Nepal | December 02, 2020

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari inaugurates Ranipokhari

Himalayan News Service
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President Bidhya Devi Bhandari today inaugurated the historic Ranipokhari and the temple at the middle of the pond. The 2015 earthquakes had reduced the temple to rubble.

President Bhandari was accompanied by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli at the function today. Both the President and PM along with scores of other people poured water brought from 51 different rivers and ponds across Nepal, and four holy rivers of India in Ranipokhari.

Addressing the inauguration program President Bhandari asked the government to expedite the mega Ranipokhari-Tundikhel project. The project envisioned by the National Reconstruction Authority has proposed to build an area from Jamal up to Sahid Gate, Bhadrakali and Bhrikuti-Mandap area as one entity and developed it as recreational urban park.

President Bhandari had inaugurated the much hyped mega-reconstruction project from the same place on Jaunaury 2016 by laying the foundation stone. But, reconstruction of Ranipokhari, like many other heritage sites in Kathmandu valley had drawn severe criticism from different quarters of society after the authorities tried to rebuild the historical site using modern construction material, a sheer violation of archaeological laws. Reconstruction of the ancient pond was first objected by the locals and heritage activists after the Kathmandu Metropolitan City started reconstructing the pond using modern materials in a bid to turn the historic pond into a recreational park. Angered by the move, locals and activists demanded that the pond be reconstructed complying with archaeological principle to protect its value. As the protest started growing larger, people also demanded reconstruction of the Balgopaleshwor temple in its original model called Granthakut.

Only around a month ago the authorities had started replenishing the pond after the reconstruction work gained momentum from last year.

Balgopaleshwor temple and the pond around it were constructed by King Pratap Malla in 1670, in Granthakut style. However, the original temple was destroyed by the 1934 earthquake. The Rana rulers of the time had then rebuilt the temple in Gumbaz style. This new demands of the public elongated the reconstruction process until the authorities finally agreed to reconstruct the pond following archeological principles and into Mall-era’s modality.

Raju Man Manandhar, an expert hired by National Reconstruction Authority in the reconstruction said Ranipokhari was reconstructed at Rs 26 million.

Only around a month ago the authorities had started replenishing the pond after the reconstruction work gained momentum from last year. Today itself, President Bhandari handed over the recently reconstructed Durbar High School to the School Management Committee.

The school is in front of the pond, which was also destroyed by the earthquake.

Durbar High School building was built using modern construction materials with the support of the Chinese government. The school building was originally built using mud, bricks, pulses and lime. Established in 1853 by the then prime minister Jung Bahadur Rana for educating the children of the Rana family, the school was later opened for the children of common Nepalis in 1907.

The date for the handing over of the Ranipokhari to the local government has yet to be finalised.


A version of this article appears in print on October 22, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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