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Dharhara minaret was originally part of city’s twin towers


Kathmandu: Nepal’s iconic nine-storey Dharhara minaret which was reduced to a stump by the recent deadly temblor had originally been a part of Kathmandu’s historic twin towers, the first of which was also destroyed by an earthquake in 1934.

On April 25, the 7.9 Richter Scale fury brought the city’s landmark (officially Bhimsen Thapa Tower) down, turning it into a graveyard of nearly 200 people.

Except what didn’t collapse on that fateful day was the original Bhimsen Thapa Tower.

The original Dharhara tower was named after Prime Minister of Nepal Bhimsen Thapa who built it in 1824 AD.

“A year later in 1825 AD, he also built another tower for the then Queen Mother Lalit Tripurasundari, who was declared a regent due to the underage of her son. And, it is this tower that collapsed in the quake last month,” Nepal’s National Archives Chief Prakash Darnal here told PTI.

He said, the first tower was seriously wrecked in the 1834 earthquake only and when Nepal was hit by its worst quake in 1934, the first tower was practically obliterated.

“In that killer quake (1934), the second tower (named after Lalit Tripurasundari – Bhimsen’s niece) was reduced to just a few storeys. But, it was rebuilt a few years later,” he said.

“The original Dharhara Tower stood 200 meters south-west of the second one. It was erected in front of the Bagh Darbar (Tiger’s Palace), which was then the state secretariat,” said Rajaram Suvedi, a retired professor of history, who has researched extensively on the history of Dharhara.

The 63-year-old historian, who retired from city-based Tribhuvan University, also wrote a research paper on Dharhara.

He said the towers “weren’t identical, but stood proudly as a pair nonetheless, symbolising city’s pride.”

“The 11-storeyed second tower after the devastating 1934 quake was rebuilt by the then Prime Minister Yuddh Shamsher Jung Bahadur, with two storeys less. And he also added an observation deck on the eighth floor,” he added.

Made of surki chuna (lime mortar), the 62 meter-high tower with 213 steps, which suffered a cruel fate in the last month’s quake had been again opened to public in 2007 after restoration. From its top, the landmark offered a panoramic view of city and the Kathmandu Valley.

“Bhimsen Thapa tower originally constructed the tower so that military forces could be gathered by sounding of bugles from the top,” Suvedi said.

So, much was the attachment of the people to the tower, located in Sundhara area in Tundikhel that many citizens reportedly “took away bricks” from the debris as a souvenir.

“Dharhara in Nepali means a tower.┬áThe bricks carried the inscription, ‘Sri 3 Yuddha’ referring to Yuddha Shamsher Jung Bahadur, who was given a title of ‘Sri 3′,” Darnal said.

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