Photo: View of Mangalbazar area after the earthquake All Photos By: Ruby Shrestha
The unexpected and unwanted guest of 25th April 2015, Saturday, overwhelmed the Nepali motherland and its citizens. The 40 seconds of 7.8 magnitude thrust and its aftershocks engulfed thousands of lives, houses, properties, and left none untouched or unaffected. It not only affected the houses, but also took away people’s shelter; it not only affected the roads, but also took away people’s destinations; it not only affected the bodies, but also the souls within.
The time of Ghantaghar, our national time indicator, stopped exactly at 11:56 am, and that was when the national havoc made its way to majority of Nepali lands, one of which was Mangalbazar and its surrounding communities.[caption id="attachment_6405" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Patan Durbar Square area after the quake of 2015[/caption]
Patan Durbar Square (Mangalbazar), one of the National Heritages of Nepal, also comes under the places damaged by the quake of 2015. A tour through the affected area the day after the massive earthquake was saddening. One of the elderly locals residing there (who had his house destroyed) said, “It is no longer the same! I spent my entire childhood and adulthood here, and now I am in my old age. I wish the earthquake hadn’t occurred. It is difficult to helplessly view the place you spent more than half of your life in turning into dust.”[caption id="attachment_6414" align="aligncenter" width="588"] Elderly citizen remarks, "It is no longer the same!”[/caption]
According to the information provided by one of my friends who reside in Mangalbazar, like always, on 25th April as well, the youngsters, who had gathered forming a junction, were spending time gossiping, laughing, dating and sipping coffee on the base of Dhattatreya temple of Mangalbazar. They might have never, in their wildest dreams, imagined that they would die by the fall of a temple while spending quality time with friends. But unfortunately, that bitter moment did occur. The Dhattatreya temple collapsed, turning into dust, and with its fall, it took away a number of young lives.[caption id="attachment_6395" align="aligncenter" width="668"] Dhattatreya Temple submitted itself, and some young lives, to the thrust[/caption]
Not only the Dhattatreya temple, the Char Narayan temple, which is considered to be an important temple worshipped during the Mahaekadasi, and the Sworakhuttey Pati, a place where the people of Joshi caste decide on a good date when Goddess Machindranath is to be placed on the chariot and pulled, also crumbled onto the ground, being unable to bear the thrust.[caption id="attachment_6404" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Char Narayan Temple crumbled into pieces[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6396" align="aligncenter" width="737"] Cultural Beauty, Sworakhuttey Pati, collapsed[/caption]
The pillar, which housed the statue of King Yog Narendra Malla, is standing still; however, the statue of the king which had a bird on its top fell down. People had a belief that as long as the bird is there, the king is alive; once it flies away, the king is no longer around. So, the locals there were quoting, “The bird is no longer there; now even the king has left us all.” Devendra Maharjan, a resident of Mangalbazar, said with a shaky voice, “Sab mandir bhatkyo. Bhagawan le hamro sath chodnubhayo.” which means “Every temple has collapsed; Gods and Goddesses have now abandoned us.”[caption id="attachment_6397" align="aligncenter" width="711"] The pillar that once housed King Yog Narendra Malla, today, looks incomplete[/caption]
Furthermore, the gajur (pinnacle) of temple Taleju Bhawani (Mangalbazar) has left the attachment with the top of the temple and does not seem to be in a good state.[caption id="attachment_6398" align="aligncenter" width="759"] The pinnacle lost its firm stand. All thanks to the earthquake![/caption]
Hence, it is evident that a lot of heritage sites were affected. Not only were the sites destroyed, the lives of people also turned chaotic.
That very Saturday, people were traumatized and couldn’t help running towards the open to safeguard their lives. People were up to their normal day-to-day tasks just a second before the clock struck 11:56; however, some seconds later, everything changed. There was chaos everywhere; people were crouching under the beams of their houses, clinging together, wailing and crying, trying to protect themselves and their close ones.[caption id="attachment_6399" align="aligncenter" width="1280"] Saugal chowk full of traumatized people[/caption]
The chowks of many communities surrounding Mangalbazar area were seen full of people. Some people had wounds on their hands and legs due to chaotic pushing and running, some people had anxious, moist eyes. Raj Kaji Shrestha, a resident of Saugal Tole (a place between Mangalbazar and Sundhara), who was there in the open with bare feet and wounds on them, said, “I was using my computer. Suddenly, my chair started moving. Initially, I thought it was my son, but later, the movement started increasing. The view of water coming out of the aquarium in my room heightened my worry. The aquarium fell down. Without giving a second thought, I ran out of the room, bare footed, holding my son. I think I stepped onto some of the glass pieces on the floor. I know I need to dress the wound but currently, I want to save my life.” Rosey Shrestha, another resident, added, “I was in the kitchen, which is on the top floor of my house. My family had just finished lunch. Everyone had gone to do their own work I was there in the kitchen, alone, washing dishes. Suddenly, I felt a jerk on my foot and it started increasing. I caught hold of the door and starting swinging with its motion. I know I was shouting continuously. I don’t remember anything else.”
Some children were busy trying hard to bring their disabled and diseased parents to the open. The view of some community people helping out a paralyzed senior citizen to get to the Saugal chowk, an open area in Saugal Tole, to safeguard her brought tears to my eyes. A section of the open area was devoted to the diseased and disabled people. Even the oxygen cylinders were seen brought to the open. One could see pain everywhere. Besides the chowk, almost half of the road there was covered by people, all worried and helpless to what they regarded as Daivi Prakop (God’s Disaster).
Moreover, one of the temples in front of the golden taps (sunko dhara) in Sundhara area collapsed, and as per the locals, it took lives of some bhariyas (laborers) who usually spend their time there towards the morning. One of the houses in the area lost its exterior; luckily none of the lives was affected. However, due to the fall of the top floor of one of the houses in the same area, two women lost their lives. In the same area, there were destruction of multiple small temples and houses.[caption id="attachment_6400" align="aligncenter" width="1096"] Two of the many houses that lost the battle against the earthquake[/caption]
All in all, the earthquake has contributed to enhance the pain of the poor. Almost everywhere you go, you see faces in distress, waiting for help.
At present, armies, accompanied by some locals, are seen cleaning around the Durbar Square area, trying to find out dead bodies, and accumulating the important remains of cultural heritage that collapsed.[caption id="attachment_6401" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Strong hands at work[/caption]
Since there are high chances of epidemic, some groups of volunteers are found to be cleaning their localities and spreading awareness, distributing masks, medicines, sanitizers and drinking water.[caption id="attachment_6417" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Managing cetamols for distributing them in the tents[/caption]
As a means of monitoring, protecting and renovating (if required) the houses affected by earthquake, the Lalitpur Metropolitan office has also taken a step forward. It has started distributing forms to inquire about the impacts on the houses in the Lalitpur area.[caption id="attachment_6403" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Form being distributed by Lalitpur Metropolitan office inquiring about the damage of houses[/caption]