This year will also see the Makar Mela, which happens every 12 years in Panauti,1 when tens of thousands of people from surrounding districts — including Kathmandu Valley — will converge on the town to take a dip in the holy confluence of the rivers. The month-long festival will be held in January.
- 1. The 13-century town of Panauti has the ambience of a place that has been bypassed by history. The fertile valley along the Rosi Khola was given by the king of Bhaktapur as dowry to his newly-married sister. However, archaeological finds prove that Panauti was settled much sooner, in the early Kirat period 1,500 years ago.
It was at the last Makar Mela in 2010 that Panauti native and photographer Prasant Shrestha met Gerard Toffin, the French anthropologist who has researched Nepal’s Newa civilisation. Toffin is now emeritus professor at the Centre national de recherche scientifique (CNRS) and was involved in detailed research of Panauti’s culture and architecture with Vincent Barré, Patrick Berger and Laurence Feveile. This led to French Government involvement in the restoration of Panauti and its urban renewal from 1979-1989, just as the Germans were involved in restoring Bhaktapur.
Toffin’s photographs of Panauti from the 1970s are juxtaposed with Shrestha’s recent images from the same spot.