This post is an excerpt taken from the original post by Kapil Bisht for english.onlinekhabar.com. To read the full story, click here
“The bus stopped in complete darkness. The only light was the tiny bulb in the sentry’s post; it was hard to tell if the soldier was awake or snoozing. My companion and I got off and the bus moved away, its roar and taillights getting fainter and fainter until it drowned in the dense darkness. We could only feel the asphalt road under our feet. There were no people around, no noise, only the outlines of huge sal trees towering all around us. My companion and I shuffled toward a faint light coming from a hut. A woman was busy feeding splinters of wood to an adobe hearth, coaxing the dozing fire to rise. We ordered tea. Dawn was still an hour away. The only sight available was the feeble fire with our tea brewing over it, the woman the only other person awake in the small settlement. This thin presence of people and sounds associated with human habitation seemed apt, for we were on the edge of Bardia National Park, the largest protected area in Nepal’s lowlands.”
Bisht and his friends proceeded towards Thakurdwara, a Tharu Village where they could spend the rest of the night. They decided to walk 12 kms to reach the resort they had booked as no vehicles were available at that hour. Bisht Writes: “Then the last of the Tharu houses disappeared, and with it the sweet ‘namaste’ that children lavished on us from doorways and courtyards, and we entered a small forest. The dirt road wove through a sal colonnade. We were hemmed in by the dense undergrowth on either side. As we walked we heard the rushing of feet, some light, some heavy, on the crunchy forest floor. I began to feel out of place—a feeling I’ve come to take as the parameter for a wilderness. “
With high hopes of seeing and getting up close with wild animals, Bisht and his friends went on a jungle walk. Talking about his jungle walk experience in Bardia, Bisht writes : “A walk through Bardia’s jungle in the early morning was like moving through a neighborhood of musicians tuning their instruments. Birds chirped as they warmed themselves on the tips of elephant grass. Dew fell on brittle leaves, the sound intensified in the morning quiet. Kingfishers dove into rivers, emerging with breakfast. Eagles screeched and ducks let off sonorous cries. To our silence-deprived ears the jungle was a silent place, but it was actually a symphony of dozens of blended sounds, the soundtrack of an ecosystem.”
To their bad luck, they couldn’t see any wild animal. The day ended without a glimpse of any animal.
“Our day in the jungle ended without a glimpse of these animals. But we spent enough time waiting for these beasts to sink one level deeper into the wilderness, to understand that the beauty of a wilderness lies in the forgotten links it revives—whether through a tiger sighting or the sound of a kingfisher diving in.”
How to get there?
Bisht prefers taking a road trip to get to Bardia National Park. Traveling along the East-West Highway, you will witness a countryside largely unspoiled by the government. Take buses that depart for Dhangadi or Mahendranagar from New Bus Park, Kathmandu. However, if you are on a tight schedule, take a flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj. Thakurdwara is 87 kms from the airport. esorts are happy to send vehicles to fetch you for an extra fee. Other alternatives are taking local buses to Ambassa from Nepalgunj. Thakurdwara is 12 kms away from Ambassa.
Recommended Places to Visit While You are Here
- Tharu Cultural Museum at the national Park entrance gate
- Thakur Baba Temple
- BlackBuck Conservation Area