How a Delhi Architect Is Using His Amazing Artwork to Rebuild Lives in Earthquake Battered Nepal

Rohan visited Nepal last year and created some amazing artwork using water colours. The unique sketches showcase the incredible monuments and places of Nepal, which serve as a reminder of the beautiful country. Rohan is now using these amazing works of art to raise funds for the reconstruction of houses in rural Nepal. Here’s how you can be part of the initiative too.

Rohan Patankar, a Delhi-based architect, visited Nepal in July 2014. It was before the horrific earthquake destroyed the beautiful country.

“I went there for a project for the company I worked for. The trip gave me an opportunity to see Nepal from a local perspective. I got to see some of the most amazing places, taste local food, become friends with my Nepali colleagues and much more. I came back with amazing memories, and also with a notebook filled with drawings and text that were records of my experiences,” he recalls.

When Nepal saw a devastating earthquake in April 2015, many of the beautiful things that Rohan had seen became mere remains. Some of his friends lost their homes and families and what once was a beautiful land was now just a reminder of how thousands of people had suffered from the calamity.

Rohan Patnakar.

Rohan Patankar.

Rohan too was not unaffected by the incident. When he heard about the earthquake, he tried to reach his friends in Nepal but was able to establish contact only after a few days of the event.

“My friends back in Delhi and I decided to start a fundraiser for the earthquake-affected people in Nepal. Within a few weeks, I got in touch with my friends in Kathmandu who had already began to cope with the tragedy and were helping the people around them in need. So there was an opportunity to extend support to help a few more people restart their lives,” says Rohan.

But how to raise funds was a question here. And Rohan had an answer to that as well. Being an artist, Rohan had created some wonderful sketches of Nepal and its beauty during his visit.

The sketches were made using diluted ink with brushes and pens and depicted the regular life of Nepal and the people there. The beautiful monuments, temples, roads, buildings and much more – Rohan had captured it all and had even left some incredible notes about those places. It was now the right time to put those sketches to good use.

“Like me, so many people have had some wonderful memories of Nepal. I thought I was so fortunate to capture all that beauty through my sketches. I thought it would be worthwhile to share them with people for them to posses and cherish as tokens of memory,” says Rohan.

Rohan kickstarted a fundraiser in May to help his needy friends in Nepal by selling some of his drawings as limited edition A3 sized art prints, sets of postcards and notebooks. Here are a few of his art works and his notes on them.

The magnetic Patan Durbar square; it’s ancient buildings sitting on high plinths made out of brick; quietly overlooking everyday Nepali city life unfold in front of them. Now, that much of this scene doesn’t exist anymore, I wish that I had sat through the night and drew more. But I also wish that sincere reconstruction would also bring back the energy that was above and beyond these people and buildings.

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The Uma Maheshwar temple in Kirtipur. These are actually two drawings. The front is the temple elevation which I drew on top of the view from the hill on which this temple sits. People from all over the region visit this temple because it is said to revive the power of speech in children who are mute.

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In Kirtipur, I made friends with 9-year-old David, Sujen and Dilsan who walked me around the Bagh Bhairav Mandir, two versions of which we drew together. I was surprised to realize how, in the geometry of the temple, the kids read and drew the line work while I looked at the planes at play.

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Late one evening, while walking curiously through the inner streets of Patan in Kathmandu, I heard traditional musical instruments faintly playing inside a building complex. In the courtyard, there was another world altogether. With the flutes playing at the back, the resonating drums filled this semi-open space in a way that I had never experienced in my life.

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My newly made friends David, Sujen and Dilsan took me all the way up to the Uma Maheshwar Temple. They told me about the temple’s powers to cure ill health and sadness. They also told me with zestful conviction about the popular belief that babies who cannot speak are cured here by being placed under the elephant statue.

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It appeared to me that the Patan Durbar Square was used and appropriated extensively by the people, with little functional or historical baggage. There were people old and young, locals and travellers, sitting around on the raised platforms edging the buildings, in the restaurants around it; chatting and chilling, playing football, eating ice cream. One could also hear prayer songs and temple bells in the background and also an occasional wedding procession with people dancing to the latest Bollywood songs played by a brass band.

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All the contributions raised through his fundraiser are being used to rebuild homes that were devastated in the earthquake for families in the outskirts of Kathmandu.

Rohan’s amazing artwork includes A3 sized art prints, ‘Art for Nepal’ notebooks and unique postcards which are all limited edition art works made by Rohan. In August, in an amazing spin off, his architect friends based in Chennai and Hyderabad, Lakshmi Nair and Sarojini Dantapalli decided to pitch together their time to bring out the Art for Nepal notebooks with all of their original Nepal drawings on the covers.

“The sketches are exactly the way I made them. I did not do any alterations and modifications to them. They are just the way I pictured them when I was in Nepal,” he says.

Rohan has already sold about 150 such notebooks, 30 art prints and over 100 postcards to raise about Rs. 1 lakh for the cause.

Assorted set of five postcards; two views of the Patan Durbar Square, the view of Thaity.

Assorted set of five postcards; Two views of the Patan Durbar Square, the view of Thaity that Rohan made with two 7-year-old boys, the magical courtyard with the Stupa in the middle of Thamel, the Taudaha lake drawn with its own waters drawn with two 6 year old boys.

Rohan has collaborated with his architect friend Rumi Singh Maharjan who, along with her colleagues at SMA Studio (Sustainable Mountain Architecture) in Kathmandu, is building transitional homes in stone, earth and wood salvaged from the earthquake rubble along with new bamboo, thatch and metal sheets on the same sites where the old homes existed.

“These are transition shelters. These homes are not temporary like post-disaster relief tents, but are designed to last more than a few years, as the families transition to more stable lives. They are constructed in remote areas of Nepal with help of the local people to help them start a close-to-normal life again,” says Rohan.

In August, the first of the transitional homes got completed in the Panauti village, two hours from Kathmandu. The collections from Art for Nepal have managed to support the construction of about five such model homes. The team is now looking to reach at least 25 homes in future.

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The first Transitional Home from the #ArtForNepal contributions is now ready! Located in the Panauti village, near Banepa, 2 hours from Kathmandu, this model home is built for Mrs. Januka Devi Sapkota’s family of five.

Here are some of the notebooks created by Rohan –

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You can be part of the cause and also own a fabulous limited edition artwork, postcards and notebooks. You can buy the artwork here.

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