Thousands of houses in Bhaktapur district collapsed while the remaining developed cracks in the devastating earthquake of April 25 and many major aftershocks since then. However, a 160-year-old house located near Dattatraya continues to stand tall, with no significant damage.
The earthquake demolished many old as well new houses built in the area but the model-house attached with them continues to keep its history alive, to the surprise of many. Dozens of people visit the house daily after the earthquake upon hearing about the miraculous escape of the house that carries archeological and historical importance as well.
The house was purchased by Ravindra Puri, around 17 years ago, when he saw the house in a dilapidated condition and used for poultry farming. Puri then renovated the house spending around 1.5 million rupees and named it namuna ghar or a model-house. It got fame once the house received the UNESCO Award in 2004.
Puri has been facing dozens of questions daily from visitors regarding the foundation and structure of the house. He said, “We do not bother to think about the repair for the safety of any building once it is constructed. They need regular maintenance. Most of the houses collapsed as they were not checked and repaired on time.”
The thatched-roof house has no cemented pillar and beams but it has enough wood and is constructed in the typical-Nepali style. I did not change the foundation of the house when it was renovated but replaced some damaged parts with new bricks and woods,” said Puri. “It bears no sign of damages even from the devastating quake felt on April 25 that measured 7.6 on the Richter scale with epicenter at Barpak of Gorkha district.
Besides the typical-Nepali house, a similar typical house constructed by Puri in Sanga, 11 houses of Panauti, a temple at Sankhu, and many resting huts, schools renovated under his initiatives remained untouched in the quake and aftershocks.
He suggested all to construct strong rather than big houses and said nobody will loose his/her precious life and no house would collapse if the reconstruction and new structures were built by learning lesson from this model-house.