BHAKTAPUR, Dec 29: Septuagenarian Saila Poju, a local of Byasi of Bhaktapur, has been constructing the wall of the historic Vatsala Devi Temple in front of the 55-Window Palace at Bhaktapur Durbar Square since the last two months. His son and some other locals have been helping the 72-year-old in reconstructing the temple, which was damaged by earthquakes last year.
Waking up early in the morning and making preparations for the reconstruction of Vatsala Devi Temple has been his daily routine for the last two months.
Before that, he successfully completed the task of reconstructing other few temples that had collapsed during the earthquakes in the same area.
“The Vatsala Devi Temple was constructed in its own style by using stones and other materials. Therefore it's quite difficult to reconstruct it in the original design using the same materials,” Poju told Republica.
The earthquakes damaged Poju's home badly but he is busy in reconstruction and renovation of several historical monuments. “The third floor of my three-storey building collapsed during the earthquakes,” said Poju, who works on a daily wage basis for the reconstruction of the heritage sites.
“I don't have money to build my own house so I am working here because I can earn some money while reconstructing our own heritages.”
Forgetting their own wounds, people in Bhaktapur have been regularly working in reconstruction of the monuments in the historic city. The active participation of locals in reconstruction of the monuments gives some indication as to why the task of reconstruction in Baktapur is taking place speedily in comparison to other historic areas such as Patan Durbar Square and Kathmandu Durbar Square.
So far, Bhaktapur Municipality has almost completed reconstruction of nearly half a dozen monuments in the area. According to Ram Govinda Shrestha, who heads the Heritage Section at the municipality, about 90 percent of reconstruction works of the main gate, which is the main entrance to the Durbar Square, Tribikram Narayan Temple, Narayan Temple, Shankar Narayan Temple and the wall of Siddhapokhari that were damaged by earthquakes have been completed. Renovation of Bhimsen Temple and Laxmi Narayan Temple is also underway, he said.
“We are encouraging the locals for their participation in the reconstruction and renovation of our monuments because with their involvement they would realize ownership of the monuments,” he said. “This policy has helped us speed up the task.”
The municipality started reconstruction of Shankar Narayan Temple within 10 months after the massive disaster while such work in other cities couldn't start even after one and half years of the earthquakes.
“As we started the reconstruction of Shankar Narayan Temple, it gave an impression to the locals that the rebuilding of our properties has already been started and it can be done by ourselves,” he said.
However, the Department of Archaeology (DoA), on its part, has just started reconstruction and renovation works of few monuments in the same area and the work is in initial stage.
Rudra Singh Tamang, chief executive officer of Kathmandu Metropolitan City, said that the working style of Bhaktapur Municipality is different than in other municipalities.
“Although we are just about to complete reconstruction of a single monument, they [in Bhaktapur] have already finished over half a dozen monuments,” he said. “They have their own sets of rules and working style in renovation and reconstruction of historical properties.”