Nepali and US officials pose for a group photo after the handing over of the restored Gaddi Baithak, a historical monument at Kathmandu Durbar Square, on Tuesday. The historical monument was restored with funding from the US government. Photo: Republica
KATHMANDU, Nov 27: The historically-significant Gaddi Baithak Palace that has been the hallmark of the Kathmandu Durbar Square since 1908 is now open for the general public.
The palace which has never been open for the general public before will now be open for guided tours of the main hall with the ground floor being used as a museum.
Minister for Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai, Acting director general of department of Archaeology, Damodar Gautam and American ambassador to Nepal, Randy W. Berry, jointly inaugurated the hall for the general public amid a function on Tuesday.
Gaddi Baithak is an important part of Kathmandu Durbar Square where kings were once crowned and where the then royalties welcomed the heads of state and other high-ranking foreign guests to Nepal.
However, the palace which was damaged in 2015's devastating earthquake was renovated by the funding of the US government in collaboration with the Department of Archaeology, Hanuman Dhoka Museum Development Committee and the Kathmandu Metropolitan City.
The American government had provided a total of USD 900,000 to structurally strengthen the Gaddi Baithak and its gateway.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Ambassador Randy Berry said, “I always realized that this building is full of history and beauty and Nepali people as well as the tourists should get to share its splendor.”
Now the building has not just been restored to its initial forms but is now more resilient in the event of future natural disasters in order to help the future generations to understand its historical significance.
“Now with their successful restoration, these structures are also more resilient to upcoming natural calamities so that the future generations can also enjoy it,” Berry said.
Formed in 2011, the Ambassadors' Fund has supported over 1,000 projects where in Nepal alone the fund has supported 24 projects for a total of over $3.52 million in the past two decades.
Mentioning that it is mandatory to preserve historical monuments in their most original forms possible, Minister Bhattarai expressed hopes that the opening of the palace for the public will be of great avail to upcoming year Visit Nepal Year 2020. “Historical heritages should be preserved in their original forms possible and the opening up of the palace for public guided tours will surely contribute in some ways to the Visit Nepal 2020,” he said.
Both Bhattarai and Berry explained that Gaddi Baithak is not the only monument standing in the square. There are six other monuments in the square that were all restored by the US government funding and all of which serve as a vital piece making up the entirety of this world heritage site.
“Gaddi Baithak is an example of the longstanding, successful and collaborative partnership between Nepal and the United States,” said Ambassador Berry, adding “The United States is always committed in its support for an independent and prosperous Nepal by cooperating in a mutually beneficial way,” Berry said.
The main hall of the palace will be open for guided tours while the ground floor will have a museum featuring rare artifacts of Nepali history and culture. It will also have trained tour guides to provide customized tours for secondary level students.