By LB THAPA, lately in Indo-Nepal Boarder, FOR ONTOTHEROAD.COM

Unlike other Indo-Nepal borders, Barbasa-Mahendranagar border is different—to know all that you should read the entire article

I boarded a bus from Pokhara to Delhi that reached Mahendranagar Indo-Nepal open boarder the next day morning at about 9 am. The armed personnel of Boarder Security Force (BSF) were on duty. They directed the bus to a place to park.  

One of the custom officers along with an armed BSF soldier got into our bus and asked every one of us to get down the bus, leaving all our belongings on the bus. We were not allowed to carry even handbags.

Mahendranagar Indo-Nepal border. Photo: LB Thapa
The railway engine which British used during 1920-1928 to connect Mahendra Nagar and Banbasa. Photo: LB Thapa
A close view of the railway engine used by the British during 1920-1928 Photo: LB Thapa

The driver of the bus told us to walk across the bridge and go on the other side of the boarder; it was Banbasa, Indian side. All the passengers left the bus and began walking towards the Sarda barrage. Sarada barrage is built on the Mahakali River, but in India it is named the Sarada River. Meanwhile, the BSF police started checking our luggage. While walking on our way towards the Sarada barrage, we passed by the immigration checkpoint but no one asked us to show our identities.

The border is remained open almost all the time in a year, but gates on Sarda barrage are opened during specific time in a day. The gates are opened at 6am to 8am; 10am to 12noon; 2pm to 4pm; and 6pm to 7pm.

Everyday hundreds of thousands of Nepali and Indian citizens cross this boarder. Many Nepali people go to Banbasa and nearby towns in search of jobs. Delhi is just 400 km away from this border, whereas Kathmandu is about 700 km away.

Many Nepali citizens prefer to go to Delhi to find jobs because that is more accessible than going to major Nepali cities. I stopped a group of Nepali people who were on their way to Delhi and had some chat with them.

‘Lots of development tasks do take place in Delhi area almost round the year. There is no dearth of works. Foods and living expenditure are also quite affordable. However, just opposite there is no guarantee of regular works in Nepal. On top, things are also very expensive. As a result, it is very difficult to save money in Nepal, but we can save more money in Delhi. The only problem is that Indian police troubles us while crossing the border. The only way to get rid of them is to give them money.

‘Nepali police is also no better than Indian police. Nepali police do also trouble us as they hold our goods which we bring from India. They ask us VAT bills and other papers…but in reality, they want money. Now we separate a sum of money and keep the money in a separate pocket. Truth has it that without bribe you cannot escape from both borders’, said Ram Baruwa and his friends who hailed from Baitadi and Dadeldhura.

I walked across the Sarada barrage and reached on the other side of the barrage. The gates were still closed so that I had more time to explore the area. In the meantime, I met one of the official persons who was stationed at the barrage.

‘The barrage was constructed by the British in 1920. They wanted to connect Mahendranagar and Banbasa by the barrage so that they could transport important minerals and necessary goods through a train. A railway track now disused is still in a good condition. The railway track passes through the middle of the barrage’, he informed.

Interestingly enough, the engine, which was used during 1920-1928, can still be seen here. The engine is installed at the entrance of the barrage with a small description about the train engine. The engine is in very good condition and so is railway track.

I saw a small board where it was written both in Hindi and in English “Photography is not allowed”. However, I wanted to show such a beautiful, historical train engine to my esteemed readers of Roaming Post. So, by stealing the eyes of the officials, I managed to click one photo of the train engine which was used by the British during 1920-1928.

It was 10 o’clock in the morning and the gates were opened for two hours. I saw our bus was trying to adjust its position to cross the gate. The gate was meant for small size four wheelers, not for big size bus. But in India and Nepal many things can be turned to our favor by giving bribe.

If you have a hidden camera then a whole movie can be made here where policemen can be caught pocketing bribes from the people of all walks of life. I am sure the film will be a big hit and soon public will demand for its sequel.

Last but not the least, there were two big holes in the front windscreen of our bus that you can also see in the photo. Legally a bus in this condition cannot be driven on the highway. But no problem, long live corruption! I saw the driver gave bribe to Nepali traffic police and later to Indian traffic police in India…

The blogger stands in the middle of the Sarada Barrage, below flows the Mahakali River, which Indians call it Sarada River. Photo: ontotheroad.com

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I am a travel blogger.

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