Chivas and Chaityas of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

Chivas and Chaityas Heritage Project Recognized with Award

Chivas and Chaityas of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

We are delighted to share the news that our project partner, the Chiva Chaitya Organization, has received the Asha Chandra Dhakhwa Smriti Award from the Lotus Research Centre, Lalitpur, Nepal in recognition of its pioneering work documenting and preserving the chivas and chaityas, or Buddhist shrines, of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal.

The Lotus Research Centre is an academic institute dedicated to development of applied Buddhism and Buddhist studies. Its prestigious award, given every two years, recognizes individuals and institutions who contribute to the protection and promotion of Buddhist heritage.

Chivas and chaityas date back to the fifth century and abound in the landscape of the Kathmandu Valley. Originally erected in memory of deceased family members, chaityas often resemble miniature buildings. Over time, they have become the focus of public worship by the Newar people and they can be found across the valley in public and semi-public spaces.

In recent years, rapid urbanization has led to encroachment on these spaces and placed the shrines at risk. In response, concerned citizens have mobilized to document the location, condition, and history of the chaityas and compile a reliable database. Inclusion of the chivas and chaityas on the 2020 World Monuments Watch supported these local efforts to advance their preservation.

Since the shrines’ inclusion on the Watch, World Monuments Fund has partnered with the Chiva Chaitya Organization to support the pilot program to restore ten selected shrines and conduct documentation, restoration, and advocacy and community outreach as a model for the conservation of other shrines of the Kathmandu Valley.

After five months of delay in the restoration process due to the global pandemic, the team restarted work in October and aims to complete the project in early 2022.