Call for turning Ratna Mandir into museumThe residents of Pokhara have long been demanding the government to convert Ratna Mandir into a museum and open it for public, but they say their requests have fallen on deaf ear.
Lal Prasad Sharma
The residents of Pokhara have long been demanding the government to convert Ratna Mandir into a museum and open it for public, but they say their requests have fallen on deaf ear.
The lake-front holiday retreat of the erstwhile royal family is gathering dust and mould after Nepal Trust (NT) took custody of the property following the abolishment of monarchy a decade ago.
Ram Bahadur Paudel, a civil society member, said the tourist city could attract more visitors if Ratna Mandir were to be converted into a museum.
“The ticket revenue could be invested for the upkeep of the place as well as other development works. The property, for instance, could be developed into a biodiversity park,” he said.
One NT official said while the trust sympathised with the demand of Pokhara residents, it was unable to grant them their wish without government’s support.
“The government must first allocate budget for infrastructure development if Ratna Mandir were to be turned into a museum,” said Shreekant Bhattarai, the trust’s engineer.
He added that the government should allocated at least Rs 50 million to start the project.
Krishna Gubhaju, chief of NT, Pokhara Unit Office, said to develop Ratna Mandir as a museum required support from all stakeholders.
“Though the trust has prioritised the museum project from the beginning, it alone cannot pull off the task. There should be a cooperation from all sides,” he said.
Ratna Mandir is built on a property that occupies more than 114 ropanis of land on the edge of Phewa Lake. The place is guarded by the Nepal Army. Members of the public are not allowed inside.
And since the property is currently under the custody of the NT, the provincial government does not have the authority to turn it into a public entity in the form of a museum, as wished by the residents of Pokhara.
Province 4 Minister for Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment Bikash Lamsal said the province government was committed to develop Ratna Mandir into a museum and open it for public.
“We are making efforts to turn Ratna Mandir into a national heritage site by transferring its management to the provincial government,” he said.