While the massive earthquake has flattened several centuries-old structures in Nepal, the Pashupatinath temple has suffered only slight damage.
Much like the Kedarnath shrine, which withstood the devastating flash floods of 2013, the Pashupatinath temple too has stood up to nature’s fury. Both are among the sub-continent’s most revered Shiva shrines. While devotees prefer to see it is as a sign of divine power, archeological and structural experts call for “scientific introspection”.
“This coincidence is certainly a reason for introspection on how the Kedarnath and Pashupatinath temples can withstand such a huge calamity while newly-constructed buildings collapse even after a minor disturbance. It does evoke scientific curiosity,” said Arun Menon, assistant professor at the department of civil engineering, IIT Madras. Menon and his team have been assisting the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) in a project at Kedarnath under the ambit of the National Centre for Safety of Heritage Structure.
The Kedarnath temple, Menon said, could survive the flash floods possibly because of its massive structure and strategic location. The temple sits on a raised man-made platform. “In the case of the Pashupatinath temple I would say that the actual ground shaking varies from one point to the other. Two close structures could have different topographical features. The structural layouts are also different.”
Superintending archaeological engineer RS Jamwal of the ASI agrees. “Several structural features helped the Pashupatinath temple withstand the earthquake. The square plan of the temple, its light weight, the roofs and floors uniting with the walls and a strong jointing system helped. The quality of construction of both temples is also very high.”
Jamwal and his eight-member multi-disciplinary team have just returned from Nepal after a three-week detailed study of the Pashupatinath temple, part of India’s efforts to undertake conservation work at the temple.