Nepal is set to reopen all the heritage sites in the Kathmandu valley to the public, in a bid to attract tourists after April’s devastating earthquake.
Among those sites set to open are the historic Durbar squares or “noble courts”, which were badly damaged.
Unesco raised some concerns over the safety of reopening the sites. But media reports cite officials as saying the necessary measures are in place.
More than 8,000 people were killed and the destruction was widespread.
Shortly after the quake, Unesco’s director-general Irina Bokova described damage to the Kathmandu valley as “extensive and irreversible”. It sent a team to assess the damage and is continuing to monitor the situation.
On 11 June Unesco issued a statement asking the public to be extra cautious at the sites, adding that it hoped the decision to reopen them could be re-examined.
Security will be in place, tourists will be given guided tours and signboards will indicate specified routes to cause minimal disturbance to structures, officials are quoted as saying in local media.
Unesco says the process of salvaging the artefacts at the Buddhist temple complex at the Swayambhunath temple complex – founded in the 5th Century – is still ongoing. It also believes that opening the area could risk the theft of art and cultural objects.
The main temple in Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square lost its roof, while the 16th Century Vatsala Durga temple, famous for its sandstone walls and gold-topped pagodas, was demolished by the quake. Local media reports that tourists to severely damaged Changu Narayan of northern Bhaktapur will be carefully monitored .
Patan’s Durbar Square, the 3rd Century site across the Bagmati river to the east of Kathmandu, was opened to the public last week. – BBC