Heritage lost: UNESCO battles looters at Swayambhunath temple in Nepal

Image: The Associated Press

By NewsGram Staff Writer

At the heart of Swayambhunath temple in Nepal, the iconic central stupa still stands firm at the hill top, but the ancient structures inside this famous Buddhist shrine have turned into debris. The United Nations has sent a team on a rescue mission to prevent the looting of artifacts from this World Heritage Site.

The seven-member UNESCO team is assessing the damage, with priority being given to keep a check on looting of artifacts from the destroyed site. “We are doing an inventory of stones and terracotta objects that have crumbled due to the earthquake. The first concern for us is to prevent the objects from looting and for this we are trying to get keys of one of the stores at the temple so that we can store these objects,” David Andolfatto, UNESCO consultant, told a news agency.

Image: The Associated Press
Image: The Associated Press

“Right now we are not thinking of restoration because for that we need money and restoration can be done only when we have rescued the objects. At the moment, we are doing the rescue work,” he added.

Swayambhunath Temple is also called as Monkey Temple and it is one of the ancient sites where both the Hindus and Buddhists worship together.

According to UNESCO, there are seven monument zones in Kathmandu, which include three Durbar squares in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan, and four religious sites: Swayambhunath and Bauddhanath and Hindu temple complexes at Pashupatinath and Changu.