Asia

Nepal earthquake: Damaged historic sites reopened

  • 15 June 2015
  • From the section Asia
Nepalese army, police and local work together to clear rubble along a street of Durbar Square, a UNESCO world heritage site in Kathmandu, following an earthquake at Kathmandu May 7, 2015.
Image caption Soldiers had clearing Kathmandu's Durbar Square ahead of the re-opening

Nepal has reopened many of the heritage sites in the Kathmandu valley to the public, in a bid to attract tourists after April's devastating earthquake.

Among them was Kathmandu's historic Durbar Square or "noble court", which was badly damaged.

Unesco has raised some concerns over the safety of reopening the sites. But media reports quote officials as saying the necessary measures are in place.

More than 8,000 people were killed and the destruction was widespread.

Six of the seven Unesco-designated World Heritage sites closed after the earthquakes were reopened on Monday, Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa told AP.

Media captionNepal's tourism industry has been hit hard by the earthquakes, as Surendra Phuyal reports

Shortly after the quake, Unesco's director-general Irina Bokova described damage to the Kathmandu valley as "extensive and irreversible". It sent a team to assess the damage and is continuing to monitor the situation.

On 11 June Unesco issued a statement asking the public to be extra cautious at the sites.

Security will be in place, tourists will be given guided tours and signboards will indicate specified routes to cause minimal disturbance to structures, officials are quoted as saying in local media.

Officials at Nepal's Department of Archeology estimate that 12bn Nepali rupees (£75.5m; $117m) will be required to rebuild the country's damaged monuments, and that completing the reconstruction might take as long as five years.

Nepal's Kathmandu Valley treasures: Before and after

Nepal earthquakes: Devastation in maps and images


Recent images and status of some of the damaged sites

The seven protected monument zones are:

  • The Durbar squares of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur
  • The Buddhist stupas of Swayambhunath and Boudhanath
  • The Hindu temples of Pashupatinath and Changu Narayan.

The Durbar Square in Kathmandu's Old City is a mesh of palaces, courtyards and temples. Unesco calls it "the social, religious and urban focal point" of the Nepalese capital. The UN has urged that security perimeters be put in place here.

Image caption Barriers have been put in place around some of the buildings in Durbar Square
Image caption After the earthquake many residents gathered in open spaces for safety, including Durbar Square

Unesco says the process of salvaging the artefacts at the Buddhist temple complex at the Swayambhunath temple complex - founded in the 5th Century - is still ongoing. It also believes that opening the area could risk the theft of art and cultural objects.

Image caption A walk through the collapsed ruins of Swayumbhunath in late May, almost a month after the quake

The main temple in Bhaktapur's Durbar Square lost its roof, while the 16th Century Vatsala Durga temple, famous for its sandstone walls and gold-topped pagodas, was demolished by the quake.

Image caption Officials attended a ceremony for the re-opening of some of Bhaktapur's monuments
Image caption Weeks after the disaster a Nepali boy positions the national flag overlooking some of Bhaktapur's ruins

Patan's Durbar Square, the 3rd Century site across the Bagmati river to the east of Kathmandu, was opened to the public last week.

Image caption Patan's Durbar Square seen from the air at the end of May