Sunday, November 22, 2015

Exploring Mystic Khaptad

This is second part of our Khaptad Trek. To read first part, click here: Khaptad: Adventures, mistakes and misadventures.
Khaptad in the morning!
After 7 hours of blissful daytime sleep, we woke up fully recharged and refreshed. The nightmare had finally been over and it was the time for exploring Khaptad. The beautiful valley resembled like a human body. At the top, it is a dense forest – like hair. Below it are large Patans (slopy/plain grounds) resembling mighty chest. These Patans have wetlands that flow into small streams that you can compare with defecating organs.

We were not prepared to take adventures, at least for this day. So, we chose to visit nearby Khaptad Baba's Ashram and Ghoda Daune Patan. It was a blissful moment. We returned before the dusk as we were not prepared for any other adventures. It was time for fest! At that height and in given circumstances, any food would prove to be a feast. This indeed was a good food.
Exotic Meal in the Guest House of Khaptad Tourism Development Committee

Once you reach Khaptad, you don’t have to worry about food and sleep as tourist infrastructures are being expanded. You can eat and stay at three places: The army guest House – if you are going through connection of army Majors and Generals – which is the case for many; the guest house of Khaptad National Park or the Guest House of Khaptad Tourism Development Committee. We were staying at the latter and food, hospitality and stay all were superior!
Khaptad Baba's Statue in the Ashram

Here, I should not forget to mention the name of Lok Bahadur Rawal, the operator of the Tourism Development Committee's Guest House and Surendra Bogati, the Game Scout at the National Park who managed some mutton dishes for us which we were badly needing. It was blissful and fulfilling experience. Who knew another horrible day is waiting for us?
Khaptad Baba Ashram
Being pragmatic and cautions
We had had enough misadventures and troubles. Therefore, we were in no mood to repeat them while returning. So, the next day, we planned to leave early. We were fade up with going uphill, so chose the another route which will require going downhill only – we were travelling via Bajura villages to Kanda and that day's destination would be Dhapa Bazaar, on the way to Martadi – the district headquarter of Bajura, from Sanfebagar, Achham. 

Serene Khaptad lake

We were told that we could easily make from Khaptad to Dhapa (Daaba, as they pronounce) bazaar in 8 hours. So, we left Khaptad at 8.00 hrs after having heavy brunch! On the way, we would see Khaptad view tower from where we would stand face to face with Mt. Api and Saipal and Khaptad lake – a serenely beautiful lake at 3050 metre altitude, similar height we spent the previous night.
School group in Educational Excursion tour, takes rest beside Khaptad lake

There, we met a group of students on excursion tour trekking from Daaba to Khaptad via Kaanda. It feels amazing to get human presence in that unmanned area. We cheered them up that they were almost close to reaching Khaptad. All were exhausted and our cheer up gave them some hopes and excitement. After taking few pictures, we descended.

Saving a life
On the way we met remaining part of the caravan of students and teachers. They were 37 in total. They said that few are still climbing the hills and one of the student had severe pain and requested us to take pain killer medicine to him. We happily told them not to worry as we had the painkiller, water and also a doctor accompanying us. 
This boy was severely ill.

After descending about a kilometer, we met the boy who was suffering from severe pain on his upper stomach. Jiwan checked and signaled us that the problem was much more severe and not curable by the painkiller. After consulting with his colleagues in Kathmandu and Chitwan he concluded that it could be as severe as thalassemia and the boy had to be immediately rushed to lower altitude and to hospital where blood transfusion would be available. 

We repeatedly sent the message to his principal and other teachers who had already reached Khaptad. But the principal and teachers were so irresponsible that they refused to return back and manage to take the boy to the hospital. Finally, we reached to the National Park administration and the army for help. Finally, a group of army men arrived with stretcher and some medicines. We suggested them that the boy has to be rushed to hospital as soon as possible. But, they were also not prepared to ambulate the boy as far as to Daaba bazaar.

There were limitations on our part. Finally, Jiwan told them the severity of the sickness and also wrote the diagnosis and recommendations on a blank paper and we left the boy with army men. For this, we had spent three precious hours.

As we descended, we were following up with the Lieutenant of the army barrack about the progress. We knew that the army men took the boy to Khaptad on stretcher and after giving oxygen for few hours, sent to Silgadi on horseback for further treatment. It was very relieving news for us.

Scenic view of Api and Saipal mountains from Khaptad Tower
Another horribly adventurous day!
So, we rushed down and down. It was already 15.00 hrs when we reached Kaanda that marks almost halfway to our destination. From the surprising look in the villagers when we told that our destination for the day was Daaba bazaar, we could sense that that day was also going to be another adventurous day! 

Agog about reaching Rara in another 2 days, we were in no mood to back off and cut short that day's walk. Despite repeated requests from villagers along the road not to walk upto Daaba bazaar, we continued walking. It was almost dark when we crossed the villages and dense forest would start. We were told that we could cross the jungle in upto three hours and reach Daaba bazaar.

We thought about revising our destination and stopping at the village. But probably a competing sense among three brothers that who would back down first led us to continued walk. We had three disadvantages as compared to our walk to Khaptad two days ago – we had only one torch light, no mobile phones because all were switched off and even moon would not come to our help for two reasons – it would rise late and also we would be walking through the dense forest in the river bank, unlike atop hills.

On the way, we could observe rural lifestyle. Here, preparations on for Volleyball Competition.

After the village, we descended to a stream. Alas! It was a cul de sac! We could see only white boulders, water and pebbles nut not the way across the stream. This was lowest point of our trip that day. Keshav and I thought that we lost the way and had to return back to the village and spend the night there. Jiwan was adamant. It was already dark and despite our refusal to accompany him, he travelled few metres up the stream alone and finally found the way. Reluctantly, Keshav and I followed. Henceforth, we will be inside the forest and there will be no returning back. If anything happened to us, nobody would notice until the next day.

It was a Mela day, Most rural parts in Far West have Celebrations on Dashain Purnima
The path was less confusing. Amidst fear of wild animals or evil humans, we continued walking and walking and finally reached Daaba bazaar by 21.00 hrs. When we reached Daaba bazaar, all shops and hotels were closed. Most men had gone to see fair that is held in most rural areas of the Far West on the day of Kojagrat Purnima (Full moon day after Dashain). Few hotels said they could provide us shelter but not food as it was too late. Finally, a helpful person who ran a tea shop opened the door and offered us to cook the food as well as offer his bed.

We were so tired and hungry that we were repeatedly telling him to cook fast or offer us only rice and dal. Finally, another horribly adventurous day was over and all three of us crammed to fit into a single 3ft/6ft bed.

The third and last part of the Travel Rara, a shelved dream! will soon be posted

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