It is an irony to see the fury of nature wiping out buildings that have stood for centuries in a matter of seconds. The recent earthquake in Nepal proved that nature just debunks the futile attempts of man to overpower things that don’t belong to him!! The destruction and damage of buildings within the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage property is not just cultural loss for the nation, but a loss to mankind. Nepal- a small picturesque country that is 0.04 times the size of India [1/5 the size of Texas], has four inscribed UNESCO World heritage Sites that include three royal cities and several Hindu and Buddhist sites within the Kathmandu Valley- most of which have been severely damaged in the quake.
As an immediate response measure, a crowd mapping website- Kathmandu Cultural Emergencies– has been developed by Aparna Tandon[ICCROM] and Rohit Jigyasu[ICOMOS-ICORP] to collect information on the the damage caused to cultural heritage sites and institutions in Nepal. Photographs of damage to traditional houses, buildings, museums, temples , any rubble that may contain fragments of a historic site, sculptures, sacred objects etc. can be uploaded to the webpage or sent to the mail id firstname.lastname@example.org- if possible with their location . Photos can also be taken via mobile. Tweeps and Instagrammers can use #heritagedamagenepal and #culturedamagenepal to tweet pictures of earthquake affected cultural heritage .
While the priority at this hour is to rescue those whose lives have been devastated in this horrific manner, there is also a sincere appeal to capture as much of the destruction as possible so that atleast some of the remains can be salvage after the human search and rescue operation is completed.
Nepal is still suffering significant aftershocks, and lack of basic facilities – food, water, electricity, communications—particularly in mountainous and remote areas. But this is what we know so far about the fate of Nepal’s World Heritage sites: Together we will work to restore the cultural heritage of a beautiful land and its beautiful people.