On April 25, 2015, central Nepal was struck by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that killed over 9,000 people and displaced 2.8 million. The image of the Dharahara, a nineteenth-century minaret that collapsed during the quake, quickly became for many Nepalis an iconic representation not only of the disaster but also of a national determination to recover and rebuild. Drawing upon media and literary discourse in the Nepali language, this article asks why the Dharahara tower, rather than the country's severely damaged World Heritage sites, loomed so large in the Nepali imagination in the immediate aftermath of the April 2015 earthquake, and why it became a rallying point for a resurgence of Nepali hill nationalism.

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