KATHMANDU, March 4: Reconstruction of the Bal Gopaleshwar Temple in the middle of Rani Pokhari, a pond holding historic significance in the heart of the city, will be completed by the upcoming festival of Tihar, claimed Sushil Gyewali, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA).
The reconstruction of the 17th-century pond resumed on Monday, 14 months after the reconstruction was halted following controversies.
Gyewali said that the reconstruction of the temple, which was heavily damaged by the 2015 mega earthquakes, will be completed by Bhaitika - the only day when the temple is open for public.
“We have set our target to open the historic pond for the celebration of the upcoming Bhaitika,” CEO Gyewali told Republica, adding, “We have planned to restore the lost glory of the cultural heritage back to its original form, making use of the traditional method.”
Previously, heritage conservation activists had opposed the reconstruction of the temple citing the use of concrete in the reconstruction work. They had claimed that the historic temple should not consist of modern-day building materials.
CEO Gyewali claimed that the new design for the reconstruction has addressed all the issues raised by the activists.
He informed Republica that the Department of Archeology (DoA) created the new design for the reconstruction keeping in mind all the advice given by various stakeholders.
“We have included measures to ensure that the pond will be reconstructed with the traditional method,” he said.
Heritage conservation activist Ganapati Lal Shrestha told Republica that the NRA has shown it is committed to restoring the heritage site in a traditional way.
“It seems that the authorities have realized the need of traditional methodology in reconstruction,” he said.
According to the NRA, the new framework for reconstruction of the pond will include two parts. The NRA has formed a consumers' committee to oversee the laying of the groundwork while a tender process will be initiated for the reconstruction of the Bal Gopaleshwar Temple and other structures in the pond area.
CEO Gyewali said that the reconstruction and monitoring will be coordinated by NRA executive member Chandra Bahadur Shrestha while the ward chairperson of three wards of the Kathmandu metropolis and three experts will be the members of the committee. The experts who have been included in the committee are Program Director and Conservation Architect at the Kathmandu Valley Conservation Trust, Rohit Ranjitkar; senior engineer Premnath Maskey; and former director general of the Department of Archaeology Bishnu Raj Karki.
The NRA has claimed that it will cost around Rs 100 million for the committee to lay the groundwork. The remaining work will be done by construction companies on a contract basis.
The meeting of the Council of Ministers on January 28 had decided to entrust the NRA with the responsibility of reconstructing the Rani Pokhari and other monuments in its vicinity that are of historical significance.