I was in Dadeldhura on the day of Tika this Dashain. The small bazaar on the hill was closed as people were busy celebrating the festival. I had to spend my Tika day on the hill because I was stuck there. The road was empty. I waited for a day for the buses to ply so that I could move to the next destination. To kill time and my curiosity about the way people celebrate Dashain I wandered around the the almost deserted bazaar. A few people, with tika on their forehead and jamara clipped to their ears, were walking on the street. I presumed that they were moving towards their relatives’ homes. Some men wore beautiful garlands of jamara. That was a new sight to me. We don’t do that in the east. Later a friend of mine in Dadeldhura told me that only so called tallo jaat (lower caste) people, especially damai wear jamara garlands on the Tika day. I am not sure if that’s the truth but it was definitely a new sight to me. I liked the idea. I thought about large families. They need to grow a lot of jamara to get enough garlands for each member of the family.
I met them on Tuphan Danda (hill) of Dadeldhura. They were roaming around, like all kids do on such occasions like the day of Tika, after putting tika and garland of jamara. From Left: Bishesh Jairu, 10; Yubaraj Pariyar, 12; Bijay Jairu, 11; Bibek Jairu, 11. They are all 5th graders at Bhrikuti Namuna Primary School in Dadeldhura.
After taking thier group photo, I asked the boys if they wanted to pose in their own style. Bibek raised his hand and said he had some in his mind. This is what he did.
One of his postures for the camera.
Then Bijay came up with his arms spread.
Then it was the turn of Yubaraj to pose with his own style.
Soon there was some competition among the boys to pose with varieties of style for my camera.
Rockstars of Dadeldhura: This pose too was their idea, I just clicked.
Sagar Sinjapati is a student of 10th grade in nearby Mahendra Namuna Higher Secondary School.
Soon after I left the four kids on Tuphan Danda, I found Sagar in his home enjoying the festival with his relatives.
Near the Amar Gadhi (fort) this pair was having a quite lunch in the late afternoon on the day of Tika. The sun was shining bright and warmth, I suppose, was the primary reason for them to come outside to enjoy their food. I asked for their persmission to take their photo. The man happily agreed. “Linus, linus. Kina nahunu? [Yes, please. Why not?] Then he stopped eating, looked at my camera and gave a huge smile for amost 10 seconds. The lady, on the other hand, was reluctant. “No,” she said. “Don’t take.” A few seconds later she changed her mind perhaps because of the smile on her husband’s face. “Make it quick,” she said. I asked if they were married couple just to be hundred percent sure. They both confrimed with big smile and unanimous “yes”.
These two villages of Mahakali pari (beyond Mahakali) were connected to the mainland Nepal only in 2005 when the government built a 1452.96 meters long suspension bridge. The structure is quite a sight.
The suspension bridge is 12 kilometers away from Mahendranagar town and is connected by a dusty road.
A bike ride on the Chandani Dodhara suspension bridge over Mahakali river.
Purba Mechi dekhi paschim Mahakali samma. From Mechi in the East to Mahakali in the West.
That’s how Nepal is referred to whenever Nepalis talk about the geographical & political boundaries of their country. Beyond these two rivers is not the present day Nepal with the exception of two villages Chandni & Dodhara on the bank of Mahakali.
Last year I walked on the Mechi Pul (bridge) and crossed over to the Indian side. That was on the day of Maha Ashtami (the 8th day of Dashain festival).
This year I crossed the Mahakali river, for the first time, and walked into Nepal- again on the day of Maha Ashtami (the day before yesterday).
The most preferred mode of transportation while crossing the border is a Horse Cart. A ride to Mahendranagar from Banbasa (about 10 kilometers) cost Indian Rs. 60. Additional charges for heavy luggage. This video was taken on the Nepali side of the border soon after we crossed the Seema Surakshya Bal (Indian border security force for the border with Nepal) check post.
This Dadeldhura looks more beautiful than the one I had seen in my first visit mote than a decade ago. The sight of dense jungle just below Tuphan Danda together with a glimpse of snow-capped mountain is inviting. And there are so many hills that are experiencing the last rays of the sun for the day as I am typing this. Times have changed. There was no mobile phone network here let alone the GPRS connection (which is frustratingly slow btw). The town, at this time of the day, was dusty as part of the road wasn’t blacktopped.
There are a few people in bazaar now as the town is in festive mood and peaceful. Many hotels are closed, luckily this one let me in though the guy apologized to tell me that they will not be serving food. The room is nice- attached bath, TV, two beds with large quilts AND great view. I think I’ll stay here tomorrow as well as buses won’t be plying on the day of Tika to take me to my next destination.
Dadeldhura. Amarghadi hill.
Dinesh Wagle in Dadeldhura. Near Amargadhi (fort built by warrier Amar Singh)
Transmission tower of Amargadhi FM. There are three FM stations here including this one.
This is clearly one of the most uncomfortable bus journeys that I have undertaken in recent times. I have to spread my legs to form a huge V so as to avoid rubbing my knees on the back of the seat in front of me.
The bus is filled with Nepalis who are returning to their homes to celebrate Dashain festival. Some of them told me that they work as security guards in Delhi. That was what I had expected when I asked them about their jobs in the Indian capital.
Uncomfortable it is but I am happy that I am finally making this trip to Mahendranagar (or is it Bhim Datt Nagar?) from Delhi a reality. I always wanted to travel with these migrant workers, my fellow citizens. This overnight journey that began from Anand Vihar bus terminal in Delhi will end at Banbasa tomorrow morning.
I am sharing this seat with two young guys from Mahendranagar. One of them says he spent three months in Delhi working at an office. He said he didn’t intend to return without completing his college education.
Many of my co-passengers were engaged in animated conversations until a while ago. “Ashtami ko din ghar pugine vaiyo” said the boy seated next to me.
Meanwhile a Nepali folk song is blaring somewhere at the back of the bus.