Iconic Ranipokhari restored and inauguratedAfter the 2015 earthquake, Nepal’s reconstruction campaign had started from the historic pond in 2016.
When President Bidya Devi Bhandari formally kicked off the national reconstruction campaign from Ranipokhari on January 16, 2016, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City hoped to complete the historic pond’s restoration by Bhai Tika the following year.
But the renovation of the pond, damaged in the 2015 earthquakes, took four years to complete.
After a wait of five years, brothers who do not have their sisters will finally be able to reach the Balgopaleshwor temple, which has just been rebuilt, in the middle of the pond this Tihar next month as Kathmandu municipal officials have promised to open the shrine for Bhai Tika worshippers.
The restoration work of Ranipokhari was fraught with controversies. The project went through many failed starts and restarts, causing work delays and cost overrun.
It took more than five years since the devastating quakes and more than Rs 240 million to restore the iconic pond.
Officials at the National Reconstruction Authority said the restored Balgopaleshwor temple is ready to be opened for the public during Bhai Tika this year.
Raju Man Manandhar, who was assigned by the authority to oversee the reconstruction work of Ranipokhari, said the pond will soon be handed over to Kathmandu Metropolitan City.
"We are in the process of finalising the payment with the contractor. After that we will hand over Ranipokhari to Kathmandu Metropolitan City," Manandhar told the Post.
The restoration work of the pond as well as Balgopaleshwor temple was carried out by CM Tulshi JV.
The temple has been restored in its original form, in Shikhara style, as King Pratap Malla had constructed it in 1670AD.
President Bhandari inaugurated the restored Ranipokhari on Wednesday.
The historic monument was severely damaged in the 2015 Gorkha earthquake.
Conservationists and heritage lovers are against the idea of handing over Ranipokhari to the city authority.
Kathmandu Metropolitan City, which was originally supposed to reconstruct Ranipokhari, had announced plans to open cafes and recreation centres around the pond, inviting protests from many city residents.
The city authority had also drawn flaks from heritage conservationists for the use of modern construction materials to build the historic site.
Heritage activist Ganapati Lal Shresta said they do not trust the city authority to conserve Ranipokhari the way it is meant to be.
“The city authority has been working for the benefit of business persons. We are talking about the same authority that leased Dharahara for businesses to earn money," he said.
“We don’t want Ranipokhari to be a place of commercial activities just so Kathmandu Metropolitan City can earn money. We want the heritage site to be conserved as it is.”
Sushil Gyewali, the CEO of the reconstruction authority, said they were aware of the concerns raised by conservationists.
“We will hand over Ranipokhari only after the KMC comes up with a set of guidelines to conserve the restored Ranipokhari and Balgopaleshwor Temple,” he told the Post.
Kathmandu Metropolitan City has yet to issue guidelines for the conservation of Ranipokhari.
President Bhandari also inaugurated the newly restored building of Durbar High School, Nepal’s first ever school, on Wednesday.
The school building was built by Shanghai Construction Group, a Chinese company, at a cost of Rs 850 million.
The school was built by prime minister Jung Bahadur Rana in 1853 to educate the children of the upper ruling class.
Children of the ordinary people were allowed to enrol at the school much later.