Two communities in Laltipur, Bungamati and Pilachhen, have taken the lead to rebuild their hometown based on their culture, traditions , heritage and festivals. Pilachhen and Bungamati are old newar settlements in Patan and they have taken the opportunity to not just rebuild the physical structures but also to restore their culture, tradition, heritage and festivals. Everything has a bright side to it. It just takes a right mindset to set things in motion and do right.
Every end calls for a new beginning. The inhabitants were deeply saddened by the loss caused by the earthquake but they saw a new opening , a new flicker of light amidst an ocean of darkness. “This has become a perfect opportunity for us to revive our forgotten socio-cultural heritage and festivals that were slowly disappearing,” said Ramesh Maharajan, a local inhabitant at Pilachhen. Maharjan had witnessed old architecture being replaced by new cemented houses and wooden khapas being replaced by ugly metal shutters when he was young.
While working with Maya Foundation, Maharjan proposed a plan to rebuild his hometown to serve as a model of perserving traditional architecture as well as create economic opportunities for its residents. “We have a rich history, culture and architecture, and we want to use that for economic revival through tourism,” he says. The primary concept is to rebuild houses with traditional architectural appearance without compromising on modern amenities to keep the tourists attracted as well as open doors for employment opportunities.
Govinda Raj Pokhrel, formerly of the National Planing Commission who briefly headed the Reconstruction Authority, encouraged Pilachhen’s revival. “Reconstruction after the earthquake is not just about restoring damaged buildings, but the cultural heritage, festivals, crafts, and livelihoods that they represent,” he says.
The project is estimated to cost around 470 million. Tilganga Foundation has donated 40 million whereas 10 million has been collected from individual donors so far. Bungamati is situated on the southern outskirts of Patan, 10 km away from the historic city Lalitpur. The community is prioritising to revitalise the town while preserving the architectural heritage, woodcarving tradition and its famous chariot festival. The project is also being aided by UN HABITAT and KU Leuven University in Belgium.
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