The Nepalese government estimates that the earthquake that struck the Kathmandu Valley on Saturday, 25 April, has killed more than 3,000 people and left twice that number injured – it has severely damaged monuments, temples and historic squares in the capital, and the cities of Patan (or Lalitpur) and Bhaktapur.
Located about 13 kilometres east of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur is known as Nepal’s Cultural Gem, and filled with Hindu temples and other elaborate structures and buildings. It is one of three royal cities in the Kathmandu Valley, with the others being Kathmandu and Patan. Bhaktapur has the best preserved old city centre in Nepal, and is listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
Unesco’s representative in Nepal, Christian Manhart, told AFP, that Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, which is part of a complex of historic buildings and palaces that were built between the 12th and 19th centuries, was among the worst hit by the earthquake and aftershocks. It is believed that more than 100 people were killed when the Dharahara, a nine-story tower in the square, collapsed. Built in 1832, the tower was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1934, when many of Bhaktapur’s ancient buildings were destroyed in the worst recorded earthquake to hit Nepal. Some of the city’s buildings were restored over the years, including in efforts at reconstruction funded by Western countries.
The extent to which the earthquake has damaged or even destroyed the historic cities of Patan and Bhaktapur, as well as several historic Buddhist and Hindu temples in the region, is currently being assessed, Manhart said. Images posted on social media show Patan’s Durbar Square reduced to rubble. Unesco has designated seven groups of monuments in the Kathmandu Valley as World Heritage Sites.