I had a Déjà vu that Dharahara had this fate
I had a little knowledge about the Dharahara through textbooks before I came to Kathmandu for the first time in 2005. That year, government had opened Dharahara for commoners. Many of my friends who had come to Kathmandu had a plan to go to the top and view Kathmandu. I too had an excitement to climb the tower. Despite of my tight schedules in several campuses for entrance exam to get into higher education after SLC, I managed to go to Dharahara within the first week of my arrival in the Capital.
But that attraction with the monument didn’t last long. Stepping over some 100+ staircase didn’t fill me with any joy, sense of achievement or pride to share with people. Rather the destructive thought, the fear of earthquake and being killed went across my mind on my way to the top of that cylindrical monument. It was thrilling that I had never seen down from that height in my life before. But I felt vulnerable at the balcony. Since that day, I felt Dharahara would not survive the strong jolt.
I second time went to the top in 2012 when a Kathmandu-born friend of mine insisted to accompany her. Sandhya, on returning from her two years stay in Japan, had made me and three other friends- Binod, Yuvraj and Sabin join in her “adventure” to climb Dharahara.
For me, the fear of being shaken and falling to the ground was even more this time. Less than a year before, I had already experienced the 6.8 magnitude tremor with epicenter at Taplejung/Sikkim border.
Binod, my college time friend who also worked with me at the Post also talked about that quake while we peeped out to take a glimpse of major portions of Kathmandu. I saw Kathmandu merely like the piles of bricks in my second experience too. But this time I also noticed several giant structures. I guessed they were the high-rise buildings of Dhapasi, Gothatar, Kalanki and other places. This time Binod insisted four of us to get down after we spent nearly six-seven minutes at the balcony that had no wall support but only net-barred on the eighth floor.
The 2011 quake had increased awareness level among people regarding the quake. The cover story on Himal Khabar Patrika with the photo- shopped image of Dharahara broken into three pieces also came across my mind. “What happened to Dharahara,” I had asked my colleagues at The Kathmandu Post, the paper I worked with at that time. After the escape from the life-threatening building of Kantipur Publication after the shock (the building was severely damaged in April 25 quake and now is being demolished).
During 50 seconds of the Nepal Earthquake on April 25, Dharahara was probably the third thing I thought about. The reason could be my frantic psychology that Dharahara was fragile. It will fall down and kill many.
First person I was concerned was my Vinaju who was at his home in Handigaun that Saturday. My di was with me at Balkot along with her new born. Looking at the one and half month old boy that my didi was carrying, it was obvious to think, how well is the father of this baby? In another corner of my heart was the concern for my boy friend. I was also worried whether he managed to take his ailing father out from the three storey-building. For a second I thought, can I ever see him again? The news of them being safe arrived to me soon.
But my long time Déjà vu with Dharahara had come true. Binod, the Post guy dropped a message on facebook that Dharahara had collapsed. More than my psychology, it was the reality now. My fear with that monument since 2005 had come true claiming more than a hundred lives at once.
However, I had also expected such a huge reaction from people on collapse of Dharahara. That was probably because most of the generation alive today, had not seen Kathmandu without Dharahara. At times, they failed to imagine not seeing Dharahara in Kathmandu anymore. Many of the commoners are not concerned with the historical background of the tower, I believe.
Collapse of the Dharahara tower symbolized all quake-related devastations. But did the Bhimsen Stambha embody our pride and morale?
The #NepalEarthquake claimed thousands of lives. A million houses have been destroyed, most of them in rural villages. If there was a symbol of this destruction, it was the fall of the Dharahara tower. The tower’s collapse resulted in the death of more than one hundred fifty people. A few survived. This included some who were at the eighth floor circular balcony, enjoying the view of the city, when the quake hit.
Judging by the way people have reacted to the destruction of the eleven-story minaret with Shiva’s statue at the top, I feel that its collapse symbolized all quake-related devastations. It was as…
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