By LB THAPA FOR ONTOTHEROAD.COM
My recently published book “The Pokhara valley: A Traveler’s Guide” published by Nirala Publications, New Delhi, India, was my first serious project. After the success of this book, I wrote “Pokhara and the Annapurnas”. This book was published by the Himalayan Maphouse, Kathmandu, Nepal. So far, this book has been translated into seven languages. Interested readers can buy all my seven books from www.amazon.com.
It took more than 3 years to complete the book ‘The Pokhara Valley’. When I completed the first draft of the book, I was lucky enough to show it to none other than Dr. Harka Gurung—he had been my mentor for a long time. He kept the book for about a week, then one day he called me to receive the manuscript.
He advised me to add one more chapter to make the book more readable and exciting. I was curious to know what he wanted to be added. Until then I was thinking that I had added almost everything worth including about Pokhara. He then told me that as far as he knew no travel guidebook writer had written much about the caves of Pokhara.
“Why don’t you explore the caves to include in your book?” he asked me seriously. I readily accepted his advice. Once I started to explore the caves, only then I realized how difficult and challenging the task of exploring those musty, damp, and treacherous caves, where every step should be treaded with extreme care.
When a chapter on Caving in Pokhara was completed, only then I realized why Dr. Harka Gurung had advised me to undertake the task in particular. The very chapter did really add an extra weight to the book. About a month after the publication of the book, I did receive an email from a lady from England. She wrote that she liked the book very much especially the chapter on Caving in Pokhara.
The caves of Pokhara are mysterious and the subject of urgent attention. Regardless of the shape, size, and religious significance, each cave stands out with its own distinct features. In recent years, caving in Pokhara has become extremely popular among domestic and foreign tourists as an exciting adventure. Honestly speaking writing a traveling guidebook was entirely a new experience for me. I had never made such an attempt in the past except writing tourism related articles. In the course of writing the book, I learnt many valuable lessons. But my caving experience was something that I would never forget in my life.
While exploring the Crazy cave, I fell in a narrow crevice and was trapped badly. I lost my torchlight the moment I fell into the cleft. Thanks god I had not gone into the cave alone. I was accompanied with two local guides. They tried their level best but failed to pull me out. Then one guide went out and brought a rope. With the help of the rope I was rescued in one piece.
The second time I was under the ferocious waterfall of Devi’s falls. I passed through a long tunnel of Gupteswor Mahadev cave and reached the bottom of Devi’s falls. I wanted to capture the best picture of Devi’s falls. I was looking for a special angle. I walked in the pond with great care, but ended up falling in the pond. The water was cold and the pond deep and dark.
I went down speedily and when I was trying hard to come out, the powerful waterfall falling from 200 meters height pushed me down. I made several attempts to free myself but without success. I was fast losing remaining strength of my body. I had to do something fast or my death was inevitable. About that time, an idea flashed my mind. I took a deep plunge into the pond and began swimming straight away from the fall. The idea worked. When I came up onto the surface, I was far away from the deadly trap.
The third time again I was in serious trouble. This time again it was a cave, Bat’s Cave. I explored the cave with great care. The cave was surprisingly spacious and attractive. After walking about half an hour, I reached the other end of the cave. The exit of the cave was much difficult, and I was advised not to make any effort from the exit hole, but I was adamant. I scrambled up and made a daring attempt.
I succeeded in keeping my head and one hand out of the hole, but the remaining body stuck badly. Some small schoolchildren looked at me expecting more fun. Apparently, I became an object of laughing stock for the schoolchildren. Meanwhile, some college students came down to my rescue. They pulled me hard, one of them pulled my hair…I was out. I thanked the boys for saving my life.
Whether it is Lonely Planet or Rough Guide books, they have not written much about the caves in Pokhara. The readers can find it in the book. One more thing that other authors did even hardly touch is Shamanism in Pokhara.
Over the last one decade, some very important books on shamanism have been published, which are truly well researched. I traveled across Pokhara and found about one dozen shamans professionally engaged in the practice of shamanism. With the passage of time, even women have stepped into the practice of shamanism. I met them all and have given a brief account of their trade in the book.
I am extremely thrilled to early success of the book—it is selling well. I have learnt a lot while writing this book. You need to visit nook and cranny and confirm the information before it is included in the book. Otherwise you might give a wrong piece of information. And this is not only bad, but sometimes it could be fatal also.
The book is out in the hands of the valued readers. They are the true judge of the work. I will be hugely benefited by their constructive suggestions. At this stage, I can only promise that the forthcoming edition of the book will be even more constructive and exhaustive.
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