In 2012, the preliminary cost estimate for the Bhaidega restoration was about Rs40 million. Within seven years, it had more than doubled to Rs90 million.
Another temple in the Patan Darbar Square, the Harishankar shrine, similar in size to the original Bhaidega did not cost as much to restore because 80% of its carved wooden columns, struts, eaves were retrieved after the temple collapsed.
In the case of Bhaidega, much of the wood carvings need to be replicated and built anew, which takes up the bulk of the expense, expertise, and time. Additionally, Bhaidega also needs extensive bricklaying, roof tiles, terracotta, and repairs and gilding of the original pinnacle.
Because of the overwhelming need to rebuild other temples and monuments destroyed in 2015, Bhaidega was not a priority for donors and the government.
“We approached the government for timber at the official rate, but the Forest Ministry did not even grant us that,” says Prithvi Pande, who is the chair of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Group, a citizen’s group. “The government talks about importance of heritage and tourism but can’t even provide wood to rebuild our temples.”
A big part of the rebuilding cost has been borne by Pande and his colleagues. Before the earthquake, the Norwegian Embassy contributed to the shortfall in the initial cost estimate. After the earthquake, other private citizens and the Lalitpur Municipality also supported the cause. But funds have now dried up, while prices have skyrocketed.
Ranjitkar of KVPT says the work on restoration has slowed, and there is a budget shortfall of more than Rs30 million.
To ensure that the restoration makes up for lost time, the KVPT team worked through the pandemic, following safety protocols. Only the first floor has so far been completed and work is ongoing on the second tier.
Most of the wood carving work for the doors, windows, columns, including the lower cornices have been completed.
Says Ranjitkar, “If we get the required amount, we can finish rebuilding in 10-12 months. But it is going to get more expensive the longer it takes.”
Bank Account name: Sanskritik Sampada Samrakshan Samuha
Bank and Account no: 040-0103-0250856, Nepal Investment Bank, Lagankhel Branch, Lalitpur