A month in the lap of Makalu Barun

It’s  been more than a year of our travel to Makalu Barun National Park, and even after frequent attempts to write a travel blog, I never actually finished it. Recently, it came across my mind again to write up a few highlights of the trip, at first, I felt that I forgotten details of it, but, as I recall the trip again in my head- I remember it so vividly, so clearly that the trip still brings smiles in my face. So, I couldn’t help myself to draft this travel document.

So, it started in first week of May, when I had just finished my Bachelor’s degree and was looking desperately for an adventure.  And, when I got this opportunity through Himalaya Research Expeditions to assist in the National Geographic society grant program to research about Yarsagumpa with expert geologist and botanist, there was just no choice at all- it was only yes and lots of exhilaration.

After discussing and communicating about the research over emails for a week, I met Alton Byers and Elizabeth Byers at a hotel in Kathmandu before the trip next day. It was our first meet and I was kind of nervous. But, after an hour of our meet, I felt utterly comfortable and we went to details on our trip plan.

The next day, we departed from airport in Kathamandu to Tumlingtar- in Sankhuwasabha: getaway to Makalu Barun National Park. It was my first time in a flight and it was so interesting see the alternating villages and forests passing by. After a flight of about 40mins, we reached Tumlingtar- where  staff members and porters from Himalayan Research Expeditions joined us. After having lunch at Tumlingtar,  we headed towards Khadbari in a jeep amongst Alnus nepalensis forest and Elaeocarpus sphericus plantations. With night halt at Khadbdari, the headquarter of Sankhuwasabha- we headed in jeep towards Num. Located in a hill top- Khadbari  was a mid-hill beauty with cool temperature. It was from Num that our trek would actually start the next day. That evening our team unpacked the goods and made them into head loads, we hired local porters, tried the tents and bought local food supplies and started to walk early the next day.

Our destiny for the next day was the hillside in front of Num- which was in actual was separated by Arun River. So, even though it looked at arm’s length- it was a day long journey to go down to the Arun river and then head straight up the hill again. Pheww, that is Nepal in actual. It is small, but the geography really makes it so large and different. So, sticking to our purpose, as we entered Park’s area from Sedhuwa, we interviewed local people informally and gathered information as we could on Yarsagmba harvest, rate and other things. It was raining heavily when we were reaching Sedhuwa and our attempt to use our tents didn’t work and we stayed at the local lodge. And, from Sedhuwa our actual trek started where we used our own kitchen instead that of hotel’s and it was huge surprise for me.  It was my first trip to Himalayas and I was prepared for the worst. But, we had our own luxury tents, all the food supplies enough to make it a 5 star meal even in the remotest part and warm and friendly staffs and the guidance from leading scientists.  I couldn’t believe my eyes. So, let’s go in detail to our luxury travel. Each morning we would be woken up with bed tea/ coffee/ hot chocolate in the tent. This would then be followed by a bucket of hot water to make ourselves ready. Our morning breakfast would be heavy with porridge, chapatis, eggs, drinks, and all choice of honey/butter/ jam. And, depending upon the day’s work/ travel we would either take hot lunch or pack lunch. The first day, I was given the pack lunch- I couldn’t decide which item to eat first. We had Chapatis, dry fruits, a juice, a bar of chocolate, an egg, a piece of meat and fruits. And, in evenings we would be greeted with hot juice followed by tea time with popcorn at  5  and we used to have  dinner of Dal/bhat mostly in the evening. Together with this, there used to be varieties. Umesh dai- he was the best cook and he would timely surprise us with pizzas, dumplings, cakes and everything that you ask.

Small glimpse of our luxurious travel

After the meal description, let’s go on to travel again. We had a day halt at Sedhuwa to collect information from the park office. During 1991/92 Alton had worked a Co-manager for the national park, during its declaration and so, it was very informative for me to know about the geography, conservation history of the park, people and so on. On the rest day, I was trained by Elizabeth on using the equipment that we were going to use during field works. The next day, we had short trek along the Arun River and we reached Tashi gaon. And, in tashi gaon I stayed in my own tent, and it was the very first time. When I mentioned this to the team, Alton told us about the mysterious sounds and a scary incident from his trip few years back in Nepal, and that night I was scared as hell till I fell asleep.

Tashigaon was the last settled Sherpa village in Makalu Barun National Park. After this stop, the settlement that we would come across would be goths (cattle sheds) and tea houses. However, the tea houses would operate as small guest house and there would be one in a day’s length. So, tea house trek is also popular in this park. After Tashigaon, we followed deep confier forest of Abies and rhododendron, looked and collected animal prints and signs and with our inflated lungs we started our trip uphill. This was one of the best days of the trip. The upper temperate forest of Abies were deep and beautiful, the trees were huge and I felt in with the smell of dead wood that lay scattered in the forest. Every now and then, the trees would harbor beautiful orchids hanging in them- and, it would be such a pleasant sight. As we moved upwards, we were also greeted with Rhododendron arboreum flowers.  It was a short trek that day and within mid-day we had reached Danda Kharka which had only a very small tea house.

The lodge owner there were brother- Dawa and Lakpa, which later on became our very good friends and our guide as well. The next day, we started early and moved through Betula utilis and Rhododendron forest again and reached Kongma which has two tea houses. In Kongma, I was taken aback by the beautiful Rhododendorn garden and the pikas- the first ones of the trip! With decades of travel experience of Alton and Elizabeth  to the mountains, we all knew we were travelling safely. We had a day halt at Kongma to acclimatize ourselves to the altitude.  I learned a great deal from both of them about how careful we should be of altitude- drinking lots of fluids, letting others known of even the slightest discomfort. Most of all, gaining 300m altitude everyday after 3000m was advisable and we stayed strict on that- which suited quite well for our team.

In Kongma, we followed up with more interviews, botanized around, enjoyed the rest day and made ourselves ready for the Shipton pass next day.

Rhododendron bushes in Kongma

The next day, we started our day early morning. I clearly remember that I had the last phone call for the trip with my parents that day. After Khadbari, I had completed forgotten about calling them and was enjoying being out of the world entirely. On this day we had to cross three passes before waiting for the night hault. It was because of these passes in Makalu, that the Makalu trek is in general considered a tough one. We climbed the hill and reached to the pass-that had a chorten, decorated with the colorful Buddhist prayer flags known as Tutu La. At this point, we had crossed the treeline and started to come across the bushes  of R. anthopogan (sonpati) and R. lepidotum. Once of reached the pass we made our way through the ridgeline, and I was and felt the first snow fall. It was misty and foggy, and at the same time chilling cold. My boots were all wet and the feets started to feel heavy. Even so, I carried on enjoying the company of my seniors and getting wrapped up in the landscapes and vegetation that moved together with this. This ridgeline walk was followed up with descend to the small lake:  sano Pokhari, and going up we reached Shipton La- a pass named after Eric Shipton who has claimed to have seen yeti in the same site. We made jokes about yeti and footprints and carried on our journey through snow. We saw clear animal footprints of birds and fox in the snow. That night, we halted at Thulo Pokhari, alongside a deep blue colored lake. And, it was like a real camp- with no settlement nearby. Though we had no problem even in cases as such, our staff would have much to do in days like these. In other days, while they could use hotel’s kitchen and find a warm shelter inside the lodge, camping in the middle of nowhere meant that they would have to take shelter in the kitchen tent and had to put extra efforts for cooking as well.

I was always fascinated of reading- and during my early days, I would read any books that were laid in my hands. Having a bookstore in the gateway of the mountains, my father’s bookstore would have several picture and non-fiction books of travelling, climbing and expeditions. While browsing through the colorful pictures of chortens, prayer flags, the travelers with huge backpacks and the sherpas- with huge headload walking up hill, it would fantasize me and I vividly remember about dreaming of one. Also, reading the climbing books of Jon Karakeur and Maurice Herzog, which described of icefalls, avalanches and the travels, they would mean so little back then. Even though, this trip was nothing as compared to their high mountain expeditions, for me, it was like living a dream. The book often talked about the sherpas- their strength, their fierceness, their hospitality and their smiles, and being friends with the Sherpa people for the first time; I could relate about the descriptions in the book.

With our cook- Umesh Kulung dai!!

Our team members- also called sherpas (I later found that the Sherpa is not actually a caste, it is a title give for the guides) were of diverse ethnicity: mostly of Kulung Rai. They were warm and all smiley. After our lunch hour during breaks or after evening dinner, they would gather and have fun around. At times, I would join them singing/ dancing happily or playing cards. They were like brothers to me, and we managed to have fun amidst the travel hours.

Our campsite at ThuloPokhari

Even so, we managed fine in thulopokhari. Our tent was beside a small outlet of thulo pokhari, and the ground was all wet. In the evenings, I would work under the torch light- write up my diary, find the identification of the birds that I have sighted, identify and remember all the flowers that I photographed. The next morning, waking up- the tent was all covered in the snow- and, I climbed up the hill to feel the moment. And, the view that I observed that morning is all well set in my memories. Even though I captured it in the frames, it doesn’t speak the truth.

Tracking the animal signs.

That day we started our official field work. We looked after grazing impacts, tourism impact and wildlife signs in the area.  I was trained about sampling and setting out plots scientifically by Elizabeth dd, and after lunch hour we made it uphill again to reach Dobato. After crossing the Keke La, we moved downhill again. From above tree line, we moved towards Rohododendron tress and again back to the forest areas. It was almost dark when we reached Dobato. It was beside the Barun River and we could hear the soaring sound of the river.

Our camp at Yangle Kharkha beside Barun River

The next day, we walked along the forest of fir and rhododendron; alongside the Barun River. We looked to the geographies shaped by the Barun river over millions of time from alluvial fans to deposits. Barun River, with its milky colored water clearly originated from the Barun glacier. Following the Barun River alongside, we halted in Phematang and went to Kongma the next day. As per our interviews, Kongma was the place where hundreds of yarsagumba harvesters would shelter. Seated beside the Barun River in a flat land, which looked like a lake in previous days, Yangle was surrounded by the hills on the all side. These hills were the harvesting grounds for yarsagumba, and though the hill tops were a day’s journey for us, collecting yarsagumpa from these vast alpine meadows were a day work for the locals. Even the children were so good and better than all of us. Yangle, at old days was the cattle shed area for the animal herders to take shelter in. But, with time, these huts started to expand themselves and accompany the tourist. And, now there are around 10 cattle sheds and a single lodge in the area.

The beautiful Yangle Kharkha

If it were previous year, Yangle would have been flooded with yarsagumba harvesters, middle mans, sellers, patrols from national parks and so on. But, this year, things were different. The fungi of yarsagumba would start to show up once the snow melts. And, the snow in this year was still prominent with no signs of starting to melt. Our goal was to document the impact of yarsagumba harvesting on local ecology, but without yarsagumba collectors- it was difficult for us to ascertain. But, this is the way field works are! You never exactly  get the things that you desire.

Try finding the gold-valued yarsa here!! Let’s see how good harvestor you will be.

We frequently talked with local peoples and interviewed them on the subject of our interest. Within an hour distance of Yangle was famous religious site called Shiva Dhara, which was the huge rock with Shiva eyes in them. From one of the eyes, there was a waterfall generating and it led to the cave. The locals would travel frequently for this holy place and we as well, managed to get to the base of it. In Yangle, we found that yarsagumpa fruiting in the Sorbus forest, and we did our plots and studied in them.

On the way to Ripuk from Yangle

After few days, we moved from Yangle to Riphuk Kharka- a pasture land. This had only a single lodge and it was a short day trip. This also was along the fir-rhododendron forest, and it had the small of decayed trees and algae- the one that you can’t get enough of. Riphuk again, had it own charm. It lied at the base of the huge stony structure that made its eastern wall. With numerous waterfalls over the stony structure, the stony wall had many symbols and signs. Some of these signs were promninent, and often highly regarded by the locals. But, if you would look very enthusiastically, you can find a numerous ones of them- and every other person would try you to identify a new symbol or an animal stature.

Riphuk Kharka

The next day, we moved from Rhipuk to Langmale- and it was one of the best walks that I had in the whole trip. We moved across gentle slopes and landscapes and we had escaped the rain. After you cross 4000m, you also leave the rain behind and enjoy the vast alpine meadows and flowers. On the way to langmale, we met a bunch of children happily running upwards. Upon asking, they told me that they were going towards the High camp of Makalu Barun- a place of shelter for the climbers during the ascend. I was all excited and was thinking about the possibilities of joining them as our plans extended only to the Base camp; and high camp was a day long journey from the base camp.

The school children on the way to high camp

Though I was interested to join them, I knew they would be too fast for me, and had no intention to slow down their speed. We reached Langmale that day together with the children. In Langmale, they ordered boiled potatoes and again started their journey with filled in tummies. Later on, I found that they were in fact travelling to buy the remaining food stuffs from the mountain expeditioners as the climbing season was over. The expedition teams in the high camp would have lots of food left with them which would be too expensive to be carried over by flight and thus they would be selling this to the local peoples. To me, this was so exciting. I proposed this idea to my team, and they agreed to send me over the the high camp in a day hourney. I wanted to do this trip alone, but I was not allowed as climbing upto 5600m alone in a strange land would deemed dangerous for me.

So, I had the company of one of the Rai brothers. Our cook started to cook for us early, and we started our trip around 5. We travelled along the Barun river through sershong and reached base camp around noon. We halted at the lodge in basecamp, and ate some Sherpa tea and cooked noodles. We talked of our plan to reach to high camp and return back to Langmale during the night. All the people advised that it will be difficult to travel upto high camp and return the same day. The travel to high camp would involve walking along the gacier and we were not rightly equipped that day. It was in this day, that I first say glacier. In my imagination, a glacier would be a bunch of ice packed together. But, to my utter surprise, a glacier was rubbles of mud and stone, and had ice beneath them. Even with all the suggestions, we were reluctant to step behind and were determined to go to the high camp. And, thus we moved again our walk to the glacier.

Seto Pokhari Glacial lake, the origin of the Barun river

My guide was a fun man- he was talker and was of my age, and we made a good company. He shared his experiences as a kitchen assistant where, he has traveled upto camp II in Mount Everest. It was a tireful day, and though high camp was not that far- it was in real a difficult trek. You would have to find your way through rubbles which didn’t have any single path, and it was all stony that the base of your feet hurt. After reaching to the Japnese camp, which was nothing but the rubbles again- named after a group of Japanese climbers who used the area for camping, we thought is wise to hit back the roads again.

Way to high camp included hops from one stone to another

We were already tired and with no logistics at high camp, we had to get back. So, we travelled back again that day to Langmale. It was comparatively short once on our way back and with all the tiredness,  went to the bed early.

The next day, we were to study the glacial lake at Langmale- West Barun glacial lake. The lake was huge and it met the Barun River at the end. This glacier lake was fed up from the glaciers from Peak VI and VII. The Lake was long and elongated. The anterior end was at the base of the peak near Shershong. The lateral end of the moraine ran paralllely with Barun river- which posed a great risk for the glacier lake, if the Barun river was even to find its way to the lake through the moraine. As per the locals, the lake few decades back contained , but has started to grow in size ever since, and therefore is considered one the the dangerous glacier lakes in Nepal. We measured the mass of overhanging ices,  measured the water flow and other parameters in the lake.

West Barun Glacier Lake
West barun glacier lake

The sahuni at Langmale was one of the most influential person that I met on the trip.  She reminded me of my grandmother, and I felt nostalgic. Even so of the age, she was living all by herself at the altitude- bold and fearless! She had tens of yaks and naks and a hotel to run, and a lots of stories to share. She proudly talked about her sons- who were running mountain climbing agencies and/or hotels. And, about her daughter- who is a climber!

Next day, we walked the meadows again- alternating between juniper and rhododendron shrubs, potentilla flowers. I was really enjoying these trips after 4000m now. The climbs were gentle and much easier, unlike in the mid hills where the climbs were steep and a pain on the legs. And, what more- we were fully acclimatized now. Having spent around two weeks in the mountains, I felt like a Sherpa girl- running and hopping here and there and it was easy. From now on, it was easier to find animal tracks and feces. And, with Alton’s expertise in Makalu, identification would come easy by. We managed to come across and collect multiple samples of animals feces for them to analyze later in the lab. Next stop for us was Shershong- just a few hours from Langmale. At the crevassing end of the West  Barun glacial Lake. Again in Shershong, there were no any tea houses for shelter. But, it was pleasant as the other places. And, it was here that I saw my first avalanche- they were so frequent. In books and movies, they were described so dangerously, that every sound I hear would give me goosebumps. But, as I got accustomed, it was rather something to enjoy- that you could see and hear the force of the ice masses, and yet know that you are completely safe and sound.

Our camp at Shersong.

The next day, we moved on to our final destination- the base camp of the Mt. Makalu. It was seated at the foot of the mountain and it was the origin of the Barun River- from Seto Pokhari glacial lake. It was around 5000m and the vegetation were getting smaller and diminished- for to survive in this altitude was harsh.

Towards Makalu Base camp: with Makalu in view

In the base camp, we met a group of climbers- who had just returned after their Makalu summit. And, it was a living dream- to meet the summiteers. The group of around 10 peoples, with their team had just returned after their attempt in the Makalu. Some of them had reached the peak while other went till the last camp, and had to return-waiting next year to do the climb again!  While we were having troubles even in 4500m, I couldn’t even imagine what goes out there in 8000m-pheww!! I wonder what keeps the climbers motivated.  Is it just the feeling of being at the top? Or is there something else? Hearing out their discussions, a part of me was already dreaming of climbing the mountains-  but then, I realized beauty of few things should be felt on their existence, not just the accomplishment over them.   Having said so, I haven’t completely given up the idea of climbing someday, but I would like to do it amateurly- someday- just a small peak or so. A fantasy here!!

The climbers were waiting for a heli to come by and pick them up out of the Makalu, they were too tired to do the Shipton pass again. It took them 3 days of waiting for a heli to finally come by, and in these time I got to hear a lot of their stories. Some of them were very accomplished climbers. After their adventurous stories, I was again hit by the idea of trying high camp again. And, it will be just a day trip this time, and everyone was sure that we could easily do this year. Next day, we started out of three peoples. Me, Mauli dai- our head guide and my previous companion- Hem Rai. On my special request, I got noodles for lunch that day.

Then we started, again the same stony, glaciers, but we were determined this time. The carrying of goods by the expedition team was not over yet- there was frequent movement of peoples. And the happy children that I talked about before- were all carrying head load as heavy as themselves and in that difficult terrain. This was unbelievable to me, I felt weak and spoilt. While I was engaged in personal contentment of the luxurious travel, there were these kids- skipping their schools for such hardships. How unfair the world is, in actual. Even with loads, the kids and the elders were swift and efficient- they managed their pace without complains. With mixed feelings, we moved on- and, I admit it now and ever- it was one of the most difficult journey of my life. Even though I was persistent, it was reaching an extreme. It was my second attempt and there was no way that I give it up. I used to ask the every person we meet about the distance and everything. At the point while I was about to give up, we took up a long rest. And, to my surprise, my team was all well-equipped. They made a warm cup of coffee and a medicine to go with. I felt relived and we continued our uphill journey. As we approached towards the high camp, we could see the remnants of human even in the remotest place of the country.

Getting there- finally!!

Climbing permits are in general very very expensive, and while they are issued it is made clear that all the garbages should be carried back. If it were by the individual climbers, the problem would not have been there, but, since climbing is a millions dollar business, operated by the climbing companies- the garbage remain unattended. Speaking the truth, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected- the garbage were stocked in the pits- around 12 of them. But, still the garbage looked so alien in such a pristine land.  Had there been effective patrolling by the national park, this wouldn’t have been the case. But, in limited resources that our national parks operate with- climbing to this altitude for monitoring is definiately impractical.

So, after spending around an hour just an inch away from Makalu, we traced out journey back again. My head felt tired with a climb of 800m that day, and gave me a sense of what an altitude sickness, We rushed downhill and I took the medicine again. Finally, we safely arrived at around 5 to the base camp.

Our journey, next day was now a return trip. Our plan was to reach yangle Kharkha with a hope that the yarsa collectors have started coming back again. Return was relatively wasy now, as the places and landscapes were familiar and we had a sense of accompolishment within us. We stayed at Langmale Sahuni guest house that day and back to Yangle Kharkha the next day. Having stayed in Yangle 3 overnights, Yangle was like a home to me. I met girls of my age and after, what seemed like ages, I had friends to share my gigglings and friends to go for baths with. We walked in the forest looking after Yarsagumpa and talking about the life in the mountains. Most of them were younger to me and were already married!

While getting back to our research , the snow was still there. Each day of ours in the mountains was expensive, and thus, there was no way that we could extend it. We had already extended it once, receiving the money from Kathmandu through Heli and having  our porters to get to Sedhuwa and bring the food stuffs up again. But, we were in no position to repeat that again. So, we had to come up with alternate. We decided that we can travel to one of the harvesting site and analyze the impacts from last year. And, it made so much sense. If the impact of yarsa harvesting was huge, the ones from last yeat would definiately still be there. And, if there are no any significant impacts, then we could say that the yarsagumba harvesting does anything but good to the local economy.

Yarsa hunting. Photo: Dawa Sherpa

So, in this quest, we went to one of the harvesting camp, right up of Yangle- at Asamasa. We used our fiends Dawa as a guide, and we hurried upwards. It involved steep up again, and the vegetation changed as we went up and up. Starting from the forest of fir, we slowly moved towards shrub rhododendrons and finally upto bushes only. Even though, we could only see the hill top from Yangle, Asamasa was a heaven. When I watched the film “Bahubali”, I could relate the topography potrayed in the film. Asamasa again had gentle slopes and hills and was vast in size. The most amazing part was the view from Asamasa. In a clear day, you could see Makalu right in the north and the Kanchanjunga range in the north east. Another favourite part was the clouds, they would change within seconds, up and down, up and down. In Asamasa, we did our plots again. As per our local guide- Dawa, this place harboured hundreds of harvesters last year. We looked hard for signs of hundreds of people- and, virtually there were none, apart from rhododendron bushes used as fuelwood. At the end, it made sense to us. Given the fact that the nepali people live and travel simply, it was expected that the disturbance in terms of pollution and extravagance would be none. And, further the yarsa of the east is not as valuable and as widespread as in werst, and thus ecological disturbance were limited.

View of Mt. Makalu from Asamasa

However, this was not  the complete story. We , thorough interviews and field works, documented illegal hunting of wild animals and birds. Having spent another three days in Asamasa, we climbed back down to Yangle. Our trip was almost to an end, and our next team in Everrest was waiting for us to join. However, we were not sure if we could make it. Monsoon season had started , and clouds were unpredictable. We packed up everything morning and waited for heli to arrive. After waiting from 8 to 11 in the after noon, the helicopter finally arrived and started another journey to the base of top of the world!!

Here comes the ride to the Everest.

After completing the trip, I feel greatly indebted towards Alton Byers and Elizabeth Byers- for  helping with all my queries, making me observant and curious, for all the first time experiences that I had and for being wonderful mentors during and after the trip.  For making me the part of this trip- my sincere gratitude is extended to Mr. Dhanajay Regmi and the team of Himalyan Research Expeditions: which aims to train and provide experience to Nepali students to work in the high altitude. What HRE is doing to making research in high altitude such an ease is something out of the bucket. Cheers!!


Eastern Odyssey

When it comes to travel, for me, it was mostly my work that got me into travel. When I was in Heatuda for my job at Timber Corporation of Nepal,  I saw it as one of the best time to explore the Eastern Terai. No matter which part, Nepal definitely has it own charms, but terai has always been so amusing to me. Being a hill-girl, the never ending plains with colorful fields, multi-colored attires of people, the lively evening markets, the rich bio-diversity, Terai is just my kind of place- let’s ignore the heat! So, when I was planning my own travel in the Eastern end and was proposed of the same idea by my brother in his motorbike- I found no reasons to say no to. And, in a day we made our plan to explore the Eastern terai in Motorbike. So, following is the description of the travel in Rabin dai’s words:

It was an abrupt decision. The initial idea was to travel into the heart of the Mithilia civilization and explore the mythical city of Janakpur. However, discussing the general route of the trip the idea was generated to explore beyond Janakpur and to go to the Koshi Tappu, in search of the Arna, the wild buffalo.

The journey started from the capital city. It was a lonely but adventurous journey through to Hetauda. Bidhya was waiting in her office. Once the bags were packed in the foresty campus hostel we were all set to explore the Terai in 500 cc classic Royal Enfield. Our first stop was in the Hetauda itself for kaja break and to plan the most unplanned trip of lifetime. As we were discussing the route, heavy rain started to pour and Bidhya brought the idea to travel up to Dharan.

The road to the Pathlayia was bumpy but the road in between the Chure range gave a pleasant viewing. The lush green forest on the side of the road and dried riverbed gave a amusing feeling. We were both wondering how the river can be dry in the middle of the rainy season. Journey from there onwards was eventful with passing through thick forest, viewing the much vaunted fast track in Nijgadh and reached Janakpur around 7 p.m. The first thing to be noticed in Janakpur or in any Terai city is the people. There are so many people in the street. Also, the streets are lively and vibrant. The other thing about the terai city is the amount of pollution. May be it is because of the large population living in a small amount of land.

Although, Jankpur is one of the major tourist attractions of the country, there are very few hotels. We stayed in the Sita Palace Hotel near the Ram Janaki Mandir. The room rent was high for the service it. But the food was worth it. There is something truly good about the terai daal. Also, the chiya stall in terai is not to be missed.

Posing with Janaki temple in the background

The expectation and reality about the Janaki Mandir was in stark contrast. We thought that it will be segregated from the main bazzar but the market place has engulfed it. Also, we could not learn much about the temple due to the lack of information boards in the temple. Likewise, we thought that temple would be ancient and would reflect Mithilia culture and way of living but the temple was modern in comparison with other ancient temples of Nepal. Also, the ponds in Jankpur are the Sanjivini for the people. They worship there, they bath there, they wash their clothes over there and they also throw their garbage in the same pond.

We as a country have not been able to take the strategic advantage of the Janakpur importance. Janakpur should be developed as cultural city reflecting the Mithilian way of life. Also, while travelling around the city in mayuri and visiting other temples, we were disappointed. Temples were not as grandeur as their name suggested. Overall, Janakpur could not provide what we expected the ancient city would provide.

Inside the temple of Dhanusadham

The next stop was Dhanusha Dham. The bow shaped architecture below a 500 years old tree, the opening in the ground which gives view to the inner water surface level inside earth and the rural setting of Dhanush temple gave the historical importance to the Dhanusha Dham. But the lack of informational materials and unwillingness to help of the local people left a very bad taste. After visiting the temple, we wanted to visit the “Jungle Garden” and asked for direction with local people. There were different directions each time we asked a new person so we gave up on our quest to find the jungle garden. While returning to east west way high we passed through the village town. One fascinating thing was they kept their cattle in front of their house. Usually in the hilly region they are kept in the back of the house so the front becomes clean. But the fronts of terai house were full of muck and urine from the cattle.

Koshi Wildlife Reserve was one of the most joyous experiences of the trip. We could take our bike inside the reserve, so we covered most of the distance. On our first stop we saw a group of wild buffaloes. We were excited as we made this trip to see the Arna. The animals had features of wild buffaloes but we were skeptic about it. In another spurs we asked to the army guards about the buffaloes and showed them our photos. They immediately recognized the animal said that they were cross between wild buffaloes and domestic ones. Our excitement level was down and we again ventured into other spurs to catch a glimpse of real wild buffalo.

With Koshi river in sight!!

After passing few spurs we spotted a couple of deer but our elusive Arna was not sighted yet. Then suddenly it happened as we were moving to the end point of the reserve. There was a magnificent beast looking straight at us from the dense canopy. The strong gaze, the massive horns, the regal size of the animal mesmerized us. After that, we further spotted two Arna in the next spur. Also, we encountered the unknown animal which looked like neel gai and endangered vulture species. When returning from the end point, we found the Arna right in the middle of spur looking directly at us. We were able to see the animal in open space for the first time. Overall, Koshi Tappu provided us what we expected us. As this was the rainy season there were no migratory birds. Our sole purpose was to see the Arna and we got good sighting of the animal.

The majestic wild beast finally gives a glance to us

It was around 8 in the evening when we reached the Dharan bazaar. Half the bazaar was already slept. Finding a good hotel in the city was struggle for us at the time. We searched through the internet but there was not much to find. We stayed in one of the hotel which had a good review but after entering into the hotel we realized that the reviews were mostly done by the good friends of the hotel. The next day we woke up to find there was no water in the bathroom. Like a freaky travelers, we exited from the hotel without washing up and headed for the Bhedetar. When we reached there, we saw the board there which suggested that Rajarani was only 20 km away. One of my batch mates works in Rajarani and I rang him up. He said that Rajarani is way better than Bhedetar. So, after munching a breakfast we headed straight for Rajarani without visiting the Charles tower. The road to the Rajarani was graveled and it took us about an hour to reach there. We visited the Rani lake and the park with the fall. Nestle in the Mahabharat range, Rajarani provides the cool break from the summer heat of terai. It is in infant stage for the tourist attraction and if the road is black topped it will be one of the popular destination. When we were about to return, we saw a small haat bazaar. It was such a lively place with local produce. We grabbed a banana and local grapes that had seed inside it. Also, we tasted the green black pepper. All in all, we were happy that we visited Rajarani.

Hatt Bazzar at Lahan

Our journey ended from Rajarani and we started a journey back to our places. On the way back, we visited the famed Buddasubbha temple, BPKHIS, Biratnagar and Dhuabi. We stopped in Lahan for the night and visited the local market. The market had varieties of local produce and we tried a jackfruit. It was delicious. Also, we tried the badam shake which was amazing. Early in the next morning we returned to Hetauda, left Bidhya there and returned to Kathmandu through Daman.


Travelling without any plan was one of the funs of the journey. Likewise, whizzing past the vehicles in a speed of 100 and the company of Tuku made the journey memorizing. In the end it was not about the destination, it was all about the journey in between.

Rhododendrons of Makalu Barun National Park

A group of primitive flowering plants, Rhododendrons are an important ecological and economic plant species distributed in temperate, sub alpine and alpine areas. Rene De Milleville has described 31 species of Rhododendrons from Nepal. It is a well know fact that Eastern Himalayas are the heart of Rhododendrons and the Rhododendron lovers. My travel to Makalu Barun last May was filled with colours of Rhododendron which made the journey marvelous and amazing.

Before the trip, the only color that came to mind when I used to think of Rhododendron was dark red or the pink, the colour of R. arboreum, and that’s what we normally think. But, this travel made my thinking of Rhododendron not only in the color but also in shape, size and habitats.

If you are an amateur or a professional botanist and fond of Rhododendrons- Makalu could just be the right place for you.

        1) Rhododendron hodgsonii

  1. Rounded shrub or a small tree. The tree is unmistakable owing to large sized leaves and whitish colored smooth bark. Flowers are of pale pink or magenta pink colored.P1090438
  2. 2) Rhododenron campanulatum
  3. Shrub of about 2-6m. Flowers are mauve to rosy-purple, purple-spotted within.DSCN3230
  4. 3) Rhododendron arboreum
  5. Robust tree with reddish brown bark and has red, pink or white flowers. It is the national flower of Nepal.rhododendron arboreum
  6. 4) Rhododenron campyolocarpum
  7. It is a shrub that grows to 2–3 m in height, with small leathery leaves. Flowers are yellow in color.DSCN3247
  8. 5) Rhododendron cinnabarinum
  9. A shrub of 2.5m, this species has trumpet shape drroping flowers of deep red colour.DSCN3215
  10. 6) Rhododenron fulgens
  11. A shrub from 1.5 to 4m in height. Though very similar to R. thompsonii, this species could easily be identified during flowering as the bells are smaller and the leaves are scurfy at the back.P1090446
  12. 7) Rhododendron thompsonii
  13. Similar to R. fulgens but has bigger bells and the leaf back is galucous.P1090460
  14. 8) Rhododendron wightii
  15. A shrub upto 4m height, this species go upto the tree line in sub-alpine zone. Flowers are pale yellow with spotted crimson at base. The leaves are pointed on the end.P1090451
  16. 9) Rhododendron anthopogan
  17. This species known as ‘Sonpati’ with economical and cultural value. With its pleasant smell, various types of incense and tea are made from its leaves and flowers. A shrublet upto 60cm in height. With R. anthopogan, the whole hills will have an aromatic and pleasant smell.DSCN4733
  18. 10) Rhododenron lepidotum
  19. Also a shrublet, this species comes in various leaf sizes and flower colors and is adaptable in wide range of habitats. Flower comes in various colors ranging from yellow, pink  to purple color.DSCN4525
  20. 11) Rhododendron setosum
  21. Low dense shrub upto 50cm. Gregarious and often found with R. anothopogan in hill slopes, the pink-purple flowers of this species are widely funnel shaped.P1090498
  22. 12) Rhododendron nivale

    It is a highest altitude alpine shrub with small leaves and lavender, magnets or pink flowers.

    DSCN3936We were able to encounter all the twelve flowering species of Rhododendrons in a single season. Be it the understorey of Oak/ Fir forest or carpeted alpine meadows, these beautiful flowers add up to the majestic view of the area. If you are thinking about the trek to Makalu, thinking of observing Rhododenrons in back of your mind; then, May-June would be a pleasant time. Not only Rhododendrons, the national park will greet with other beautiful flowers of Poppy, Primula, Potetilla and many many mores.

    Identification of all the flowers were provided by the Elizabeth Byers.

Primroses of Makalu and Khumbu

A collection of Primula from our recent trip to Makalu and Khumbu in June/July of 2016  is presented over here. Even though monsoon is not considered a best time for travel, but if you are looking for something other than just mountains, monsoon is such an pleasant time. What more, as Alton Byers puts it, once you cross 4000m, the monsoon doesn’t hit you so hard and no leeches once you reach high—just the flowers and the mountain views!! All the identification for the all photographs are done by Elizabeth Byers. I used to just click the photographs of flowers that came in my way. Primroses were the wonders during our journey- in variety of color and so abundant; especially in the highly grazed areas. From the first primrose that I came across to the ones that we searched under the caves- they beauty never failed to amaze me. The most memorable primrose that I encountered was during the Lhotse Glacier Flood. During the flood, we were stuck in the one end of the river and had it find the way to the other side of the river- towards the lodges. In doing so, we had to cross through the river through the mouth of the flood. It was really scary to walk over the flood path, when you know that it could flood anytime again! And, as we were starting the dangerous leap- it was like a good luck that a beautiful primula under a big boulder has managed to escape the flood and greeted us. I will never forget the smile that this Primrose brought in my face even in such a difficult time.

  1. Primula caveana (4500-6500m)


White form of P. caveana
Normal form of P. caveana

This Primula occurs below large overhanging rocks. Quite common in Rolwaling and Khumbu areas, they are small plants with pale purple flowers with yellow eyes. I was quite fond this flower during the trip as I remember while crossing the stream bank with a recent englacial flood from Lhotse glacier, I saw these flowers bright and beautiful under the rocks- that kindled a ray of hope within us.

2) Primula concinna (4000-5000m)

P. concinna

This is a tiny plant with pink, mauve or white flowers. I was able to take the photograph on the way to Gokyo from Machhermo in Sagarmatha National Park. And, it was also photographed from

3) Primula denticulata/ atrodentata (1500-4500m)

P. denticulata/ atrodentata

These two species of Primula share most of the characters, habitat and morphology. Therefore, an accurate identification would require uprooting of the plant. P. atrodenta would lack the persistent bud-scales during flowering. While in P. denticulata will bear the persistent bud-scales.

4) Primula dickiyena

P. dickiyena

I took this photograph in Yangle Kharkha of Makalu Barun National Park around at the altitude of 3500m.

5) Primula hooker

P. hooker

I photographed this Primula in way to Asamasa from Yangle Kharkha at around 3800m altitude.

6) Primula macrophylla (3300 to 4800m)

P. macrophylla

We observed, this one was the most common. They are often gregarious and have purple, violet or lilac flowers with a darker eyes. It was photographed from Imja Lake and Phortse- Macheermo trail n Sagarmatha National Park.


7) Primula megalocarpa (3600-4800m)


P. megalocarpa

This flower is very similar to P. macrophylla but has paler pinkish, mauve, lilac or white flowers. This was again photographed in Phortse- Machhermo trail and also from Renjo La in Sagarmanth.

8) Primula petiolaris

P. petiolaris

This variety was recorded from Makalu Barun National Park in the trails of Kongma to ThuloPokhari.

8) Primula rotundifolia

P. rotundifolia

Distinguished from its rounded heart shaped or kidney shaped, toothed leaves with copious yellow farina underside. We were able to photograph this species in the sections of trail from Pnagboche to Gokyo through Phortse, Phortse Tenga, Dhole, Labarma, Macheermo and in Gokyo as well.

9) Primula scapigera

P. scapigera

This was the first Primula that I saw, and it only once in our entire trek. We observed it on the way to Kongma from Dandakharka in Makalu Barun National Park.

10) Primula sikkimensis (3300 to 4400m)

P. sikkimensis

With yellowish flowers, this was also a common Primrose that we encountered. Gregarious and common in wet places. Its abundance was relatively higher in highly grazed areas. This particular photograph was taken in Thame of Sagarmatha National Park.

11) Primula stromosa

P. stromosa

The yellow colored flowers of this Primula was photographed in the section of down-hill from Thulo-Pokhari to Dobato in Makalu.

12) Primula walshii (4200-5000m)


P. walshii

This flower is not common in Nepal, and has pink flowers with yellow eye. In our collection, they are recorded from Dingboche, Thame and Renjo Pass of Sagarmatha National Park.

13) Primula wollastonii


P. wollastonii

With bell shaped dark purple or blue flowers covered with farina, they are often drooping in nature. We have a picture of this plant from Labharma-Machermo trek on a stream bank. This one is my favourite- it is so different and was relatively uncommon in our travel.

All the identification of the flowers were either done using the book- Flowers of the Himalaya or mostly through the expert identification by Elizabeth Byers- to whom I am highly grateful. Feel free to contact me for correction or any more information that you can record from Khumbu and Makalu.

Living with fear of GLOF in Khumbu

The district where the ‘top of the world’ lies is divided into two parts—lower Solu and upper Khumbu. The larger river that descends through Khumbu is the Dudh Koshi which originates at Gokyo Lake. The Dudh Koshi meets the Imja Khola, which begins at a glacial lake named Imja Tsho, near Phortse. The Imja Tsho, situated at an elevation of 5,100m, is formed by the waters of the Lhotse Shar, Imja and Amphu glaciers. Other glacier-fed rivers from the Lhotse Nup and Lhotse glaciers meet the Imja Khola near Dingboche. Similarly, the Bhote Koshi that comes from Tibet meets the Dudh Koshi below Namche Bazaar. In this way, there are three major river valleys in Khumbu.

Last month, I was part of a research project titled Science-Based, Community-Driven Approach to Reducing Glacier Lake Outburst Flood Risks in the Nepal Himalaya. Team members in the project, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, included engineers, geographers, anthropologists and graduate students from the US and Nepal. The project is committed to better understanding both the human and physical dimensions of glacial lakes, glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF), impacts on downstream communities and risk reduction strategies.

In 1985, the Bhote Koshi experienced a GLOF from Dig Tsho Lake that washed away a nearly completed hydropower plant, took the lives of four people and destroyed many homes and agricultural fields. The scars of the Langmoche flash flood are still visible in the villages of Thame and Thame Tenga and in the memories of local people. Imja Tsho is considered to be one of the 21 most dangerous glacial lakes in Nepal. It is filled with 75 million cubic metres of water that is held in by a fragile, unconsolidated terminal moraine of loose boulders and rocks. Even though our research team felt that Imja would be safe from ice avalanches from nearby peaks for at least another 15 to 20 years, a devastating GLOF could still be triggered by an earthquake, landslide or moraine collapse, which is why Imja remains in the ‘dangerous’ category.

It was an astounding trip for our team, as not only were we studying GLOFs and ways to help communities reduce their risk, but we actually saw and filmed one of them from the Lhotse glacier! The flood that we saw is different from a GLOF and is called an ‘englacial conduit flood’, where the hundreds of caves and tunnels within the glacier become filled with water that is suddenly released when the right trigger occurs, in this case, the melting of the ice and sudden release of cave water into other conduits and surficial lakes downstream.

A similar flood occurred in May 2015 and spread panic throughout Khumbu when people started calling their friends and saying that Imja Tsho had burst! The village of Chukung barely escaped then, and it was only saved this year by gabion walls that had been constructed through the initiative of a local NGO, the Khumbu Alpine Conservation Committee. Though the minor flood in the Lhotse Glacier was of concern only to Chukung, the fear of Imja Tsho extends all the way down. One of my colleagues Sonam Phuti Sherpa said that during the Lhotse flood last year, a lodge owner at Dingboche refused to flee saying that if the flood washed away his lodge, he would not be able to repay the loan he took to build it, so there was no sense in running and saving himself.

Even though there have been times when I was sceptical about the existence of climate change, it was at this point, when we could hear the rubble falling as the glacier kept melting, and after we had witnessed an actual glacier flood, that I realised how wrong I had been the whole time. It was a hard fact for me to believe that four decades ago, Imja was still a glacier with a couple of small melt water ponds on its surface. Now, it is 1km long, 0.5km wide and 150m deep, and contains millions of cubic metres of water.  How can one be a climate change denier in the face of this?

Imja Lake in Khumbu. Photo by: Alton C. Byers, University of Colorado at Boulder.

On this same trip, I was lucky to witness and learn about the project that is currently lowering the water level at Imja Tsho. For someone who had not seen a motor vehicle for two months, it was an astonishing moment to see an excavator working at the terminal moraine outlet of Imja Tsho. The project, which is funded by the UNDP and the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology and implemented by the Nepal Army and Himalayan Research Expeditions, aims to lower the depth of the lake by 3 metres. However, a glaciologist in our team Dr David Rounce said that the lake needed to be lowered by at least 20 metres to reduce the hazards of GLOF significantly. Dr Alton C Byers, who has been working in Khumbu for more than 30 years, said, “reducing the lake by 3 metres may not reduce the hazard significantly, but it will definitely develop the capacity of a Nepali workforce that is capable of working at such high altitudes and difficult terrain and climate.”

Likewise, anthropologist Dr Milan Shrestha said, “Villagers living downstream face a lot of uncertainties and they are fearful of potential GLOF hazards. Although a community-based participatory approach would be more ideal, the villagers are somewhat relieved by the fact that the Army is lowering Imja Tsho by 3 metres.” Though the work initiated and carried out by the UNDP and the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology is commendable, similar work should be extended to other lakes that have been classified as dangerous for GLOF hazards, especially those above highly populated regions and hydropower plants that are being built or are already in existence.

Sharma is a recent graduate from Institute of Forestry, Pokhara

This article was also published in a National Newspaper Daily with the title Himalayan Hazards on 9th August, 2016.

Looking Back at the Lakes of the Lake City

I am quite certain that I must have had one of the most fascinating childhood one can have. Growing up in the city of lakes, with one just on your sight everyday is not something that everyone is blessed with. What more, I was even more privileged by not just by the beautiful lakes but also  were the majestic mountains to go together with, making it one of the most amazing sight one can have on the earth. I am sometimes asked upon about how it feels to wake up with the view of lakes and Himalayas everyday and about if it doesn’t get boring soon after. Well, for me even after living in the moment for more than 15 years now, there was never a day when I was not charmed and captivated by the beauty of the lake and the mountains.  18-jpg                   Phewa lake at its best with the mountains. By: Pokharacity.com

So, by now if you know about Nepal or visited the country, I am sure you must have definitely known where I come from. Yes, I come from Pokhara, the city of lakes and I grew alongside the Phewa lake. Pokhara is famous as the city of seven lakes, and thus is an important wetland area of the country. The city’s economy is dependent on the tourism that is in turn based on the lake. Lake has been a source of income either directly or indirectly for a large number of people ranging from hotel and restaurants, shops to boating and fishing. Thus, it is common saying that the lakes are heart of Pokhara.

Woman Fishing Boat Phewa Tal Pokhara Nepal
Fishing and boating are primary source of income for people living nearby the lakes. 

However, with growing population and increasing global problems, the heart of Pokhara valley also faces severe problems. I remember from childhood about the place, how different everything has been. The alleys around the lake were quieter, the lake was bigger and the place was more warm and beautiful. But with urbanization and Pokhara being the trade center for adjoining districts, the place is now booming with population and problems of pollution, sedimentation on the lake, loss of bio-diversity and lake encroachment are on rise. The lake doesn’t have the same deep green color that was 15 years back, the lake is not as transparent as it used to be and the lake now remains fully covered with the water hyacinth. The lake remains muddy for half of the year because of the sedimentation washed away along the rivers from upstream areas. The soaring number of paragliding companies and the adventure tourists have severely encroached the habitat of migratory birds and they have now limited to one edge of the lake.

Problem of water hycinth rising in the Phewa Lake. Credit:The Himalayan Times

Though I have been observant on the cases of just Phewa Lake, the scenario is similar to any other wetland areas of Pokhara or of Nepal. The other major in Pokhara i.e. Begnas and Rupa also face the problem of sedimentation and encroachment. Similarly, the other smaller lakes like Khaste and Depang are struggling even for their mere existence. Thus this is an urgent need that the lakes where the economy of one of the major city area of Nepal is dependent should have received attention in terms of their conservation and sustainable use.

Problem of drainage and pollution in Phewa lake. Credit: Pragati Shahi

There is no denying in the fact that there are numerous institutions and agencies that are working in the issues of Phewa lake. Few months back, I was assisting in a PhD work from University of Melbourne where I was discussing with the local peoples on the topic of Phewa Lake where I was made aware about the fact that no matter how many organization are working or how big the project is, because of the lack of co-ordination between them, the goal of sustainably managing the lake is yet far to be reached.

Khaste lake in the verge of extinction due to encroachment.

 Recently, declaration of the lakes of Pokhara valley in Ramsar Wetland Sites is one of the positive things that we can hope for. This international declaration not only makes the local people sensitized but also will attract the government bodies and the international communities in their conservation. Being a student of science, I believe that an effective and sound conservation needs and goals should be set after having clear prospect on the problems. Thus in order to help in conservation and sustainable development of Phewa and other associated lakes research targeting the biodiversity and extent of various problems would be a good way forward. Together with the study, I equally have an opine that a proper sensitization of local peoples is of utmost importance.

Earthquake, Wildlife and Habitat- The Possible Linkages!!

By Bimala Badu and Bidhya Sharma

Recent series of earthquakes, with almost 4 or 5 hitting the country every day ranging from smaller to the devastating ones  has been obviously a global concern. I have never been so scared all over my life to this extent. Many of the people are in the same situation too. From shaky grounds, food items, the shelter, the upcoming monsoon to health issues, the faulty rumors are few topics that almost all the people in the country are fearing about. Of course, there are dozens of sectors that the earthquake will be linked with from health, economy, politics, education, agriculture and many more. But, among the all possible linkages the concern with environment and wildlife has drawn much of my interest.

In comparison to the direct linkages that can be related to the health and economy, the relation of environment, forest and wildlife is rather in an indirect way but it a very basic thing. A large number of families have lost their houses and in some places entire villages are flattened. In the times like this, the forest areas are eyed by everyone to build new shelters as well as to find a new area for settlement. Though, people are looking for temporary shelters now, after monsoon is over then we can expect that a lot of forest areas would be invaluable as these areas are the assets during difficult times. But, a short term thinking would merely be enough. We can imagine the amount of deforestation that would occur in construction of thousands and thousands of houses around the country. As stated in a report by ICIMOD recently, that there has been around 3000 cases of landlsides around the affected areas, but with monsoon we all know the numbers will increase. And, it is not difficult to imagine what happens when the process is even triggered by the deforestation activities. More landslides would mean the larger death tolls, floods and other devastating cases that the country is not new with.

Of course, we agree that the indigenous and traditional practice are good ways utilize local knowledge, easier to operate and more likely to be easily accepted by the local community. But that doesn’t mean, we should opt out the other possibilities with more beneficial ends. So, with environmental issues and cheapness and ease in building, sand bag houses will be a very good option to deal with the situation (I will blog more about the sand bag houses later next time).

Right after the major hit when people started living outside their houses, I was wondering if there would be any cases of conflicts with wild animals. But, after a week the few cases of conflicts are reported. In an article published on the official website of Unicef Nepal, explains a case in Nuwakot district, where  the villagers fired the nearby forest area to scare off the wild animals, but they report hat the leopards then came visiting to the neighborhood, as its habitat was badly disturbed. Similar experience was reported from outskirt area of Karhmandu valley near Shivapuri-Nagarjun National Park, where people in tents sighted a leopard roaming around in the night. Apart from all other things, its also the wild animals that people are getting scared off. This is just the beginning of the things, we are yet to see the cases when deforestation occurs massively and the wildlife habitat gets patchy and fragmented. Nonetheless to talk about the crime cases of trade and hunting that may arise when the country’s major focus is shifted to something else more important.

But, personally I have a positive feeling about the impact of earthquake on nature and on biodiversity as a whole. No matter, how super the humans are with technology and stuffs, it has been proved that with nature’s force we are still nothing at all and can be destroyed within the seconds of time. In my view, because of all the earthquake scenario people have now developed more respect for the nature earth. Since, biodiversity as a whole is an essential part of the nature itself, there maybe chances that the people will develop respect for the biodiversity as a whole and hopefully, we may bring more positive changes in sector of understanding wildlife, habitat and their conservation.

Flying fox roost in Pokhara Valley

Bats are the amazing species of Earth especially the Indian Flying foxes, largest bat species of the country with chestnut color are the wonderful species to visit for.

Visit the roosting site of the Indian Flying fox, lying right under the nose of the beautiful Annappurna Himalayan Range and enjoy the combined majestic view of the bats and the Himalayas.

This way, you will be understanding the ecological role of the bats that lies very close to human settlement area and you will also be motivating the locals to conserve the species. Further, you can have a look into semi-urbanized lifestyle of the country.


Site details: Radha Krishna Tole, Chinnedanda, Pokhara

Further information, contact: info.bidhya@gmail.com

The Kite Runner


I hadn’t been quite into reading books when I got a copy of “The Kite Runner”. Right from its cover page and its prologue, the book was really interesting. At the first time, I couldn’t complete the whole of it as I lacked the opportunity to do so. But the next time I got, I read pages by pages until the end without any disappointment.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, the Bestselling author has beautifully portrayed the Kabul city beautifully.  Set in the country that is in the process of being destroyed, the book is all about friendship, relations – their love, their lies and their sacrifices.

Written in a simple but appealing manner, the book has won over many readers so has the Internationally Bestselling author, Khaled Hosseini and is worth a read. I have gone through it 3 times till now. Have you guys gone through it?

A visit to the Orphanage

Ever since I have joined Cloud factory as a Cloud worker, apart from the financial independence, I have learn many things regarding the behaviors, attitudes, moral and many more. After the completion of our 6th week, just as the other groups, our team also had to perform a social work. After looking for few options, we made our mind to have a brief visit to an orphanage named ” Rastriya Paropakar mahasangh, Nepal” located in Tutunga.


At around 4pm after gathering we headed to our spot where 16 young kids were waiting for us to join. Located near the seti river, the view we could see from there was majestic. With all greenery around and the sound of the flowing river along with sweet voices of the childrens was exactly what we were looking for. Upon talking to the resource persons, we found out that many other places are managed under the same organization and all the places are quite well managed. They had thier own school nearby where sanskrit was taught like veda and all. The childrens were well disciplined and we had light and cheerful talks with them and gave them the stuffs we brought.

Again, in the second part we visited another place under the same organization located at Phalepatan. They had around 9 kids in here and was managed by a very fine lady with a big smile round her face every time. The kids were studying very busily when we visited and again we had some talks with them. After again handing over the stuffs to them, we left the place promising them to visit them again in future.

Hence in this way, though in a small way we are glad that we could contribute a smile in the faces of those lovely children. Power-puff Girls!!! 😀