Monday, 29 November, 2021

Heritage lovers restoring neglected hitis and falchas


By Binu Shrestha
Kathmandu, Sept. 20: Shreena Prajapati, 21, of Kamal Binayak, Bhaktapur has been actively working to conserve the heritages. She was busy cleaning and restoring hitis and falchas last month.
She is one of the heritage lovers who joined the heritage campaign a couple of weeks ago.
Some group of youths left with free time after the government imposed the prohibitory order to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus are using it in heritage conservation by cleaning and restoring of hitis and falchas (rest houses).
The heritage preservation and conservation task is being carried out under the leadership of Yadav Lal Kayastha. Lockdown has given them a golden opportunity to contribute in preservation of heritages and broaden the campaign.
“I feel proud to contribute for preservation of heritages as they constitute our identity, gifts handed down to us by our ancestors. With Kayastha as a leader, it has become easier to raise voice for restoration of the neglected cultural sites,” Prajapati said.
Kayastha has been leading the hiti preservation task for the last three years. His conservation campaign did not stop even in 120 days of lockdown. Kayastha and his team excavated two hitis based in Swayambhunath area during the lockdown period.
They excavated a hiti located on the way to Bajra Hotel from Bijeshwori and Bhukhel of Swayambhu.
The excavation of such hitis has highlighted the importance of hitis among the people and has taught them the importance of regular water supply in the midst of the pandemic, said Kayastha.
Until today, Kayastha and his team of heritage lovers have cleaned and restored over 100 hitis and falchas and have conducted 40 to 45 excavations of buried hitis which were left neglected for a long time in the Kathmandu Valley.
Kayastha started heritage preservation campaign from Batuk Bhairav and after reaching Bhaktapur, it evolved into a campaign.
The heritage lovers who have joined the campaign assemble in a certain area where the restoration and cleaning of an old hiti and falcha needs to be carried out, by communicating through Facebook.
Either the locals inform them about the abandoned hitis and falchas or they find them out themselves.
Kayastha said, “We were recently working in Jagati, Bhaktapur where we found an old hiti and falcha that had been neglected for a long time. Both, hiti and falcha, which had been in an abandoned state for long were
restored by removing bushes and grasses. We also painted a picture of Bhairav and hiti on both the walls of the falcha.”
“The Ward chair of Suryabinyak Municipality-9 also supported us. Earlier, we never got such support
from the concerned bodies,” added Kayastha.
“The hitis and falchas are on the verge of disappearance in the name of road expansion. But we cannot let that happen and the local governments need to support in this regard,” he said.
The group has also excavated stone idols of Kalancha which were buried on the river bank of Bhaktapur Metropolitan City-5 and cleaned Chabhil based hiti, Kswo falcha and the hiti near the Jagati Bridge.
“The restoration and preservation of heritages is not very difficult. It just needs sincere efforts of a small number of people,” added Kayastha.
“Such sites need to be preserved for the succeeding generations and we should introduce these sites to them as an open museum,” he said.
Sanish Shrestha, another heritage lover, who joined the heritage preservation campaign just one and a half years ago, said, “Our ancestors built incredible artifacts including temples, ponds, hitis and falchas using local materials, objects and techniques. Such archeologically rich sites must be preserved and conserved at any cost.”
“The pandemic provided an opportunity for us heritage lovers to make people aware of the importance of the hitis. So, we have been working passionately even during the lockdown, despite the risk of coronavirus infection, to restore the hitis,” Shrestha added.
“Kathmandu has been listed as the world’s best tourist destination due to its historical, religious and cultural richness. This distinct identity of our nation should spread across the world by promoting the archaeologically rich hitis,” he said.
In a survey of Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board (KVWSMB) carried out in 2019, some 573 stone spouts were found in the Kathmandu Valley. Of them, 52 have been lost while 479 are in existence while 42 are not found. Also, 79 water spouts have gone dry, eight are on the verge of drying and only 40 have the water flowing from them.