By LB THAPA FOR ONTOTHEROAD.COM
My second day in Butwal was also spent well as I found myself in the middle of Manimukunda Park. If you think this is an ordinary park like any other parks then you have mistaken. This park holds a great history. In a corner of the park has still the remains of the palace, which was built in 1518 by Sen Dynasty king Manimukunda Sen. Historical evidence suggests that the king had built the palace to live here in the winter. The palace contains 6 large rooms for royal residence and administrative purposes. The park is built in the old Batauli bazaar. It lies in the lap of Chure Mountain. It is a perfect vintage point as we can see modern Butwal bazaar from this park.
In 1996 Butwal municipality had decided to preserve the palace of the Sen Dynasty king Manimukunda Sen. A Park was constructed on a large area. It has accommodated the palace and a well managed zoo, where kept some rare animals such as mountain leopard, black bear, red monkey, deer, stag, Hyena, jackal, Japanese roosters, black eagle, boa, python and many more.
In 2008 Manimukunda Sen Park Conservation Council (MSPCC) came into existence. The council has been doing its best to conserve this park and promoting it for domestic and international tourism. Speaking with this scribe, Tri Bikram Raj Basyal, the office in-charge, said “We execute our part of job with due sincerity. Our action speaks louder than our words. Everyday about one thousand visitors enter the park and feast their eyes on the best things the park has maintained for them. We have developed a huge park that is always kept neat and clean. Our main focus is to maintain cleanliness so that those rare animals in the zoo remain healthy and physically fit. However, if animals in the zoo show any sign of illness, we immediately call veterinary doctors Dr.Pradip Sharma Paudel and Dr.Gandhi Raj Upadhya. They take care of these wild animals with great care”.
At the distance of 500 meter of the palace is Jitgadhi fort. This fort bears historical importance. In the past colonel Ujir Singh Thapa had a battle against the British army at this very fort. He successfully defended the fort and chased away the British force. A team of archaeologists had excavated this area and found the traces of a tunnel from the palace to the Jitgadhi fort. It is believed that soldiers would use this tunnel for fighting against the enemy forces.
“We are planning to develop this park as a regional level park, where we want to keep more rare wild animals of different species. We have in fact already started working in this direction as well. Hopefully we will be successful to achieve our goal. We expect little assistance from all quarters of life without that it may not be possible. I understand the undertaking of developing this park as a regional level is a herculean task. But it is still possible. To make it easy we want to execute the job in phase wise” said Tri Bikram Raj Basyal, the office in-charge at Manimukunda Sen Park.
Mr.Basyal said that every year the park council pays a tax of Rs.5,00,000 to Butwal sub-metropolitan city. “Butwal sub-metropolitan city is the patronage of this garden. In 1997 Butwal sub-metropolitan city had established the park with its own resources. Meanwhile, in 2008 the conservation committee of this park had taken charge from Butwal sub-metropolitan city and began taking care of the park independently” informed Mr.Basyal.
Inside the park is a zoo. It may be small but well maintained as there are several wild and rare animals. A huge rock python and boa are the center of attraction. The zoo keepers have left some live chickens in the same place where big python and boa live together. When asked why chickens are kept inside, he said “We don’t know when they are hungry, because pythons and boas don’t eat frequently like other animals. So, we leave some live chickens inside the cage where they live together. Python and boa both kill chickens and eat when they are hungry. They never kill any chickens out of recreation or adventure”.
A huge black bear is really bulky, sturdy and enormous. The zoo keeper told me that the black bear spends most of his time taking rest. Beside bear’s zoo is a mountain leopard’s cage. He is a full grown leopard, which look very attractive but also ferocious. However, the leopard in this zoo is quite friendly with the visitors as he never roars at them who stand close by his net. He rather welcomes them by rubbing his head and neck against the net. This is really a very amazing sight.
Brown jackals and peacocks have enhanced the beauty of the zoo. A long tail full of colorful feathers has made this peacock very special. Every evening the peacock spreads its feathers and dances with elegant steps, said the zoo keeper. There are only two peacocks left in the zoo. The female has about over two meter long tail. Most of the visitors come to see the peacock and its long, colorful tail. Almost all of the animals in the zoo look very friendly with the visitors as they show no sign of aggression or irritation by their presence.
A group of girls from CCT College Butwal stood nearby the leopard’s cage and took photographs with the leopard. “This leopard or even bear and jackals are very friendly. They allow us to stand close by their nets. I think they like our presence” said one of the girls and smiled.
Everyday about one thousand people pour in the park to see these wonderful and rare animals. Most of these visitors are domestic tourists and others are from SAARC nations, especially from India. Until now the numbers of foreign tourists are not impressive, said Tri Bikram Raj Basyal, the office in-charge.
Manimukunda Sen Park has stood as one of the most outstanding tourist destinations in Butwal, but due to lack of proper advertisements quite a few people are aware of this beautiful place. The park has so much history and wild life that this place can be developed an international level tourists’ attraction.
Since the park management authority has allowed organizing picnic party inside the park, where also live the rare, wild animals, this might affect them negatively. These wild animals should have been kept at distance from the crowd. This would help them keep healthy and fit. The people who enjoy picnic inside the park leave a sizeable amount of rubbish around. In fact the conservation committee of the park keeps cleanliness, yet these picnic crowds might pose health hazards to the wild animals in the zoo.
If the zoo authority allot a separate place for the picnic groups, away from the wild animals, will definitely improve the quality of life of those wild animals. However, the zoo management committee has been doing a commendable job by successfully maintaining the park in proper order.
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