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Restored Teku-Thapathali temple area faces preservation challenges

Restored Teku-Thapathali temple area faces preservation challenges

On a recent sunny afternoon, three sadhus (ascetics) sit outside one of the many temples that line the banks of Bagmati River that runs parallel to the Teku-Thapathali road stretch in Kathmandu. 

One of them is Sadhu Prabhu Sarang Das who hails from Mahottari district in southern Nepal, and has been living in this temple complex for the past 50 years. He and his fellow ascetics are talking about the shrines and other structures at the temple site that underwent extensive restoration following the destructive earthquake of 2015.    

“This place offers shelter to many sadhus who come to offer prayers at the Pashupati temple during the Shivaratri festival,” says Das. “It gives me immense pleasure to see the temple complex return to its former state.”

Most of the structures here were built during the 19th century, and carry great religious and cultural significance. The restoration works were carried out on 28 structures from Bagmati Bridge in Thapathali to Teku Dobhan. The Bagmati river improvement program has further enhanced the overall mood and atmosphere of the temple area.

Today, the temple area draws many people who come here to spend their free time. It also attracts scholars, historians and culturalists.  

The Government of Nepal has approved the Bagmati Management Plan (2009-2014) for the restoration of the Bagmati civilization and has been conducting activities related to the improvement and management of the Bagmati River. The Bagmati Civilization Integrated Development Committee and the Ministry of Urban Development are tasked with the implementation of the plan funded by the government and the Asian Development Bank. They have been carrying out several programs such as river bank improvement, encroachment removal and park and garden construction.

“These historical monuments are valuable property of the country. It is important that we preserve them in a sustainable manner,” says Udhav Nepal, deputy project director of Bagmati River Basin Improvement Project (BRBIP).

To date, the project has handed over 11 of the 28 restored monuments to Guthi (community-driven trust).

“We will soon complete the handover process of other monuments,” says Prabha Pokhrel, team leader of the project. But the handover process alone is no guarantee that this heritage site will remain safe.

Pokhrel adds it is the responsibility of the concerned Guthi to safeguard and preserve the shrines and other cultural and religious structures. 

“This is an important cultural heritage site which can generate income like Bhaktapur Durbar square and Lalitpur Durbar Square. The Guthi alone can’t manage and operate the site. There should be a proper mechanism in place.” 

The temple complex holds numerous shrines, shelters (sattals), resting spots (patis), and idols and statues of different Hindu gods and goddesses. Some religious scholars claim that in terms of the number of religious monuments and artefacts, this temple area is second only to the Pashupati temple.  

These monuments had already suffered much damage due to the elements before being razed down by the 2025 earthquake. Thanks to the restoration project, these heritage buildings now stand tall in their full glory, with their old intricate stone and woodwork. They have been built better using traditional materials and methods and are seismically stronger.

The Bagmati River Basin Improvement Project reckons that the temple area will be better managed if the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) is brought in for the preservation effort. 

KMC Spokesperson Nabin Manandha says the city office will be more than pleased to oversee the management and preservation aspects of the restored heritage site. 

“The temples and monuments along the banks of Bagmati and Bishnumati rivers hold great historical and cultural significance. The Kathmandu Metropolitan City will make sure that this heritage site is preserved,” he says.