KUIWANG, WHERE GURUNG CULTURE THRIVES

With all its majestic elegance, the village cradles in the lap of the Himalayas, where Gurung culture & tradition thrive on

By LB THAPA FOR THE ROAMING POST

Kaski district has already earned a huge name for its rich prospective of tourism. In the western region, Kaski district has many things to offer to visitors. Pokhara is the gateway of several famous trekking routes. Besides all this, there are some prominent villages of notes. Villages like Ghandruk, Sirubari, Lwang, Ghalel and many more have already carved a niche in the field of tourism.

Wait…Wait…wait! How you can overlook Kuiwang. Kuiwang is simply a piece of paradise on earth. It is awesome as it stores amazing stock of natural beauty that is pristine and worth seeing. Kuiwang is farther than Lwang. The visitors willing to go to Kuiwang should get a direct bus from Hari Chaur. The bus weds through the Mardi River for about one and half hour to reach near

The blogger on his way to Kuiwang.

Kuiwang village. When it is raining the drivers do not take risk by driving through the slippery road as the bus can easily skid off the road. After getting off the bus, about half an hour trekking is required to reach Kuiwang village, the village of Gurung people. The striking feature of the Gurung people of this village is that they have preserved age-old tradition of their community, handed down by their ancestors.

Kuiwang is a hamlet. There are about 40 houses in the village, but all houses have successfully preserved traditional spirit of their art, cultural and tradition. This is
reflected from every house built here. Over the years, they have not replaced their houses with modern concrete buildings. These houses are very old. Time to time they renovate their houses by using local wood and stone.

“We have old houses built mostly by our grandparents. Whenever it is required we renovate our houses by using stone, wood and mud. This way we keep original shape intact. We have a very old stone quarry nearby the village that generations of our ancestors used to covering the roofs of the houses. These stone are very special for their color and durability. Above all, the visitors can feel and taste a typical Gurung spirit in the air of our village” said Purna Bahadur Gurung, the local resident of Kuiwang, who only last year opened a guest house named High Camp Guest House at High Camp. High Camp is located at the distance of about ten hours walk from Kuiwang.

“We are working hard to attract more domestic and foreign tourists to our village Kuiwang; and we have become largely successful as well. But it is not enough. We want to prolong tourists’ stay in the village. Until now they come and spend some time and return to either Ghalel or Lwang to stay. Due to lack of such opportunity I am forced to open a guest house in High Camp. However, I want to encourage the local people of Kuiwang to keep tourists at their homes as ‘Home Stay’. Home Stay is a new concept and it has already become very popular trend among the visitors. The visitors stay with the family of their hosts like one of the family members” said Purna Bahadur Gurung.

Bhakta Gurung, the producer of local trout fish at his fish farm.

Bhakta Bahadur Gurung is the man behind the development of Kuiwang village. He is leading the villagers and guiding them with his creative ideas. He started fish farming in Kuiwang for the first time. Besides fish farming he has a small, organic tea garden, where he produces nearly 30kg tea every month.

“I can produce even more tea but I have no market. It has become very difficult for me to sell even such a small quantity of tea on market. Our government talks big about tourism, but reality is very different. Either they have done very little to promote tourism or nothing. The land in Kuiwang is very ideal for growing tea and coffee, but the problem is we have no market to sell our products. Can our government do something for us so that we villagers can grow more organic tea and coffee of higher quality?” asked Bhakta Bahadur Gurung.

Bhakta Bahadur has been running Gaule restaurant and organic shop in Pokhara, for the last a couple of years. He brings his products from the village and sells them locally in Pokhara. He has got small market for his products. However, he says that his villagers can produce many more things, but they are not doing it only because there is no market. Bhakta Bdr. Gurung has been actively working for the development of his village. He has also encouraged many youths to start a business of their own rather than going to the Gulf nations.

The interesting thing about Kuiwang is that not only men are active here, but women in general are also well organized and filled with enthusiasm. They have formed a “Mother’s Group” and this group is very active in the village. Talking with this scribe, Geeta Gurung, the president of Mother’s Group, said, “We are putting all our best efforts to take our village on the path of development. We want economic as well social development. I know such developments are easier said than done, yet we are committed to bring positive change in our village…our only strength is our unity. It is the effort of the Mother’s Group that today we have a health post, nonstop electricity supply and a +2 campus. By the concerted efforts of all the villagers, we have already made available of some basic necessities of life. But they are not enough…now our target is to bring more domestic and foreign tourists to our village. Because we know that Kuiwang has much more to offer than it meets the eyes”.

At a time when electricity tariff is extremely high in Nepal, the local people of Kuiwang have to pay only fifty paisa per unit of electricity. Yes, it is true…only fifty paisa per unit. Isn’t it amazing? On top, the local people here have never heard of load shedding, because there is 24 hours nonstop electricity supply. A cable line has been extended right from Pokhara to Kuiwang village. Thus, the local people of Kuiwang enjoy more life in the village than many people in the cities.

This scribe met Ghana Shyam Timilsina, an industrious young man in the village. After completing early college education, he decided to take up farming as his vocation. Instead of going abroad like many of his friends, he opted to become a professional farmer. “My friends asked me to go abroad for employment, but I refused. I told them I would work in the village and make a living…they told me that I was gone insane. Today I have been a successful farmer and many people know me by my profession. I grow seasonal vegetables, honey, poultry products, and livestock rearing. I am married and I have two kids. My family including my parents is involved in the farming. Today we make about fifty thousand or more in a month. This is by no means a small earning from our standard” said Timilsina.

Durga Raj Gurung is 92-year old retired soldier from the Indian Army. He is the senior citizen of the village and also the proud possessor of ancient arms left by his ancestors. Such a rare collection of ancient arms is evidence that Kuiwang village is not only popular for its pristine and natural beauty, but also for its rich history. Speaking with this scribe, Durga Raj Gurung said, “This is our tradition in the village that the senior citizen of the village will take the custodian of the arms of our ancestors. We have many swords, armors and shields left by our forefathers. The village club has recently built a museum and plan has it that they want to keep these rare weapons in the museum. However, I am perturbed by the thought of keeping those rare weapons in the museum. I am much concerned about the safety and security of the weapons”.

Speaking about the history of Gurungs of Kuiwang village, Durga Raj Gurung, said “It is said that our ancestors had migrated from Rivan and most of them were served in the army of the small king, who ruled this part of the land. Most of our ancestors were serving in the army of the king. They had fought wars against Prithvi Narayan Shah, who was on the mission of unification of the country by annexing the small principalities”.

Durga Raj Gurung being an old man at his 92 had impeccable memory as he could recall things without much effort. At present the village is seriously thinking of elongating tourist’s stay in Kuiwang. They are thinking of introducing a few more activities of interests, so that tourists can prolong their stay in Kuiwang.

 We are planning to introduce ‘Bungee Jumping’ in Kuiwang: Bhakta Bahadur Gurung, a leading tourism entrepreneur of Kuiwang village

 Bhakta Bahadur Gurung is a leading tourism entrepreneur of Kuiwang. He has been playing a key role in the development of Kuiwang village. He himself is an active tourism entrepreneur and helping other young boys of his village to join in the campaign. It is because of his tedious efforts that today Kuiwang has much to credit him. The other day he spoke with this blogger and shared his experience. Excerpt.

We came to know that you are planning to set up ‘Bungee Jumping’ in Kuiwang? How will you find the financer?

Ans: There is a popular saying ‘Where there is a will there is a way’. If our determination is strong then everything is possible. We will overcome all obstacles and succeed.

What else are you planning to attract tourists to your village?

Ans: Besides Bungee Jumping we want to develop hot spring bath in the Mardi River. There is a place where is active source of hot water spring. We want to construct small ponds to collect hot spring water. It is said that hot water spring does have several medicinal properties. This will definitely attract more domestic and foreign tourists. There is also a cave near the source of hot spring water. We want to enlarge the entrance of the cave so that the visitors can easily enter into it. The cave is much spacious from inside.

Are you getting any financial or logistic help from the government?

Ans: We are very sorry to tell that we have not received any financial or logistic help from the government till date. I think our government has no time to think about the promotion of tourism in the villages. They need more time to fight with each other for the post and power in Kathmandu. Who cares us here in a village like Kuiwang?

Mother’s Group of Kuiwang has been more united and active: Geeta Gurung, president of Mother’s Group, Kuiwang

 Geeta Gurung is the president of Mother’s Group of Kuiwang village. She has been unanimously elected for the second year for the post of president. Her selfless service and unconditional dedication to her work have made her popular not only in her village but also in the neighboring villages. While speaking with Frontlinenepal reporter, she put forward her vision of development. Excerpt.

You have been unanimously made president for the second consecutive time. How did you win the support of your village women?

Ans: I believe in work, but not the post. I am a dedicated worker and I will always remain that. My only concern is the development of Kuiwang. It is a challenging task indeed. There are many obstacles on the path of development, but we will put all our efforts to overcome those hindrances and reach the destination.

Are there any major achievements to name under your leadership?

Ans: Of course, why not! Our collective efforts made it possible to have one health post in fully functional condition. It works 24 hours. We have round the clock electricity and drinking water facility. Besides, we have a college as well.

©All photos by LB THAPA/The Roaming Post

About the author

LB Thapa is a travel blogger from Nepal. He is also an author and journalist. His books have been published by Nirala Publications, New Delhi, India and Himalayan Maphouse, Kathmandu, Nepal. His books are available on www.amazon.com

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