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No kissing, cuddling in Nepal temples

Kathmandu metropolitan city authorities have raged a moral war against young couples and banned "immoral and disgraceful activities on the premises of historical temples".

world Updated: Jun 28, 2007 20:40 IST

Fresh out of the jaws of one danger, Kathmandu's famed temples and royal palaces now face another peril - "immoral and disgraceful activities" on their premises.

The Basantapur Durbar Square in Kathmandu is one of the main tourist attractions of Nepal with its complex of palaces, courtyards and temples, including the residence of Kumari, the "Living Child Goddess". They were built between the 12th and 18th centuries by the Malla kings.

However, the sprawling buildings that are mostly unguarded and accessible to all are also the haunt of young couples and even drug users, local residents complain.

"Scenes of youths kissing and hugging each other have been a common sight on temple premises, especially during morning and evening hours," a local daily said on Thursday.

The trend has raised the concern of the Kathmandu metropolitan city authorities, who on Wednesday began putting up notices warning against "immoral and disgraceful activities on the premises of historical temples", the Himalayan Times said.

"Photographs of people involved in such activities in public will be made public," cautioned the notices pasted on temple walls.

Raju Shrestha, an official with the Durbar Area Conservation Programme, reportedly told the daily that the authorities took the step after complaints began pouring in from the local residents.

Many of the young pairs are students bunking school, given away by their school uniforms.

Shrestha said the sight is also regarded as unseemly by the tourists flocking to the area.

Ironically, some of the temples are famed for erotic sculptures, like the famous Khajuraho figures in neighbouring India.

The Basantapur Durbar Square has been recognised by UNESCO as one of the world heritage sites.

Nepal, though one of the smallest countries in South Asia, boasts of six other world heritage sites.

The sites however became endangered due to uncontrolled building activities in Kathmandu valley and were put on UNESCO's list of endangered heritage sites.

This month, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee held its 31st meeting in New Zealand, where it lauded Nepal's conservation efforts and said the seven sites were now out of danger.

First Published: Jun 28, 2007 20:12 IST