| July 23, 2019

Quake-hit Upper Mustang still in ruins

POKHARA, Nov 26: Seven months have elapsed since the massive earthquake of April 25, but historical monuments and cultural heritage sites in Upper Mustang that suffered damages in the quake are still awaiting renovation. Ancient temples, monasteries, palaces and even schools were seriously damaged in the earthquake, which claimed over 9000 lives across the country.

According to Santosh Sherchan, chairperson of Lo Manthang-based office of Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACCAP), the quake-hit monuments in Upper Mustang are vulnerable to further deterioration.
"Monasteries and historical structures developed cracks and they can collapse even with a slight jerk," said Sherchan.

Centuries old Chode, Jhyampa, Thupden monasteries have been seriously damaged. The three monasteries are popular quite popular with tourists and revered holy sites of Buddhist people where many rituals are conducted.

There are multiple cracks in the 70-year-old Lo Manthang Palace. Parwar Bista, known as the King of Mustang, and his family had been living in the palace.

Similar is the state of 800 years old Chenhup Namgyal Monastery. "The statues of god and goddesses are fine but the walls and ceilings of the monastery are badly damaged. Charang Palace has also received serious damages," said Sherchan.

Social worker Indradhara Bista was highly critical of the government's lack of concern in renovating Upper Mustang's historical sites. "The debris and ruins of the damaged monuments in Kathmandu have been cleared off and given security, but no such work has been done up here. If the reconstruction work is delayed, many ancient sites will suffer irreparable damage," said Bista.

Every year before the earthquake, over 5,000 tourists visited various parts of Upper Mustang to see these timeless monuments that bear the ancient art and culture of Mustang people.

"At least Rs 250 million is collected from tourists visiting the area annually. The authorities should have used some of the amount for the reconstruction. It is a shame that nothing has been done so far," said Bista.

Meanwhile, Jiban Gyawali, a project monitoring and administrative officer at Mustang District Development Office (DDO), said a report on damaged monuments and structures of Upper Mustang has already been sent to the Ministry of Urban Development in Kathmandu. However, no budget has been allocated for the reconstruction work," said Gyawali.