23 June 2023: Stone by Stone: Training Workshop on Stone Conservation

Stone has been an integral part of Nepalese civilization for centuries. From ancient times to the present day, it has been used in the construction of temples, palaces, and other architectural marvels that dot our landscape. The durability, strength, and aesthetic appeal of stone have made it the material of choice for creating architectural marvels in and around Kathmandu Valley that stand the test of time. INTACH (Kathmandu Project Office) in partnership with Embassy of India in Kathmandu organized a one-day workshop on Stone Documentation and Conservation at one of 12 project sites; Seto Machindranath Temple aimed at disseminating its technical expertise in conserving stone.

The esteemed guests at the plenary session of the workshop

The event was inaugurated Jointly by Mr. Surendra Mohan Shrestha, [Director General, Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC), Ministry of Urban Development, Government of Nepal], Ms. Nishi Arora, [Second Secretary (Embassy of India in Kathmandu)], Mr. Lila Khatiwada, [Deputy Project Director (Central Level Project Implementation Unit, Ministry of Urban Development-B&H)] and Mr. Neelkaji Shakya (community rep). At the completion of the event, a certificate was awarded to the participants by Shri Kosh nath Adhikari, Project Director (CLPIU B&H).

INTACH received an overwhelming response from the locals regarding the registration of the workshop. However, due to space constraints, 24 participants were selected for the event. The catchment of participants was decided, keeping in mind that these vivid experiences and learnings that are being shared, can form the basis of development of enriched knowledge base for future of conservation. The workshop introduced Seto Machindranath, providing historical context, and highlighting its importance as a cultural heritage site with significant stone elements.

24 participants from local institutions were indulged in a day long interactive technical session

The esteemed guests stressed on the importance of the knowledge sharing and practical experiences gained from the extensively intricate interventions at a site like Seto Machindranath, a significant cultural heritage site among the list of Government of India funded projects where INTACH is retrofitting the complex three tier pagoda temple in lines with International Guidelines and framework. Shri Surendra Mohan Shrestha expressed his gratitude to INTACH for the informative series of workshops that it has been conducting round the year facilitating capacity building benefiting the future of conservation.

The community representatives present agreed with the fact that such initiatives that can foster a sense of empowerment within the local community, empowering individuals to tap into their potential and contribute to the development of their own skills and the broader community. Shri Neel Kaji Shakya shared the importance of the cultural assets of the Seto Machindranth, Jana Bahal that serve as cultural identity and appreciated the efforts of INTACH in restoring the cultural heritage for the community.

In the technical sessions, the participants were presented with a detailed presentation on stone with special reference to the Nepalese context, followed by a demonstration of steam cleaning on site by Ms. Aditi Nagar, Conservation Scientist, Architectural Heritage Division, using a modified steam cleaner that is being used on site by INTACH. Participants learnt about the different stone elements present in the site and were introduced to documentation techniques specifically tailored for stone elements of Seto Machindranth to create comprehensive records of the defects and damage patterns. The participants also engaged in hands-on exercises to practice the cleaning techniques discussed during the workshop.

Further, the participants were also exposed to the process of photogrammetry with case study from the site done by the Trainee Conservation Architects from School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. In a country blessed with an abundance of cultural treasures and at the same with natural disasters, photogrammetry can serve as an advanced tool for capturing precise measurements and detailed three-dimensional models from photographs may get damaged in earthquakes. The presenters also stressed the fact that the digital nature of photogrammetry facilitates its accessibility and versatility. The resulting three-dimensional models can be easily shared, stored, and studied by researchers, scholars, and heritage enthusiasts worldwide. This digital archive becomes a treasure trove of information, serving as a valuable resource for research, education, and virtual exploration of cultural heritage.

INTACH also got an invaluable opportunity to showcase the best practices and techniques involved in strengthening and preserving this significant cultural structure to the participants. The participants were explained the lime process and the use of lime grinder on site along with various timber joinery details and material conservation works. The demonstration by Mr Omkar Adhikari, Conservation Architect, INTACH KPO, emphasized the importance of using compatible materials and traditional construction methods to maintain the authenticity of Seto Machindranath resulting in balancing the need for structural interventions with the preservation of historical and cultural elements is vital in retrofitting projects. Ms Ipsita Acharya, Project Manager for Nepal Projects, provided insights into the decision-making process, sharing their expertise on the best practices for retrofitting heritage sites which also emphasizes the significance of collaboration between heritage conservation professionals, local communities, and relevant authorities to ensure a comprehensive and sustainable approach. The project being one of its kind, the retrofitting interventions and rigorous efforts planned by INTACH were appreciated by the visitors.

The group posing for a picture after the completion of the workshop

The workshop brought together experts from various institutions and local audiences for an exchange of ideas and technical guidance


on techniques and approaches for documentation and conservation of stone elements of cultural heritage sites. It was a truly rewarding experience witnessing the enthusiasm and dedication of the participants as they honed their skills and learned new techniques. The workshop successfully provided a platform for individuals to harness their creativity and explore the art of working with stone, empowering them with valuable skills that can be utilized in various ways. The entire team of INTACH is thankful for this chance to be able to share the knowledge and expertise and are humbled by the impact it had on the local community, fostering a greater appreciation, and promoting conservation of cultural heritage.


Click here to see the photos of the event .



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