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Ranipokhari reconstruction work to be delayed further

The reconstruction of the Balgopaleshwar Temple situated at the premises of Rani Pokhari has been mired in controversy one more time, with the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation asking the Department of Archaeology to re-consider its decision of rebuilding the historic property in a style that imitates the architecture of a Gumbaz structure.

The directive from the ministry has come at a time when the expert panel, responsible for the reconstruction of the temple, has recommended the structure be rebuilt in Granthakut structure.

The Kathmandu Metropolitan City and the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) had held two separate meetings with the expert panel and had more or less zeroed in on rebuilding the temple with the architectural sensibilities of a Granthakut structure. Though the Archaeology Department had started rebuilding the temple in Gumbaz structure earlier, the process was stalled following a controversy with a section of archaeologists and experts advocating the structure be built as a Granthakut structure.

“The ministry has asked the Archaeology Department to submit a report reviewing its decision on rebuilding the historic temple in Gumbaz style, which means the agency has been asked to consider the suggestion put forward by the expert panel,” Rajuman Manandhar joint secretary at the NRA said. The Archaeology Department is willing to retain the temple’s Gumbaz-style aesthetics, which was used when the temple was built during the Rana regime.

The temple originally was designed in Granthakut structure during the Malla era and was altered during the Rana regime as it was damaged by an earthquake.

According to Manandhar, the Archaeology Department wants to rebuild the temple following a Gumbaz design as the department believes the temple has its own history and hence its essence should be retained in the rebuilding process. All other agencies and experts, however, have been lobbying for the Malla-era Granthakut design.

The department has already poured in around Rs2.2 million in the reconstruction of Rani Pokhari.

Likewise, Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) has invested more than Rs20 million. Both these agencies have spent the amount to rebuild it in Gumbaz style.

The fresh directive from the ministry is likely to impact the rebuilding process as authorities will now have to halt the reconstruction process until the department submits a report.

Moreover, the ministry has also decided to form a Rani Pokhari Reconstruction Coordination and Inspection Committee, which will include officials from the ministry, KMC, Archaeology Department and the expert panel. The committee will be coordinated by the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA).

Former Deputy Director General at the Department of Archaeology, Bishnu Raj Karki, Conservation Architect Sudarshan Raj Tiwari, Structural Engineer Prem Nath Maskey, Urban Planner Surya Bhakta Sangachhe among others had suggested the structure be built following a Granthakut structure’s architectural features on Monday. The report submitted by the experts also clarified why this particular style was suitable over others.

“Most of the stakeholders including NRA are of the view that if we are rebuilding Rani Pokhari it would be wise to follow the original design rather than the one that was altered later,” Manandhar said.


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