Bhaktapur city, lying on the east of Kathmandu, is famous not only for its temples, woodwork, earthen pots and King Curd (Juju Dhau) but also for the presence three dozen ponds.With a population of around 80,000, the city is mostly populated by Newar community. The unique art, architecture and culture belonging to the Malla era can still be seen alive here. Besides these, the dozens of ponds created during the Malla period give a unique identity to this beautiful city.
With the objective of raising public awareness about the ponds, water resources and its conservation in Bhaktapur, a hiking of 33 ponds spread over 10 km was organized by Bhaktapur Tours and 33 Pond Hiking Consumer Committee on New Year’s Day – Baishakh 1, 2079.The program was attended by many around two dozen people including conservationists, tourist guides, students, journalists and local people. The tour started at 8 in the morning and concluded at 3:30 pm in the afternoon.
The three dozen ponds of Bhaktapur, though some of them are already dried up, make the city’s environment natural, pleasant and lively. Bhaktapur has a kind of natural air conditioning. thanks to these ponds. The temperature her is not very hot during summer as the ponds help in providing humidity in the surrounding atmosphere. We don’t need to install air conditioning or fan in the house, says Rabin Rajchal, the convenor of Bhaktapur Tours. “Currently there are 33 ponds in Bhaktapur, though in reality, there were 41 ponds earlier. But about half a dozen ponds have been dried up, he added. The biggest challenge for the people of Bhaktapur is to preserve these ponds which have proven to be the lifeline to the city dwellers.”
Around half a dozen of these ponds are larger in size, some of which are even larger than the Ranipokhari of Kathmandu. The newly renovated Rani Pokhari situated near Sallaghari has now become a major tourist attraction here. If the ponds are well protected, in the same way, it will become a special attraction for the domestic as well asd international visitors. Siddhapokhari pond situated near the entrance gate to Bhaktapur Bhaktapur durbarsquare is also looks equally beautiful. There is an interesting stone inscription installed in Siddhapokhari. Anyone who throws stones or brings in cow or buffalo will have to face a fine of Rs. 50 paisa, reads the inscription made during the time of Nepal’s first Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa dating back to 1881 B.S, This gives the evidence that the rulers of Nepal were well aware about the importance of preserving ponds some two centuries ago.
Some of the ponds are filled with plastic and garbage while water was polluted in some others. If the ponds of Bhaktapur are properly protected and preserved, it will also help in resolving the water scarcity facing the locals of Bhaktapur, according to Rajchal. Informing that water is being supplied to 3,000 people of Bhaktapur from Siddha Pokhari, he said, “If we can properly protect the water resources (rivers, ponds) here, we can supply water locally without relying on outside sources such as Melamchi Project.” If the conservation, clean up campaign and regular water purification are carried out in these water resources, the city would have totally different look, he points out.
The ponds here are different in shape and sizes. Some of them are square, some are rectangular, while others are hexagonal and still others are oval shaped. ponds are unique in shape, such as hexangle, rectangular and oval. Existing ponds in Bhaktapur, which are oval adding beauty to the ancient city. If preserved properly and cleaned on regular basis these ponds will help to meet the water needs of the locals, clean the environment and promote domestic and international tourism as well
Some of the big ponds in Bhaktapur such as Siddha Pokhari, Rani Pokhari and Kamal Pokhari are in good conditions as they are being regularly cleaned and maintained by the Bhaktapur Municipality. However, some of the small ponds, which are being looked after by local consumer’s group are in dilapidated condition. A beautiful reflection on famous five-storey temple Nyatapol used to be seen in the Khancha Pond, but now its beauty has been ruined due to the accumulation of dirt and garbage in the water.
Similarly, there was a Treatment Pond in Bhaktapur built by German Government around 1975. Sewage water was treated (filtered) in the treatment pond and released to the field. But at present it is non-operational. Similarly, a statue of Narayan sleeping like Budhanilkantha is kept in Ancha pond.
Shila Nyaichyai, former MP from Bhaktapur belonging to the Nepal Workers’ and Peasants’ Party said that the beauty of the ponds has diminished as plastics are thrown in the ponds everywhere. The beauty of these ponds could be brought back if they are being cleaned on regular basis, she added.