In 1960, for example, Kasthamandap was hurriedly repaired with cement for the visit of Queen Elizabeth without much attention to traditional materials. Due to this, one of the keystones that held the columns was improperly placed, and parts of the timber beam that was underground had rotted. This could not hold the monument’s weight when the 2015 earthquake struck.
Says Rajesh Shakya, the head of Kasthamandap Reconstruction Committee, “The traditional methods of construction would not have failed. Every joint and corner was originally designed to withstand earthquakes.”
These were traditional seismic-resistant building techniques like having a copper shoe at the bottom of the timber columns to extend the life of the timber columns and stone bases to distribute the weight equally across the base were used, and these technique are being revived.
With little to no architectural record of the original Kasthamandap, restoring the great structure from scratch was not easy. When the building came down, many of its elements were lost or mishandled. The Committee has been looking for some of the missing pieces for five years, Most of a priceless 6m wooden frieze with Buddhist-Hindu motifs was recovered, and is being reinstalled.
“It was like a 3-D jigsaw puzzle, the picture does not come together even if one piece is lost,” explains Shrestha.