But the plan is not without roadblocks. The NRA had consulted Tribhuvan University and Tri-Chandra college while designing the master plan and the three had come to an understanding to also use the land in Jamal formerly used by TU Examination Controller’s Office, to construct a building for Tri Chandra. The renovation and construction was to be financed with an Rs2 billion loan from India’s Exim Bank.
However, in 2018 the government had decided to shift the National Library, severely damaged during the earthquake, from Harihar Bhawan to Jamal. The decision was later put on hold after the NRA proposed the Greater Tundikhel plan. But in October this year, the Cabinet again decided to resume the construction of the library in the same space, leaving Tri-Chandra hanging.
“There was some confusion, but things were getting back on track when the government changed. Then everything stalled,” says Sushil Gyewali, CEO of NRA.
With the term for NRA officially coming to an end this month, it has handed over the Tri-Chandra reconstruction project to the Ministry of Education. “We have laid the foundation for the project. Now it is up to them to complete it,” he adds.
To run at optimum capacity, Tri-Chandra needs 20 additional classrooms, seven labs, two halls for the library, two research labs and a seminar hall, according to campus chief Adhikary. “Presently, we do not have enough space to conduct classes and practicals for the 12,000 students who are currently enrolled here,” he says.
Established in 1918 by Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher Rana during the reign of King Tribhuvan, it was initially called Tribhuvan-Chandra College. In 1924 it was renamed to Tri-Chandra College and classes for bachelors started the same year. The college was originally affiliated to the University of Calcutta, then to Patna University before finally being coming under Tribhuvan University in 1959.
Classes took place in Majlis Ghar next to Darbar High School with eight students enrolled in the first cohort while a new building for the institution was at works near the Ghantaghar and Bir Library. The building with its Rana-Victorian style was completed within 14 months in 1919 at the cost of Rs70,000.
“What set this building apart from the other neoclassical buildings of the time is that unlike the private residences of the Ranas, which were hidden behind tall walls, Tri-Chandra was very much an urban building,” says architect and educator Biresh Shah. “It was built for a specific educational purpose complete with classrooms and a theatre. Architecturally, it was very modern for its time.”
Tri-Chandra is also significant because it is one of the last remaining public buildings of the period. Janasewa Hall in New Road is long gone, the Charkhal Adda in Dilli Bazar is in ruins, and likely beyond repair while Darbar High School across the royal pond has been rebuilt from the ground up after the earthquake by China Aid.