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Visions of Old Kathmandu – What Was Lost (1976)

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Kevin Kelly took these photographs of Kathmandu, Nepal, in 1976.

As you can see from these photographs I took in 1976, the medieval town is delicate. Not all has been destroyed, and I am sure the Nepalis will rebuild as they have in the past. Still, the earthquake shook more than just buildings.

 

Old Katmandu  What was lost

 

Kathmandu was an intensely ornate city that is easily damaged. The carvings, details, public spaces were glorious. My heart goes out to its citizens who suffer with their city. As you can see from these images I took in 1976, the medieval town has been delicate for decades. Loosely stacked bricks are everywhere. One can also see what splendid art has been lost. Not all has been destroyed, and I am sure the Nepalis will rebuild as they have in the past. Still, the earthquake shook more than just buildings.

If you look carefully you may notice something unusual about these photos. They show no cars, pedicabs, or even bicycles. At the time I took these images, Kathmandu was an entirely pedestrian city. Everyone walked everywhere. Part of why I loved it. That has not been true for decades, so this is something else that was lost long ago. Also missing back then was signage. There are few signs for stores, or the typical wordage you would see in any urban landscape today. Kathmandu today is much more modern, much more livable, or at least it was.

 

 

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  • Mary Metzger

    I was also in Kathmandu in 1976 and have similar photos. I just arrived again yesterday — almost 40 years later. In 1976 It was a beautiful, wonderful place. Now it’s polluted and overcrowded and has so many buildings you have to look for the temples. Motorbikes and cars will run you over if you don’t watch out. People wear masks to cover their nose and mouth because the pollution is so bad. Kathmandu is not more livable today or even before the earthquake. The population has increased from 15,000 to about 1 1/2 million. Fortunately I won’t be around to see it (or the rest of the world for that matter) in another 40 years.