With the announcement of necessary fund to restore the Gaddi Baithak, a valuable architectural site of Hanuman Dhoka, which was devastated by the Earthquake of April 2015, the United States has again shown its strong commitment to preserve ancient heritage sites of Kathmandu valley.
This is not the first case. The United States has also provided grant assistance to renovate the Changunarayan Temple, Sundarichowk and Mulchwok in the past. Similarly, they supported the renovation of many other heritage sites of Kathmandu.
However, the recent announcement of grant to restore Gaddi Baithak by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Evan Ryan is highly significant. At a time when there is an increasing concern over the delay in the restoration of heritage sites at Durbar Square, the announcement has revived the hope of the people.
In a ceremony, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ryan announced the U.S. government’s Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) grant to restore Gaddi Baithak.
The $700,000 grant will be used for seismic strengthening and restoration of the early 20th century Gaddi Baithak, and is the largest AFCP project awarded worldwide this year.
According to a press release issued by the U.S. Embassy in Nepal, the grant was awarded to Miyamoto Global Disaster Relief to repair Gaddi Baithak and improve the palace’s structural safety and earthquake resistance. The building was heavily damaged in the 2015 Nepal earthquakes and is a cornerstone the Kathmandu Durbar Square UNESCO World Heritage site.
“The Ambassador’s Fund is among the U.S. Government’s most significant cultural initiatives abroad,” said Assistant Secretary Ryan at the ceremony. “The United States is committed to protecting the unique and irreplaceable cultural heritage in Nepal, and the Gaddi Baithak restoration project aims to restore this important structure to its original grandeur.”
The Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation provides direct grant support for the preservation of cultural heritage in countries worldwide. Since 2001, AFCP has supported more than 640 cultural preservation projects in over 100 countries. AFCP has invested $2.9 million to preserve Nepal’s cultural heritage over the past 20 years. Sixteen projects are completed and work is currently under way on projects at the Hanumandhoka and in Patan Durbar Square.
This year’s recipient, Miyamoto Global Disaster Relief, is a US-based charitable organization, helping save lives from disaster through engineering. It draws engineering expertise on a pro-bono and at-cost basis from its partner organization, Miyamoto International.
A special expertise of Miyamoto is retrofitting cultural and historical buildings, ranging from Miragoane and Jacmel cathedrals in Haiti to the seismic retrofit of Michelangelo’s last sculpture, the Pieta Rondanini, in Milan. The team has strengthened more than 100 heritage buildings.
Soon after the earthquake, U.S Embassy in Kathmandu has been helping Nepalese government and charity to preserve the heritage sites providing various kinds of support. The grant is a first major support in this area.
The earthquake of 2015 has damaged almost 80 percent of heritage sites of Kathmandu valley. Along with the government, there are some US based heritage foundations supporting the preservation of heritage sites in Nepal.