Asia’s ancient buildings on the brink of collapse
VIOLENT winds have just ripped through the Indian province of Uttar Pradesh, leaving behind a trail of destruction.
One of the most severely hit places was the site that homes the Taj Mahal – one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World.
The winds destroyed two ancient sandstone pillars, topped with ornate spires.
The recent breakage at the Taj Mahal reminds the visiting public of the fragility of this century-old testament to love.
While builders and conservationists work tirelessly to prevent it from eventually crumbling, when storms hit or natural disasters strike, little preparation can be done to avert this mishap.
But the Taj Mahal isn’t alone in its inevitable dissolve. Ancient landmarks across the globe are wilting into the sea, disintegrating brick-by-brick as storms wreak havoc and earthquakes rumble through the world’s core.
These are Asia’s historical sites you should see before they disappear:
Gon-Nila-Phuk Cave Temples and Fort, India
In the far north Himalayan region of Saspol, India is an intricate network of Tibetan Buddhist caves and temples that overlook a large oasis on the bank of Indus.
With Pakistan to the left and China to the right, this site remains a homage to rich Tibetan Buddhist worship.
Despite Buddhism being a suppressed religion in India for many years, it was reintroduced in the 10th century, with some buildings withstanding the period of persecution.
These include the monastic complex of Alchi and a ninth-century fort which homes an altar and incredibly well-preserved Buddhist murals and paintings.
The sites are currently on the radar of the World Monuments Fund which aims to preserve ancient buildings.
Early 20th Century architecture in Tsukiji
In the early hours of September 1, 1923, a 10-minute-long earthquake hit the Japanese island of Honshu.
The earthquake not only devastated the island but rippled across Tokyo, Yokohama, Chiba, Kanagawa, and Shizuoka.
The quake was so devastating to Tokyo, the government considered moving the capital city elsewhere.
However, commentators urged Japanese officials to rebuild the city and in the process, develop a style and structure for Japanese buildings to withstand earthquakes.
Tsukiji in Tokyo, famous for its fish market, is one of the most prominent sites where this new style architecture can be seen.
While architects, builders, and designers didn’t completely overhaul traditional construction methods, a variety of different buildings can be seen.
However, this area is now under threat for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo as land developers want to relocate the fish market and current residents in order to construct high rise buildings.
High in the southern mountains of Taiwan is the now abandoned aboriginal village of Kucapungane.
Virtually every building in the village is made out of locally sourced slate which has withstood plenty of harsh typhoons and earthquakes.
However, these natural disasters have made accessing the site very difficult.
Kucapungane is reportedly older than Taiwan’s history and legend has it that 600 years ago, a hunting party set out tracking a rare clouded Leopard but when it stopped to drink water from a pond and refused to move, the party declared the site sacred and built their homes there.
In 1974, the elders decided to move the Rukai people closer to civilization, healthcare, and education.
Vegetation has largely overgrown the ancient settlement but the Taiwanese Ministry of Culture, the Bureau of Cultural Heritage, the Pintung Country Government and the leaders of the Rukai tribe are working together to preserve the site.
While all these sites are on the World Monument Fund watchlist, none of their futures are secure.