PAST PROJECTS  |  2013

Heritage

Path

Wanla

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Introduction

The historic heritage path in Wanla was conserved in 2013, also with a grant from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany. Historically the path allowed visitors and pilgrims a thoughtful and spiritual approach to the monumental and sacred area of the Avalokiteshvara Temple and the fortress remains. But since a number of years, the foot path had been less and less used, partially because portions of it were buried under a landslide caused by the construction of a new road, and partially because visitors now drive up in their vehicles. Nevertheless, the path is part of the ancient circumambulation route and the traditional way to approach the temple.

Following up from the Kagan Chorten Project of 2011, the part of the path between the Kagan Chorten and the temple was in need of being cleared, water drainage had to be improved and the various small chortens and mani wall structures along the path needed some repair. There was also a need for a sustainable maintenance plan for the path so that Wanla residents could respect it and use it again.

Participation of volunteers was made possible owing to the commitment of the villagers although summers are a busy time due to harvests.

Conservation

Before starting the actual repair/construction work, a condition assessment and documentation of the pathway and its religious structures was undertaken. The reconstruction/repair of the pathway between the Kagan Chorten and the temple had already started during the campaign of the restoration of the Kagan Chorten in 2011. The village community, on their own initiative had organized the construction of a part of the pathway, starting from the temple downwards, reaching until the Harip Chorten group. Only the part between the Kagan Chorten and the Harip Chorten group was left for repair. The existing retaining walls were not in a good condition and not well founded on the rock.

The retaining walls were taken down and a new foundation was constructed on the solid rock. Most of the stones could be reused. More stones were brought with the help of Nepali workers who also contributed to the project. Some steps were created to facilitate the way up to the temple.

As to avoid the upper part of the walls to crumble due to falling stones, it was decided to finish the walls with a layer of solid stone slates, laid in mud plaster. These slates (yamang) had to be collected from a mountain outside Wanla (Bukbuksa). The trainees and the mason broke the yamangs of the rocks and carried them down to the road. Then they were brought by a truck to the temple and had to be carried down again to the pathway.

The base of the chorten group with mani wall had been repaired by the villagers together with the path. The chortens were recently whitewashed, but were in a very bad dilapidating condition. Most of the shapes are unrecognizable.  Nobody could tell more about the original shapes of these chortens. Measurements and photographs were taken.

Further, in the proximity of the Harip Chorten Group, there occurred a problem with water coming from the water point at the temple. The water was running around these chortens and a lot of plants were growing on the circumambulation path. The infiltration of water would surely damage the foundation of this chorten group. The water had to be channeled properly away from the chortens. Therefore, vegetation was taken out and the water coming from the water point above was channeled away from the chortens.

The trainees and the conservation architect decided to build some extra retaining walls and terraces above the chorten group so that more water would infiltrate in the ground before entering the channel. Also some steps were added to the pathway.

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Outcome

The pathways around the Kagan Chorten and adjacent structures were in an overall good condition, but there were some issues. The pathway and channel were cleared of stones and plants. The irrigation channel was checked and restored where it seemed necessary.

The village volunteers showed that they are capable to do the work independently in a professional way. The project was led by Hilde Vets along with an Indian team of conservators and volunteers.