Revival Efforts Underway for Kathmandu’s Historic Naxal Dhungedhara (Gah:Hiti)

Kathmandu's historic Naxal Dhungedhara revival is underway. The project tackles finding its water source, clearing a blocked outlet (already done), and rebuilding the structure. Locals played a role, and future plans involve community participation to preserve this cultural heritage.

Kathmandu, Nepal

The process of reviving the historic Naxal Dhungedhara (Gah:Hiti) located within the Nandikeshar garden complex is underway. The project aims to address three key issues: finding a water source, clearing a blocked outlet, and rebuilding the physical structure.

Finding a Water Source: This involves identifying the original source that fed the Hiti (water spout). Historical records and local knowledge can be helpful. Exploration methods might include examining old channels, ground surveys, or potentially even excavation depending on the findings.

Clearing a Blocked Outlet: This phase, as reported, is already underway. It involved identifying the blockage (houses built over the outlet) and negotiating access for clearing it. The project paid a certain amount to the homeowners to gain permission and remove the obstruction.

Rebuilding the Physical Structure: Once the water source and drainage are addressed, the focus will shift to restoring the physical structure of the monument itself. This may involve repairs to the stonework, platforms, or any other architectural elements. Depending on the extent of damage, this stage could also include reconstruction of certain parts while maintaining historical integrity.

Identification of Challenge

The identification stage began in October 2080 (October 2023) with Kathmandu Metropolitan Municipality head Balendra Shah (Balen) consulting local residents to understand the situation and establish pre-conditions for the revival.

Overcoming Blocked Outlet

A major obstacle was a blocked drainage outlet identified through discussions with locals, on-site inspections, and archival records. Three houses were found to be obstructing the water flow. To address this, a fine of Rs. 2 lakh each was paid to the homeowners to gain access and clear the blockage, according to Ward President Bharatlal Shrestha.

Next Steps: Finding Water Source and Rehabilitation

With the outlet cleared, the focus now shifts to finding the water source and restoring the physical structure. Archaeological Department records from 2039 (2002) mention a blocked water flow issue, suggesting the problem has persisted for at least four decades.

Historical Significance and Religious Aspects

While the Department of Archaeology’s records lack details on establishment, water sources, and cultural aspects, they do highlight the monument’s significance. The description refers to Naxal Dhungedhara as a unique example of Lichchavi period architecture, a place of religious merit featuring Umamaheshwar and an ancient Shivlinga. However, details about specific religious activities or rituals are absent.

The document emphasizes the monument’s importance, mentioning the four-faced Shivlinga, Chaturbhuj Chaitya, four Narayan idols, Umamaheshwar, and Gadadhar Narayan idols as archaeologically significant and representing religious harmony. The description also mentions the use of the Hiti for daily worship and water offerings, highlighting the historical connection between water resources and religious, social, and cultural practices.

Local Efforts and Future Plans

Local resident Manoj Tamrakar, who has been involved in the revival efforts, cites Dhanbajra Bajracharya’s account of the monument’s establishment in 678 BS (1621 AD). He also mentions a previous attempt around 2058 BS (2001 AD) to clear the blockage, which was unsuccessful after a fatal accident. This time, jet machines were initially used, followed by manual labor to clear the outlet. Looking ahead, Ward Secretary Sarbgyaraj Paudel emphasizes the need to institutionalize and sustain the progress made. He plans to establish a mechanism with local participation to ensure the preservation and transmission of this cultural heritage.

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