The country is passing through a gloomy phase at the present. This is characterized by the emergence of one corruption scandal after another. Such scandals can be seen in other countries also. But the implication of iconic people such as the Former Minister and Secretary in our country is very disappointing indeed. It is really shocking to see people who were held head over shoulders crashing to the ground all of a sudden.
In such moment of despair people naturally seek for areas of glory to console themselves. One of them are the sky touching mountains such as Everest the tallest of all, which though seemingly shy is stunningly beautiful. One can see Machhapuchhre which is perhaps the most iconic of the mountains and its beauty gets enhanced several fold after casting its image in Fewa lake. Tourists come from around the globe to catch a fleeting glance of this mountain lake interface.
The birth of Gautam Buddha in Nepal is another comforting phenomenon. He carried a torch of peace and compassion at a time when there were political incidents even going to the extent of the killing of the father by the son. Examples are the killing of Magadha King Bimbisara by his own son Ajatshatru in the sixth century BC when Buddha was preaching Buddhism in the periphery.
The other striking feature of Nepal is certainly its architecture. The quantitative façade is reflected by the saying that Nepal is the country of more temples than houses and more images than men. The qualitative facet does not lag far behind. The Licchavi palace of Nepal the Kailashkut Bhawan was described as the holy spot in the head of the mother earth in an inscription of Sanga belonging to the seventh century ruler Amsu Verma Similarly, the 19th century poet Emerson described Parthenon temple of Greece acknowledged as one of the most beautiful piece of architecture saying earth proudly wears the Parthenon, like a jewel in her zone. It is surprising that both these expressions echo the same tune despite being twelve centuries apart. It has certainly put the Nepali architecture at par with the best of world architecture.
It is no wonder then that a two-day architectural exhibition with the slogan of Ascent or Arohan in Nepali staged by the students of architecture of five colleges, namely Acme Engineering College, Kantipur International Engineering College, Kathmandu University, Thapathali campus, and above all the organizer the Khwopa Engineering College which inherit such a beautiful architecture whether religious or domestic attracted the attention of several people, mostly the proud guardians of the students of these colleges. It was held in the premise of Khwopa Engineering College beginning from 13th of this month.
Khwopa Engineering College has made a mark of its own in architectural academia. One can palpably feel the vibes of traditional architecture in its precinct. It has shown how space for contemporary use can be created by the use of traditional architecture as against the prevailing notion that it has to be western imitated modern architecture. A year back, its faculties published a book on Neighborhood Planning focusing on among others the planning failure of Koteswore, one of the transport nodes of Kathmandu. And now it organized such an exhibition to be proud of. The college Principal and the Department Heads along with the other academic as well as administrative staff certainly deserve congratulation for such a beautiful architectural jamboree. In fact, the other Departments also held similar display giving the impression of multi course delicious dinner.
There were several sparks of excellence amidst this joyful display in the form of sketches, drawings and the models. But the models of the tiered Nepali temples impressed the common people the most. The model of the tiered temples prepared by the students of Kathmandu university, the iconic apartment buildings by the students of Acme University, the Nuwakot Durbar displayed by students of Kantipur International College and the Hill House presented by Thapathali Campus students were notable indeed. It was followed by the depiction of the story of architecture beginning from the cave to the multi storeyed condominium penetrating the high blue sky. The different styles of architecture coupled with the presentation of the work of signature architects such as Daniel Lebiskind who designed the building in Ground Zero, were the other hall marks of the exhibition. It may be remembered that it was constructed after the destruction of existing twin tower by Bin Laden which was designed by the renowned architect Yamasaki.
This exhibition would emit more flavor had there been lectures delivered by notable architects which is in fact a necessary ingredient of such fiesta. Probably, a lecture by Professor Sudarsan Raj Tiwari who has recently authored a book on Bhaktapur would be more mesmerizing given its gala opening in Bhaktapur. The presentation on the Neighborhood Planning or the planning of neighboring Thimi by Professor Mohan Murty Pant now retired from teaching ears in the college could be equally spellbinding. But such activities can certainly be included in the next edition of such a fete.
This is not to say that the carnival has reached the pinnacle of such an endeavor. What is important is that a beginning has been made. The regular staging of such program could be highly fruitful to both the students and the faculties as it provides the opportunity to compare oneself with the other peers. Such a one off effort is also appreciable but its continuity is more desirable. It will be highly unfortunate if it ends being the solitary phenomena of its kind. It may in the future bring under its fold all the 13 architectural colleges existent in the country giving it a form of Nepal Architectural Students' Association (NEPASA) like National Association of Students of Architecture (NASA, India) that is held annually in India.
The politicians of Nepal should draw a lesson or two from these colleges which have been striving to attain creativity instead of indulging in corruption and smuggling as has been rife in Nepal. In fact, it is such incidents that boost the morale of the people otherwise slumped by the misdemeanor of the politicians at the present in Nepal.
The author is the former Vice-Chancellor of Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).