KATHMANDU – The three eyes of Buddha that crown the great Boudhanath stupa, the most iconic Buddhist monument in Kathmandu Valley, built to preserve the holy relics, will see again after the 2015 earthquake had blinded them.
On Nov. 22, the stupa will reopen to the public after a Buddhist ceremony, and it is expected that the monument will recover the average 400,000 annual visitors it received before the quake, enriching its coffers by around $374,000.
Tourists flock to the outskirts of Kathmandu to see the three eyes of the Buddha, which are considered hypnotic and which many believe symbolize Buddha’s ability to see the world.
The devastating quake and its subsequent aftershocks had seriously damaged the stupa and part of the other six sets of monuments and buildings in the Kathmandu Valley, recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site since 1979.
However, of these, only the stupa, erected during the 7th century, has recovered its splendor thanks to a private initiative of the Boudhanath Area Development Committee that raised $2.1 million towards its restoration.
Of the money raised, more than half ($1.41 billion), was invested in the gold required to cover the upper part of the sanctuary, which formed the base with the three eyes, and 13 steps crowned by a sunshade and a golden pinnacle.
“The construction has been completed (...) This was possible with the support from various Buddhist organizations both from Nepal and abroad,” committee chairman Sampurna Kumar Lama told EFE.
“Had we waited for the government, the reconstruction would have taken years,” added Lama.
The main reason behind governmental inaction has been the delay in nominating the head of National Reconstruction Authority, the body specifically in charge of the post-quake recovery process that was also the subject of political strife until a head was appointed in December.
According to a report by the National Planning Commission, the earthquake, apart from leaving some 9,000 people dead, also damaged 2,900 structures of religious or cultural value, including 750 that were razed to the ground.
However, the government has managed to reconstruct only two temples so far, according to the Department of Archaeology.