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Before and after

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011
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One of the oldest visual records we have of Kathmandu Valley are the watercolour sketches by Henry Ambrose Oldfield, who was a doctor at the British Legation in Kathmandu in 1854. His drawing of Patan Darbar Square shows Tushahiti, the Bhandarkhal Pond and the imposing Taleju temple in the background.

The drawings depict the temple complex in a state of dilapidation, and this could be because of the earthquake of five years previously. The Darbar suffered further destruction in the 1934 earthquake and some rough and not-so-careful restoration during the 1970s.

On Monday, the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust (KVPT) unveiled its restoration of the Bhandarkhal Temple after three years of painstaking restoration of the stone carvings, the periphery walls and the challenging work of reviving the ancient underground water supply to the pond.

Bhandarkhal was the royal bath of the Malla Kings and was probably built in the time of Siddhi Narsingh Malla in 1648. The restoration is tastefully and carefully done, and one can almost imagine the king emerging from the Sundari Chok followed by an entourage of concubines and servants taking his daily dip in the pond and resting in the gazebo overlooking it.

“Kathmandu is the world’s most endangered heritage site, and the Bhandakhal restoration adds another accomplishment to our effort to bring back Kathmandu’s past architectural glory,” said Rohit Ranjitkar of the KVPT which hopes to complete the restoration of adjoining Sundari Chok and the Patan Darbar Complex by next year. The park and the palace will be open to the public after that.

KVPT was supported in this ongoing restoration by the US Embassy in Kathmandu, the German Government, Nepal Investment Bank, Ace Development Bank and other Nepali donors.

Read also:

Patan’s crown jewel

Patan Durbar in 1854

Kunda Dixit

Patan Durbar with the restored Bhandkhal Pond after restoration today


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