Memories that was Basantapur Durbar Square

10:46 PM
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Sabitri Dhakal
t was a cultural heritage, but Basantapur Durbar Square was more,
much more, than historical, cultural buildings standing tall in the
middle of a modern concrete jungle surrounding it. It was a way of
life. For many, it was life — childhood spent here, taking part in the colourful jatras, watching performances of street
plays or musical soirees along with
Shiva-Parbati looking down from their
abode in the Dabali, the joy of Gai Jatra
found expression here along with those honouring the dead, while lovers spent hours
here lost in their love on the steps of the ancient temples.
Today that Basantapur Durbar Square exists in memories only.
The collapsed building of the Juddha
Barud Yantra greets you at the entrance to
the Square. And the scene of the Square itself almost makes one choke. Watching
people pose for friends’ cameras or selfies
with the rubble and the debris makes one
feel sad, really sad. Piled up bricks here and
there and wooden planks wedged to hold
up inclined buildings makes weep for the
Square that was the favourite haunt of the
Capital’s many.
“I always felt relief when I was here in
Basantapur. People always used to hang out
in the area. The numbers would increase in
the evenings. As the place is listed on the
world heritage site, there used to be numbers of tourists around here. Apart from
that, Basantapur is the place where there
used to be more jatras and fun.” shared Anu
Chitrakar, a resident of Basantapur.
Tashi Wangchuk, a monk, was there with
two friends taking pictures of the debris. “It
was a majestic building and royal. The
earthquake has devastated the history of
the country,” he shared.
There were hundreds of people craning
their necks and looking at the fallen Durbar
Memories that was Basantapur Durbar Square
Photos: THT
and the temples around.
Among the crowd was Bishnu
Thapa, a resident of Kadaghari.
He had come to see how the
earthquake had destroyed the
Durbar premises.
“It was a beautiful place and
of historical importance. I
wanted to see what was going
on in the area around and that
is why I am here today. I don’t
think we will be able to show to
our coming generations the
majestic palaces we had,” Thapa opined.
Anything can spark an idea,
even devastation. Sitting on
the one of the benches opposite the Durbar premises was
Dipesh Bhujel, a BFA IInd Year
student at Lalit Kala Campus.
He was busy sketching an image of the cracked building of
the Durbar.
But was it safe for him to sit
here and sketch? “It takes time
for the remains of the building
to collapse and in those seconds, I can run to a safe zone,”
he smiled.
But what about his cycle
(parked near the bench with
his helmet? “Who cares about
the cycle? I must save myself
first,” he laughed.
Basantapur Durbar Square
has given many of us great
memories and it is even more
dear to those who grew up
among her alleys and temples
and steps.
“When I saw the newspapers, I felt bad ... but sitting
here and looking at the debris
and collapsed buildings everywhere, it makes me sadder,”
shared Tara Man Tuladhar, a
resident from Balaju.
Tuladhar who was born and
brought up in Ason had seen
many changes in and around
the area. The dewals and
the temples were the same,
but the population in the
area had changed, and he
wonders — when will this area
be rebuilt?
But Canadian John Saboe,
who has visited the country
five times, believes that the
temples and the buildings will
be rebuilt.
“It might take two to five
years, but it will be rebuilt,” he
said, adding, “Many countries
in the world have gone
through massive devastations
and they have risen from such
destruction. Nepal too will
rise again,”
And there is this man in the
melee who is holding Nepal’s
flag and waving it. People
walking around the area ask to
borrow his flag and take photos. “I want people to know
about our flag and this is
why I am with our flag here,”
shared Laxmi Narayan Silpakar, a resident of Bhimmukteshwor, Kathmandu.
Whatever the grief or loss,
people find solace in faith. This
was evident at the Kal Bhairab
Temple premises. They were
lighting butter lamps and paying homage to the deity.
“We even did our nitya
puja despite the devastation,”
shared Tara Devi Bajracharya,
Gorkhalis! We can run and save
our lives. Some damaged
buildings are resting on thin
wooden supports, but couldn’t
care less for such things or
their own safety. They pushed
their ways here and there to
take photos. A man falling on
the steps near one such building was enough to prove that
we don’t care for our lives as
long as we have a photo. But is
that sensible? Isn’t it also selfish? You could be risking so
many other people’s lives too,
many who have come to
mourn the loss of the Square
that meant ‘life’ to them.
Kal Bhairab.
“Watching the scenes which,
once upon a time, was lively
and romantic makes me feel
bad. But this is what a natural
disaster is,” opined Menuka
Thapa, who sells butter lamps
and other puja items at the
temple premises. “But despite
everything, faith continues,
and this is why people are here
to worship,” Thapa shared.
There are ‘No Entry’ signs
everywhere but who cares? We
are Nepalis, the Brave
Nepal’s destructive tremblors
Dharahara before
1934 earthquake
After 1934 tremblor
Bhaktapur Durbar Square before 1934 earthquake /
After 1934 quake
Nepal lies in high seismic hazard zone, earthquakes of various magnitudes occur almost every year and have caused heavy losses of lives.
And the country has a long history of destructive earthquakes, the 1934’s quake being one of them. But three earthquakes of similar
size (of 1934) occurred in Kathmandu Valley in the 19th Century — in 1810, 1833, and 1866. The country has been left devastated
by the recent 7.6 magnitude April 25 earthquake. Read on to know some of the earthquakes that hit the country hard in history
1255 (310 BS)
Machhendranath in Patan
was completely destroyed
while many other temples
and buildings collapsed or
were damaged. Cracks on land
appeared in many places.
There was a heavy loss of lives
and livestock.
The first recorded earthquake in history of Nepal took
place on June 7, 1255. Onethird to one-fourth population
of Kathmandu were killed including Abahya Malla, the king
of Kathmandu Valley, numerous buildings and temples of
the Valley were entirely deEither in the month
stroyed while many of them
of December or January, durwere severely damaged.
ing the reign king Sri Niwas
Malla, another major earthquake was said to have hit
The month August or Sep- Nepal
tember of this year saw anoth- Valley. Although very little iner major earthquake hit the formation
Valley of Kathmandu and the on this particular earthquake,
surrounding areas, during there was heavy loss of
the reign of king Shyam lives as well as many buildings
Singh. The temple of Rato including temples were either
1681 (1737 BS)
1408 (1436 BS)
Nonetheless, the exact location
of this earthquake is not
with possible rupture length
of more than 70 km and the
event is located at 50 km
North-North East of Kathmandu. The human casualties
were reported to be less
than 500, which may be due
During the reign king Rajen- to occurrence of two large
dra Bikram Shah in the months foreshocks.
of August or September, the
strike was experienced in Kathmandu Valley. Houses, temKnown as the Great Nepalples, public shelters collapsed.
The tower of Dharahara was Bihar Earthquake, it stuck
damaged. Nepal and its surrounding arThe towns of Thimi and eas around 2:00 pm in January.
Bhaktapur took the brunt of The magnitude of the earththe disaster severely damaging quake was 8 on the Richter
the housing facilities, roads scale. Casualty figures were
network and various temples. highest for any recorded
Many buildings and temples earthquake in the history of
were destroyed. Its magnitude Nepal. It had casualties
is reported to be of Mb=7.8 of more than 16,000 people in-
1833 (1890 BS)
1934 (1990 BS)
cluding from Nepal and India
put together. It produced
strong shaking in Kathmandu
Valley, and destroyed 20 per
cent and damaged 40 per cent
of the Valley’s building
stock. In Kathmandu itself,
one quarter of all homes was
destroyed. Many of the temples in Bhaktapur were destroyed as well.
1988 (2045 BS)
The most recent earthquake
that badly hit Nepal was the
earthquake of 1988 which
was a moderate size earthquake (magnitude 6.5) affecting mostly the eastern part
of Nepal. A total of 721
people lost their lives in this
earthquake. — Compiled
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