President Bidya Devi Bhandari, amidst a special function last week, inaugurated Kashthamandap, the 7th century iconic strucure, destroyed during 2015 earthauake. The historic shrine lolcated at the center of the capital city, was reconstructed by using Nepali raw materials, money and indigenous architecture.
Nepal’s original earthquake proof technology was used while reconstructing Kasthamandap, according to Rajesh Shakya, chairman of the Kashthamandap reconstruction comitte.
The “Kasthamandap Reconstruction Committee” was formed for the reconstruction of the temple after the earthquake of 2015. According to the committee, the study of the foundation of Kasthamandap showed evidence that the shrine dates back to the 7th century.
A statement from the committee said that the archeological excavations carried out by the Department of Archeology with the help of Durham University, showed that the foundation of Kasthamandap was not damaged by the quake. Accordingly, it was decided to repair the existing foundations and to build new structure over it. The same study found evidence that the history of Kasthamandap dates to at least the 7th century.
According to Shakya during the construction of Kasthamandap, four main wooden poles at the center consisting of a kind of stone with a hole in the centre were inserted into it creating a knob so that it would not be shaken during earthquake. In this way, even if the structure is shaken by the earthquake, it will not collapse. However, during the earthquake of the year 2072, the wooden knob was broken as it was worn out. If the wood of the knob had been repaired and kept in good condition, it would not have been damaged by an earthquake. While Shakya was currently rebuilding the structure, it has been designed like previously. The construction work of the traditional style earthquake-resistant technology had been completed under the direction of Prof. Premnath Maskey.
According to Shakya, earthquake-resistant technology has been developed in Nepal since the 7th century. It is said that after Nepal’s technology, it has reached other countries through China and Japan. Ancient monasteries such as Kasthmandap, Taleju, Changunarayan, etc., have been experiencing earthquakes every 80 to 100 years. Kasthamandap also withstood the earthquakes of 1990 and earlier.
The foundations of the wooden pavilion, which at that time were made of mud bricks, have not changed for 1300 years ago. Shakya said that the structure was built on top of the three-meter-high foundation as it was earlier. According to him, in the old temples, raw and mud bricks are used accordingly to create the walls which are not been affected for centuries.
To reconstruct the Kasthamandap structure, 1,60,000 new bricks, 15,000 oil bricks, 75,000 bricks with new and old wood of about 9,000 cu. ft. Agrakh has been used. The three-storey structure has a height of 64 feet with a brass pinnacle on the top.
He also said that the four stone statues of Ganesh of Kasthamandap and the statue of Gorakhnath in the middle of the temple have been rebuilt as the fragmented idols could not be worshipped. According to him, the old statues have been preserved in the archeological department. However, Sanjay Adhikari of Janhit Samrakshan Manch had filed a writ petition against the replacement of the new idol in the Supreme Court on Poush 28 and the Supreme Court had issued an interim order not to place the new idol at the end of Magh. According to Shakya, the date for the replacement of the new idol has been completed on Chaitra 1 and the next hearing is on coming Bhadra 5. He has said that they will abide by the decision of the court after Bhadra 5.
A total of Rs. 11 crores 50 lakhs have been spent on the reconstruction of Kasthamandap, which is much less than the estimated budget. All the expenses have been borne by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City. The Reconstruction Committee has also made plans for the timely future renovation of Kasthamandap. According to Shakya, the pillars, shingles, and oil bricks of the temple will be properly protected if they are oil polished and cleaned from time to time.