Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) is going to rebuild Rani Pokhari in Kathmandu. It has decided to demolish the existing concrete structures and start the reconstruction process from mid-May this year.
King Pratap Malla built Rani Pokhari, also known as Nhu Puku (new pond), in 1670 in memory of his son to appease his wife. The massive Gorkha earthquake in 2105 destroyed the temple. KMC Mayor, Bidya Sundar Shakya said, “We are here to preserve our heritage. Let us talk about the standards on how we can reconstruct out heritage sites and reach a meeting point. We have decided to remove the concrete from the pond.”
The reconstruction work on the historic pond was on-hold since December last year. The work was discontinued after the metropolis’ decision to use 10-foot concrete boundary wall on the southern side of Rani Pokhari was immensely criticized by the conservationists and citizens in the valley.
However, the KMC has now decided to reconstruct the temple along with the other structures of the Rani Pokhari by removing the modern structures raised so far.
The KMC’s decision followed their meeting on April 5 where Minister for Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari and Director General of the Department of Archaeology (DoA) Bhesh Narayan Dahal had told KMC Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya to rebuild Rani Pokhari without making changes to its original form.
Basanta Acharya, KMC Information Officer Basanta Acharya said, “The concrete structures will be removed before May 15, and the reconstruction work will move forward.”
The government had ordered the KMC to hand over Yamaleshwor Temple located in the middle of the pond to the DoA for reconstruction, following criticism from experts and Unesco for using concrete to construct the historic temple.
The KMC was divided over the use of concrete for Rani Pokhari’s reconstruction. On December 26, KMC’s Deputy Mayor Hari Prabha Khadgi and Ward 28 Chairman Bhairam Khadgi had padlocked the main gate of Rani Pokhari in protest against the use of concrete in its reconstruction. An hour later, Mayor Shakya reached the place and broke the padlock.
A week after the incident, the metropolis formed an 11-member committee under former DoA director general Bishnu Raj Karki for the archaeological excavation in the pond, to restore the Malla-era monument in its original form. The government had launched the post-quake reconstruction campaign on January 16, 2016, from Rani Pokhari, with President Bidya Devi Bhandari laying the foundation stone of the temple.