After breaching the deadline multiple times amid huge disputes over the reconstruction modality, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari today inaugurated the much-hyped Kashthamandap temple, an iconic heritage building at Hanumandhoka Durbar Square in Kathmandu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The temple, which was originally built in the 8th century, was in a dilapidated state due to the 2015 earthquakes and subsequent aftershocks.

Inaugurating the historic temple, President Bhandari said development projects should be formulated in a manner that would not undermine and hamper cultural and natural resources. "We should be motivated to promote urban greenery, save water resources, and work to save natural and cultural diversity inside Kathmandu," Bhandari said.

She expressed gratitude towards Kathmandu Metropolitan City, for taking initiative to build the temple at its own expenses.

"Kathmandu valley is regarded as one of the unique places with amalgamation of natural and cultural heritage.

So high priority should be given to the preservation of such unique features while undertaking development projects," Bhandari added.

The reconstruction of Kashthamandap, the temple which is the source of the name 'Kathmandu', saw lots of obstacles and fracas among stakeholders after it was destroyed by the earthquakes.

Dispute over the reconstruction modality of Kashthamandap escalated after Kathmandu Metropolitan City handed over the reconstruction to some construction company which used cement and iron rods to rebuild it without considering any heritage principle of reconstruction.

Following this, locals and activists staged protest. As a result, the KMC finally retracted from the reconstruction.

Government bodies such as the Department of Archaeology then sought help from the international community to build the temple.

However, the local community was adamant that the temple should be built by themselves and not other body.

Finally in December 2017, the KMC took responsibility to build the temple on its own.

Later, Kashthamandap Reconstruction Steering Committee was formed under the coordination of provincial lawmaker from the area Rajesh Shakya.

The committee comprised locals, activists, Hindu priests, among others. However, it was often accused that Mayor of KMC Bidhya Sundar Shakya placed his supporters in the committee and sidelined people who were critical of him.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 5, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.