Hike to Chispani: A journey from despair to hope

                                                                         Chisapani before earthquake

          Traveling has been one of my best hobbies. Hiking (trekking) among forests, hills and mountains along the river banks rejuvenate and brings me back to life. Nature is where I want to get lost myself. The more I explore nature, the more I reflect of myself. After the 2015 earthquake of Nepal, everything stood still for few weeks: economy and normal life of people except heightening fear among people and continuous aftershocks.

         The tourism industry which is one of the major income sources to most people was almost in jeopardy along with reputation of country. The media, national as well as international showcased Nepal as debris and ruins aftermath of earthquake. The reality was harsher for 17 districts were affected by earthquake. Chisapani, the most nearest trekking route of 16 km uphill from Kathmandu was among the worst hit area. Among midst of Shivapuri National park, the continuous uphill track provides calm and peaceful surrounding with beautiful hills covered with trees.

        The journey from the bus stand of Sundarijal to Sundarijal Hydel dam is vibrant as usual. This area has been popular hangouts for love birds, friends and family spots acting simply a place to escape from the monotonous life of valley and to feel close to nature. The uphill journey begins from dam area. The earthquake shook villages nearby area badly and all we could see was ruins and debris all around. I spoke to people who had lost all houses along with belongings. They explained their loses and trauma they went through. Luckily there had not been significant losses of life. But almost all houses along route had crumbled after it could not bear tremor of mother earth.

         Amazingly people were so resilient; they had already bounced back to life. Initial days were rough and people had to struggle for basic amenities but they did not want to linger much on relief activities and donors. They built their own temporary shelter and started to go back to their normal life. The journey from despair and helplessness had been full of anxiety but hope for tomorrow made it possible. People started believing on self rather being dependent on government to come and sort their problems; they locally united to roll on things.

          After arduous uphill trek with sip of locally available chilled water and bites of Wai Wai (an instantly eatable Nepali noodle), we reached to the top and the downhill journey began from there. Despite tedious hike, the journey between trees was breath-taking and a bit scary. The thick forest provided with constant beat of sound produced by chirping of birds, howling of jackals and creaking of trees. It was almost dusk with slowly shading sun on horizon, increasing darkness and still destination nowhere in vision made our adrenaline rush. Within walk of hour we saw distant village with almost everything destroyed which again added oil into fire and made our heart beat faster. Finally hours of downhill push ceased our long walk into Chisapani. Except three houses almost everything was converted into ruins.

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Damages after Earthquake Nepal 2014

Damages after Earthquake Nepal 2014

                                                               Damages after Earthquake Nepal 2015

       This was same place where every hotel and restaurant used to run out of space in weekends. Alas! Things were completely different now as there were no visitors or passerby in weeks. People were glad to see us finally as someone dared to visit amid chaos. We were really tired equally hungry. The locally brewed drink (Chan) with boiled noodles brought life in us. We roam around and spoke with people who were direct victim of quake. The incident they told us was heart breaking. The losses and tragedies they went were beyond our imagination but they were trying to return back to normal life. As tourism is only source of income they were waiting eagerly for visitors to come and bounce back to life. They have lost everything but hope stands tall. The life took pause for few weeks but the show must go on.

      This journey not only made me physically strong but emotionally too. Life is the combination of up and down we should not lose faith and hope whether good or bad happens. What may be adversity today it may bring opportunity tomorrow. The despair which earthquake brought among people has been new hope for new beginning of new Nepal.

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