By LB THAPA in Beni FOR ONTOTHEROAD.COM
Our group of cyclists wanted to utilize a few days holiday on Tihar (Dipawali). Since we did not have more days at our disposal, we wanted to go to a short destination. After much discussion we chose two destinations Lumbini and Beni. Eventually we unanimously chose Beni. We gave up the idea of going to Lumbini; it was because of its distance.
A tour to Lumbini was simply not possible in four days. Lumbini was left for the next visit. The distance of Beni from Pokhara is 91km. It means we had to cycle 182km in total…quite a distance on bicycle…isn’t it?
We reached Naudanda after one and half hour’s regular cycling from Pokhara. When we arrived at Naudanda, it was already 12 o’clock in noon. In fact we had set out at 6 o’clock in the morning but the president of Cycle City Pokhara, Jitendra Man Shakya, did organize a welcome programme for us. We attended the programme where we were given best wishes and good luck for the successful completion of 182km long distance from Pokhara to Beni.
We had lunch at a Naudanda roadside restaurant. While having lunch at Naudanda Tirtha Awasthy, a senior cyclist and a pharmacist at Manipal Hospital, asked me to have a little butter with rice. I refused straight forward but he had half a spoon full of butter to eat with rice. Later he was charged fifty rupees extra for the butter. One of our cyclist members was charged fifty rupees extra because he had eaten more rice. Perhaps it was our first experience to have food at such a restaurant.
After lunch we paddled regularly until we occasionally stopped by the notorious Deusi Bhailo groups which asked money from us. It is very sad to say that some youths use Deusi-Bhailo as a means of extorting money from the people. They decide how much money they should be given in cash. I think our government must put a ban on Deusi-Bhailo. Frankly speaking Deusi-Bhailo has caused pain in the ass for the people of all walks of life.
We rode regularly but stopped at places of great natural beauty. At about 6 o’clock in the evening we reached Beni bazaar. When we reached there Prakash Paudel, the station manager of Myagdi Kali FM 88.2Hz and Suraj KC, president of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) Myagdi were waiting for us.
We four cyclists Tirtha Awasti, Lok Thapa, Saroj Thapa and this scribe were feted with khata. We are always very grateful to Suraj KC who made our lodging and boarding arrangement in Hotel Yak. We had some chat until 9pm after then we had dinner and went to bed for a sound sleep. We plunged into slumber as soon as we threw ourselves on beds only to get up 7 o’clock in the morning the next day.
Before we set out for the returning journey from Beni to Pokhara, we decided to make one complete circle of Beni bazaar on our mountain bikes…let people know that four cyclists had been to Beni. While returning from Beni to Pokhara it was almost uphill until Kande.
Way before reaching to Kande, darkness engulfed us and the rest of 40km distance we covered with the help of one light which was attached at Tirtha Awasthi’s mountain bike. By the time I reached home it was already ten o’clock at night. Thanks god all of us reached our homes safely.
Beni is the district headquarters of Mygdi district which lies in Dhaulagiri zone. The name Beni means confluence of two rivers. Beni bazaar is located at the confluence of Kali Gandaki River and Myagdi River at an altitude of 889 meters. In the past Beni was located on the Tibet-Nepal trading route.
Beni is the gateway to reach Mustang and Tibet. Many tourists who love trekking and adventure come to Beni round the year. Dhaulagiri Himalayan range is situated in the northern part of the district. Some famous places on north like Tatopani, Ghasa, Dana, Tipliang, Larjung, and Jomsom and to the west along Myadi River like Babayachour, Sasardhara, Darbang and uphill to Sikha are the places of great importance.
Nangi village is only 5 hours trekking from Beni bazaar where free wifi is available. Mahabir Pun, the recipient of Magsaysay prize, has completely transformed his village. He has brought revolution in his village with free internet and now he is working in the surrounding villages.
Beni Bazaar is sprawled along the Kali Gandaki River. The city is not big but it has still a few places of remarkable beauty. Galeswor temple, Tatopani kunda, Ruise and snowfall in Dhaulagiri are few to name which are quite popular among the tourists. Beni is quite popular for orange and Timmur (Szechwan pepper). The city of Beni Bazaar looks awesome from the peak of Malla’s Heritage. There are some hotels in Beni which provide modern facilities to their guests.
Beni bazaar is not big yet the city has not been managed properly. Beni bazaar is no different than many other growing towns of Nepal. Negligence and misappropriation of local budget have marred local developments of Nepal. Local bus park of Beni bazaar is in poor state so are roads. Speaking with this scribe Prakash Paudel, a local journalist said “Local tourism entrepreneurs are not united to develop tourism sector of Beni. We have famous Kali Gandaki River but no efforts have been made to utilize this river for rafting and canoeing purposes. Trekking agencies of Kathmandu and Pokhara bring tourists with them for the rafting and canoeing and take all the benefits. There are several longer and shorter trekking routes from Beni which Beni trekking and travelling agencies can operate independently but no such efforts have been made till date”.
A visit to the Mallaj Heritage
Next day early in the morning we tightened our boots to scale a steep hill with 1963 steps to reach the Malla’s Heritage. The moment we scaled the mighty hill and reached its peak we were greeted with a beautiful resort opened by Mukunda Malla. The mountain resort was a former palace of the Malla family.
Nearby the resort lies the original palace of earlier Malla kings. Its history goes back to 110 years. A new resort beside the old palace was built by Colonel Tej Bahadur Malla who had brought skilled craftsmen and artisans from Kathmandu to work on his resort. The visitors can feast their eyes on both new resort and old palace at a distance.
There is no entry fee to see the resort and the palace. There are two Mustang dogs firmly tied with poles, which are left loose at night. The guard there told us that those two Mustange dogs have many times fought with mountain tigers.
“These two Mustange dogs have enormous strength and courage. They have fought several times with mountain tiger and every time the tiger had to run away for the safety of his life,” said the guard with a mysterious smile across his face.
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