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Photo by Swastik Pal

I went to Nepal on an impulse. It was almost an immediate response to the strong aftershocks I had experienced, sitting in my room in Calcutta. I felt fear and uncertainty, but also a strong urge to get myself to the place where disaster had struck. And all this while, only one question kept running through my mind: what would I do if everything I ever had, my home, my city, came crumbling down like a house of cards right before me? It was on 25 April that the first earthquake, measuring above 7.8 on the Richter scale, hit the Kathmandu region. And only a couple of weeks later, on 12 May 2015, another calamitous 7.3-magnitude aftershock followed. Numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and many thousands of homes throughout Nepal were destroyed. Thousands died buried under the rubble, and millions were left homeless. I boarded an Air India sortie aircraft from Calcutta to Kathmandu. We hovered above the Tribhuvan International airport for five hours before getting clearance to land. It was dark by the time we touched down, and on my way to the hotel, I could see towers of smoke rising out of the mass cremation grounds near the Pashupatinath temple. Since the first earthquake struck, there have been more than 120 aftershocks recorded here, stoking panic and fear, but all the same giving occasion to the resilient human spirit to reveal itself. In this series of photographs, I have tried to capture that spirit. While the tragedy to have hit Nepal was immense, and rebuilding the place will take time, this spirit of reslience is all we are left with for now, it’s our only hope for a better future.

Sniffer dogs helping locate bodies still trapped under the rubble.

Most villagers in Sankhu village have lost their homes and been forced to relocate to a relief camp. A villager sits atop a pile of rubble that used to be his house before the earthquake hit.

An old man tries to dig out beans from the rubble of a house.

The scenic beauty of Nepal, in counterpoint to the disaster that visited it.

A family in Sankhu Village trying to recover a gas oven from their damaged house.

Patan Durbar Square, situated at the centre of Lalitpur city, is among the worst affected areas. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has suffered almost total ruin.

The local police along with the Nepalese military personnel inspect a quake-hit site.

Family photographs hanging on the remains of a collapsed house in Bhaktapur.

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