Among the five Mahaviharas (INTACH projects) in Historic City of Patan, Shree Napi Chandra Mahavihara was jointly inaugurated and handed over to the community in a momentous ceremony. The event brought together key figures, including Mr. Chiri Babu Maharjan, Mayor of Lalitpur Metropolitan City, and H.E. Mr. Naveen Srivastava, Ambassador of India to Nepal, who graced the occasion with their presence. The ceremony, which was witnessed by over 120 attendees, was chaired by Mr. Budhiraj Bajracharya, President of the Lalitpur Development Society.
The event commenced with a warm welcome, accompanied by the mellifluous tunes of traditional music artists and the gracious greetings of the senior members of the tole, adorned in their traditional attire.
Mr. Bajracharya, in his welcome speech, set the tone for the event, expressing gratitude to all attendees and emphasizing the importance of conserving historical treasures like Napi Chandra Mahavihara. Meanwhile, Mr. Indra Muni Shakya, President of the Lalitpur Society for Development, extended traditional Tikka and Khaada to all the honored guests, a symbol of respect and goodwill deeply rooted in Nepalese culture.
After the heartwarming welcomes, the inauguration ceremony of the building took place, and soon after, the guests embarked on an enlightening tour of the historic structure, guided by the CLPIU and INTACH team. Throughout the tour, the team provided insights into the invaluable efforts made to reconstruct and restore this significant site. During the tour, the team pointed out the enhancements made to traditional construction techniques to ensure seismic resilience while preserving all the intricate traditional details. Moreover, the team underscored the meticulous attention given to safety precautions, including fire safety measures and digital surveillance systems.
H.E Ambassador Naveen Srivastava conveyed his appreciation for INTACH, recognizing the organization’s tireless efforts in safeguarding the cultural heritage in Nepal. His words resonated with the audience, underlining the importance of international cooperation in conserving our shared heritage.
In his address, Chief Guest, Chiri Babu Maharjan, Mayor of Lalitpur Metropolitan City, lauded the exceptional workmanship displayed in the restoration efforts. He expressed his heartfelt satisfaction with the outcome, underscoring the project’s role in not only preserving history but also enriching the cultural tapestry of the region.
The journey of the project came to life through a captivating project film that chronicled the execution process. This visual documentation allowed attendees to appreciate the dedication and craftsmanship that went into conserving Napi Chandra Mahavihara.
Click here to view the project film:
Subsequently, the stage was graced by the presence of Mr. Kosh Nath Adhikari, Project Director of CLPIU (B&H) [Ministry of Urban Development, Govt. of Nepal] and Ms. Vijaya Amujure, Director and Head of the Architectural Heritage Division at INTACH, India, both of whom delivered insightful remarks. Their contributions shed light on the extensive efforts invested in the project, emphasizing its significance for the community and the broader heritage preservation context.
To express appreciation for their invaluable contributions, local craftspeople were honored with tokens of appreciation by the esteemed guests. This gesture not only acknowledged their exceptional craftsmanship but also reinforced the spirit of local craftsperson and community collaboration that made this endeavor possible.
Reconstruction and restoration of the Mahavihara has been challenging, being a small-scale reconstruction project, It had lot of complications onsite. For instance, the Mahavihara shared its wall with adjoining structures making it unstable for major structural intervention. Thus, the major challenge before execution was to devise a safe way to disconnect both buildings without compromising structural stability of the structures. add on to that masonry walls were both partially in cement and mud making it difficult to execute.
In a similar way there were challenges in understanding the original design of architectural elements as most of the elements were altered in cement which does not replicate the original design. Thorough research and meticulous analysis have served as the bedrock for each decision undertaken at the site, all with the aim of capturing even the most subtle intricacies of architectural and historical significance. Every stride in this undertaking has been steered by a profound comprehension of the historical backdrop.
The conservation endeavor pertaining to the edifice transcends mere physical restoration. It epitomizes the essence of inquisitiveness and scholar pursuit.
The interventions were planned in two major aspects – Seismic Strengthening and Architectural Restoration. Firstly, multiple scientific investigations were conducted to understand the subsoil strata to design the substructure for the seismic zone. Local agarkh or Sal timber, which is one of the strongest timber available in Nepal, was used for confinement of masonry through the splint and bandage approach. Use of lime surkhi mortar with traditional Maa apa bricks was used aiming to increase the strength of the masonry. Introduction of plinth bands and intermediate bands result in confining the walls, in addition Stainless Steel 304 grade plates at the junctions were introduced to increase the rigidity of the structure during an Earthquake. A Seismic gap was also provided between the adjoining structures to avoid the hammering effect from the earthquake. An illumination scheme was developed keeping in mind the significance of the historic fabric.
For the Architectural Restoration, All the architectural elements, previously in cement, were restored as per traditional design as per available evidence with traditional materials, fed by continuous consultation with the community. As this is a living heritage site, The shrine part was left untouched for regular rituals and the reconstruction was done around it. A distinct emphasis on the repurposing of historic materials has been employed not only to pay homage to the artistry of the predecessors, but also to curtail our ecological footprint, an embodiment of sustainable heritage management.
Napi Chandra stands as a remarkable testament to INTACH’s unwavering dedication to comprehensive conservation efforts and has not only acknowledged the importance of adhering to both local and international conservation standards but surpassed them.
The INTACH team and CLPIU (B&H) team of conservation architects and engineers worked tirelessly even amidst the challenges posed by the global pandemic and local issues. Their commitment has ensured that our project is seamlessly aligned with core principles in conservation. INTACH wishes to thank our Nepalese Counterpart, Central Level Project Implementation Unit (B&H) who have supported us in this challenge to ensure internationally accepted conservation standards in executing the post-earthquake conservation of the Living cultural heritage sites in Nepal.
The handover of the Mahavihara was not merely ceremonial; it symbolised a collective commitment to safeguarding our shared heritage and nurturing the rich tapestry of history that binds our communities together. As the site reopens its doors to the public, it invites all to explore its history, culture, and the stories that have shaped Nepal’s rich cultural heritage for the world for centuries to come.
This project is a tribute to the relentless pursuit of excellence in spite of challenges, a beacon of hope for the conservation of our shared heritage.
We dedicate this first effort and completion of the project to the heritage loving people of Nepal.