June 12, 2019 09:24 AM NPT
By: DB BUDHA
Vehicles passing through a muddy section of Nagma-Gamgadhi road in this recent photo.
JUMLA, June 11: The Nagma-Gamgadhi road section which leads to the mesmerizing Rara hill is quite busy these days. Every day, hundreds of vehicles ply the road. Most often than not, drivers and passengers get off the vehicle for a while and start pushing it ahead. Crossing the route without doing so is almost impossible. According to a local of Gamgadhi, Harilal Sarki, amateur drivers should not try to drive along this route.
“If you want to avoid accident, then stay away from this road,” he warns.
When this track was opened, the locals including Sarki were very happy. They rejoiced the opening of the road which was their long awaited dream. However, the pathetic condition has left them soul searching.
“When it rains heavily, crossing the road is unimaginable. But for vehicles which is already en route, the road is a huge nuisance,” Sarki noted.
Sarki has been hearing about upgrading the road since a long time. But he does not know when that will happen. “It was said that the new local government would do something, but nothing has changed.”
Rara lake is compared to a part of heaven by visitors. Whether it is internal visitors or foreign tourists, this lake leaves them spellbound. There are many other beautiful places around for the visitors. However, the road to the beautiful destinations scares the hell out of people.
“The roads are not tourist-friendly at all. But the issue could not draw the attention of the government. If this continues to be neglected, fewer tourists will return back here again,” said Sarki.
During the dry season, the road is equally difficult to travel. Excessive dust makes it troublesome to journey along this route. “You get covered by dust from head to toe. Even those who are inside vehicles are hardly spared. The cloud of dust makes it hard for the drivers to move ahead,” Sarki remarked.
There is no drinking water facility, toilets, health centers or any refreshing areas on the way. The locals believe tourists do not like to come here again and again due to the same reason.
“Even though they greatly love this place and might love to come back, the hassles on the way definitely make them rethink. There isn’t even minimum facility, instead they have to utter the name of the god out of fear while crossing the road,” Sarki said. “Basically when they fall sick, there is no medical help.”
Hari Adhikari, an internal tourist seen near Rara Lake, fully agrees to the remarks made by Sarki. “Although the natural beauty of this place is beyond description, coming here is not an easy task. The hassles on the way make you drop the idea of coming here again and again,” he said.
He suggested for immediate upgrading of the road block and better facilities for tourists so that the Visit Nepal Year 2019 brings large number of tourists here. “Without proper management, how can Visit Nepal Year be successful? If this road is graveled and blacktopped, hundreds of tourists would swarm in. If there are proper facilities, they would definitely come back again,” he stated.
Although the Nagma–Gamgadhi road section gets through three rural municipalities – Hima, Sija and Kanakasundari, those local units have not taken enough initiative to upgrade the road, according to the locals.
Neither have the administrations kept data on the number of tourists visiting the Rara Lake. Sarki stated that Sija Rural Municipality has a few tourist-centered packages, but the other two municipalities simply have no strategies for tourism promotion.
“There are many problems in fact,” notes chairperson of Sija Rural Municipality Dewal Singh Rawal. “All the local bodies connected to the Karnali Highway should have been equally concerned about attracting tourists, and we should have worked hand in hand. But that is not the case,” he lamented.
He however added that a meeting of the local representatives of Karnali is going to be held soon. “All the administrative chiefs and local representatives are going to meet soon to discuss on how we can move ahead for sustainable tourism development,” he said. “The issues of hotels, roads, hospitals etc would be raised in the meeting. We have to invest for necessary infrastructures and facilities.”
Karnali Province had announced the year 2075, which ended two months ago, as Rara-Karnali Visit Year. But this did not become fruitful. The lack of facilities did not draw the expected number of tourists.