By Indira Aryal
Kathmandu, Jan. 24: To enhance the beauty of the Bagmati River, 28 monuments along the river corridor were reconstructed, spanning from Teku Dovan to Thapathali.
The monuments, which were damaged during the 2015 earthquake, have been reconstructed to restore a traditional appearance along the corridor. This initiative comes at a crucial time when various structures, including ghats, sattals, temples, shrines, and other related structures, have faced deterioration and disappearance.
The initiative was launched by the Bagmati River Basin Improvement Project-Additional Financing (BRBIP-AF) on 6 February 2020, with financial support from the Asian Development Bank. The project’s objective is to restore the monuments that were originally constructed during the era of Janga Bahadur Rana.
One important component of the BRBIP is to enhance the health of the river and improve flood management within the Bagmati River Basin. This effort is in line with the vision outlined in the Bagmati Action Plan, which envisions a “Clean, green, and healthy Bagmati River that is full of life and valued by all,” said Udhav Nepal, Deputy Project Director, BRBIP-AF.
Indeed, there are several notable ghats along the corridor, each contributing to the cultural and historical richness of the area. These include Teku-Dovan Ghat, Munshi Ghat, Panchanari Ghat, Pachali Ghat, Hanuman Ghat, Kali Ghat, Kaji Ghat, Puret Ghat, Juddha Ghat, Chandra Ghat, and Kal Mochan Ghat.
Prabha Pokhrel, Team Leader of River Environment Improvement through Community Leadership Development/BRBIP, said that these monuments, constructed over a century ago, carry substantial cultural and historical significance. They were built for purposes such as cremation, and rest, and some even served as lodgings during a time when there were no easy places to stay in the city.
The initiative was undertaken to impart a clean and traditional aesthetics along the corridor. A total of 28 monuments were constructed under three contracts along the Bagmati River corridor, spanning from Thapathali Bridge to the Bishnumati confluence, Pokhrel said.
Under the first contract, 11 monuments were restored for Rs. 375 million, and the project was completed in December 2021. In the second phase, the restoration of 13 monuments was finalized in September 2022, utilising Rs. 471 million.
The third phase involved the restoration of four monuments, and this was completed on March 31, 2023, for Rs. 437 million.
She added, “All the reconstruction work was accomplished using traditional methods, employing materials such as lime, sand, surkhi, molasses, and black lentil. As a result, each structure now appears exactly as it did originally.”
Pokharel noted, “Following the completion of the reconstruction of 28 monuments, the critical issue lies in operational management. While certain structures have been handed over to guthis, others remain to be handed over. The Kathmandu Metropolitan City should take on the responsibility for oversight. However, it has not shown any concern in this regard thus far.”
Pokharel said that the completed structures are not currently in use. She mentioned efforts to meet with Mayor Balen Shah of KMC, which were unsuccessful. Instead, they approached Deputy Mayor Sunita Dangol, urging her to visit the site and proceed with further plans for the structures. However, as of now, there has been no communication or progress in this regard.
She said that the potential for these areas to serve as tourist attractions and generate revenue. She added that the sole objective of the project is make the corridor clean and to witness these monuments being utilised like before for their historical purposes.
According to Nepal, the Management Action Plan has been submitted to the KMC, but there has been no response in return. He emphasized that these structures are assets of guthis and should be utilsed for the purposes for which they were originally constructed.
These monuments are located in Wards 11 and 12 of the KMC. He expressed the desire to promote the local culture and address the environmental impact as these structures within the corridor contribute to its being unhealthy and untidy.
The reconstructed monuments include Karki Sattal, Manandhar Sattal, Shiva Temple, Munsi Ghat Sattal, Pujari Sattal, Rajbhandari Sattal, Purohit Ghat Sattal, Panchanari Ghat Sattal, West Sattal, Teen Dewal Temple Gateway to Bomkiteswar, Bairagi Sattal, Kalmochan Ghat Sattal (Block V), and Udashi Sattal.
All these monuments, including Chaughera Sattals, are adorned with intricately carved wooden structures, featuring elements such as carved pillars, windows, balconies, doors, and other architectural embellishments like struts and tympanums.