Sudurpashim – Nepal’s unparallel beauty at its finest

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Being my first field research area, Sudurpashim has a special place in my heart. From the enticing Ramaroshan lake complex in Accham to featuring two of Nepal’s most beautiful bridges and many more wonders, the place showcases Nepal’s beauty at its finest. Sudurpaschim is replete with both natural beauty and manmade wonders.

Unparallel beauty

I don’t remember seeing a clearer sky anywhere else but at Ramaroshan. An absolute gem of a place, one that isn’t known to many but what a treat it was! We had set out from Rakam, Karnali to Ramaroshan with locals claiming it’s a two-hour ride. After having a pleasant meal, we set on the path. So, once we had driven for two hours and upon asking another local, he said we will reach there in another two hours. Now, this was getting in everyone’s nerves. Everyone started getting hangry.  Though the sites were pretty we were also worried that we wouldn’t have enough time in our hands for even a brief site survey. After about 6 hours’ drive, we finally reached the area. We hurried through our field gears and then made it to the first lake.

A glance was enough to dissipate the whole day’s anxiety. The moment just made it perfect. Sun was just about to set as I made rounds around the lake for samples. It painted the ambience in a tint of orange against the backdrop of lush green forest ushering in a calm after a hectic day. If time had permitted, I would definitely want to make rounds all over the lake complex but we had to hurry back. All in all, it was definitely worth it!

Unique customs

During one of our field expeditions in Doti, we came across a ‘Sarwajanik boka’ – a public goat. So, what had happened was one of my colleagues had twisted his ankle and could not join us in the field for the day. As he rested, a goat happened to come by and it kept following him. Little did it know, it was being surrounded by villagers from all over claiming the goat as feast for all. There were practices of worshipping ‘Banjhakri’ – shamanic deities in the area and goats were provided as offerings for treatment. It is believed that these supernatural shamans of the forest can transfer the ills onto the goat which is then released. It was up for grabs for anyone who wanted it. In this case, the whole village did!

Local music

Sudurpaschim is home to some of the most unique dance and music. Some genres have found commercial fame as well such as the ‘Deuda’ while some like the ‘Bhuwa Naach’ is getting a fighting chance because of the youngsters embracing their local culture. I haven’t had the chance to witness anyone of these live but what I have witnessed is Sarangi being played by a local singer. Both the instrument and the one who plays it are called Sarangi and they sing of narrative tales and folk songs. Most are quick generate lyrics right at the spot and this exactly what this Sarangi did! Just notice how he makes reference to the trouser worn by the specter to make his songs more enjoyable!

A local Sarangi serenading us during our travel

The bridges

Could bridges be an attraction? If you have visited Sudurpaschim province you will know the answer. Two of the most well-known bridges of Nepal lie in this province.

The Karnali bridge is asymmetric, single-tower, cable-stayed bridge connecting Bardiya and Kailali. What’s interesting is that it is always windy there and hence, gets the name Chisapani. Both sides from the bridge is hot, quite unbearable if you have just landed in Nepalgunj and making your way to Bardiya or Kailali. But as you stand on the bridge, you will feel cool breeze, calming your sensations, a feeling only nature can provide!

The other bridge, Dodhara Chandani bridge or the Mahakali bridge is a sequence of four suspension bridges with a length of almost 1.5 km. It takes well over an hour to cross it on foot and there are actually motorbikes on hire just to cross the bridge (other vehicles cannot pass through it). I wanted to cross Dodhara Chandani on foot though but it was dead in the winter and my fellow colleagues exclaimed it can be overwhelming for a first timer to be on the bridge on foot especially as one gets to the middle because the ends cannot be seen. Heeding their advice, I hopped on a bike.

Once again, I know I have missed many hidden gems. But it is only because I have not had the opportunity to explore them. I am sure to update my experiences should I get to travel there again.

Anu Rai

I am an aspiring environmental researcher.

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