Lonely Planet Writer

Nepal’s Dharahara Tower to rise from the rubble

Raised by Bhimsen Thapa, the Machiavellian 19th century mukhtiyar (chief minister) of Nepal, the Dharahara Tower loomed over downtown Kathmandu for almost two centuries, but on 25 April 2015, it became the most prominent casualty of the worst earthquake to hit Nepal since 1934.   

The Bhimsen Tower or Dharahara Temple, Kathmandu. Image by Dave Porter/Getty Images

Rising over the surrounding rooftops like a gleaming white candlestick, the Dharahara, or Bhimsen Tower, was crammed with sight-seers when the earthquake hit. More than a hundred people were killed when the tower collapsed, either crushed in the rubble or hit by falling debris.  The government of Nepal has now announced that this Kathmandu landmark will rise again in 2018, adding to a growing list of monuments restored after the 2015 disaster. Over the coming months, a new Dharahara will rise beside the old tower – today, little more than a ruined plinth – funded by the Nepal Reconstruction Authority, the government body leading the reconstruction effort.

Patan Daurbar Square, Kathmandu, Nepal. Image by 500px

Although aesthetically similar to the old tower, the new tower will be built from modern materials using the latest earthquake-resistant technology, climbing 11 storeys above street level and topping out at 245 feet (75m), compared to 203 feet (62m) for the old tower. The ruined base of the original Dharahara will be preserved as a memorial to those killed in the disaster.

In fact, this will be the third incarnation of the Dharahara to rise over Kathmandu. Bhimsen Thapa’s original tower stood at 11 storeys, but its upper floors crumbled during the 1934 earthquake and the monument was reduced to nine stories. For the first few years of its life, the Dharahara had an even taller twin, but this second watchtower collapsed in yet another earthquake in 1833 and was never restored.