May 2018 visiting delegates of the British Group Inter-Parliamentary Union (BGIPU) were toured around Kathmandu’s historic area of Teku-Thapali corridor along the holy Bagmati River in Kathmandu. The stretch is regarded as the cradle of the Valley’s civilization. From there, the tour was directed along the river bank dotted with temples and tangible heritage towards the Tripura-Sundari Temple complex where post-earthquake renovations are on-going.
The program was organized by the British Council to create interaction between BGIPU delegates and multiple stakeholders who wish to develop the historic site into an active promenade. Among the attendees were staffs of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City Office’s Heritage Department (KMC), cultural activists, youth members from SamYubaa, a community service platform and the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust (KVPT).
Program began with a short introduction to British Council’s envisioned work in the area. This was followed by a statement from Ms. Shriju Pradhan of KMC who shared the challenges being faced to the area’s development, including government indifference, illegal occupation, and multiple stakeholders amongst others. During her address they were also referred to the Teku Thapathali Research Group who in 1993 surveyed the 2 kilometer corridor on behalf of the UK Embassy and other funding partners. The original report was also made available for the delegates to browse.
Cultural activist Alok Tuladhar presented on how Nepali visual culture is a repository of information and knowledge. The delegates were showed around an earthquake-damaged temple pointing out unique characteristics and philosophies of ancient Nepal which have been relegated to lore and removed from the psyche of the Valley’s inhabitants. He concluded with a statement about the need to rephrase cultural preservation and engagement in more modern ‘terms’ to make them attractive to youth. This point was reiterated by Leita Tuladhar, a member of the SamYubaa group who argued for cultural engagement of youth to keep them in the country and contributing to Nepal’s growth.
Final leg of the tour was conducted at the Tirupa Sundari Temple, where delegates were able to see ongoing renovations work being carried out jointly by KVPT and the Kathmandu University (KU). The renovations are part of an innovative approach linking private investment and expertise to public sites as a means of sustainably rejuvenating dilapidated cultural sites into active institutions. Rohit Rajnitkar, Director of KVPT, elaborated on how the collaboration is working towards moving the University’s School of Music into the complex to bring economic and social engagement at the site.
British Council Nepal’s interests in the area are informed by past engagement of Her Majesty’s Government, the immense potential of the site to engage youth and other important stakeholders as well as creating additional linkages with the UK through the proposition of a museum at the site. Initial plans revolve around building evidence of the impact of youth engagement and negotiating a growing role for the British Council with support from local partners. Part of the vision also includes EFT consideration to make country operations carbon neutral through an active greenery project involving the British Council staff and others.
BGIPU Delegates were: Nigel Evans MP (Delegation Leader); David Morris MP; Virendra Sharma MP; Kerry McCarthy MP; Lord Richard Andrew Balfe and Rt. Hon Lord Dholakia OBE DL.