The temple is named after its creator, Bhagirath Bhaiya, a commoner who rose to prominence in Patan and built the structure in 1687, dedicating it to the Bishwanath form of Lord Shiva. It is the only temple in Darbar Square not commissioned by a king.
“It was a travesty that such an important monument was not rebuilt in its original design after 1934,” says Ranjitkar.
Fortunately, there were some grainy black-and-white photographs taken before 1934 as well as meticulous sketches by Henry Ambrose Oldfield, a surgeon at the British Residency in Lazimpat in the 1850s, which showed the original form of the temple.
“Without Oldfield’s drawings, we might not have known what the original looked like or that it had been altered,” explains Ranjitkar.
Based on these early records, restoration work began in January 2015 with a ritual Chhyama Puja performed by tantrik priests. But within three months, the 7.8 magnitude quake struck, destroying many of the temples that had survived 1934. The priority shifted to rebuilding the other Patan temples and work on Bhaidega was delayed.
KVPT has tried to salvage as much of the original material as possible for the reconstruction, but for new wooden columns and struts the right kind of timber was needed and artisans with carving skills had to be located.