Corona Havoc: Silence in the Heritage Area of Nepal
Until the day before the lockdown was announced, the World Heritage areas of the Kathmandu Valley were bustling from morning till evening. City dwellers who go out for morning walk in the morning, internal and external tourists who come to visit in the afternoon, senior citizens who are chatting in the belt and couples. Now no one is seen in the heritage area due to corona Havoc.
“Devotees do not come to worship at the temples in the Hanumandhoka Durbar area now,” says Ashok Khanal of Makhantol, who has been guiding tourists for two decades. He says that due to lockdown which has been implemented by the government to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic, the livestock of the heritage area is starving. He says, ‘The pigeons here used to eat the fodder given to them by the visitors. ‘
Foreign tourists used to flock to the curio shop in front of the Nava Adarsh Vidyalaya and Nepal Sanskrit University building in Basantapur to buy Nepali original artifacts. “Our main job is to sell original artifacts to foreign tourists,” said Ram Krishna Khadgi, who has been running a curio shop in Basantapur Dabali for 35 years.
Without the presence of devotees, daily worship is taking place inside and outside the palace. The renovation of the Durbar area, which was damaged by the April 29, 2010 earthquake, has also been stopped. Nine Storied temple, which is in the final stages of renovation, will now work on the temple only after the woodcut. “The coronavirus scare has reduced activity in the World Heritage Site to zero,” Khanal said.
The situation in the Patan Durbar area of Lalitpur is no different. Daily worship has also been stopped at the temple. “The museum is closed as soon as the lockdown was announced,” said Suresh Lakhe, an official at the Patan Durbar Museum. According to him, the Bhimsen temple has been closed for worship till a few days ago.
All activities have been stopped to prevent the spread of coronavirus among the locals. Renovation work in the Patan Durbar area was in full swing before the lockdown but is now stalled. If anyone reaches the palace area in the evening and morning, the security personnel immediately return them. According to Rabin Vyanjankar of Mangalbazar, devotees do not visit religious places including Banglamukhi and Hiranyavarna Mahavihar now.
In the Bhaktapur Durbar area, security personnel has barred entry from the main gate. Even the locals are not able to enter the palace area easily. The security personnel also force people from outside to walk from the shore. Locals have been barred from reaching the Taleju Bhavani temple.
Only priests are allowed in. Even inside the palace, only security guards and priests are allowed to enter.
Bhaktapur Municipality has provided one pass per household. That too only in the evening and morning to buy essential items. In the afternoon, the security personnel does not allow them to walk freely with the pass. That’s why the palace area is deserted. Renovation work in the Bhaktapur Durbar area is also stalled.
There is a light bustle in Panchatale and Bhairav temples in the evening and morning. Bhairavnath’s chariot making materials are effective in front of the Bhimsen temple. The materials could not be managed as they could not enter the palace area.