I first visited Dharan in 2001. I was on my way to Kimathanka, the remote and smallest village of Nepal by population bordering China. I stopped for a few days in Biratnagar, booked my air ticket to Tumlingtaar, and went to explore nearby towns of eastern Nepal. Dharan, Itahari and Birtamod. Back then my primary beat in journalism was Information and Technology. (The coverage got me CAN’s “Best IT Journalist Award- Nepali” in 2003.) So I wanted to get sense of the latest IT scene in that part of Nepal. Internet Cafes were recent phenomenon; connection was primitive and expensive. A lot of computer training institutes were sprouting everywhere targeting youths. I made it a point to visit Cyber cafes in all towns and computer institutes. Later, after coming back from Kimathanka with a cover story for Nepal magazine, I did a story on IT scene in eastern Nepal. The story was euphoriant (Title: पूर्वमा आइटीको रन्को) ।
Apart from checking in to a Cyber Cafe that was divided into several cabins and interviewing a friendly man who ran a Computer institute and a website on Dharan what I fondly remember about that trip is a relatively quick hike to the Bijaypur hill. Budha Subba was waiting for us. The mild mannered and soft spoken young boy who gave me a tour of the famed temple is now a staff reporter (sports) with the newspaper I work for.
Like many of my generation I had first heard about Budha Subba from one of my text books in school. The old man and his slingshot. The absentee crows and the unique bamboos. Then, not sure if it was mentioned in the text books, came another information about the temple with a romantic angle: lovers thronging in to the Budha Subba temple complex to carve their names on the bamboos nearby. The lovers were “attracted by the legend”, according to a magazine, “that writing the name of your beloved or tying threads blessed at the temple to one of the bamboo plants will bring luck and success to your relationship.” Every now and then the youth magazines like this or some other publications would come up with a story about the declaration of love on the woody stems of the tropical grass that blesses Nepali hills all over. The teen in me had understandably been excited by those stories and other hearsays. When I reached there, on the spot in 2001, I saw innumerable names carved on the bamboos. Coupled names were separated only by the + sign. I admired and took photos of what I saw. Continue reading