Around the corner heritage

Heritage Issue 119 Sep, 2011
Text by Anubhuti Poudel / Photo: ECS Media

You might think you have seen all that Kathmandu has to offer. But have you really seen all of it?

They say there are treasures in every corner of Kathmandu. Knowing a few places here and there helps you understand how true the saying really is. It isn’t uncommon to see an old woman puffing a cigarette watching the daily whereabouts from an old mud and brick building that has probably seen better days. The wooden windows, which have come to become an attraction for particular places in Kathmandu valley today, have been representative of Nepalese culture for a long time now. One such peculiar but quite neglected work of art is the Deshemaru Jhya or the window that is found nowhere else in the country.

Those who live in Basantapur, in Kathmandu or are frequent visitors to the place know this window and are aware of the fact that Deshemaru Jhya has been near Nardevi temple for a long time. One of the possible drawbacks of having something important in every corner is that we tend to ignore it more often than not.

However, a look at this historic window is sure to re-ignite pride for Nepali culture in you if you are a Nepali and a sense of appreciation, if you are a visitor. Whatever the case, this window deserves a second look and rightly so.
A deeply carved window with a shape that resembles a three-dimensional structure is the easiest way to recognize the window. The surface gives in to a caved structure that leads to a square frame with a small, checkered part that resembles the popular Aakhijhyal style, familiar to most Nepalese. The intricately carved window along with its unusual shape gives it an even distinct three-dimensional look. Art enthusiasts call this the biggest asset of the window. While there are hundreds of instances of wonderful art and craft in and around Kathmandu valley, Deshemaru jhya, has managed to stand out because of its unique pattern.

The window, in a private home in Nardevi however, is in dire need of attention. There are many who are working to conserve the beauty of the valley, especial the heritage and cultural entities which have come to define us. However, there are few which have somehow fallen apart and are less popular than others. A part of the reason could be the presence of these entities in sites which are less popular. Cultural items in popular tourist or religious sites are ignored very rarely. They are visited and hence restored often. But there are items around us, which are rare and very beautiful but often neglected. Old buildings in many places of Kathmandu are great to stroll around and enjoy while admiring the beautiful craft that once was an object of sheer awe and appreciation.

The beauty of Kathmandu is that it is not just a place of kings and merchants. It is the home of artisans and art lovers; those who created these beautiful artifacts for their own homes. Deshemaru Jhya is one such example of a heritage that rests around the corner. We might know Kathmandu for its cultural and religious sites, but proper appreciation of that one beautiful artifact in a corner of the city brings you close to something you won’t find in the rest of the country nor anywhere else in the world.