China helps restore Nepal’s earthquake-damaged palace

After two years’ work, the tower is now under effective protection. (People’s Daily/Yuan Jirong)

With the help of Chinese conservation experts, the earthquake-damaged Basantapur Tower and its affiliate architectures in Durbar Square, Kathmandu, is recovering day by day.

Basantapur Tower is a nine-story 18th century palace built by the king of Nepal’s Shah Dynasty. It was severely damaged by a devastating earthquake which hit Nepal in April 2015.

The Nepalese government places high importance on the reconstruction of the Basantapur Tower, a UNESCO world heritage site of great artistic and historical value. At the request of the Nepalese government, a Chinese assistance group officially started the restoration project in 2017.

At the beginning, the Chinese team held a different restoration concept from their Nepalese counterpart. They insisted on restoring the palace to its original appearance, but the Nepalese experts proposed that some damaged parts to be pulled down and rebuilt.

Chinese experts found the walls were strong and solid even though they hadn’t been repaired in nearly 40 years. To tear them down and replace them with new ones will not only destroy the structure of the building, but would also cut down its historical value.

The Chinese team then built a simulation wall to show the Nepalese experts that the restored wall based on the original design could retain both the artistic and historical value of the wall. The restoration plan was eventually agreed by the Nepalese side.

Whilst the Nepalese workers started to understand the merit in keeping the original flavor of the building, the Chinese technicians also learned the traditional restoration techniques from the experienced Nepalese workers. Gradually, the two parties worked together in greater harmony.

The Chinese team adopted some advanced technologies in palace restoration. For example, they dispatched special team to digitize the restoration process of the palace so that it could be shared with and taught to other countries.

During a recent inspection, Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal, highly praised the restoration project and expressed his gratitude to the Chinese government and people for the contribution to Nepal’s post-quake reconstruction.