Quake-ravaged historical Sital Pati at Gorkha Durbar restoredReconstruction works were started in January last year.
The reconstruction of the earthquake-ravaged Sital Pati, a rest house for special guests and devotees on the premises of Gorkha Durbar, has been completed just ahead of the sixth anniversary of the devastating earthquake.
“The reconstruction of the historical Sital Pati has been completed at the cost of Rs 5 million provided by the Department of Archaeology,” said Hari Bhusal, chief at the Gorkha Durbar Herchaha Adda, the government office that oversees the maintenance of the historical palace.
The Gorkha earthquake of April 25, 2015 had damaged Sital Pati and other structures on the premises of the Gorkha Durbar. The walls developed cracks and the tiled roof was partially damaged.
“We are glad that the reconstruction of Sital Pati has been completed. Only some final finishing touches remain which should be completed within a week,” said Bhusal.
The reconstruction of Sital Pati was started in January last year, nearly five after the earthquake. “The delay in the reconstruction of the Gorkha Durbar held up the reconstruction works of Sital Pati. Issuance of the funds by the Department of Archaeology was also delayed because the department had to prioritise the repair and reconstruction of the main Durbar,” said Bhusal.
Similarly, Damai Pati, another rest house on the premises of the Palace, built some 55 years ago has also been repaired. Musical instruments like Nagara [giant drums], Karnal [large brass trumpet] and Rasa, among others, that are used during religious ceremonies are stored in the Damai Pati.
Likewise, the restoration of Upallokot Sattal, Vidyamandir, Gorakhnath Temple and Gorakhnath Pati have also been completed.
However, the reconstruction of Kalika Temple and Rangamahal is yet to be started. The earthquake had severely damaged both the structures situated on the Durbar premises.
Gorkha Durbar, Kalika Temple, Rangamahal and Sital Pati, among other structures, lie atop a narrow hill. The difficult topography makes it challenging to initiate simultaneous reconstruction works of all the structures, says Rameshwar Kattel, a former government officer who worked for nearly two years at the Gorkha Durbar Herchaha Adda.
“We cannot carry out the reconstruction work of all the structures at the same time due to the difficult topography. Furthermore, many valuables and goods of Gorkha Durbar are stored in Kalika Temple. It will be easier to initiate the reconstruction of Kalika Temple after the completion of the Gorkha Durbar’s reconstruction work,” said Bhusal.
“Rs 10 million was issued to reconstruct Kalika Temple and Rangamahal in the last fiscal year but we could not utilise the money. The budget froze,” said Bhusal. “This year, Rs 5 million has been allocated but we are not sure if we will be able to utilise it this year as well.”
Meanwhile, the reconstruction of Gorkha Durbar is going at a snail’s pace. Only about 75 percent of reconstruction has been completed so far. The palace with historical, archaeological and religious importance was built by King Ram Shah, well known for his judicial reforms, in 1666 BS.
The reconstruction work of the palace was initiated by the Pachali Siwa JV Construction on December 17, 2017. As per the contract, the construction company should have completed the work by mid-December 2019. The deadline was then extended by six months and then further until mid-December 2020.
“A new deadline is yet to be set. We heard that the deadline extension process is underway,” said Bhusal.
An abode of kings from Ram Shah to Prithvi Narayan Shah, the palace was a witness to the unification of the present day Nepal. Local residents and visitors complain about the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities in expediting the reconstruction process.
“It’s disappointing to see the state in which the palace and other structures lie in today. We visited Kalika Temple, which is also in a dilapidated condition. It’s been more than five years since the earthquake and the palace is still in ruins,” said Suman Shrestha, a visitor.