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Rediff.com  » News » Quake aftermath: 'For us, it is like Delhi losing Qutub Minar'

Quake aftermath: 'For us, it is like Delhi losing Qutub Minar'

Last updated on: May 04, 2015 15:09 IST

For people living in Kathmandu, the destruction of the iconic Dharhara Tower, was not just a physical loss, but also loss of the nation's tangible cultural history, robbing it of its architectural jewels.

The over 180-year-old historic landmark was a grand centrepiece of the capital's skyline, but on April 25, it turned into a graveyard for nearly 200 people.

Several tremors have hit the Himalayan nation since the deadly temblor that fateful day, every time jolting people's memories of the time, the minaret proudly stood tall watching over the scenic Kathmandu Valley.

For 18-year-old Ben Kumar Shreshta, who lives in Tilganaga adjoining the Pashupatinath Temple, the obliteration of the tower meant the loss of his childhood memories.

"I still remember the last time I went there. What a beautiful view it used to offer from up there, you could see the entire city, and one felt like a king... I still find it hard to believe that its no more there... Whenever I feel like going there now, I just close my eyes, and imagine standing up there," he said.

The architectural gem, part of the Kathmandu Valley's World Heritage Site was built in 1832 by the then Prime Minister of Nepal Bhimsen Thapa and had suffered extensive damage in the catastrophic 1934 earthquake too, when a section of it from the top fell down.

"The loss of human lives has already overwhelmed us and this cultural link of ours being taken away from us was a further jolt to our life as we knew in Kathmandu or in Nepal.

"In Delhi, I have seen the beautiful Qutub Minar and how people visit there in big numbers. We feel exactly how Indian would feel if this Minar fell down," said a 20-year-old student Deepa Bayjankar, at present studying in New Delhi.

The architecture of the Dharhara (officially Bhimsen Tower) was designed in Mughal and European style.

The tower also suffered damages in the 1834 earthquake.

It had an observation deck on the seventh storey, from where it offered a commanding view of the city.

The Lonely Planet described it as "towering like a lighthouse over the labyrinthine old town, this white, minaret-like tower near the post office is a useful landmark.

The views from 62m up -- 213 steps above the city -- are the best you can get.

There is a small Shiva shrine right at the very top, built by the king Rana Bahadur for his Queen Lalit as part of the city's first European-style palace.

It was rebuilt with nine storeys, two less than the original building, it added, words that now sound tragic in retrospect.

The tower was only opened to the public a few years ago.

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