The visitors will never regret over their labor of trekking to Dhorpatan because Dhorpatan is a bedecked pearl of Nepal—a place worth visiting to have a lifetime experience
By LB THAPA FOR THE ROAMING POST
When we think of a unique place on the earth then we may count a few names on our fingertips. But those people who have ever been to Dhorpatan will never have second thoughts in saying that Dhorpatan is the best place in the world. This is not an exaggeration but a fact. Dhorpatan is replete with pristine, natural beauty, which is abundant in Dhorpatan but may be rare to be found elsewhere. Both flora and fauna found in this region are of special kind. A vast land of Dhorpatan has been enriched with such plants like fir, pine, birch, rhododendron, hemlock, oak, juniper, spruce, etc. Dhorpatan is also the home of a wide range of wild animals, which are found and thrive in Dhorpatan alone. As a whole Dhorpatan is a must visit place, where adventure of game hunting and breathtaking panoramic views are guaranteed. In brief if someone loves nature and wildlife then Dhorpatan must be their first choice.
The Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve is the only hunting reserve in Nepal, which was established in 1987 and it is spread over 1325 sq km area. The hunting reserve area falls in the Dhaulagiri Himal of western Nepal in Rukum, Myagdi and Baglung districts. The altitude of Dhorpatan varies from 2850m to 5500m. Dhorpatan is the home of Kham Magar and Tibetan refugees.
There are two ways two reach to Dhorpatan. The first one is from Baglung via Burtibang. Another one is Beni via Myagdi Khola. The trekkers should get a bus or jeep from Baglung to Burtibang. The visitors to Dhorpatan find it pleasurable to see large herds of livestock grazing on the vast meadows of Dhorpatan. During summer, Kham Magar release their livestock to grazing across the open land of Dhorpatan.
Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve is the cynosure of trophy hunters. This reserve is first of its kind in Nepal, or may be in Asia where trophy hunting is arranged under strict observation. Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve spreads across Bobang, Adhikarichaur and Nishi villages at the western Baglung district. Dhorpatan shares its boundary with Baglung, Rukum and Myagdi districts.
Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve has earned an international reputation for game hunting at 9000 feet. Hunting for the public in Dhorpatan is opened only twice in a year. Autumn and spring are considered the best time of the year for the hunting. During the insurgency period, the Reserve was closed but reopened in March 2008. The reserve is divided into 7 blocks of hunting. Experienced hunting guides help the foreign hunters in choosing the best block for the hunting. No hunting is possible without a hunting license issued by the government.
The authorized companies provide licenses to tourists, which allow them to hunt the animal of their choices. Most of the tourists prefer to hunt blue sheep, wild boar, and Jharal. To attract more tourists to Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve for the game hunting, the government has permitted to take hunting trophy with them to their countries.
In recent time, Dhorpatan has also attracted many mountaineers. The peak of Ptha, Sisne and Chure mountains are higher than 7000m, and they are ideal for climbing. The tourists can also feast their eyes on birds, lophophorus, musk deer, and blue sheep. The Dhorpatan region has real treasure trove, as there are lakes, ponds, caves, waterfalls, cliffs, stone quarries and beehives in abundance.
Pinophyta forests attract several tourists. The forests have covered the high altitude area with lots of rhododendrons, which spread a variety of hues across the mountain. Dhorpatan is renowned for Hindu religious sites. There are Uttarganga temple, Baraha temple and several Buddhist monasteries. Among others, Dhorpatan is also famous for adventure sports like skiing, paragliding and golf. In brief, Dhorpatan has many things to offer to the visitors, but Hunting Reserve is the major attraction among the game hunting visitors.
Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve has been doing its work brilliantly. A large area has been confined to breed specific types of wild animals and when numbers exceed they are allowed to be hunted. This way the number of wild animal hunted does not get adverse effect on its population. The entire hunting procedure is quite systematic. A game hunting license is issued by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation in Kathmandu.
The entire hunting expedition is organized by private companies. The bidding for awarding game hunting licenses is made through electronic bidding system. To stop any possible corruption, the companies are asked to submit their tenders through online process and are selected accordingly.
Hunting packages have been attracting many hunting enthusiasts to rush for Dhorpatan. They normally spend about Rs.3 million. Hence, Dhorpatan has attracted potential tourists to the country and helping country’s tourism sector. Dhorpatan has also created several types of jobs for the local people of Dhorpatan. The hunting reserve employees say that mostly US, Spain, Denmark, Hungary and Russian visit Dhorpatan for the hunting.
A JOURNEY TO DHORPATAN
It was merely a coincident when this scribe happened to meet a young IT expert cum avid trekker, who had recently returned from Dhorpatan trekking. Talking with this scribe, he disclosed firsthand experience of Dhorpatan journey that was full of thrill, adventure and lots of excitement.
“For the first time when I stepped into Dhorpatan area, I was greeted by such a treasure trove of natural beauty that I had never witnessed in my life—it was like otherworldly. The majestic views of nature were simply marvelous and pleasing to eyes. After having reached Dhorpatan I took a vow that I would visit this place whenever it was possible for me,” said Sunil Pandey, who recently returned from Dhorpatan.
Sunil Pandey holds a master’s degree in ‘Computer Information System’ from Pokhara University. For some years, he worked for a couple of leading companies in Nepal. After then in 2009, he established his own company ‘XL Soft Tech Pvt. Ltd.’ Today his company is one of the leading IT companies in Nepal. However, being an IT expert he has some odd hobbies, which have made him notorious among his staff and clients. Besides CEO of his company, he is an avid nature lover and his best hobby is trekking.
If all of a sudden he disappears from his office then he is found in the woods, or at the foothill of the mighty Himalayan slopes. “Yes, this is true that more often than not I do disappear from my office for a few days, but that does not mean that I leave any backlogs behind me. I carefully complete the task on time then manage a few days to trek to some remote areas. This is my hobby or you can also say an addiction—truth has it that a traveling bug had bitten me when I was still a school boy,” revealed exalted Pandey.
His sincerity to his job cannot be doubted, as he is a hardworking and dedicated professional. But at the same time his intense penchant for traveling and love for nature have left many people confused about his dual personality. Some call him a nature lover and an avid trekker, while others call him a gifted IT expert. However, his humble answer is “I am both”.
Speaking with this scribe, Sunil Pandey, the CEO of XL Soft Tech Pvt. Ltd and a regular traveler, spoke at length about his recent odyssey to Dhorpatan.
“I took a bus ride from Pokhara to Baglung and changed to another bus to Galkot, which is about 45km from Baglung. There are a few things in Galkot of worth visiting. The first one is Galkot Darbar. There stood a small royal palace to tell its glorious history, when this region was ruled by the King Pratapi Narayan. Until 1533, Galkot had become a trading town. There is one more and very exciting place called Ghoda Badhe. There is an interesting story behind this rather unusual name of the place. The legend has it that late King Mahendra, soon after his ascension to the throne, had visited Baglung. From Baglung he desired to see Galkot palace. King Mahendra rode his favorite horse and reached Galkot palace. There he chose a particular place to tie his horse. Later, the local people of the area started calling the place Ghoda Badhe i.e a place where a horse was tied.
“Siddha Bhairab temple is located at Ghoda Badhe. Two mountain bikes are kept at the temple of Siddha Bhairab. It could be a strange sight for the people to see mountain bikes at the temple. Because normally devotees do not offer mountain bikes to the gods and goddesses—but at this temple it is yes. There are two mountain bikes, which were offered to omnipotent Siddha Bhairab. There is an interesting story behind those two mountain bikes. A few years ago, five cyclists had ridden their mountain bikes from Kathmandu to Baglung. Next morning they climbed the hill with their mountain bikes and reached the summit, where the temple of Siddha Bhairab is located. Two of the cyclists were badly exhausted and decided to offer their mountain bikes to Siddha Bhairab and returned to Kathmandu by bus.
“Next day early in the morning I got into a bus to Burtibang (45km). Burtibang is the only town where all sorts of modern facilities can be found. From Burtibang nature will be in total command. There are a few houses here and a few there and sometimes no houses at all even we ride for hours. From Burtibang to Dhorpatan (30km) has terrific road, which are broken from many places and the journey is full of nasty jolts. I opted to trekking to Dhorpatan instead of taking a jeep ride. My rule is avoiding vehicle as much as possible until it is necessary. On the way to Dhorpatan, I met some indigenous people who lived and thrived in those harsh conditions of nature.
“When I entered the valley of Dhorpatan my eyes remained opened in stunned disbelief. A lush green, huge plateau was before me, which I had even not seen on posters and televisions. For a moment, I thought I might not be on the earth but on an alien land. For the first time I could realize the immense and aesthetic beauty of nature. Since that day my respect for nature even intensified by many times.
“The elevation in Dhorpatan and the surrounding areas is highly uneven. The altitude is 2850m at Dhorpatan but it soon rises up to 5500m within a distance of a few kilometers. Of course, life is not easy at such an altitude. Only can tough people like Kham Magar, BK and Tibetan refugees live in Dhorpatan. Harsh climate of this area has made these people strong enough to live in all weather conditions. Potatoes are the staple source of this scribe in Dhorpatan. The local people do also grow apple and millet, but the yield is quite limited. Potatoes are grown in plenty and the climate here is perfectly suitable to grow healthy potatoes. Potato powder is the main source of this scribe in Dhorpatan. Actually, during the peak season of potato cultivation, the local people of Dhorpatan cut potatoes into pieces and dry under sunlight and later they beat dried potato pieces to make powder. During off season, when this scribes become scarce then they put potato powder into hot water, salt and a few vegetables and a delicious soup is ready to be eaten.
“In Dhorpatan I saw Kham Magars and Tibetan refugees got involved in horse trading business. They help breeding horses at the flat land of Dhorpatan and sell them in Dolpa, where Dolpali people purchase strong horses to search Yarsagumba. I came to know from one of the horse traders that the average selling price of horses begin from 1.50 lakh rupees and it can reach up to 3 lakh rupees or even more. During a tourist’s season, horses are offered for the riding as well. They charge Rs.300 for half an hour riding around the large field of Dhorpatan.
“I was surprised at seeing a long strip in Dhorpatan, which was fenced from all sides. It was an airport but not in use at present. Many local people still expect to see one day in future a big flying bird landing and taking off from the Dhorpatan airport. It is such a nice flat area and Dhorpatan is so popular for adventure sports like ski, mountain climbing and game hunting. Despite that, the airport is not in operation—sounds very strange—isn’t it?
“I heartily appreciate a well managed school in Bobang, Dhorpatan. It is Shree Jyoti Bikash Lower Secondary School, which is being run by an INGO named L’ARCHE DE DOLAN. There are about 15 teachers and 80-100 students. Some students walk on foot from as far as 15 to 20 kilometers to attend the school. The school has provided them uniforms, which separate them from other boys and girls of their ages.
“The inception of Uttar Ganga River lies here. A small rivulet as it appears is the Uttar Ganga, which becomes larger as it is joined by other tributaries. At the mouth of Uttar Ganga River, there are 22 natural taps. Fresh water always flows from all those 22 taps. Many Hindu devotees take bath under those taps to clean their sins. Several Hindu devotees regularly visit this place from different parts of Nepal and India.
“It is a tradition among the people of Uttar Ganga to sacrifice 500 sheep at the temple of Uttar Ganga, on the day of Lord Buddha’s birth anniversary. What an irony! Lord Buddha is known for Love, Peace and Non-violence, but the local people of Uttar Ganga worship the deity by killing 500 sheep and that also on the day of Buddha’s birthday—quite strange!
“I met a Nepali guide who was with a foreign team of hunters. He was considered one of the most experienced hunting guides in Nepal. While talking with me I noticed that he was actually sitting on a huge Blue sheep, which he shot and killed with the last bullet. He said that only calculated bullets are provided for the hunting. The hunters should be able to make their hunt with those limited bullets. His hunting team had already fired 9 rounds and the last bullet they did not want to waste on a Blue sheep, which was constantly lurking on the sloppy mountain slope. Then, he got the opportunity to show them that he was not only the best hunting guide but also a good hunter as well” Sunil Pandey concludes his exciting story of his travel to Dhorpatan.
Dhorpatan is located at a distance that is neither far nor difficult to access from any part of the country. One thing is true about Dhorpatan, the visitors will never regret over their labor of trekking to Dhorpatan. Because Dhorpatan is the jaded pearl of Nepal—a place worth visiting to have a lifetime experience.
Note: Originally this article was published in Food & Wine Magazine, Kathmandu, Nepal. All photos by Sunil Pandey.
ABOUT THE BLOGGER
LB Thapa is a travel blogger. He is also the author of six books. His books have been published by Nirala Publications, New Delhi, India and Himalayan Maphouse, Kathmandu, Nepal. His book, POKHARA AND ANNAPURNAS has been translated into seven foreign languages. LB Thapa’s books are also available on www.amazon.com
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