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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Do You Own a Heritage Home?

Sampadā chem̐ thuvāyā saṃrakshana myānuyala : Svaniga Viśva Sampadā Kshetra, Nepāḥ : svanigale aitihāsika chem̐ta marmata yāyagu sujhāva

(Heritage Homeowner’s Preservation Manual: Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site, Nepal: Advice for Maintenance of Historic Houses in the Kathmandu Valley)

The above might be a very, very long name for a book, but the name says it all. It has been brought to our attention, for the benefit of all of you via this blog, by Abin Pradhan, who is currently in Nepal for a short vacation from Charlotte, North Carolina in the US, where he has been living and working for the past few years.

Citing the significance of this book for places like Janabahaa where ugly matchbox concrete-and-steel structures are replacing the uniquely beautiful typical Newa style houses in an alarming pace, Abin says, "This book is a manual on maintenance and conservation of traditional residential structures, which I believe could be equally applicable - where relevant - to old temple and bahas like Janabahaa too. It is fairly comprehensive and gives plenty of examples. It is an interesting read without a doubt.. Let's keep the light on!"

With his earlier experience of working with top-level executives and decision makers of the nation, Abin is of the opinion that the grass-roots level approach to a problem can achieve only so much, and a top-down approach will do the rest to help meet the goals completely. In his opinion, formulation and implementation of national level policies that impact Janabahaa need to be created, if they do not exist already, so that the legal framework is there to enforce implementation for various problems like physical cleanliness, controlled commerce, adherence to architectural standards, etc.

Of course, much work needs to be done to achieve this lofty goal, but every major undertaking is initiated with baby steps. That is exactly what has been done at Janabahaa, with Abin firmly at the helm.

The book is written by Rohit K. Ranjitkar and published in 2006 by UNESCO (Kathmandu).The full version of the book can be downloaded from

All images are from the book.

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