Lonely Planet Writer

See how traditional artisans are rebuilding temples built by ancestors in earthquake-damaged Nepal

One year ago today, a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Nepal, causing devastation across the country and destroying dozens of historic temples, palaces and monuments.

Gold plated metal door of Changunarayan temple of Nepal
Gold plated metal door of Changunarayan temple of Nepal. Image by: Getty

Today, some of those same temples are rising, phoenix-like, from the rubble, with the help of traditional artisans – experts in the same techniques of wood, stone and metal-working that were used to build the temples so many centuries ago.

The earthquake devastated historic temples and palaces
The earthquake devastated historic temples and palaces.

Doc McKerr, Britain’s Goodwill Ambassador to Nepal, has been documenting the role of Nepali artisans in the restoration effort, as part of the Return to Nepal project, which aims to restore travellers’ confidence in Nepal as a travel destination by sharing the experiences of ordinary Nepalis. Rise of the Artisans, the first of three documentary films produced by the project, is devoted to the role of traditional metal-workers, stone-carvers and carpenters in recreating Nepal’s lost cultural treasures.

In Nepal, restorers are recreating lost artworks using the same skills used to make them in the first place
In Nepal, restorers are recreating lost artworks using the same skills used to make them in the first place. Image by Return to Nepal, You Tube

Elsewhere, in societies where ancient skills have been lost to modernisation, the collapse of a five hundred year-old temple might be the end of the story. In Nepal, however, techniques such as lost-wax bronze casting and repoussé-work (the creation of three-dimensional patterns hammered into metal plates) are living arts, allowing restorers to recreate lost artworks using precisely the same skills that were used to make them in the first place.

"I am very happy to be restoring monuments built years ago by my ancestors"
“I am very happy to be restoring monuments built years ago by my ancestors” Image by Return to Nepal, You Tube

Watch the video in full here: