In April 2015 an earthquake caused the considerable damage to the temples and palace on the Darbār Square in Patan, one of the three royal cities of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. Among these were the Cārnārāyaņa (1565), Viśveśvara (1627), Bhaidegah (1679), Bhīmasena (1681), and Hariśaņkhara(1709) temples, which are of paramount importance for the architectural history of the Newars, who shaped the urban culture of the valley. The Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, under whose stewardship the rebuilding, repair, and restoration took place from 2015 to 2022, took advantage of the unique opportunity to document 380 wooden roof struts. The struts were either recovered from the debris or photographed in situ from scaffolding. The large-scale images allow us to discover the carved details of the struts for the first time. The narrative scenes within the foliage at the top of the struts and the stories of the Mahābhārata and the Purāņas, featuring the deeds and adventures of Tārakākṣasura, Bhīmasena, and Sivaśarma at the bottom, can now fully be viewed, understood, and appreciated.
Niels Gutschow is an architectural historian from Heidelberg University, who has been working in Nepal and India since 1970. In 1971, 1989, 1993, and 2003 he was involved in restoration projects. After the 2015 earthquake he acted as senior advisor to the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust.