Manjushree Park in limbo as jurisdiction dispute drags on

Published On: May 7, 2019 02:30 AM NPT By: Sonam Lama

KATHMANDU, May 7: Though a huge statue of Manjushree, the ancient Buddhist saint, has been built in the Manjushree Park at Chobhar, Kirtipur Municipality, through local initiatives, confusions have surfaced over its operation due to a dispute between a local consumers' committee and the municipality over the authority to run the park.

Manjushree is believed to have cut the Chobhar hill and drained the water from the Kathmandu Valley, making the area fit for human settlement in ancient time.

The local communities decided to carve the history in sculpture in order to preserve the historical significance of Chobhar and promote its heritages. Located on the southern outskirts of Kathmandu, Chobhar holds diverse natural heritages and places sharing historical significance.

As a result, the consumers' committee erected a 33ft-tall statue of Manjushree after efforts of seven years. However, the construction of the park sprawling in 22 ropanis of land where the statue stands is yet to complete.

“The park couldn't be built within the deadline due to the lack of enough budget. The work so far has been possible with the funds and support of the local communities and other donors. Although Kirtipur Municipality had promised to provide 50 percent from the budget that they provided to each ward, they were reluctant to support despite frequent requests for financial support,” said Indra Bahadur Maharjan, chairperson of Jalbinayak Community Forest Users Group, which is leading the park construction.

Sculptor of the statue, Chandra Shyam Dangol hopes the park to become a major tourist attraction in the days to come. "To my best knowledge, the statue is the tallest Manjushree statue ever built,” said Dangol. “The statue was completed with the help of seven other sculptors under my leadership in the first three years of starting the project. Within these years, the construction has moved at a snail's pace. The local level government seems to have turned a blind eye to this problem,” said Dangol.

According to Dangol, the statue is made of black ballistic stones that are found at Kharpa of Pharping. Five huge stones weighing 20-30 tons have shaped its structure. Altogether the statue is made out of 12 stone pieces joined together. “In order to make the statue earthquake-resistant, 32mm thick iron rods from each side of the statue has been erected from its base,” added Dangol.

Maharjan lamented the fact that despite Chobhar possessing many tourist attractions including Nepal's second longest Manjushree cave, Jalbinayak Temple, Taudaha Lake, one-month-long Kartik festival, it has not been able to draw any considerable number of visitors.

It is therefore through the construction of the larger-than-life-size statue that the committee hopes to promote the place as a tourist destination.

The estimated budget of the statue was Rs 10 million. However, due to heavy costs incurred on using cranes for stone delivery and cargo, the budget increased. “The local government hardly acknowledged the value of promoting cultural and historical heritages. Had they shown interest, the park would have been able to welcome tourists in the wake of Nepal Tourism Year 2020,” added Maharjan.

Ramesh Maharjan, mayor of Kirtipur Municipality, said that the municipality refrained from getting involved in the establishment of the park due to some differences with other organizations involved in the project.

“No plans have been formulated with regard to the establishment of Manjushree Park after the country entered federalism and I assumed office. The dispute between the consumer committee and government authorities over the right to operate the park has put the project in limbo,” Maharjan told Republica.

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