The essence of travelling lies in exploring the lesser walked paths and non-mainstream places. The discoveries and experience one can have on reaching the less popular places are more authentic and enchanting. Surprisingly and gladly, my work has lead to some of the most beautiful places of such kind, one of them being Khanigaun village of Parbat district in the Western Development Region of Nepal.
Lying 64 km from Pokhara, with its headquarters at Kusma, Parbat district is famous for the longest suspension bridge in South Asia. I remember crossing the bridge 4 years earlier with my family, and we were literally worn out while reaching the other end. This time though, we decided to just go around Kusma bazaar shortly before heading to Khanigaun village, which was our destination.
Kusma Bridge: the longest bridge in Nepal
Apparently, the village, which we were under the impression to be at a distance of an hour or an hour and a half away took us 3 hours to reach because the roads, which we imagined to be perfectly pitched, turned out to be very dusty and under construction. However, the drive to the village provided us with stunning views.
As we reached late in the evening, we saw our hosts waiting with their torches near a small shop lit with the help of inverters due to load shedding. We were welcomed very warmly and with a lot of concern for our delayed arrival. The warmth of the villagers really touched our hearts. So, under a starry sky and through power cut houses, we made our way to our host’s home for the night.
Our hosts served us warm dinner. We had to share the room with the mother and daughter, but despite the limited facilities, their hospitality was really great. The bed was covered with new sheets, and new blankets were kept for us. A baby goat was tied to the side of our bed along with harvested rice on the other side. The house was made of mud, so every time any one walked downstairs, the room shook, reminding us of minor earthquakes. Crawling up and down through the narrow staircase to go to the bathroom was quite a challenge.
Our lovely host at her home
Next morning, we got up early to explore the village. The village was an exemplary example of unity and amiability among people. One could find dustbins every couple of steps away, which outnumbered the houses. Villagers were conscious about the environment and water collection, so we could see every possible drop of water being utilized for vegetable farming. Education was valued. Amazingly, women were proactive and leading the changes. Looking at the way villagers united for prosperity of their community really inspired us and made us realize the true power of unity and kindness.
Someone rightly said, “a tourist is someone who gets to the place, a traveller is someone who takes something back from the place.” This trip to Parbat has made me realize the value of simplicity, togetherness, kindness, and belonging from a development sector, and to see a community where women are truly empowered was a real inspiration and proud moment for me.