As far back as 1934, much of the historic city was flattened by another strong earthquake. That moment is now regarded as the advent of modernisation, which introduced new buildings, roads and technology to the city. The 2015 earthquake brought many urban issues back into focus, and for a moment, it seemed the city could have been a giant workshop to test solutions to problems — in housing, culture, transport and heritage.
But as before, Kathmandu continues to operate as a city on the loose. 1
The lack of assessment of what has been lost has also been a sore point for heritage campaigners. The absence of detailed historical plans for many important structures means reconstruction efforts are based on limited photographic evidence. Campaigners claim that without local input into the rebuilding, the authenticity of the new structures will be undermined.
- 1. The reconstruction continues with little input from local communities, while international powers make their presence felt. Kathmandu’s Durbar Square has become a geopolitical playground, with an influx of donor agencies and countries rushing to prove their solidarity.
The renovation of Gaddi Baithak (or “royal seat”) has been completed with US support, despite controversy over its slightly altered facade. Likewise, Nau Tale Durbar (“nine-storey palace”), is currently being rebuilt with the help of Chinese investment, and has attracted local ire for lack of transparency.