Quake-damaged cultural heritage being restored

Kathmandu, July 9

The damage inflicted by the earthquakes of 2015 to the Swayambhu hill is gradually being fixed over one year after the devastating quakes.

The UNESCO, the Department of Archaeology, the Federation of Swayambhu Management and Conservation, and the community priests have joined hands to safeguard, protect, and restore the Tashi Gomang Stupa and the mural paintings of the Shantipur temple in Swayambhu with funds provided by Hong Kong-based Fok Ying Tong Foundation and the support of the local community.

The 19th century Tashi Gomang Stupa was almost completely destroyed in the earthquakes. Over 350 artifacts of various nature and origin and nearly 32,000 identical clay objects, known in Tibetan as tsha-tshas, were salvaged, inventoried, and safely stored from the stupa.

A preliminary archaeological investigation of the stupa was also conducted in order to stabilise the crumbling monument.

Similarly, the severely damaged walls of the 1875 AD built Shantipur temple were also given immediate protection. The temple’s mural paintings were rescued and are now safely stored at the National Museum. The rescue mission was led by international conservation specialist Rodolfo Luján-Lunsford, who over a period of almost three months trained national experts in the conservation of mural paintings, said UNESCO in Kathmandu.

The UNESCO said it has extended its full support and technical assistance for reconstruction of these monuments in Swayambhu. This contribution entails scientific research, production of reconstruction documents, and financial contribution to enable the local federation to carry out reconstruction and other restoration activities.

A multi-disciplinary team comprising Nepali and international professionals, engineers, and archaeologists is currently working on architectural and structural documentations.

This work will allow experts to carry on with archeological surveys at the Tashi Gomang stupa, starting this July 2016.

Organised in close collaboration with the Department of Archaeology and local stakeholders, the investigations and reconstruction processes are framed by ritual activities.