Bag Durbar to be rebuilt using modern construction materials

Kathmandu, June 29

Kathmandu Metropolitan City is preparing to reconstruct the historic Bag Durbar using modern construction materials and only retaining the neo-classical look of the building.

The building housed the KMC office before the 2015 earthquakes damaged it. Only the ground floor of the building is currently being used by KMC.

A letter sent by the Department of Archaeology to KMC on May 29, 2018, had paved the way for demolition and reconstruction of the building. The letter states, “An inventory of all materials retrieved from the building should be made. Retrieved materials should be used while reconstructing the building in compliance with Ancient Monument Preservation Act 1956.”

The act states that archaeologically important buildings must be preserved in its original state.

A letter issued by the DoA earlier on November 1, 2017, had requested KMC to halt demolition of the building. It had also stated that the building could be made habitable after retrofitting and renovation and no major changes could be made to the original structure of the building.

The DoA letter had also stated that the building was constructed between 1803 and 1804 when Bhimsen Thapa was the prime minister.

DoA Director General Bhes Narayan Dahal said they had allowed demolition of the building after consulting structural engineers. “However, we have asked the KMC to restore the building to its original design, using traditional construction materials,” Dahal added.

The officials of the KMC, however, said the building would be reconstructed using modern construction materials and only the neo-classical look of the building would be retained.

Project engineer Prem Bahadur Shrestha said, “We don’t think we can reconstruct the building using only traditional construction materials. Proposed additional structures will also make it difficult to rebuild the Bag Durbar using traditional materials, he added.

Holding a press meet on December 15 last year, KMC had said that the building was constructed in 1933 not in 1803 as said by the DoA. It had also said that the building was not  Bag Durbar, but Hari Durbar, which was damaged in the 1934 earthquake. According to KMC, the building was then reconstructed by then prime minister Bir Shumsher.

KMC claimed that since the building was constructed after the 1934 earthquake, it was not yet 100 years old and hence they could demolish it.

According to the Ancient Monument Preservation Act all kind of architectural buildings, private or public, older than 100 years should be  considered archaeologically important and the government should preserve it.

KMC had made public the design of the Bag Durbar reconstruction project in October last year, which envisioned building three separate structures with different architectural designs.The first part, which will be a three-storey building, will retain the architectural design of Bag Durbar.

The second part, which will be a six-storey building, will follow Lichchhavi-era architecture, while the third part will be built in the design of a tower. The tower will have 15 storeys.