Wondrous, Exciting, Overwhelming

Where am I Issue 205 Dec, 2018

It’s all pretty much overwhelming. A World Heritage Site Monument Zone, some half an hour from Kathmandu city, and you are suddenly in the midst of a world that is quite overpowering to the senses. For those who have grown up in the almost sterile aesthetics of the Western world, and for those with Fine-tuned sensibilities, a two-hour sojourn to this remarkable corner of the planet can be an experience That they will look back on with a great deal of wonder.

Once you enter the site proper, you are assailed on all sides by a wealth of craftsmanship in wood and Metal and stone, and by ancient shrines and monuments, big and small, that attest to the richness of This region’s skill in artistry and architecture. There’s a museum on the precincts, but one has to wonder Why it is there—the entire place is in itself a museum! And, since it is still the center of life for the locals, Where age-old customs, traditions, and rituals are still upheld, it is what is famously known as a ‘living Museum’.

You’ll be surprised to see structures made by methods when there was no real engineering, or Materials, to speak of, still standing tall, having defied the ravages of time, weather, and even extremely Devastating earthquakes, which the country is very prone to. Admittedly, and very much evident at the Site, some have been reduced to rubble, some have been severely damaged, and some have suffered Minor concussions, but—and this is most astonishing—what is labeled as the tallest pagoda-style Temple in the country appears to have remained unfazed, even to the 7.4M quake of 2015.

Perhaps to rejoice in its very strength, or to show respect to its tremendous sturdiness, this is where one Will find the biggest crowds at all hours of the day. This is where most visitors have their photographs Taken, standing on the steps, with the row of guardian animals on both sides, and with the tall spire Above the five roofs forming a spectacular setting. Everybody but the very old make it a point to venture Climbing the many stone steps to the temple, the platform of which is almost as high as the temple Itself.

In front of this mammoth shrine is another huge temple, it too in the pagoda style, but currently, it is Enmeshed in a network of bamboo scaffolding. Restoration is being done, apparently. It must have been Damaged by the quake, surely. Restoration is a a big word today in the valley of the gods, and around This site, it is being done (also, planned to be done, since a couple of high platforms are still sans Anything but dust and discarded rubble) with utmost seriousness, and so one will come across some in Different stages of this time-consuming process of restoring monuments many hundreds of years old to Their original glory.

Since it is a World Heritage Site Monument Zone, there are many parameters as to how it must be done; For instance, modern materials cannot be used, and very old drawings have to be sought out so as to get Authentic results, failing which, expert craftsmen have to be consulted. Each part of the monument in Question has to be exactly similar to the original, and since there are a thousand and one different Elements that go to make such monuments, especially the pagoda-style temples (which are, of course, The most common), one can imagine that restoration is a word heavy both in significance and Substance.

Anyway, it’s a good time to visit this extraordinary site, because one gets the opportunity to see and Observe much more than the usual, which in itself is plenty, let me assure you!