Dharahara tower in February 2013
|Destroyed||• 15 January 19341934 earthquake) (|
• 25 April 2015 (2015 earthquake; a 10-metre-tall (33 ft) stump of the base remains)
|Height||61.88 metres (203.0 ft)|
|Design and construction|
Dharahara (Nepali: धरहरा), also called Bhimsen Tower, was a nine-storey, 61.88-metre-tall (203.0 ft) tower at the center of Sundhara in Kathmandu. It was built in 1832 by Mukhtiyar (equivalent to Prime Minister) Bhimsen Thapa under the commission of Queen Lalit Tripura Sundari and was a part of the architecture of Kathmandu recognized by UNESCO.
The tower had a spiral staircase containing 213 steps. The eighth floor held a circular balcony for observers that provided a panoramic view of the Kathmandu valley. It also had a 5.2-metre (17 ft) bronze mast on the roof.
Dharahara in Kathmandu was the tallest building in Nepal and the second such tower built by Bhimsen Thapa. The first tower was built eight years earlier in 1824 and was 11 stories high, two stories taller than the Dharahara. Dharahara is said to be built for Queen Lalit Tripura Sundari, who was the niece of Bhimsen Thapa.
During the earthquake of 1834, both towers survived, but the first Bhimsen's tower suffered severe damage. A century later, on 15 January 1934, another earthquake completely destroyed the first tower, and only two of the 9 stories of the second tower remained. The then Prime Minister of Nepal, Juddha Shumsher, subsequently carried out renovation work of the Dharahara tower to fully restore it. After the original Bhimsen Tower was destroyed, Queen Lalit Tripura Sundari's tower became known as 'Bhimsen Stambha' or 'Bhimsen Tower'.
Dharahara was constructed for military usage as a watchtower. When incidents of national importance occurred, bugles were blown from the top floor of the tower. This was the signal for soldiers to assemble. This tradition of bugle trumpeting continued until the collapse of the tower.
On 25 April 2015, another earthquake, with an estimated magnitude of 7.8 (Mw), hit the region, leading to the collapse of the tower. The earthquake's epicenter was approximately 29 kilometres (18 mi) east-southeast of Lamjung, Nepal. The structure collapsed and only its base survived.
In February 2016, the government decided to rebuild the tower, and Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli and his cabinet ministers contributed one month's salary to the rebuilding. A fund called I will construct Dharahara was also established to collect money for the reconstruction. According to Sushil Gyawali, a civil engineer who heads the National Reconstruction Agency, the new tower will be earthquake-resistant. The foundation stone of the new tower is to be laid down on 24 April 2016.
Tourism before collapse
The tower was a major tourist attraction and was open to the public from 2005 until its collapse in 2015. The fare for entering the site and ascending the tower was set at the following rates:
- Foreigners – US$4.00 (around NPR 400)
- SAARC nationals – US$1.00 (around NPR 100)
- Locals – NPR 50 (around US$0.50)
- Locals under age 5 and over 65 – Free
The management of Dharahara when it was standing came under severe scrutiny from locals and tourists. The Heritage Department of Kathmandu Metropolitan City came under severe criticism for its lack of effort to protect the heritage site.
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Media related to Dharahara at Wikimedia Commons