Patan Durbar Square, closed after April 25 earthquake, opens for visitors today

LALITPUR: Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City has decided to reopen Patan Durbar Square, listed in the UNESCO world heritage sites, for the public and tourists from tomorrow.

The historical, archaeological and cultural structures seriously damaged by the April 25 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks in and around the square have been shored with wooden and iron beams to prevent collapse and further damage.

Tara Bahadur Karki, Executive Officer at LSMC, informed that there will be no change in entry ticket fee for the tourists. Foreign tourists will have to pay Rs 450 per person. He informed that the square will reopen for public after performing kshyama puja (atonement ritual) in the Kumbeshwor complex as per the Vedic tradition.

Hari Shankar and Jagan Narayan temples were completely destroyed while Mahaboudha, Kumbeshwor, Keshave Naryan, Vishwanath, Bhimsen, Deggutale and Taleju temples and Chyasin Dewal and Sundari Chowk suffered minor damage due to the quakes.

The debris of damaged or destroyed structures have been completely removed. The square has been swept clean and tidy and put in order to receive the visitors. Gabion walls will be put around the seriously cracked and partially damaged monuments and temples for the visitors to keep at a distance, an official said. Chandra Shova Shakya, Senior Architect at Heritage Conservation Division at LSMC, said the entry and exit points will also be managed in each temples for priests to perform nitya puja (daily devotion) in a safe environment.

The locals, devotees and tourists used to use the temple premises as a resting place for a chit-chat before the quake caused damage to the heritage site. “Gabion walls will prevent the visitors from going close to the vulnerable, cracked and precarious structures,” said Shakya, adding, people can no longer sit at the resting places of damaged temples as it poses threat to lives amid the recurring aftershocks.

Rs 6 million has been allocated for fencing the damaged structures with gabion walls. A team of Nepal Police has been mobilised on the premises of the square round-the-clock to keep vigil. A police official, who did want to be named, said visitors have been prohibited from touching the salvaged stones and wooden construction materials of the damaged structures.

“The salvaged stone artifacts will be kept on display at the square for visitors. However, the salvaged wooden crafts and idols have been stored in a temporary houses at Bhandarkhal and will not be accessible for the visitors,” he said.

The Patan Museum, which was unharmed by the tremor, will also remain open for the public and tourist from tomorrow.