Locals of Basantapur area, activists, and stakeholders have started protesting against the authorities' plan to replace the old idol of Lord Gorakhnath and instal a newly sculpted idol in Kasthamandap.

Kasthamandap Reconstruction Committee, formed under the leadership of Kathmandu Metropolitan City, which has taken responsibility for rebuilding the temple, which was destroyed in the 2015 earthquakes, has already decided to place a new idol. For that, the committee has already got the idol sculpted and this has infuriated locals as they feel that the old idol which they had been worshipping for hundreds of years should not be neglected.

The old statue of Lord Gorkhanath which is said to be broken due to the earthquake is now gathering dust inside a room under the custody of Hanumandhoka Durbar Museum at Basantapur near Kasthamandap. Aanjali Maske, a renowned public figure, said she had been offering prayers to the idol of Lord Gorakhnath until a few months ago. But, these days the idol cannot be seen as it has been kept in some dark corner of the museum. She further said that it was an utter shame that the authorities had disregarded the god.

Another activist and advocate, Sanjay Adhikari, said that the reconstruction committee's action was completely arbitrary and it should not take a decision to replace the old idol without holding consultation with locals.

"The whole process of Kasthamandap Reconstruction Committee is against the archaeological principle and the Ancient Monument Preservation Act 1956," Adhikari said. He, along with dozens of others have also submitted a memorandum to the Office of the President and the Office of the Prime Minister seeking their attention in this regard.

While, people have started protesting against the decision, the reconstruction committee is adamant on implementing the decision saying that they were forced to change the idol as it was not auspicious to install a damaged idol in the temple.

Rajesh Shakya, chairperson of the committee and also a member of Bagmati Provincial Assembly, talking to THT a few days ago, said that they had got the new idol sculpted after consulting with Buddhist and Hindu priests.

The locals, however, are not pleased with the committee's argument. They say that it is hard to find any unbroken idol in the temple of Kathmandu valley.

Reconstruction of Kasthamandap temple had triggered controversies right from the beginning after authorities decided to use concrete and modern materials for reconstruction of the temple.

A version of this article appears in the print on December 1, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.