The government is set to present the newly constructed Dharahara to the nation as a New Year 2078 gift. Destroyed by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Kathmandu on April 25, 2015, the construction started in October 2018.
In February 2016, the government decided to rebuild the tower, and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and ministers paid a month’s salary for the reconstruction.
A fund called “I will build my tower” was set up to raise money for the reconstruction. According to the National Reconstruction Authority (NEA), the new Dharahara or tower is earthquake resistant.
The foundation stone of the new tower was laid on December 27, 2018. Reconstruction of the tower, which will now include a high-tech structure, began on October 10, 2018. The new tower resembles the old one, although it will be equipped with modern amenities. According to the reconstruction plan, the new tower will be 245-feet high, but it will have 21 storeys from the inner part. The new structure will have a mini-exhibition theatre, a museum, a ‘green park’, a musical fountain, a car park, a souvenir shop, and a food court on the 18th floor.
According to some critics, the new pillar is not a Dharahara, but a tower. The fundraising campaign was announced in February 2016 after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli made the statement “I will build my Dharahara” in February 2016, which was one of the most important heritage reconstruction programmes.
Reconstruction of the old Dharahara has become the most common symbol of rebuilding ‘good building again’ and ‘we will rise again as you may have seen in ‘graffiti’ and ‘t-shirts’ only a few years ago. But as authorities began planning, they began building a “new tower” instead of rebuilding upon the collapsed tower. Moreover, those concerned with heritage conservation said the new structure could have no historical or cultural significance.
A cursory review of history reveals that the first debate was about what to call the new tower. Officials have officially dubbed the project ‘Historic Tower Reconstruction’.
However, commentators and critics say that this is not the “reconstruction” of the tower that people knew about, but the construction of a completely new building that stands next to the remains of the tower that was destroyed by the earthquake today.
Some officials of the Bhimsen Thapa Memorial Foundation say, “This is not a Dharahara. Meanwhile, many are still calling it the Shining Tower. There are conditions and guidelines for copying historical monuments.
“Regarding the Dharahara, the authorities have commercialized the area by increasing the size of the old tower. It would not be an exaggeration to say that consumption is a product of consumerism culture.
The reason given by its critics is that all the previous towers collapsed in a massive earthquake, and they wanted to reinforce the new tower with concrete, ‘What is the durability of cement?’ Engineers and workers do not know. The big question is: what and where the viewers can see from the view tower?
Work on the tower, as well as other structures such as the triple basement, a four-story museum, kicked off simultaneously. The European Union Technical Support Team under the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has been working diligently. It will have two elevators and a ladder inside. The tower is located in the prime area, with a heritage site near the tower, 100 meters away from Civil Mall. It has a 20 residential co-commercial location. The residential units are designed to suit the inner city lifestyle with bedroom configuration.
A three-storey parking lot has been constructed inside the tower to accommodate more than a thousand vehicles. Besides, a museum building including Taksar Museum and Earthquake Museum has been constructed.
The total cost of the tower is estimated to be Rs 3.45 billion. The total area of the tower is 42.2 ropanis. The height of the old tower was 61.88 meters (203 feet). There were 213 steps inside the tower and 25 steps outside. “Bardali” used to come after climbing 188 steps of the tower. The newly constructed tower also covers the area where the General ( Goshwara) Post Office and Taksar Office are located. The foundation stone was laid only two years after the map was prepared.
The foundation stone of the tower was laid by Prime Minister KP Oli two years after the map was prepared.
Earlier, Dharahara was built in the Mughal and “Neoclassical” style. Before 1990 B.S, it had 11 floors. Its “bardali or balcony” was on the ninth floor, but due to the great earthquake on Magh 2, 1990 B. S., the 10th and 11th floors above the “bardali” were demolished and it was reduced to 9-storey high.
The then Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa had commissioned the construction of the Dharahara in 1882 BS. Thapa had initiated the construction of the Dharahara under the order of Rani Lalit Tripura Sundari.
The tower is also known as the “Bhimsen Tower” as it was built when Bhimsen Thapa was the Prime Minister.
Earlier, trumpets were blown from the top of the tower to provide social and administrative information and gatherings. After hearing the trumpet blast, the army men and civil servants had to gather at “Kot” or Tundikhel.
The tower had a spiral staircase with 21 floors. The eighth floor had a circular balcony for observers, which provided a panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley. It also had a 2.2-meter bronze head on the roof.
The first tower was built in 1824 and was eleven storeys high, two storeys taller than the tower. During the earthquake of 1834, neither of the two pillars survived, but the first of Bhimsen’s two towers were severely damaged. A century later, in 1934, another earthquake destroyed the first pillar, and only two of the nine floors of the second pillar remained. The then Prime Minister of Nepal Juddha Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana later completely restored the maintenance work of the tower.
There was a Shivalinga on the top floor of the tower. The historical monument tower at the top was also important from a religious and tourist point of view. The tower was built in the Mughal style and the surrounding walls are also built in the same style. The tower was built of bricks and bajra (a mixture of surki, lime, black gram, and malt).
A View Tower?
In April 2015, another earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale rattled Kathmandu and the surrounding area and caused the Dharahara to collapse.
Many have expressed the view that a tower built with new technology in a new place cannot be called a reconstruction. The tower built by Bhimsen Thapa is different in many respects (large, tall, wide) and is called the ‘View Tower’. Some have even expressed concern that the structure could kill people in natural disasters such as earthquakes.
Source : THE RISING NEPAL,