Kathmandu, Aug 5: The precious icons, manuscripts, paintings and the exotic wood carvings dating back to the ancient and the prehistoric periods that were dislocated in the massive earthquake are awaiting reinstatement as the government authorities are facing an unenviable task of keeping them safe until the restoration of the destroyed heritages begin.
Authorities overlooking the management of the historic art works of the country have said they are waiting for the restoration phase of the heritage sites to begin in order to reinstate the historic idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, steles, manuscripts and carved wooden struts and windows.
Chief of Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Maintenance and Care and Executive Director of Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Museum Development Committee, Saraswati Singh said all the statues and art works are safe in the hands of the authorities. “The statues of the collapsed temples are in our custody and we have documented all of them,” she said.
The Basantapur Durbar area suffered the most severe damage in the earthquake with a portion of the Gaidhi Baithak crumbling where the important relics known as ‘Hawalako Saman’ used during the Fulpati ritual and other royal ceremonies are housed. “These materials have suffered extensive damage and we have retrieved those items and stored them,” Singh said adding that the materials will have to undergo maintenance for use in Fulpati of the Bada Dashain festival which will take place in October.
The historic icons, materials and art works on display at the museum are however intact while those on display at the Tribhuvan museum have been shifted to safer part of the building.
The statue of Gorakhnath of Kasthamandap, built by King Laxmi Narsigha Malla in early 16th century and the idol of Char Binayak have been kept at the Gaddhi Baithak. The statue of Gorakhnath has broken into two pieces while the statues that were housed in the Krishna temple, Chayasing Deval (18th century) have been splintered into pieces. The major idols of the chief sanctum of the temples are safe, the Gajur (bronze/copper pinnacle) of the Trailokya Mohan Narayan temple also famous as Dash Avatar built in the 17th century by King Parthivendra Malla is being protected by the Indra Jatra Management Committee inside the Kumari Ghar.
Singh added that after the reconstruction of the temple, the government authorities would discuss on policies and plans on how the idols can be replaced.
The idols of the destroyed temples in the Patan Durbar Square have been kept at the Keshav Narayan Chowk and under the temporary zinc shelters at the Bhandarkhal garden inside the Patan museum for security and conservation purposes.
The statue of King Yog Narendra Malla, who ruled the city-state of Patan from 1684 and 1705 AD, and the joint idol of God Hari Shankar and Gajur of the Hari Shankar Temple built in 1704-05 by daughter of King Yog Narendra Malla, have suffered considerable damages. Interestingly, the idol of Hari Shankar has a deep crack in the middle separating the two deities – Vishnu and Shiva. The Gajur of the Char Naryan temple, considered the oldest temple in Patan Durbar Square, have also been damaged.
Devendranath Tiwari, Executive Director of the museum said that as per the Hindu tradition, the idols are not worshipped and replaced in the temples so they are most likely to be kept in the museum for display.
The wooden struts and windows of the temples with exotic and erotic carvings have also broken down into at least 20 to 30 pieces and have been put together after strenuous efforts and brought back into their former composition. The art works have been documented and stored in numerical order. “It is our tradition not to worship a damaged idol, so it will be kept in the museum for display and a new idol of will be developed and replaced once the temples are reconstructed,” Tiwari said.
In Bhaktapur Durbar Square ,the idols and artifacts that were dislodged have been stored at a chamber inside the Taleju chowk (courtyard) and inside the Golden Gate premises.
The idols of the buff stone Vatsala Devi temple built by King Jitamitra Malla in 1696 and dedicated to Vatsala Devi, a form of Goddess Durga, and the Fasi Dega temple dedicated to God Shiva and also known as Shilu Mahadev have suffered minor damages and have been kept inside the Golden Gate.
The main idols of Vatsala Devi at the chief sanctum of the temple and that of Shiva of the Fasi Dega temple are intact and are protected at their original positions, said Mangala Pradhan, Chief of Monument Maintenance and Palace Care Office, Bhaktapur.
Pradhan added that of the total of 116 temples inside the Bhaktapur city, 67 were razed down while 49 temples suffered partial damages. The Gajurs of the Fasi Dega are at the Taleju chowk inside the palace.
The idols of God Narayan of the Narayan temple, which is more than 100 years old, located at Bhelukhel and Balakhu Ganesh of the Dya Chen have also been brought to the palace for protection. Similarly, the wood carvings and Gajur of the traditional shelter (Patti) at the same area have also been brought to the palace area for protection and conservation.
The Bhaktapur museum, with all its art works, idols, manuscripts and paintings intact, is awaiting relocation as the building has developed deep fissures and is standing with the support of propped up poles.
“The municipality had given us the keys to the 55 window palace to shift the museum there, but they retracted from their decision, which I don’t know why,” said Pratima Ranjit, official at the National Art Museum of Bhaktapur.
According to Ranjit, the statues of Mar Vijaya (16th century) and Natarke Devi (15th century) located at the Pujari Math in Dattatreya area have been damaged.
Ram Bahadur Kunwar, Spokesperson at the Department of Archeology, said the dislodged idols and wood carvings are in safe hands. The monuments of the Changu Narayan temple are under conservation and protection of the authorities and locals of the Changu Narayan area whereas the Bhoto (jewel studded vest) and the important idols of Bungamati temple, assumed to be older than 605 AD, is being protected by the locals of the area.
The idols and other art works of the Kalmochan Mahadev Temple, built in 1873, and of Swayambhunath have been stored at the Chhauni museum while the idols of the Chandeshwori temple in Banepa are in safe hands of the locals and authorities there. RSS