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Nepal quake damages world's oldest Buddhist shrine

By Shirish B Pradhan
May 03, 2015 16:07 IST
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Swayambhunath Stupa, believed to be the world’s oldest Buddhist shrine, has been partially damaged by Nepal’s devastating April 25 earthquake that has killed over 7,000 people.

Several monuments situated in the vicinity of the 2,000 year-old Lichchhavi-era Buddhist shrine situated on top of a hill in western Kathmandu have been damaged though the main stupa has remained intact during the 7.9-magnitude earthquake.

Three Buddhist monasteries, including Karmapa Bihar, Jyoti Kirti Bihar, Maha Bihar, Shantipur, Pratapur, Anantapur, and Manjushree temple were also damaged by the powerful temblor.

The earthquake damaged more than two dozen houses situated in the vicinity of the stupa which is providing shelter to 27 local priest families, according to locals.

The earthquake has threatened the existence of one of the seven UNESCO-listed world heritage sites of Kathmandu and the authorities need to respond quickly for its restoration, says a local priest.

Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the most visited tourist sites in Nepal.

The main Buddhist shrine in the stupa is believed to have originated at a time when Kathmandu was inhabited by a deity called Manjushri, who drained out a big lake by cutting the Chobar hill situated in southern Kathmandu thousands of years ago.

However, the main Hindu shrine Pashupati and House of Living Goddess Kumari situated here remained unharmed in the earthquake, the country’s worst in over eight decades.

Three hundred year-old Kashtha Mandap temple situated in the heart of Kathmandu city and two hundred year-old Dharahara tower are some of the important heritage sites damaged by the earthquake. 

Image: A monk walks past the collapsed monastery and shrines at Swayambhunath Stupa, a UNESCO world heritage site, after Saturday's earthquake in Kathmandu. Photograph: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters

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Shirish B Pradhan
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