Kathmandu Metropolitan City has recently announced its decision to pull out of the reconstruction of the historic Bal Gopaleshwor temple, which lies at the centre of Ranipokhari.
The rebuilding work at Ranipokhari was halted more than two weeks ago upon instructions from the Department of Archaeology, citing that the works did not meet previously agreed standards set on August 29.
The department had earlier directed KMC to construct the temple without using concrete but the latter had not heeded this. Last week, the conflict reached a peak and the project came to a standstill after KMC decided to withdraw from the project.
KMC opined that it was dissatisfied with the department right from the beginning, while United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation had expressed its concerns over the inappropriate approach to the reconstruction project.
“The temple was originally constructed by using concrete and all construction activities on the premises of the historic pond have been carried out using concrete, which actually guarantees a higher level of safety.
Therefore, at this juncture, it would be questionable to totally rule out concrete,” Rudra Singh Tamang, executive officer at KMC, told THT, adding, “We have decided to pull out of the project. Nonetheless, we are still ready to support DoA financially, if the DoA decides to reconstruct the temple instead.”
The Worldwide Kandel KN KG JV, the company reconstructing the historic site, also claimed that since concrete was used in the original structure, it had not done anything against the standards.
The company also said it was expediting reconstruction so as to complete the task before Bhai Tika of Tihar, when people without brothers and sisters visit the temple to receive tika.
Meanwhile, the Department of Archaeology said it was ready to take over the construction work. “If KMC is not ready to follow the guidelines and directions given by the department, we are ready to reconstruct the temple ourselves,” said Bhesh Narayan Dahal, director general at the department.
The temple had suffered significant damage in the earthquake last year. KMC had contracted Worldwide Kandel KN KG JV to reconstruct the centuries-old temple and pond at a cost of Rs 62.9 million. The company revealed that it had spent Rs 15 million so far.
Ranipokhari was built in 792 NS or 1727 BS by the then king Pratap Malla. The Balgopaleshwor temple with the idols of Bal Gopal and Mahisasur Mardini along with a Shiva Linga stands in the middle of the pond.
Previously, the gates of Ranipokhari was opened to the public twice a year on Bhai Tika of Tihar and Chhath.