Saturday, July 20, 2019

Lamjung, Ghale Gaun, Bhujung, Ghanpokhara Travel Story

400 years ago since the era of Shah dynasty, Lamjung district spreading from the hilly area to the North Himalaya, has kept its historic, religious and culture signification till today. Comprised of people from Gurung Ghale Community. This district acts as a symbol of bravery, courage and strength. The communities here portray their art and culture in the rhythm of Ghantu dance with the scene of the Himalayas on the background.

Lamjung, Ghale Gaun, Bhujung, Ghanpokhara Travel Story
With their sweet smile and warm gesture, the Gurung communities here worship their guests like their holy God. To wander around its interesting history, amazing sceneries of the mountains, playful culture, and the cheerful attitude of is people, we went to visit Lamjung. This time, three beautiful places.

We started this important journey from the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu. Travelling on the rhythm of the Trisuli and Marsyangdi rivers, we reached Dumre. After completing 42 KM of the ride from Dumre, we reached Besisahar. The headquarter of Lamjung.
That day, we stayed at a hotel nearby. The hotel named as Thorang Peak served delicious food and offered a warm bedroom for us. Besisahar acts as an entrance to different places comprised of indigenous Gurung Community. It is also the starting point of one of the most popular trekking route, ‘Annapurna Circuit Trek’.

Ghale Gaun

lamjung-ghale-gaun-bhujung-ghanpokhara-visit Gurung dance nach
After of journey of 27 KM northwest of this city, we reached Ghale Gaun. A place where travellers take, a day’s rest. This village which was founded 700 years ago has also been included in the Annapurna Conservation Area. The Gurung people stay in 80 households, and 45 households are taken by the Dalit people. With the aim of establishing this village as a remote tourism homestay destination, a homestay program was started from 2057 with 12 houses.
Now, there are 30 houses that offer homestay services. There are 126 rooms in these 30 households that are operated as a homestay. The view of beautiful mountain peaks like Mavhhapuchhre, Annapurna, Himchuli, Manaslu, Lamjung and Buddha can be seen from this village. For the honour of the ancestors, the locals have built a park with the statue of the last King of Ghale Dynasty.

The SAARC Village Tourism Museum has also been established in the village to portray the spectacular spectrum of Gurung Culture. The museum contains their ancient statues, costumes, tools and weapons. Tourists enjoy their time in this village by visiting beautiful sites like tea garden, sheepfold, view tower and Uttaykanya Temple. This, one day stay in Ghale Gaun, helped us get familiar with the people from Gurung Community.

Ghanpokhara and Bhujung Gaun

Now, it was time for our journey to Ghanpokhara and Bhujung Gaun. 700 years ago people from Gurung Community who lived in Manang came in these two villages searching for settlement. After that, these villages started getting bigger as people began to grow their lives in these village’s periphery. Now, there are 60 houses in Ghanpokhara. As we reached this village, the indigenous people there welcomed us with flowers embracing the Gurung culture.
The people following this culture believe that guests are the incarnation of their gods. After our reception, a group of middle-aged women called ‘Aama Samuha’ got involved in the preparation of a cultural program. The cultural program includes three major dance numbers that reflect their culture and tradition. Ghatu Naach, Sherga Naach and Krishna Charitra Naach. The next day was the day of the cultural program. We started this beautiful day with the taste of local delicious cuisines. Tea with bread made up of Millet, Maize, Soybean, Taro and the special dish made up of rice grains called Jailing. Preparing Jhilimge is an art. The rice is initially cooked, absorbed, then dried, and fried in the oil. When we were enjoying these delicious foods, Aama Samuha along with the dance performers were getting ready for the show.

On the other side, the local musicians were synchronizing their instruments and rhythms. To get the better feeling of this colourful show to be performed by the Gurung community we plan to go uphill. From there the beautiful view of the mountains can be seen. After completing the preparations we walk up the hill and reach the place, where beauty meets nature. The performers start to get ready for Ghaatu Nritya, the first dance number in their show. The women decorate themselves with their traditional dresses. The men get ready with their traditional instrument called Medal. As everyone gets ready, the performance starts.

A soulful ancient art, every beat takes you to ecstasy, every step gives immense pleasure to your eyes. The beat of Medal, the movement of the feet and hands blended in a sweet rhythm. And on the background, the view of the mountain, signing brightly like a diamond. We came to know that this mellifluous art is mostly performed on the ceremony of Buddha Jayanti.
 lamjung-ghale-gaun-bhujung-ghanpokhara-visit Gurung
We also saw the other two colourful dance numbers. The Sherga dance has traditional as well religious importance. This dance number is performed as a mourning ritual after the loss of their relatives. There’s a third dance number often termed as ‘ Krishna Charitra or puppet’. In the Gurung community, this dance number is performed by the maternal uncle to give blessing to this nephew. In the evening, the villagers get together to share their feelings in the form of traditional songs. There are lots of myths related to the naming of the village, Ghanpokhara. People claim that during the ancient era people came here to hunt wild animals. They saw a pond (Pokhari in Nepali)[ in this village which had the shape of a hammer (Ghan in Nepali). That’s why they named this village as Ghanpokhara. Leaving behind some precious memories in Ghanpokhara, we moved towards Bhujung Village. This village, known as Bhujung Gaun is situated at 1642 meter altitude.

Initially, it was termed as “one village one village development committee.” The Bhujung Village is also known as ‘Fachho’ in Gurung language. There are a lot of myths regarding its nickname. Some people say, that this place involved business (Chho in Gurung Language) of deer (Fa in Gurung Language) a long time ago, that’s why it was called Fachho. People also believe that the village is named Fachho because in ancient time people from Fiume religion lived there.
 lamjung-ghale-gaun-bhujung-ghanpokhara-visit Gurung Cultur Dance
The village is home to some thousands of Gurung people living in about 500 households. Among the people here 90% belong to the Gurung community and the rest 10% belong to the Dalit community. Most of the people here had migrated from Manang. This historic village offers a special service of Homestay for the visitors. 20 different households are used for the homestay service. The tourists can enjoy the local cultures and traditions staying in these homestays. The Gurung from Bhujung village also feels the importance of welcoming their guests with a warm gesture. Exploring this village and spending precious time with the community people, made us feel like home. The homestay offers delicious local foods. Such as boiled eggs, bread made up of millet, milk tea, and special soup up of millet flour also called Khole. Bhujung village is really beautiful. And the mouth water scenarios, the patterns of traditional houses that reflect the Gurung culture, the view of the mountains like Lamjung, Kailash and Annapurna, the holy sounds vibrating from the monasteries, adds more to its beauty.

The people there focus on cleanliness as they always want their village to be clean and tidy. Their major sources of income are agriculture and handicrafts. They go downhill in their fields to grow some crops like rice maize. They transport their crops towards uphill on a cable car. In the cold winter, they take cattle in their warm farmhouse downhill. Most of the people in this village are of a hardworking type. Even in their leisure period, they get involved in making beautiful handicrafts like Mattress up of colourful cotton threads and baskets made up of braided strips of bamboo. The large tea garden has been a major tourism site and also has been a prime source of income for the villagers. Bhujung village has this tradition of high cliff honey hunting. This treacherous tradition is quite artistic as well. The biggest and one of the most dangerous bees in the world.

Like agriculture and tourism, Bhujung is self-dependent on electricity as well. The micro-hydropower project established by Japan in 1999 is providing enough electricity to the villagers. The history of this village suggests that a large number of people joined the British and Indian Army. Getting enrolled in such armies was their first priority. Slowly this priority is changing.

Now, the villagers have built an organized school to give proper knowledge to their children, Even kindergarten classes are organized here. There’s a temple named Yumpho in Bhujung. Yumpho means stones kept in a stack. These stones are worshipped by the villagers.

Once a month, on a Wednesday morning the village performs a ritual burning a joss stick. That day nobody works in the fields. There’s a belief that nobody should enter the temple’s periphery except that holy day, otherwise the village will suffer from the riot. Bhujung village is also included in Annapurna Conservation Area. The local office of Annapurna Conservation Area Program ACAP was established in the village in the year 1993. This has helped the village to get improved in different aspects. Various awareness programs and activities helped this village preserve its environment and biological diversity. The people in the village perform cleanliness program now and the. This local office ACAP also organizes various social workshops to inform the Aama Samuha about Family Planning. Along with the hard work of the local Gurung community, the ACAP is also responsible for the rapid development of Bhujung Village as a major tourist destination. After coming through the long way from Besisahar, Ghale Gaun and Ghanpokhara, if interested, the tourist can trek from Bhujung through Dudhpokhari and reach Manang as well.

But for us, Bhujung was the last destination.

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