This large pond is a hidden gem, surrounded with buildings and local residents. It is located in the heart of Patan. Pim Bahal Pokhari was built in the 14th Century. It still is the famous historical pond in Patan. Before 2018, the situation of the pond was very poor. The pond was bare. The water level was so low that bushes grew upon it and people could walk around it. The community threw their household garbage in the pond. All sorts of Pipes carrying the dirt drained into it. Result of this situation was that people there suffered from mosquito infestation.
Mr. Shailendra is one of the committed members of the community. Two years back, it was announced that the pond will be converted into a shopping center, park and only a small portion will be restored as a pond. Along with Mr. Shailendra all the residents refused and demanded that it become only a full pond and nothing else. The process got started with the help of World Bank PURPP, (Pro-Poor Urban Regeneration Pilot Project) in 2017. The main theme why this project was devised was to conserve all the heritages.The fund was also raised from the local people to rebuild the pond. While it was being built, they surrounded it with concrete walls to prevent water leakage. The bottom layer of the pond is not touched. It still has the touch of the old layers of the soil and stones.
The most fascinating part of this pond is that it is fed by rainwater, harvested from the surrounding community. Not long ago, their source was from Raj Kulo tikabhairab, Le-Le. The water from the Raj Kulo fed into many other ponds of Kathmandu and at the end came to Pim Bahal.The overflow of the pond was then used for irrigation. But now the pond relies solely on rainwater. During monsoon season the rainwater fills up the whole pond but their challenge is during summer. It decreases to 16-18 inches during the dry season. They collect rainwater from drainage and resident’s rooftops and divert it to the pond. Collecting from resident’s rooftop is costly so some allow it and some don’t. Precisely, the pond is five feet seven inches deep.
The rainwater collected is filtered, not to the extent of drinkable but to the extent of clarity. Mr. Shailendra himself said, “We’re not looking for drinkable filtered rainwater, we just want it to be clean enough for fish to inhabitat and tourists to visit. Filtration is still a challenge but we are also satisfied with what we’ve got”
Tourism has benefited them in many ways. They come there to enjoy the heritage infrastructure and to even stay at the hotels located nearby. Pim Bahal Pokhari gravitating tourists and inhabiting 11000 fishes of two types generates income for its operation and maintenance. Many film companies come there to shoot. This pond is a public space which invites habitants and inhabitants to enjoy the warm days and pleasant evenings. Of Course visiting Pim Bahal is free of cost. But people who truly and thoroughly enjoy the space and peace they give donations. They manage O&M expenses from the donation and from the revenue earned from selling the fish.
Pim Bahal Pokhari is a great example of a community managing its heritage independently, without even relying on the Government.
“If we’ve consulted with the Government we would have received the help but the Government has bigger priorities and limited budget,” Mr. Shailendra mentioned.
Pim Bahal Pokhari has Stone-carved taps that flows with the support of electricity. Mr. Shailendra said that since they cannot afford to run both Stone-carved taps and the drainage at the same time, they take turns in running them.
Pim Bahal Pokhari is the only pond that runs with the source of rainwater and the support of the surrounding community. This pond is the reflection of their ancestral heritage found in the pool of the pond. It will remind you of the lessons of yesterday, today and tomorrow, to guide through the heritage path.
NOTE:- SmartPaani is always inspired by the great work done around rainwater harvesting. The system implemented in Pim Bahal is a great example of a community managing its heritage independently.”
The blog is written by our intern Anjali Karki from Kopila Valley School.