17-23 April 2015 #754

Bhaidegah restoration

While visiting Nepal, Norwegian State Secretary Morten Høglund unveiled a wooden door to be used as part of the restored Bhaidegah Temple
Stéphane Huët

WORKING TOGETHER: Cultural historian Satya Mohan Joshi and Norwegian State Secretary Morten Høglund at the unveiling of a wooden door to be used as part of the restored Bhaidegah Temple in Patan. Photo: Kenji Kwok

Like many other great monuments of the Kathmandu Valley, the Bhaidegah Temple in Patan was destroyed in the Great Earthquake of 1934. Built in 1678 by Patan’s Chautaria, (prime minister) Bharo Bhaiya, the Bhaidegah Temple was the largest Shiva temple in Mangal Bazar.

After 1934, the temple was rebuilt in a stucco Moghul-style instead of its original three-tiered pagoda architecture to protect the Shiva lingam inside.

In 2011, a group of Nepalis established the non-profit Sanskritik Sampada Samrakshan Samuha (Cultural Heritage Conservation Group/CHCG) and started the Bhaidegah Rebuilding Project to restore the temple to its original form. The total amount required for the project was estimated at $475,000 of which $300,000 was pledged as a grant from the Norwegian Embassy in Kathmandu.  

This week, the group held a low-key installation of one of the four carved wooden doors to be used as part of the restored Bhaidegah Temple during the Nepal visit of Norwegian State Secretary Morten Høglund.

The door made of sal wood was introduced to the public by eminent cultural historian and chair of CHCG, Satya Mohan Joshi, and Minister Høglund in the Stone Gate Courtyard of Patan Darbar Square.

The door was carved by artisans of Bhaktapur who worked on it for six months and depicts Shiva and Parvati on it. Rohit Ranjitkar, conservation architect with CHCG, said: “It is very important to correct some of the improper restoration that was done after the earthquake, and it says a lot that it has taken nearly 80 years for the temple to be restored to its pre-1934 splendour.”

Kanak Mani Dixit, vice-chair of CHCG said that Henry Ambrose Oldfield’s 1853 water colour showed that Bhaidegah was one of the most beautifully carved temples in the Valley.

Joshi, who was 13 during the 1934 earthquake, spoke about the intricacy of the woodcarvings on the original temple. “I precisely remember each detail of the temple before the earthquake,” he told the gathering at the inauguration.

Minister Høglund said he was proud of Norway’s association with the project: “Seeing this outstanding carving, I look forward to coming back to Nepal when the restoration of Bhaidegah Temple is complete.”

Read also:

Preserving Nepal’s soul, Stéphane Huët

Rana renaissance, Sujata Tuladhar

Old Glory, Jemima Sherpa

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