The epicenter of the 1934 earthquake was in Okhaldhunga, 120km to the east of Kathmandu, and it killed nearly 17,000 people. Because Nepal was closed off at the time when the British were in India, the disaster is still erroneously known as the Bihar Earthquake.
The Rana regime was autocratic, but it soon went about systematically planning, acquiring land, redistributing houses and transferring land titles, compensating and relocating original owners.
The Bhukampa Pidit Udarak Adda (Office of Earthquake Relief)’ was set up at Mahankal temple premises to draw up plans, collect funds, and to distribute loans for reconstruction.
Before 1934, the old quarter of Kathmandu was compact and densely populated, with ownership pattern much like most other parts of inner city Patan or Bhaktapur today. The narrow streets were lined with traditional brick-paved courtyards.
Houses were two-storey, built with brick and clay mortar, and had sloping tiled roof, with large courtyards like Te Bahal and Mahankal at the edge of Tudikhel. Besides Asan, the main markets were in Makha Tole and Maru Tole.
Immediately after the disaster, Prime Minister Juddha Shumsher announced relief measures, including helping families in reconstruction, repair and maintenance. The relief office was responsible for drawing up an estimate of the building materials required for reconstruction. Architects and planners soon went to work making detailed measurements and drawings.