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Showing posts from April, 2013

UNDER THE SHADY FICUS TREE

The 'Khariko Bot' Ficus Tree kept watch over a large swathe of meadow land adjacent to the Kathmandu city from times immemorial. It carried on its lonesome presence in the center of this grazing land called Tundikhel, the play ground of the demon called Tundi as legend has us believe. Sometimes sheets of rain lashed against its strong boughs, at other times the blazing summer sun almost melted its will to live. Winter frost froze circulation in its innards when temperature dipped to minus. It dared lightning to strike it but providence spared it this trauma. The Ficus Tree survived the ravages of time in its bid to witness the next big story in the history of Nepal. Because the tree had seen it all!


Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa amassed an army to fight the British in faraway lands the Gurkhas had conquered. He reviewed those troops at Tundikhel from under the canopy of the Ficus Tree. Along the western side of the grounds were long rows of his barracks, close to his new reside…

A TIME TO BUILD, MAHARAJAH BIR'S LEGACY

The Renaissance that transformed Nepal during the medieval Malla period is attested to by the magnificent royal cities of Kathmandu Valley classified under 'World Heritage Sites' by UNESCO. What is perhaps less well known is the neo-classical Renaissance that took place under the prime ministership of Maharajah Bir Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana, 1885-1901 A.D. Unfortunately very few of those buildings remain for us to marvel at due to the vagaries of fortune.

European style architecture was already prevalent in the palaces the first Rana prime minister Jung Bahadur built after his epochal visit to England in 1850 A.D. Thapathali Durbar had an expansive potpourri of European styles since sections were added on to the original building as the family grew larger and more and more living space was needed until Jung's death in 1877 A.D. The second Rana prime minister Maharajah Ranauddip Singh too had already built the Narayan Hiti Durbar as his prime ministerial berth by the time…