Nepali Times
Nation
Rebuilding Palpa Palace


1950
2005
It was new year's eve 2005. Fierce gunfire started on the Srinagar ridge at about 9PM. The sound of explosions reverberated from the surrounding mountains.

Then the district administration building came under attack. There was fierce fighting in the main market outside. Huge explosions shook the whole town, and people cowered under beds all night. At least 22 soldiers, policemen and attacking Maoists were killed that night. The historic Palpa Durbar where the government offices were housed was
on fire.

The next morning the shocked residents of Tansen stepped over bodies, cartridges and unexploded bombs to see their town's landmark a smouldering ruin. The four-storey palace was built in 1903 by Gen Pratap Sumshere and had four storeys, 70 rooms and two courtyards. As news spread about its destruction, many in the Palpali diaspora scattered across the world wept.

For the past two years there has been intense debate about how to rebuild the historic site. Some wanted the land to be sold and a mall built in its place. Others voted for a modern government building. Luckily, the view of local residents that the palace be rebuilt and restored to its original look prevailed. The Rs 50 million reconstruction has started, and the new design is earthquake resistant and set aside space for a museum.

"Every time we passed the ruins we used to be reminded of that terrible night and the war that destroyed this country. But now that the construction has begun we are hopeful about the future," says Tansen trader, Pradip Shrestha.

TODAY
Ironically, the minister for peace and reconstruction is Maoist ex-guerrilla Janardan Sharma whose party was responsible for the destruction of not just Tansen, but palace-turned-administration buildings in Mangalsen, Dailekh and elsewhere.

Reconstruction of Mangalsen Darbar is starting this year with the allocation of Rs 25 million. The Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction set up a task force last year that estimated that Rs 4.5 billion worth of damage was done to government buildings during the war. Nearly double that amount will now be needed for rehabilitating the infrastructure, but only Rs 1 billion has been set aside in the budget for this fiscal year.

Here in Tansen, though, local tourism entrepreneurs look approvingly as the old palace goes higher every day. Hotelier Manmohan Shrestha says: "This was Palpa's jewel, and rebuilding it will send a positive message to the rest of the country."

Govinda Luitel in Palpa



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LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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