Reconstruction work on Sat Tale Durbar in Nuwakot affected by pandemicThe palace was destroyed by earthquakes in 2015 and currently stands propped up by iron poles.
The reconstruction of the historic Sat Tale Durbar (seven-storey palace) and its surrounding artefacts in Bidur Municipality Ward No. 2, Nuwakot, has yet to be completed. The palace had sustained huge damages in the April 2015 earthquakes.
The palace, which is on the verge of collapse, has been propped up with iron poles and visitors are barred from entering its premises.
Two years ago, the National Reconstruction Authority had signed an agreement with the Chinese government to reconstruct the seven-storey palace. But the only work done so far is the erection of a scaffolding and some repair work on the roofs. The construction work has been put on hold since June 2019.
In February 2020, Chinese technicians had marked various places of the palace for reconstruction but in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, no progress was made. The monsoon rains have washed the markings away, locals say.
“We were happy when the reconstruction was about to start. But the work has yet to kick off. This palace is Nuwakot’s identity and we are afraid we might lose it if the reconstruction does not begin soon,” said Surendra Kumar Shahi, a local man in Bidur.
Birendra Kumar Shahi, chairman of Ward No. 2 in Bidur Municipality, said, “The Chinese technician team was in search of bricks to repair the damaged structures. They had also looked for a road way to transport construction materials before March. But the plans never materialised because of restrictions following the coronavirus pandemic.”
The Chinese government had pledged to help reconstruct the Nuwakot Durbar soon after the devastating earthquake in 2015. According to Rajan Silwal, who was working with the Chinese team as a language interpreter, technicians from the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage were involved in the reconstruction of the palace.
“The team was supposed to repair the palace walls and replace decayed and weakened supporting struts with new ones. All of the works have been hampered due to pandemic,” Silwal said.
Arjun Prasad Phuyal, chief at the Nuwakot Palace Museum, says the Chinese team will not be returning to resume work anytime soon. “They have not informed us when they will return. Maybe they will arrive in February next year,” he said.
Arjun Ghimire, another local, said, “Before the 2015 earthquake, many domestic and foreign tourists would come to Nuwakot just to look at the palace. But now the palace is deserted and on the verge of collapse.”
The palace, which was originally nine-storey tall, was also damaged in the 1934 earthquake after which it was restored to its current height of seven storeys.
“In the 2015 earthquake, the palace sustained further damages. Its pillars developed cracks and the roof came unhinged,” said Phuyal.
The palace is located atop a hill overlooking Samari, Dhikure and Thansing valleys. It was constructed by the then King Prithvi Narayan Shah and was used as an administrative headquarters after the annexation of Nuwakot in 1744. The surrounding historical monuments like Rangamahal and Garadghar were also destroyed in the 2015 quake. The earthquake also damaged Tulaja Bhagwati Temple, located around 200 metres north from the palace.
“All these monuments were set to be reconstructed by the Chinese government. And the reconstruction of Bishnu and Narayan temples was said to be completed in the same package,” said Phuyal.
Two years ago, the then Chinese Ambassador Yu Hong had also inspected the quake-ravaged Sat Tale Durbar area.