By Renuka Dhakal Kathmandu, Sept. 8: The Manjushree statue of Chobhar, Kiritipur-6, located at the southern part of the Kathmandu Valley, has been claimed as the world’s tallest stone bas-relief monument in the world. The 33 feet tall stone sculpture was prepared by veteran sculpture artist Chandra Shyam Dangol. The sculpture was built in coordination with the Jalbinayak Jungle Consumer Committee. Some 300 households of the area are the members of the committee. The huge monument of Manjushree is installed in the upper belt of Dakshinkali Highway of Chobhar, which is also called as Manjushree Park. Artist Dangol and his crew had stationed in Chobhar since 2012 to prepare the giant stone sculpture. Dangol reminisced that while preparing the sculpture, they had faced a lot of hurdles which they overcame with their hard work. Artist Dangol said, “We had to deal with problems related to stone and of course financial problem was always there. Due to financial problem, it took many years to complete this sculpture,” he added. Artist Dangol said that the sculpture was made by adding pieces of stones as no large stone was available for carving the statue, which weighed about 100 tonnes. Dangol has had a bad experience while preparing the monument. He said that his workers were even imprisoned for a few days while trying to bring stones from Pharping. Due to the lack of stone, they had to prepare a cement-base sculpture, he added. “Our idea was to build the foundation of stone so that it would last for hundreds of years, but unfortunately, due to the lack of stone, we were obliged to build a cemented foundation,” artist Dangol added. The Manjushree monument has been made in mandala concept and it comprises three bases, ancient myths about Manjushree, the symbols and emblems of Buddhism and a massive 33 feet tall pure black stone carving Manjushree. Deepak Maharjan, chairman of the Jalbinayak Jungle Consumer Committee, said, “This ambitious project will aid in conservation and promotion of Nepali arts, cultures and historical artifacts.” The Manjushree sculpture is installed in the middle of the Manjushree Park. The park spreads in 6.538 hectares of land including the mining area. The organisers have said that they were planning to construct a musical fountain, two ponds, 3D lights so that the statue of Manjushree could be reflected in the pond, offering a beautiful view even during night. Stating that they planned to transform Chobhar in such a way that people could easily spend 3 to 10 days there, Maharjan said that the park could be a holiday destination for local and international tourists.
In addition, he said, “We are planning to make this park a research centre to make it easier for researchers and learners to acquire knowledge about Newari culture and history.” “In Nepal, we don’t have a place to hang out at night, but Manjushree Park will do that. Keeping in mind the interest of the people to spend quality time at night in Manjushree Park, other features like hotels and a beautiful landscape, two ponds and 3D lights among others, will be constructed in the park to enhance the beauty of Chobhar,” he added. Maharjan said that about Rs. 150 million was spent so far for the construction of the park and according to their initial plan, the park would be ready at a cost of around Rs. 300-350 million. But with the price of goods rising and other attractions being added, the cost of the park could reach around Rs. 500 million, he added. Sculptor Dangol spent eight long years to carve the statue without any money. Dangol said, “My aim is to promote Nepali culture, religion and language in the world through art by doing something different. I spent a lot of time carrying out this project so that the world could know our diverse culture and tradition,” he added. Manjushree is believed to have started the human civilisation in the Kathmandu Valley. As per the Buddhist scriptures and the fascinating stories that many people have heard so far, the Kathmandu Valley was once a lake where a big serpent lived. It is considered that Manjushree, the god of wisdom, came on a pilgrimage from his earthly abode, Wutaishan (Five-Peaked Mountain) in China to Kathmandu in search of dazzling lotus flower in the centre of the lake. The lotus flower that Manjushree was attracted to was actually the great Swyambhunath. He cut the gorge at Chobhar with his wisdom sword to drain the lake and allow humans to worship Swayambhu. The base of the lake became the Kathmandu Valley and the gorge is called the Chobhar gorge now where the newly constructed Manjushree Park is situated.