Save our architecture

Published On: July 28, 2018 12:57 AM NPT By: Rakshya Basnet

Local culture represents Nepali architecture. But under influence of western architecture we seem to be losing our own

It’s third rainy season after the massive earthquakes of 2015. And earthquake victims are battling with rain even today. The devastating earthquakes and subsequent aftershocks had not only killed and displaced people, but also destroyed historical monuments (including those listed by UNESCO as world heritage sites) and structures of great archaeological value. These monuments were symbols of Nepal’s identity. Without restoring them, we cannot save our cultural legacy.

Sadly, we seem to have reached the point of bringing down our cultural heritage in the name of modernization. Nepal is rich in architecture.  But these architectures are being rapidly replaced by high rise western structures. Modern trend of development has shadowed our old architectures in such a way that one does not get to see them anywhere these days. Rapid population growth has caused scarcity of land which in turn has encouraged builders to raise high buildings.

We often think of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur when we talk about architectures, but ignore local cultural identity of places like Sindhuli, Gorkha, Nuwakot, Janakpur and Palpa. We must preserve local architecture, one of the most unique in the world. Local culture represents Nepali architecture. But under influence of western architecture we seem to be losing our own.

Our architecture is not only beautiful and attractive, but also the most unique in the world. Therefore while constructing modern buildings we must try to incorporate unique aesthetics of old architecture wherever possible. We may design the interior the way we like, but the outlook of the houses should reflect local architecture. Modern construction needs to blend cultural heritages wherever possible. It will not only help preserve culture, but also increase aesthetic value of buildings. 

We are proud of our history. Our architecture, Gorkha identity and cultural heritages are our identities. But we are gradually losing essence of Nepal and all that we take pride in.

Why must we adopt modern technology at the expense of local culture? We should preserve historical as well as cultural monuments so that our future generation can also witness their magnificence. If we ignore the heritage sites as we are doing today, soon all historical monuments will be limited only in name.

Take Sindhuligadhi Durbar. It used to be one of the most beautiful palaces. But only few bricks remain today. Sindhuligadhi was built as a watchtower to protect the country from foreign invaders. Today it is in ruins. If we do not take measures to preserve this monument, it will soon collapse and, with it, one of the greatest symbols of history will be lost. 

Our focus now must be on preservation of these historical monuments. The authorities working on it must speed up the process. 

It’s time to revive Nepali architecture. Various countries have begun campaign of reviving world architecture. Nepal should do the same. It needs to preserve its source of cultural history .The government must take steps to promote and preserve Nepali architecture. We must not copy the western archaeology while rebuilding old structures. 

We can retain Nepali architecture in private houses as well. Laws should be devised to enforce it. To not to let Nepali architecture disappear, we must organize campaigns, trainings as well as awareness programs which will help people to understand importance of our own architectural value. 

Once we forget our identity, we will lose everything. It is high time for the government to formulate policy on building construction preservation. Government should make national policy to ensure that ancient architecture is retained in private housing, national monuments and public buildings.

The author is an engineer

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