Sunday, 26 April 2015

Back to Kathmandu, 33 years later: earthquake in Nepal

What happened ?

On Saturday, April 25, 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal just before noon local time. Nearly two dozen aftershocks followed.
The epicenter of the earthquake was located halfway between Kathmandu and Pokhara.

150425 earthquake in Nepal (

Officials in Nepal reported on Sunday that over 2 500 people were killed - at least 800 in Kathmandu alone - and more than 4 300 were hurt, and this estimation is expected to rise.
Update on April 29: more than 5000 people are confirmed dead and more than 6500 injured.

At that time, numerous countries and non governmental organizations around the world  are mobilized to provide aid and supplies.

How to help ?

Here are some major organizations with their online donation link:
- Nepal Red Cross Society: a direct way to help nepalese people (server may be slow or even down).
- Unicef: Children’s Rights & Emergency Relief Organization
- CARE: a leading humanitarian organization that has worked in Nepal since 1978.
- a very complete list of links concerning How to Help the Relief Effort in Nepal is maintained by the NY Times.

French links:
- Architectes de l'urgence: help to rebuild
- Secouristes Sans Frontières
- Fondation de France: Solidarité Nepal


Dozens of temples and historical buildings in Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur have collapsed or damaged. The earthquake has destroyed iconic UNESCO heritage sites, causing a major loss for the World Heritage and a long-term threatening for the nepalese touristic attractivity.

in Kathmandu

Basantapur Durbar Square is the historical plaza in front of the old royal palace and belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites: see Wikipedia.
> April 2015 Nepal earthquake: Basantapur Durbar Square

According to The Nation, several temples were demolished by the earthquake:
Kasthamandap temple
- Panchtale temple
- Basantapur Durbar
- Dasa Avtar temple
- Krishna Mandir
A few other monuments, including the Kumari Temple and the Taleju Bhawani, have partially collapsed. 

In the middle, Shiva Parvati temple (source: Narendra Shrestha)
Satellite View by Google Earth
List and map of monuments in Durbar Square

Before / After
(AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha et photo de droit commun. Montage: Le Figaro)
Before / After
(AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha et photo de droit commun. Montage: Le Figaro)

in Swayambhunath

> April 2015 Nepal earthquake: Swayambhunath
Located west of Kathmandu city, it is a religious complex atop a hill. It is a sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site, featuring a famous stupa with eyes of Buddha looking in all four directions: see Wikipedia.

Dharahara Tower: also known as Bhimsen Tower, it was a 62 metre-tall (203.0 ft) tower: see Wikipedia.

Before / After
Dharahara Tower (Bhimsen Tower)

in Patan (Lalitpur)

Located south of Kathmandu, Patan Durbar Square is one of the three Durbar Squares in the Valley and also belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites: see Wikipedia.
According to, the historic area has been shattered completely.

Before / After
Patan Durbar Square devastated

in Bhaktapur

> April 2015 Nepal earthquake: Bhaktapur
Located 13 km east of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur Durbar Square is the third of the three Durbar Squares in the Valley and belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites: see Wikipedia.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square (Omar Havana/Getty Images)

in the Langtang Valley

The Langtang Valley is located 80 km north of Kathmandu.
The earthquake has caused major damages in the Langtang valley: several hundred people were killed, 90% of the district's houses were damaged and the roadways were partially blocked making access difficult for the rescue operations.

Before/After Nepal earthquake: the Langtang Village (satellite view)

In April 1982, 33 years ago, I traveled to Nepal.

I feel very concerned by this tragic event because I visited much of the places that have been struck: Kathmandu, Pashupatinath, Bodnath, Pagan, Bhaktapur and the Langtang valley.

This page is an homage dedicated to the nepalese people and to its cultural heritage.
Here are some links to the pages of my diary including maps and pictures:

- before earthquake: pictures of Nepal in 1982

- Kathmandu: Basantapur Durbar Square

- Kathmandu: Pashupatinath and Bodnath

- Kathmandu Swayambhunath

- Patan (Lalitpur) Durbar Square

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

J004 - Back to New Delhi, 33 years later...using Google's Street View Trekker : Humayun's Tomb, Qutb Minar, Rajpath

New Delhi : Humayun's Tomb, Qutb Minar, Rajpath

October 14, 1981: being in India for four days and already sick...
> read the article (in french)

33 years later, virtual comeback on these three places, using Google's Street View Trekker. Exploring traces of the past with today tools.

_____________________Daily map_____________________

Lucky strike: the three monuments I visited that day in New Delhi belong to the few places in India already filmed by the Google's Street View Trekker.

Direction Nizamuddin West to explore Humayun's Tomb.
The trekker has crossed through the place thoroughly.

The course of the trekker through the Gardens of Humayun's Tomb, Delhi

The Isa Khan tomb complex is located at the right of the entrance.

Entrance from the north door, overlooking the tomb of Isa Khan Niyazi, Delhi

The heavy wooden door is still there, easy to recognize.
The lobed arch, which was crumbling, is now redone. As well as the low wall surrounding the mausoleum. The shrub hedge is gone, and the sparse grass gave way to a beautiful English turf.
Critical problem for the trekker: his point of vue is significantly higher than that of the average human eye. The natural perspective is skewed, and the use of a wide angle lens make it worse.
> visit Isa Khan Niyazi with Google Trekker

North gate, Isa Khan Niyazi tomb, Delhi

The north gate has been seriously restored and palm trees grew well. On the ground, the shadow of the trekker's camera is visible...

Continuation of the visit.

Once the last portal crossed, Humayun's Tomb is fully revealed, covered by a huge white dome.

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi
The trekker's camera leans slightly to the left. The morning sun backlighting the building is already fading colors...

A climb on the terrace.

Domes of Nila Gumbad and Nai-ka-Gumbad, Humayun's tomb, Delhi

Also here, the palm trees that mask the domes appear to have grown well. And, as at the time, the blazing sun does not encourage you to linger...
> visit the terrace with Google Trekker

Once again, rickshaw to reach Qutb Minar.

It's not easy to find a similar point of view: the narrow framing of my photo reveals only few clues. One has to grope with satellite images, and explore the paths and views of the trekker.

Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque and Qutb Minar, Delhi

To the left in the photo, one can see visitors on the first balcony.
On December 4, 1981, a blackout unleashed a dreadful panic in the tower causing 45 victims, mainly schoolchildren. Since then, access to the first floor is prohibited.
This tragedy, so close after my own visit, has become inseparable from this place.

On the ground, the trekker's lens is facing the sun...
> visit Qutb Minar with Google Trekker

Way back through Raj Path that connects India Gate to the presidential palace Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Jaipur Column et Rashtrapati Bhavan, Rajpath, Delhi
1981: crossing of beautiful bell-bottoms.
2013: access to the presidential palace is blocked by yellow plastic barriers ...

From Rashtrapati Bhavan: India Gate, Rajpath, Delhi
> visit Raj Path, courtesy of Pious Saraswat

Did you visit and shoot this places ? What was YOUR point of view ?
English readers, please help me to improve this version.
Swim in India

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Back at Red Fort, Delhi: 33 years later...with Google Street View Trekker

Delhi, Red Fort

October 12, 1981: first day of sightseeing, introducing the magnificient Red Fort complex.
> read the article (in french)

Retro-blogging tips: in order to geolocate each photo slide, I have investigated in different ways and used:
- narrations from my diaries ;
- descriptions from my old touristic guides ;
- street and relief maps, satellite views, mainly from Google Maps ;
- similar pictures, already geolocated on Panoramio or Flickr ;
- various websites and blogs describing the same place.

Eventually, shadows on the picture help me to confirm the point of view, and it's orientation on a north-south axis, according to the estimated hour of the shooting.

It's great when I can compare my pictures and their GPS coordinates with those of a famous geographic information system, for example: Google.
Looking at the same direction, but 33 years later.
What kind of picture is proposed ? What has changed ?

In 2014, the Red Fort is one of the few places in India that has already been filmed by the Google Street View Trekker.
(trekker : a human carrying a backpack supporting a 360° camera and catching a bunch of datas. On Google Maps, the trekker point of vue is accessed by clicking the little yellow man icon.)

Check out these before & after pictures: India in 1981, shot on Kodachrome 64 Film. India in 2013, shot by a cyber visitor.

Lahori Gate, Red Fort, Delhi

Throne, Diwan-i Aam, Red Fort, Delhi

Naqqar Khana, Red Fort, Delhi

Diwan-i-Khas & Moti Masjid & Hammans, Khas-Mahal, Red Fort, Delhi

Inside Tasbih-Khana and Rang Mahal, Khas-Mahal, Red Fort, Delhi

> the French version of this article

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