History in shambles: World Heritage sites after the Nepal earthquake
The centuries-old monuments spread throughout the Kathmandu Valley were heavily damaged in the massive earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday, a United Nations official said on Monday. Some of the sites suffered “extensive and irreversible damage.”
Irina Bokova, director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said she was “shocked” by the earthquake’s devastating impact on Nepal’s cultural heritage in the country, in particular the “extensive and irreversible damage at the World Heritage site of Kathmandu Valley.”
The sites are made up of seven separate groups of monuments. They include the Durbar Squares of Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu), Patan and Bhaktapur, the Buddhist “stupas” of Swayambhu and Bauddhanath and the Hindu temples of Pashupati and Changu Narayan.
The Nepalese government describes the seven sites as “medieval royal palace complexes” or “religious temple complexes,” calling them “archaeologically, historically, culturally and religiously very important” to the Kathmandu Valley.
The Kathmandu Valley was removed from the UN’s list of World Heritage in Danger in 2007, and the government has undertaken a series of conservation efforts to protect them from encroaching development since then.
Three of the sites were “almost fully destroyed”
According to a preliminary assessment done by the organization, the Durbar Squares of Patan, Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu) and Bhaktapur, were “almost fully destroyed” in the earthquake.
Some of that destruction was captured by Kishor Rana, who flew a drone above the sites in the hours after the earthquake struck.