The April 25 earthquake and 50 aftershocks have not only devastated Nepal, but has also crumbled its cultural heritage, dealing a blow to the country’s tourism-centric economy.
Centuries-old structures lie in ruins, with many of them severely damaged. Social, religious and urban focal points of Kathmandu, the three Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan, that housed several ancient temples, palaces and structures of historical note, were described as “almost fully destroyed”.
The iconic Dharahara tower, that stood tall for nearly two centuries, was reduced to a stump.
The extent and degree of loss was acknowledged by Irina Bokova, the director general of the UNESCO, when she said, “I am deeply aggrieved by the magnitude of human loss caused by the earthquake in Nepal.”, “I am also shocked by its devastating impact on the unique cultural heritage in the country, in particular extensive and irreversible damage at the World Heritage site of Kathmandu Valley.” The UNESCO has promptly sent a team to Nepal to assess the damage.
The loss of centuries-old temples, palaces and monuments is more than a symbolic loss of a slice of living history for Nepal and the world. The tourism industry is the worse for it; the disaster’s ripple effects on tourism, a pillar of the city’s (and nation’s) economy, will hit the local communities, who relied on tourism in these areas, the hardest.