Bhaktapur, one of the Medieval city states in the Kathmandu Valley, a World Heritage Site, suffered tremendous damage in the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. It is still the most wonderful place to visit but the damage to some of the houses and buildings leave the visitor quite overwhelmed. It is here our story begins.
Coming out of the alleyways leading from the many temples and shrines, Pottery Square opens out before you into a lively centre of little pottery shops, drying pots all lined up in the sun and behind the shops the mud covered straw lined kilns for firing. These days the destruction to houses and buildings in and around the square is immense.
In one of the shops we find Sajan and his brother Srijan Prajapati who were born into the potter clan and learned the skills and old traditions from a very young age. During the earthquake of 2015 the old multi story brick house they lived in was badly destroyed and the shop and buildings nearby also. They have rebuilt as best they can and continue to make pots and sell souvenirs from the small shop, encouraging and offering small trainings to tourists and interested visitors. These small trainings have led to bigger dreams to build and to offer something more to help their community and help rebuild their city.
When the narrow, four story section of house behind their shop came up for sale at the beginning of 2017, they took out about £16000 in loans (from distant relatives and from their local potter community) to make the purchase. Their idea is to convert the totally damaged building into an open, modernized pottery training and potter community centre, where many teaching and training activities can take place, right in the heart of the Square.
Financial Support and Fund raising
As noted above, the newly acquired building, which shall serve as the Pottery Home Project’s central location, is severely damaged from the 2015 earthquake and needs to be torn down and rebuilt. An initial estimate based on reconstruction costs for similar buildings in Bhaktapur comes to about £24000. This would involve:
· Tearing down of damaged walls (probably together with the neighbouring buildings)
· Rebuilding a 4 story structure with concrete frame in earthquake proof technology.
· Constructing a traditional looking brick façade according to city requirements.
Once the reconstruction/renovation is finished, further improvements can be financed through income generation from the project as described above. This could include:
· Basic furnishing of the rooms.
· Remodelling of outdoor area in front of the building.
· Acquisition of a modern kiln, tools and raw materials.
· Development of courses, classes, presentations and home-stay programs for the many foreign visitors who visit Bhaktapur and Nepal. Space allowing yoga and meditation classes will run alongside.
The new building will cater for local trainings to keep traditional skills alive and act as a centre for local school visits and workshops for tourists. Below is the original shop and the new pottery centre will be right next door where there are now only bricks and rubble.
Thanks for reading about this Pottery Project and whatever you donate big and small, will be a huge investment into keeping the ancient traditions of Bhaktapur alive.
We will keep you up to date on building progress via a Fb or email link set up once we have the donations flowing.