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Research paper on Cultural sustainability in the Traditional towns of the Kathmandu Valley: Bijaya K. Shrestha & Sushmita Shrestha Critical Summary


Submitted to department of Urban Design and Conservation, Engineering College, Submitted by: Amit Pokhrel(MSC06908), Design and Conservation College,

Postgraduate Khwopa Libali, Bhaktapur M.Sc. Urban Khwopa Engineering Libali, Bhaktapur

Critical Summary While looking back to the past, cities are so much a part of our lives that they seems both natural and inevitable. We may be surprised to learn, then, that in the larger picture of human history, cities are a very new idea. Although the human species has existed on the earth for at least 100,000 years, towns and cities began to appear a scant 10,000 years ago. More-over, it was until the last 3,000 years that town became cities and cities became relatively numerous and inhabited by significant number of people. In the case of Kathmandu Valley, Sustainable development has become ambiguous words with different things to different people living in the traditional towns which possesses a different culture around the whole country. The Kathmandu valley was also originated as Newar towns. As we know, Culture is a system of inherited conception expressed in symbolic forms, by which many people communicate, perpetuate and develop their knowledge and attitudes towards life. Cultural sustainability referes to the totality of socially transmitted behaviour patterns, art, beliefs, and all other products of human work and perception. culture can be tangible and intangible and here studying about the traditional towns of the Valley includes intangible link from the very past from Lichchavi’s to Malla’s to the Modern context. From the earlier decades, it clarifies that there were numerous culture development which help to sustain and manage both cultural and environmental problems, including transformation of towns to cities and societies. At past the cultural posses a good linkage between town development pattern by historical timeline of Kathmandu Valley having historical appearences. At past, the town development patterns was based on cultural experiences like the formation of Astamatrika, social distribution of Housing units, Street width to building height ratio and the figure ground setting concept. The pre-historic settlement of Moenjo-Daro, refers that Kathmandu Valley was planned like that and the social history even has its strong background from the different rulers of kingdom Nepal, especially in Kathmandu valley. The traditional linkage between the town refers to the culture which has shaped the settlement pattern, street layout, open spaces concept and housing component having many

social layers of socio-economic meanings, developed in different periods from very begining. As we know, the original settlements of the tradition towns started to live in the Tar (Elevated lands) from the very begining, which was the trade route to travel India and Tibet by merchants to have socio-economic relations. The tradition town posses a good social cultured in the terms of having socio religious beliefs in shrines and different temples which include both social activities and religious affairs. While analyzing for critical summary, it seems that from the earlier days of life in traditional towns of Kathmandu Valley, the original settlement patterns was based on social welfare, as i said earlier, the towns composed of different castes and with the social bonding they are living close and by giving priority to developed the area by giving allocated spaces for walk and for religious activities like Jatras, festival offerings, and votive songs to sustain the culture and preserve their settlements. The original settlement patterns was based on socio-religious developments to sustain belonging culture and to establish the trade routes to have income source generated to run the business. Since the culture has played an important role to the process of Urbanization and infrastructure developments. At past, people are few, and the building pattern and street layout is different than the modern one. Since Valley has its own importances from begining, which has its historical timeline regarding Bhaktapur, Patan and Kathmandu durbar square. The Malla period sustained till 600 years and on that phase many historical appearences are developed as like squares, plaza, famous temples, vernacular architecture related to carvings, design and specified cultures too. due to culture sustainability, there is now importance of traditional towns and some of the traditional towns are “Ason, Nardevi, Taumadhi, and many such places from Bhaktapur, Patan and Kathmandu, and many such historical core area which due to its culture sustained, they are still preserved and found till today in this rapid urbanization. The good aspects is that, still due to social value and cultural importances and its sustainability, the traditional towns are still preserved, though due to urbanization and heavy flow of people, it has not lost its fabric and also due to religious aspect,

people and many such conservationist and its agencies involved in heritage preservation, preserving the importances of traditional structures. The strong cultural and social linkage protects the traditional towns of the Kathmandu valley. The old settlement, street layout of stone and bricks at historical core area has its own style and building to street width ratio was easy and there is not such tall buildings at that time and the lighting was there in summer and winter. since rapid process of urbanization was not there at that time, and due to poor urbanization trends there is not such problems regarding today issue on environment as well as unplanned settlement. While looking at the present context, the scattered development patterns, unregulated urbanization and irregular growth, causing many social problems within the Kathmandu Valley. Not proper management plan, irregular use of bylaws, and the concept of un-planned management has created many problems everywhere in Kathmandu valley. The traditional structure has changed into a mass of concrete everywhere and these are the drawbacks of rapid urbanization process which is not much working here. instead of going on bylaws, people and government fail to address such problems to have a nice solutions. at present we see many problems, regarding environment issues, and extension issues of building and mostly in such historical area , the original fabric is on a phase to extinct. due to unproper management, problems regarding water supply pipeline, drainage, waste disposal, and road extension and environment pollution are seen here. At past number of people are very few in today’s context and socially people are cultured well to their festival offers, temples and Bahals and Bahis, festival offering including different street routes for different Jatras, rath yatra, and other social religious activities. The settlement pattern of Kathmandu Valley at past is based on caste system. and the people with touchables are move to live inside the core area to preserve the historical area and the people who are intouchables are kept outside the area. The social condition is poor at that time. At current situation, the city and the traditional town still due to rapid urbanization are in its fabric, though many people went for destroying their traditional look to concrete jungles, but also due to cultural sustainablity like worshipping temples like ganesh, maahadev, buddhists-bahis and bahals, the towns are in a old planned patterns which has its social structures of astamatrika infront of their houses and people are following and bonded by religious activities. This is the strong points

that due to social and religious aspects, people are united and this cultural behavior , the traditional towns has not lost completely its original fabric. The critical case is here. The good aspects is that due to strong culture of socioeconomic, socio-religious and belief on shrines and respecting other religious activities. as we know Culture is a system of inherited conception expressed in symbolic forms, by which many people communicate, perpetuate and develop their knowledge and attitudes towards life. Cultural sustainability referes to the totality of socially transmitted behaviour patterns, art, beliefs, and all other products of human work and perception. The traditional town is still here due to the settlement pattern, people living life style and historical appearences of Vernacular architecture. While examing , we should understand, that due to rapid urbanization and due to un regulated movements, many traditional towns is in the move to loose their original settlement structures, due to urbanization and environment based problems, and due to unmanaged bylaws, people are destroying their tradtional fabric into concrete jungles of buildings. and mostly due to vertical extension, people are following their own rule to change their home into commercials to earn much more money without considering bylaws and such legislation. People are destroying their tradtional structures and traditional societies which has its own importances from the historical appearences from the very begining. At traditional towns, historical core area, the building height was been increased by 35 feet to 6070 feet, which is threatning the local tradtional community to loose their original state forever. Due to modernization, the traditional town is in the process of decline, the original fabric is converting into concrete jungles of skyline, towers and by vertical extension of property distributions into commercializations. Though there is a cultural sustainabilty in the traditional towns of the Kathmandu Valley as in the form of socio-religious status; the town changing into cities is crucial in comprehending modern existence. The biggest problem in Valley is due to unproper management by different municipalities as well as there is not such act of provision in WH area to stop such activities. if not taken action today by legal means, then one day we will loose the traditional looks forever.

"Research paper on cultural sustainability in the traditional towns of the kathmandu valley"