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Stupidity and Sense- Disrupted Travel Log

-By Kshitij Regmi with inputs from Arati Gurung

Rani Mahal, Palpa

“Chadna Ni Hune, Jotna Ni hune, Tara Tyesko Gobar le Potna Nahune, Singh Nabhako, Puchaar Tauko ma Bhako.  Ke Ho?”  Meaning you can take a ride on it, you can plough the fields with it, but you can’t wipe your porch with its waste, nor does it have a horn but it does have a tail on its head. What is it?  Madan Krishna and Hari Bansha Acharya in one of their famous comedy routines said the answer to this question was ‘Nepali People’ - referring to the stupidity, indiscipline and the arrogance we Nepali’s show time and again I can’t help but agree with what Maha jodi has said for I have realized this fact many times. Today I share with you one of the classiest examples of our stupidity and senselessness.

Tansen Feb 21 2007

Phones were ringing ever since the early morning; the news: another bandh. After an impossible two days of continuous event organizing made possible in Butwal and Palpa, we were eagerly looking forward to return to Kathmandu but the bandh stood in our way. Instead of boozing and wandering in Tansen the members of  Sayas Band announced decision of going to Rani Mahal. After winning 3 Hits FM Music award the bands’ spirit was high. The idea excited us too but we were worried about the walking, it was a whole 3 and  a half hours of continuous walking through a dense forest to reach the sacred palace, forget about returning uphill! It had been a while since I had taken a walk - apart from the regular marathon walks to the office on Nepal Bandhs.

But I could not miss the opportunity of witnessing the history of love, enthusiasm and the luxury of our Kings. We decided to take the much talked about trek from ‘Batase Danda’ to Kali Gandaki riverbank to see the famous Rani Mahal.

I encouraged myself to walk promising myself that I was going to see Nepals’ Taz Mahal - white, bright, and shining, sharing its timeless story with the calm, deep Kali Gandaki. The picture was so perfect; I went singing all the way, it was pretty romantic. Every turning and each passing waterfall would add up to the beautiful scene that I imagined awaited me.

After four hours of straight downhill walking I heard the guys in front shout  ‘Ayo, Ayo’ (we have arrived!). In all the excitement, I actually forgot about the fact that I had a whole row of hills to climb to reach Palpa again.

But when I saw the building, I could not believe my eyes - to my disappointment it was dull and broken. Years of isolation gave it a weary look. After a brief tea break at the small cottage that overlooked the palace, we made way towards the historic building. But every step I took towards it broke my heart. I could hear the palace’s feeble voice as it was trying to tell me of its glorious years back then. The present scene though was telling me of how we the people tore down its’ glory and throttled it’s soul.

The once beautiful palace is nothing but a hollow stone chamber – it’s strong pillars are struggling to hold on to its base, its doors and windows have been taken to fuel countless kitchens. The fazed white walls have become a place for shameless people to write their stories of stupidity and crazy acts in the name of love.  Black charcoals and the broken bricks write pointless poems and useless messages and even email addresses.  There was not a single space on the wall that wasn’t ripped of its beauty by these mongrels.

Fit with emotion, I began cursing all those who had committed an act so reckless – it is unforgivable. Alongside my anger was also the understanding that people do what they are taught. Has our country and our teaching system ever taught us to help protect and conserve our cultural and natural heritage? No, never in my 17 years of schooling have I come across any topic that has taught us to look at our history with respect. Even after 11 years of passing my SLC exams I still don’t see any of my brothers studying any such lesson. 

Mr. Shyam S.L. Kakchapati was one of the members of the team who renovated Rani Mahal a few years ago, he was with us and he had more reason to be disgusted. Their effort collapsed with what the people had done to the palace. He gave us an imaginary tour of the palace area of what had once been, as now nothing remained.  The team had completely renovated the building with some work remaining in the renovation of the boundaries. After spending over 50 lakhs on the renovation, the government changed and the building was left to be eaten in pieces. People brutally took away the terrace to cover their animal shades, the wood works were torn apart and the hired guard could not stand the robberies and quit the job

Today the Rani Mahal stands cold in it’s own shadows and it’s hollow rooms echo of unspeakable pain. The barren courtyards try its best to shine for every visitor but the palace’s crumbled surroundings give away the truth of its sufferings. It shames me to admit that instead of maintaining such a historical treasure – we raped it of its pride shred by shred.

I returned to Palpa that night with a heavy heart, sleep came but it wasn’t as relaxing as one would have expected to be. Rani Mahal has embedded its unforgettable image in my heart and its pain even deeper so.

The Maha Jodi put it right,  “Chadna Ni Hune, Jotna Ni hune, Tara Tyesko Gobar le Potna Nahune, Singh Nabhako, Puchaar Tauko ma Bhako.  HAMI Ho! Yes, it is us.

Having said that one may ask, is it right to brand ourselves stupid just because a bunch of maniacs did it?  There is a simple answer: we have all celebrated Appa Sherpa’s thirteenth successful Mount Everest Summit, if we want to celebrate the glory of our people we have to bare the shame too.  

Tell us your experience and lets educate our people to be human beings.

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