Archaeological study of historical Chaitya begins in NuwakotLocal residents hope the move will help in preserving heritage sites in the district.
The Department of Archaeology has initiated study of a historical Chaitya, a Buddhist shrine, located in Bidur Municipality-2 of Nuwakot district. The Buddhist shrine is believed to have been built during the Lichchhavi period around 1,400 years ago.
The department was concerned about the monument, with a view that it might have some historical and archeological significance. The Chaitya, which is located around one kilometre north-west from Nuwakot Durbar, is in a state of disrepair and neglect.
A team of archeologists led by Ram Bahadur Kunwar, deputy director general and spokesperson for the Department of Archaeology, visited the monument site and carried out study last week. Two archaeologists from the UK’s Durham University were also in the team. The Department of Archaeology plans to renovate and reconstruct the monument following the archeological study of the site.
“The team of archaeologists studied the historical Chaitya and collected important information about it. They conducted a geophysical survey of the area,” said Arjun Phuyal, chief of Monument Conservation and Palace Maintenance Office in Nuwakot. The maintenance office is under the Department of Archaeology.
The main Chaitya is surrounded by other smaller Chaityas. There is an entry gate on the eastern side of the monument. Two stone lions guard the gate. There is a statue of Ganesh in front of the monument while there is also a stone inscription erected by King Prithvi Narayan Shah after he repaired the site. There are two small Chaityas in the western corner and a statue of Manjushree on the wall of one of the Chaityas. Another small Chaitya on the southern side is now in ruins. There is a temple dedicated to Goddess Saraswati and a statue of Natyeshwari just a few metres above the Chaitya.
According to Phuyal, the Chaityas have been found to be quite old. “The Department of Archaeology will carry out a study in the second phase as well on the basis of the report of geophysical survey,” said Phuyal, adding that the geophysical survey report is yet to come.
Bidur Municipality took initiatives for the archeological study of the Chaitya. It coordinated with the Department of Archaeology for the study. “The municipality has been working for the excavation and conservation of the archaeological sites in the district,” said Rajan Shrestha, mayor of Bidur Municipality. He expressed his hope that the department would help the municipality in preserving historical monuments located in the area.
The local residents complain that the authorities concerned have not paid much attention to the conservation of important religious shrines. “The Department of Archaeology, in coordination with the municipality, finally started its study of the Chaitya,” said Prahlad Malla, a local resident. “Let’s hope that it will help in renovating and conserving the monuments.”