The city of Kathmandu, with its rich history and vibrant culture, is home to a myriad of architectural wonders. However, the rapid urbanization and modernization of the city have led to a gradual disappearance of its traditional architectural heritage. Recognizing this, cousins Pranidhi Tuladhar and Aabhushan Tuladhar have embarked on a unique initiative to document and preserve the old architecture of Kathmandu through their Instagram page, 'The Last Of Kathmandu Valley'.
The Birth of 'The Last Of Kathmandu Valley'
The Instagram page, started in mid-2022, is a visual archive of the beautiful old architecture found around Kathmandu, particularly in the Ason area. The cousins, both passionate about architecture and art, capture and share images of these architectural gems, hoping to raise awareness about the rapidly changing cityscape. The page serves as a digital repository of Kathmandu's architectural heritage, preserving it for future generations.
The Inspiration Behind the Initiative
The idea for the Instagram page was born out of the cousins' shared love for architecture and their desire to preserve the city's architectural heritage. Aabhushan, an architecture student at Kathmandu University, had been photographing old architectural displays for years. Pranidhi, who had recently returned to Nepal after living in Paris, had developed a habit of 'building watching' while on walks around the French capital. Together, they decided to create an archival Instagram page to share these precious old designs.
The Changing Landscape of Kathmandu
The rapid pace of urbanization in Kathmandu has led to a significant transformation of the city's landscape. Traditional houses and buildings, once a common sight, are now being replaced by modern structures. This rapid change has made the cousins' task even more urgent. "The landscape (in Kathmandu) is changing rapidly. Earlier on, we took photos just because we found those houses interesting. Now, we are compelled to take photos (of old houses) because we fear they won’t remain standing the next time we pass by the street," explains Aabhushan.
The Role of Government and Homeowners
The preservation of Kathmandu's architectural heritage is not just the responsibility of enthusiasts like Pranidhi and Aabhushan. The government and homeowners also have a crucial role to play. Currently, there are no laws in Nepal regarding house maintenance in old town centres, leading to many homeowners neglecting their properties. The cousins believe that if the government were to provide incentives for maintenance, it could help preserve these architectural treasures.
The Future of 'The Last Of Kathmandu Valley'
While the Instagram page started with a focus on Newa architecture, it has since expanded to cover old colonial and neo-classical buildings and even unique house designs or colour combinations. The cousins are continually exploring new ways to keep their audience engaged, including introducing a mini-series on hand-painted signboards seen around the valley.
'The Last Of Kathmandu Valley' is a testament to the power of digital media in preserving and promoting cultural heritage. Through their initiative, Pranidhi and Aabhushan are not only capturing the architectural beauty of Kathmandu but also sparking conversations about the importance of preserving the city's architectural heritage.