KATHMANDU, DEC 18 - Travelling—regardless of whether it is for a long vacation or a short trip—can be rejuvenating. A pre-planned journey, with a fixed itinerary, can be fun, but more fun in my opinion, are the spontaneously thought-up trips, those unrestrained by plans and schedules, that are exciting in their very uncertainty. It was such a trip that I found myself embarking on recently, which took me to Dharan in eastern Nepal. Dharan is a place you hear about all the time when in Kathmandu—movement to and from there is common—but having never been there myself, the unexpected opportunity to do so was wonderful.
It all started with a long and exhausting bus ride to my sister’s place in Biratnagar. The next morning, feeling better for the sleep I’d had, I asked her if there were any places nearby that I could spend the day visiting. I’m not sure what inspired her, but before I knew it, she was suggesting we go to Dharan instead. Caught up in her enthusiasm, I immediately grabbed my things, and we were soon out the door and at the bus stop. We didn’t discuss our impulsive decision, almost as if we were both afraid the other would suddenly decide to back out. It was like Dharan was beckoning us, and we were answering its unspoken call.
In a couple of hours, we got off the bus. Dharan. The sun was warm on my back as I looked around me. Dharan is something of a bridge between the Tarai and the hills, enjoying the best of both worlds. On the advice of a vendor at Bhanuchowk, we decided to take a look at the various religious landmarks that Dharan is known for—Pindeshwari, Dantakali, and Budha Subba. It was a good day for a walk, and as we made our way to these recommended spots, we noticed the kind of unique
architecture that the houses in the city boast, with thatched rooves and spread over the hill slopes.
Pindeshwari was rather isolated, aside from the beggars that were lined up outside. We didn’t dawdle for too long, however, and quickly made our way to Dantakali, approximately 10 minutes away on foot. It was an uphill road, and the higher we got, the more beautiful the perspective of the city. A pagoda-style temple soon came into view—the Dantakali. We were informed by a local woman there that this was where Sati Devi’s tooth was put on display for visitors, but we were unlucky in that the priest at the temple was not present that day. Then came Budha Subba, which we were told houses the icons of Budha Subba, and Budhi Subbini nearby, a brother and sister who had vanished in the area. Of course, as with most mythology, there exist different versions of the same story, and although I listened attentively, I knew that were I to come there another day, I would probably have been told a different tale.
After an entire day of visiting religious shrines and not eating properly, we realised we needed to get some food in us before we collapsed. We found a little hotel manned by an old woman who was serving dishes that were typical to the area, which we enjoyed greatly. Full and warm, we descended towards Dharanbazaar via a gravelled road that was lined with trees on both sides. Trying to maintain my balance, which wasn’t all that easy because I was too distracted by the view, I pointed out a red building in the distance, which my sister told me was the Ghopa Hospital. By the time we reached Dharanbazaar, it felt like a whole different world, packed as it was with people and vendors and surprisingly—instead of the rickshaws that one sees in places like Biratnagar and Itahari—three-wheeled tempos.
I might not have spent as long in Dharan as I would’ve liked, and certainly, my one-day sprint is hardly enough for me to say I know the place well enough. But it was very clear to me that this is a city that has plenty to offer, if only local authorities and the government saw fit to promote it well. Dharan waits for you; will you heed its call?
Posted on: 2012-12-19 08:46