More than a thousand people were killed after a powerful earthquake measuring 7.9 on Richter scale struck Nepal on Saturday, flattening houses and buildings. Some of the structures that were damaged include UNESCO World Heritage sites, and this devastation has caused irreplaceable loss to Nepal's cultural heritage.
This 9-storey tower, also known as Bhimsen Tower, has previously been affected by two earthquakes, one in 1834 and then a century later in 1934, following which it had been completely rebuilt. However, Saturday's earthquake has reduced this important tourist attraction — which measured 50.5 m in height — to a pile of rubble.
Built in 1832 by Nepal's then-Prime-Minister, Bhimsen Thapa, on the instruction of Queen Lalit Tripura Sundari, the structure was a venue for important occasions such as the coronation of the king. The top of the tower had a Shiva Lingam, which was of particular interest to religious tourists and also had a viewing balcony on its eighth floor. At least 180 bodies have been recovered from the remains, according to an evening report by The Hindu, and several people remain trapped under the debris.
Truly awful sight. Kathmandu's Darbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in ruins after today's earthquake. pic.twitter.com/AoAtbGhmPq— Raghu Karnad (@rkarnad) April 25, 2015
'Durbar square' is a generic name used to describe plazas in front of royal palaces and are prominent remnants of Nepal's constituent kingdoms before the country was unified in the mid eighteenth century. Three of the most prominent durbar squares, all of which belong to the Kathamandu valley's Newar kingdoms and are designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites, are: Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Darbar Square, and Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
Durbar squares usually include open courtyards, temples, idols, water fountains and other such elements. While the Kathmandu Darbar Square — which once held the palaces of the Malla and Shah kings who ruled over the city — has been destroyed in the worst manner, significant damage has also been done to the Patan and Bhaktapur durbar squares.
Patan Durbar Square several buildings leveled need medical help and manpower to pull people out of rubble pic.twitter.com/gylI62fSue— John Snowden (@SnowdenJohn) April 25, 2015
NEPAL QUAKE: Basantapur Palace, a UNESCO world heritage site has collapsed. - @itssbasantaApril 25, 2015
Kalmochan temple is gone. This is the temple I took a photo of 3 days ago. Will post the video of the rubble soon. pic.twitter.com/gJJzOv8gq1— Shiwani Neupane (@ShiwaniNeupane) April 25, 2015
The Kalmochan temple in Kathmandu was completely destroyed on Saturday. The structure, built in 1873, featured Mughal influences as well as similarities to pagodas and was dedicated to Lord Jagannath.
According to the Lonely Planet, which lists it as a tourist attraction, this old temple featured elaborate woodcarvings, plaques depicting marching troops on the building, and an ornately carved entryway.
On Twitter, the immeasurable loss to Nepal's history and tradition of Buddhism and Hinduism was mourned by many.