June 15 is when all the seven world heritage monument zones that go to make Kathmandu Valley a World Heritage Site are again open to tourists. The April 25 earthquake reduced some of the relics inside these seven zones to dust, or caused partial damage to some others. Restoration plans are well underway, and this will of course be a prolonged affair, since it is quite an intricate process. And, because Kathmandu has some of the best restorers in the world—restorers who are well versed in their highly specialized craft—one can rest assured that something beautiful is sure to come out of their efforts.
No doubt, even with the destruction caused by the Great April 25 Earthquake, Kathmandu Valley still overflows with such sights and experiences as does justice to its claim to be one of the most interesting places to visit in the world. June 2 was when the highest temperature, 34 degrees Centigrade, was recorded in the valley. A pittance, compared to the near-50s sweeping over neighboring India. Most times, the valley enjoys mild temperate climate, and with the onset of the pre monsoon season, weather-wise, the valley will revert back to its lovely climate again. Just as, with the back-to-business sense of urgency that is very much evident now, Kathmandu is once again open for business, and waits with wide open arms to welcome visitors from around the globe.
While the quake caused untold suffering and many tragic deaths, it also resulted in world media attention on Nepal, leading to millions of viewers becoming witness to the never-say-die-spirit of the Nepali people. It is true that, in addition to its rich culture and heritage and its fantastic natural beauty, Nepal is also known equally as a land of the brave, the hardy, and the hospitable. All this have been on world view for the past month or so. The resolute villagers of the quake affected areas have already begun the process of rehabilitating themselves, and the government and international organization are lending the much needed helping hand with vigor.
The quake has brought people together in a very symbolic way that will hopefully transform into something concrete in the future. The mantra is now of rising from the rubble with strengthened resolve to create a ‘New Nepal’. This is not to mean that ancient heritage will be kept in the backseat. Not at all. Heritage will continue to be part and parcel of whatever route the country’s development takes now, because its proud heritage is what gives Nepal its unique identity. An identity that is synonymous with a high degree of artistic and cultural finesse, a sumptuous richness of natural beauty, and a well established reputation as a country with some of the happiest and most hospitable people on planet Earth.
No wonder then that so many visitors are so deeply impressed when they come here. The wealth of art, craft, culture, and heritage everywhere is impressive, the fabulous scenery all around is breathtaking, and the welcoming smiles of the people is heartwarming. Right now, with the country at the crossroads between the old and the new, could well be one of the most interesting times to visit this interesting country.