Lecture Series

IMAP Lecture 4 by Mukunda Raj Aryal

IMAP Lecture 4 by Mukunda Raj Aryal

Mukunda Raj Aryal 
Need to Preserve Public Places: Safeguarding Cultural Heritage and Challenges Ahead

Kathmandu boasts a history of diverse mythos and legends, which have been cause for focal fascination of scholars and researchers alike. It is a diverse cultural hub in its own right which has lived through many changes.

According to historians and inscriptions in place, Kathmandu valley civilisation, also increasingly referred to as the Bagmati river civilisation, is one that saw the flourishing of a multitude of societies and settlements. Over time, it has also witnessed the rise and fall of several dynastical rules and patronages, with each era contributing its own cultural characteristic. As such, the then structures and architectural components of the dwellings reflect a high level of cultural and technical sophistication. The city as a whole was planned with a higher realisation of form and function, balance and harmony, and a genuine consideration for needs of inhabitants. That meant that the basic infrastructural needs for socio-religious and political activities were in place, including preparedness for natural and man-made disasters.

However, this consideration has not found roots in the modern and expanding context of Kathmandu as a capital city. The existing historic infrastructure is not sufficient to meet the requirements of a modern metropolis, and is mostly under threat of being destroyed or encroached upon. New infrastructure have not been planned for, or if included in urban plans, not executed in a logical and appropriate manner. This has been attributed to the influx of newer settlers as well as to ill planning and lack of constructive consultations and open dialogue.

The lecture will address the historical infrastructure and public space of Kathmandu as well as point out the various well-planned efficiencies of open spaces in a historical context and the tragedy of modern encroachment and the current city’s needs that must to find a voice in Kathmandu’s current and future plans.

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A recipient of many national and international awards like Rashtriya Prativa Puraskar and Palms de Academiques, Mukunda Raj Aryal, received his MA from Tribhuvan University as well as from the State University of New York. He earned his PhD from Banaras Hindu University.

Formerly, Chair of the Department of Nepalese History, Culture and Archaeology, he taught for nearly 35 years at Tribhuvan University.  He is a renowned scholar on various aspects of Nepali culture and is currently actively engaged in teaching and research activities.

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