

The gilding, which was applied some 100 years ago, has retreated, deteriorating the magnificence of the historic stupa. Taking this into account, organisations working for the preservation of this monument, listed by the UNESCO as a protected monument zone, have decided to gild it once again. Forming a body — ‘Boudhdha Stupa Preservation and Conservation Committee’ (BSPCC) — they had sought permission from the Department of Archaeology (DoA) to do the renovation work a month ago. The DoA has granted them the permission.

“The permission was granted after a lab test proved that the gilding is effective,” Rajesh Mathema, chief archaeologist at the DoA, told this daily. The DoA has also made agreements with the BSPCC to retain the originality, perfect craftsmanship and to maintain security of the stupa after the gilding.

The BSPCC, formed under the coordination of Chiniya Lama (Sherab Dorje Lama), president of the Boudha Ghyang Guthi (BGG), is making the preparations. Sampurna Kumar Lama, a member of the BSPCC and secretary of the BGG, said that they are searching for the best gilder in Kathmandu to gild the spire. “We are not compromising on anything and hopefully we will select a best craftsman from Patan,” he said adding that the work will commence after Dashain and Tihar.Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Centre, California, is sponsoring the gilding.

“The gold plating has become old and is retreating. A new gilding is a must to conserve the monument and retain its beauty,” Sampurna Kumar Lama said. The Boudhanath stupa, a spherical-shaped stupa, is a 43-metre-high imposing structure that stands on massive three Mandala-style platforms.