Restoring the old at Patan Museum

18, Dec 2018 |

Two years ago, the earthquake of 2015 had severed the entire east side of Sundari Chowk, now it holds the newest renovated wings of the museum

If you ask Conservationists about the state through which Patan Museum has been perfectly restored to its former glory, they’ll probably say it has been a long and tiring battle. Dr. Rohit Ranjitkar, the proprietor of KVPT (Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust) has something else to say entirely, as a satire to the carelessness of concerned authorities when Patan Dubar (now Patan Museum) was used as a prison in the 1990’s. He gives just a tiny smirk and says, “It probably must have been the most beautiful prison in the world.”

Beautiful it certainly is, anyone can say that at a first few glances. Elaborate woodcarvings adorn every wall and columns, its long hallways and corridors still retain that old charm as if they hold centuries-old secrets. What’s more, even after centuries it has been perfectly conserved and cared for in every way possible. Evidently it was quite a blow to the board members when The Earthquake of 2015, totally damaged the Sundari Chowk while plans of making a new wing in it were still underway.

Nevertheless, on October 29th of the previous year, the wing was inaugurated and opened to the public complete with the Seamann Gallery and Frozen Wall. What’s most peculiar and magical about this newest wing is how you’re supposed to view it. The entire wing’s flooring is done with red mud rather than the typical telia tile that is comparatively easier to maintain and less of a hassle. Before stepping into the wing you are made to open your shoes and walk barefoot through the red mud floor that is typical of the ‘Nepali way’ as such floorings were and are still popular in old housings in Nepal.

The Seamann Gallery opens to a spacious and dimly lit corridor that holds fascinating sketches of famous architects of Nepal. Chaityas of Bhaktapur, ornate Torans and spellbinding facades decorate the walls while a huge Toran, originally belonging to Bishweshor temple has been kept while the temple remains in restoration. The contemporary artworks have so beautifully merged with the old charm of the museum, to give a truly aesthetic experience to a careful gazer.

The most intriguing perhaps is the Frozen Wall – a series of wall paintings that was only discovered in 1995 when curious investigators peeled off a layer of dust that had accumulated throughout the years when the Durbar was used by the Nepal Army. Now patched in some places, the exact depiction of the paintings are yet difficult to comprehend. Experts speculate that it most probably depicts Krishna’s tale, knowing the fact that Siddhi Narsingh Malla was a strong devotee of Lord Krishna. But it is yet in the eyes and mind of a careful spectator to admire and pass a clear judgment.

While you are still mulling about the Frozen Wall, just ahead is the Ivory window that was initially kept on the front facade of Sundari Chowk. In a frenzy of competition and rivalry, the three kings of Patan, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu even opted for lavish material as ivory to decorate their palace windows. Now repaired and ready for display, almost fifty percent of the ivory has been preserved while the rest most probably was damaged during the Police protests of the 1990’s.

Known as the finest museum in South Asia, Patan Museum is worth exploring especially the newest wings that have been refurnished and designed in such a charming contemporary manner.

Shuvekshya Limbu is a content writer at Nepal Traveller.



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