Category Archives: Karnali Nepal

Tales of a Highway Driver in Karnali

Previous articles from Karnali

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By Dinesh Wagle in Karnali Highway
Wagle Street Journal
Pics by Wagle

[This story appeared in today’s Kathmandu Post. Nepali version of the same appeared in today’s Koseli, Kantipur. Here is a journal from Dinesh Wagle’s previous journey in Karnali Highway: The Karnali Express: Bumping on for 52 Hours (Jumla to Surkhet)]

The boys of Manma village, Kalikot (also in the three photos below) with their toy-vehicles

On the bumpy Kalikot road, a tractor is moving to Jumla. The tractor, full of goods, is followed by four ‘mini trucks’ and ‘tractors’. Among the drivers, playing with a toy vehicle with a long steering is Prabal Bam, 13, and an eighth grader.

“I want to be a driver!” Prabal replied to a one of my humorous questions.

“A driver?” I’m perplexed. Continue reading

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A Different Alchemist: Himalayan Yarns of Nepali Shepherds

ब्लगमान्डू!: एसएलसी फेल, विहे पास

Conversation with young shepherds in a rural Nepali village. Topics: education, aspirations, flirting with girls and the marriage to produce more children for grazing oxen and sheep!

Unlike the shepherd in Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist, 18-year-old Padam Bahadur Rawal who has given up all hope of passing the School Leaving Certificate exams plans to spend the rest of his life with the woolly animals (22 pics inside)

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

Rara (Mugu): Padam Bahadur Rawal is fighting with the clouds of smoke in a hut while about four hundred sheep with their shrunken faces in the drizzling rain are gnawing outside. A few other shepherds who have assembled here to avoid the rain plan to take their animals to the jungle as soon as the rain stops. The beans boiling in a small pot in the fire will be consumed by the shepherds as dinner. Welcome to the hovel situated just above the village of Jhyari nearby the Rara Lake. Continue reading

Remote Nepal Speaks: Young Voice of Karnali

A political discourse with the students of Karnali Technical Institute in Jumla, one of the most remote districts in Nepal

“We need the President in Nepal. Tomorrow Karnali might give birth to a child with the capacity to become the President of the country. That’s why the top post of the country should not be reserved for one certain family. All people should get opportunity to reach there.” Pics by Wagle

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

KTS (Jumla)- It’s not easy to follow the politics of Kathmandu from this remote corner but the students of Karnali Technical School (KTS) discuss about the current affairs as and when they get time from their study. Youngsters from various districts attend the school, first of its kind in Nepal that was opened to provide technical education to those who are unable to go college, but in today’s discussion (with Katnipur) 12 students representing five districts of Karnali zone, one of the most backward regions in the country, are present. The topic: Politics, Constituent Assembly elections and the dreams of Karnali. Continue reading

Up to Rara Lake with Dohori Dhun All the Way

A musical journey to the biggest lake of Nepal in remote Mugu district with the trail filled with flowers of all kinds and the air reverberated with local folk tunes


With jeans tugged into their socks and eyes as red as ripe tomatoes, the boys were Jug Bahadur Bhandari, 15 (left), and Prakash Bhandari, 13.

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

ब्लगमान्डू: राराको छेउ नजर जुराइदेउ

While going uphill the Karali Kharka range by the Jumla-Mugu borders in the hope of getting the first glimpse of Rara Lake, a melodious voice came floating in the air from somewhere below:

Samjhi narunu
Ma ta pagal bhayeni he bahini
Timi nahunu

[Don’t you cry remembering me
I’ve gone mad, oh sister
But you stay sane]

On a balmy day in the last week of Asadh, two people walked energetically uphill on a muddy path. They did not give any sign of being out of breath and both of them were conversing in the dohori rhythm of “Don’t think of me and weep”. Both of them turned out to be teenagers who were carrying a small bundle of garlic and Gadaino herbs. With jeans tugged into their socks and eyes as red as ripe tomatoes, the boys were Jug Bahadur Bhandari, 15, and Prakash Bhandari, 13. Continue reading

Job in Nepal Police, Duty in a Corner

Thanks to the ongoing peace process in the country, police have returned to villages to provide sense of security to people.

By Dinesh Wagle

Chautha (Jumla): In an evening a week ago, beautiful tune resonating to that of a mouth harp was heard in this corner of a remote village of Jumla that doesn’t receive the short wave signals of Radio Nepal. Following the tune, this reporter reached a house that had a sign board hung on its front which read ‘Police Post Chautha’. After entering inside the room on the first floor with permission, a young man was seen playing with a keyboard, not the harp. A few of his pals were readying themselves to go to bed while humming folk tunes.

“It’s a very boring place, sir,” said Kali Bahadur Rawal of Nepalgunj who was fiddling with the ‘MS 200 A’ instrument with 37 keys. When they are off the duty, not meditating the villagers’ feuds or not in rescue mission, police in this ‘boring’ place take refuge to music to entertain their soul. “Madal and Keyboard are [our] entertainment,” said Head Constable Dhana Bahadur Khadka who is leading the office as the post of Assistant Sub Inspector is vacant. Entertainment is only half full this evening as the traditional Nepali drum (madal) has been taken to a nearby village. Continue reading

Hari Bahadur Rokaya Up Close and Personal

Inside the room (and mind) of a world record holder Nepali athlete who dreams to produce players like him from his remote locale

By Dinesh Wagle

Khalanga Bazaar (Jumla): It’s absolutely fine if you feel like running (not running away) on entering this room of a house situated in the lower neighborhood of the bazaar. A close observation of the world record holder (high altitude) marathon runner Hari Bahadur Rokaya’s dwelling reflects his accomplishment, stories of his success and pains of limited opportunities.

Solar panels on the house roofs is common but why one in the corner of Hari’s room? “I take my camera along with me when I run,” said the player who has been running over hills around the bazaar since his childhood. “The panel is for charging camera batteries.” It is his hobby to take pictures of “beautiful scenes” as he runs on high hills. Continue reading

The Karnali Express: Bumping on for 52 Hours (Jumla to Surkhet)

QUITE A DIFFERENT GOAT CARAVAN: An unforgettable ride from Jumla, one of the most remote parts in Nepal, to Surkhet in a highway that’s being constructed.

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal Pics by Wagle
ब्लगमान्डू : कर्णाली एक्स्प्रेस ५२ घन्टा उफ्रिदै मच्चिदै


Vehicles pass through the dangerous Timure Bhir in Kalikot.

“Not in this lifetime,” said Hari Shankar Chaulagain as our Mahindra Bolero Jeep left Khalanga Bazaar for Surkhet. The 27-year-old man quickly surveyed the four-wheel-drive roadster and remarked: “I had never thought I would ride in one from here!” Alongside him were seated his younger brother Govinda and five others. They too had their own strange feelings. Their hands were tightly clutching the iron rod as we started motoring on the “mother of all bumpy roads”. We all looked like a monkey that was about to jump from one branch to another. Continue reading

A Young Jumlee’s Dream of Teaching

It’s not unusual in this kind of terrain to run over big mountains for a small opportunity of a job. Dreams carry people anywhere. If one desire is not fulfilled, another emerges.

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal
ब्लगमान्डू : तन्नेरी जुम्लीको पढाउने रहर

Lal Bahadur Dangi in the same school in Chautha where he hopes to get appointed as a teacher

Recently, while climbing the Danphe hill above Jumla bazaar one sunny morning, I met a young man clad in the jersey of Brazilian football team and blue jeans that was folded up to the knees. Record holder high altitude marathon runner Hari Bahadur Rokaya of Jumla, who was accompanying me up to the hill, and the Palpasa Cafe t-shirt that I was wearing immediately brought me closer to Lal Bahadur Dangi. Since our destination for the evening was the same remote village called Chautha that belonged to the Bumramadi Chaur VDC of Jumla. My plan was to head for Rara Lake the next day while Lal Bahadur was hiking for a ‘special purpose’ around which this article revolves.

The one and the only primary school in Chautha, that was run by the government had a vacancy for a teacher and this 23-year-old was hiking to try his luck for the post. Himself a teacher at Kanika Nisha English School in Jumla Bazaar, Lal Bahadur was visiting the remote place just for the heck of it. “I don’t mind working in a primary school,” said Lal Bahadur who holds the license to teach at lower secondary level and is waiting for his B Ed third year exam results”. If I get the job, I can compete internally to teach at secondary level as soon as I pass B Ed. That’s equivalent to a Section Officer. Nothing like that happens in a private school.” He was confident of getting the job if the selection was done in a transparent manner. He added: “If not, boarding jindabaad!” Continue reading

A Radio Report From Jumla: Information Revolution

A small FM radio station, powered by unreliable electricity and run by a dozen staffs who face daily challenge of providing balanced news, has brought information revolution in one of the most remote parts of Nepal.

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

Staffs of Radio Karnali FM 105 timko 2 MHz in their office building in Bijaynagar, Jumla. Pics by Wagle

Bijaynagar (Jumla)- “There is a saying in Jumla,” started Prakash Chandra Khatri. “People here came to know of the 1950 revolution in 1951 (saat saal ko kranti bare aath saalma thaha bhayo). The success of the 1990 movement was also known a day later. But people got to know of the April Movement live as it progressed.” Thanks to 105 “timko” 2 MHz, this remote area of mid west Nepal is witnessing a revolution in information in the past few years. A local campus teacher, a young student (transmitting the local news all over the globe), an ex-representative of the people distressed by politics and a bearded Gazal writer are some of the members of “Radio Karnali” who prepare news and programs people living in one of the most remotest part in Nepal. Theirs is a daily struggle to provide balanced news on a station that’s marred by unreliable electricity. Continue reading

In A Nepali Village of Daura Suruwal, Young Generation Wants Jeans

Nanda Bahadur Shahi, 53, of Sinja, Jumla inspects his Daura Suruwal as his 4-year-old grandson Joban, clad in ‘modern’ outfits looks on. All pics by Wagle

By Dinesh Wagle

SINJA (Jumla)- The residents of this beautiful village have worn daura suruwal for decades. But hello, this traditional Nepali outfit covers only the bodies of the older generation, and young people have no respect for it. Once the capital of a country called Jumla, where it is believed the Nepali language and daura suruwal originated, Sinja is witnessing a dying out of this costume.

“Jamana badaliyo. Kura chhuttai huna atyo, luga chhuttai huna atyo” [The time has changed. So has the language and clothing], 84-year-old Jair Bitalu, the oldest person in Hat Sija village says. “I don’t know what’s happening these days. They say mummy for aama and diddi for ba.” Youngsters listening to the conversation erupt in laughter and one of them quickly corrects Bitalu.

Jair Bitalu, 84, the oldest in Sinja, and his great grand son. Bitalu is the sole owner of Daura Suruwal in traditional Thetuwa cloth in the village, locals said. Continue reading