The work related to Rani Pokhari’s bridge, pond, temple, and beautification is happening at the same time. The Consumers' Committee under the the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) plans to complete the construction by the end of Baisakh (mid-May 2020).
Now we can see brick-soling being done in the middle of the pond. Rajuman Manandhar of the Committee informed that the work related to the pond will be completed by either end of Poush (mid-January 2020) or the beginning of Magh (mid-February 2020).
Out of 19 ‘Arch bridges’ to be made, 17 have already been built. He stated that 70 percent of the work, including the construction of the wall has been completed.
"After completing about 85 percent of the work related to constructing the wall around the pond, it will be left as it is, as there is a possibility of the wall near the road being damaged," he said. "It will be built later."
The task of building the wall and kneading the soil was previously being done by women from Bhaktapur. However, as it was not possible to knead the soil only by foot, it was decided to use a machine for kneading. As it was taking a lot of time, the NRA decided to use dozers as the last alternative.
"Since the soil is immediately needed, we decided to use the dozer. However, we have been using hands to put it into the pond," said Manandhar, "We have been using the dozer even now to shift materials from one place to another and to transport black soil. People have been arranging the layer of bricks above the soil."
The Kathmandu Metropolitan City that had taken the responsibility of reconstructing the pond had used cement in the western part of the pond. The pond was brought to the state of ‘ground zero’ carrying out the tasks ranging from demolishing it to filling it and plucking the grass that had grown in the pond. That is to prepare for filling black soil by arranging the surface of the pond. Manandhar stated that as there was sand beneath the pond, it was fixed in the beginning and two layers of black soil have been put.
Black soil is called Dhya:Cha in Newari language, which means full of traits or ‘God’s soil.’ Black soil prevents water from leakage, as it has the capacity of retaining water.
"We have put 18 inches of black soil on the side and 15 inches for the remainder. We have been doing the soling of Maa Appaa (ancient brick) on the top," Manandhar further said. "Since the brick might be damaged, we have soaked it with water. We will do the 15 percent of the work of the wall around the pond later using people."
Currently, the soil for the pond is being brought from places including Gokarna, Bhaktapur and Madhypur Thimi. If soil supply is continuous, it won’t take much time for the construction of the pond.
The NRA has been holding talks with people in the construction business for water boring in order to fill the pond with water. According to Manandhar, there is a plan to dig the east-southern corner of the pond and the north-western corner of Durbar High School. Other than that, water will be brought from Tundikhel and also a line from Melamchi. The water that will be brought from Melamchi will compensate for the water loss due to evaporation.
Along with this, the task of beautification around the temple also has already been started. The task of making a footpath on the south and west side and installation of lights is ongoing. Only about 10 percent of the work of Balgopaleswore Temple has been completed.
The temple is being constructed in Pratap Malla-era summit style, the mapping of which was done by looking at the sketch by the artist who accompanied the Prussian Prince Waldemar in 1845.
Jung Bahadur Rana had given Balgopaleswore a shape of a dome in 1951 being influenced by the Europeans. After the quake of 1934, Juddha Samsher Rana had reconstructed it in the same form. The expert team formed by the NRA has recommended building the temple in the Pratap Malla-era style.
The work until the bank of the pond is being carried out by the Reconstruction Committee and the work of temple and bridge and external work including installation of lights by the contractors.
Manandhar stated that since the pond will be built even before the construction of the temple, the locals can go back and forth on the bridge and view it.
Sabina Shrestha and Narayan Maharjan in Setopati - December 26, 2019