State Of The Art Of Folk Culture Study In Nepal (IV) : Prem Khatry
Tough travel to Dullu
The Folklore Council, Nepal caravan left Salyan's headquarters Khalanga on Magh 8th in three government jeeps made available through the friendly (and more specifically atithiti devo bhavah) gesture of the Chief District Officer, Krishna Prasad Acharya. The dirt and bumpy road was not very pleasant, but the destination, Kupinde Lake, as well as the natural eauty of the landscape of the west Salyan region surely was. The road ultimately met the Nepalgunj-Jumla highway slightly north of Chhinchu.
Kupinde taal (lake) is nature's gift for the people of Salyan, but unfortunately it lies on the western end of the district, so not many Salyanis can have its glimpse due to its location and the nature of the road. For the Folklore team, there was a strong recommendation from the host, Acharya, and there was no point avoiding it at any cost. Kupinde is a lake with plenty of deep blue water and enough width for boat loving visitors.
With some more work on the rough road, this lake can be an excellent tourist destination from four directions - from the northern districts (Jajarkot, Jumla), from the south and west (Surkhet, Banke), and from the east (Salyan, Dang). It also qualifies to be a destination for long distance travellers from Nepal and India. The lake is formed in the middle of a huge conglomeration of lime stone deposit, and the water exits toward the west forming a stream underneath to go to the famous river of Midwest Nepal, Bheri.
Heading north from Surkhet
The Folklore team consisting of 40 odd professors, linguists, anthropologists, cultural historians, folklorists, historians, poets and researchers moved north from a short stopover at Surkhet following the Surkhet-Dullu road. There were noted dignitaries like Professor Chudamani Bandhu (noted linguist), Jay Raj Pant (folklorist), Surendra KC (historian), Jag Man Gurung (cultural historian), Bishnu Bibhu Ghimire (poet), Jibendra Dev Giri (academician, writer from Surkhet), Jagat Upadhyaya (former registrar, Nepal Sanskrit University), Kapildev Lamichhane (professor Bhairahawa), Kusumakar Neupane (folklorist and poet, Kaski), Krishna Neupane (folklorist, Syangja), Tulasi Pravas (folklore researcher, Syangja), Tulsi Man Shrestha (researcher, professor, Gorkha), Bhakta Rai (linguist, Bhojpur), Kularaj Nirola (folklore researcher, Taplejung), Madhusudan Giri (prof), Narmadeshwari Satyal (academician), Alauddin Falahi (Islam historian and scholar, Sunsari), Guddi Pant (asst. professor, researcher, Doti),
Divsyewari Joshi (Doti), Lakshmi Pokharel (researcher, Bhairahawa), Amba Bhatta (researcher, Kanchanpur), Sheetal Giri (researcher, Rautahat) Sameer Shah (poet), Sashi Thapa Pandit (poet), Kanjok Lama (Humla) and Dil Angdembe (researcher, Taplejung), among others. It was a galaxy of scholars in the true sense of the term.
After a brief stopover at Surkhet, the team began its journey to yet another destination - Dullu, the home of the Khasa Malla rulers of west Nepal. It was soon found that the Surkhet-Dullu road is not very long, but it has a tough topography to clear and serve the passengers. The long and risky bends start after the army camp at Kapase above Surkhet Valley through the old headquarters of Surkhet, Siddhababa steps, Guranse and other hill settlements.
A welcome gesture by Mother Nature with some snow around Guranse and other hilltops was enjoyable, especially for those who hailed from the warmer regions and had not encountered the severe to mild cold temperature on the hills. Separating from the Surkhet-Dailekh Highway and heading down toward the Karnali River was a journey to remain memorable till the end of the day.
The entire length of the road was bumpy, narrow, rough and bending - winding at the same time. But hungry professors and poets tried their best to forget the hard journey with a variety of cultural programmes inside the bus. The star artist to make the rough travel memorable was none other than the academician and noted deuda/folk song singer of Accham, Yagaraj Upadhyaya of the Nepal Academy of Music and Drama. Folklore researcher Prof Tulsiman Shrestha and others did their best to make the journey full of humour and art. Finally, the chilly Dullu hill town and its friendly people welcomed the caravan with their warmest hearts, hands and minds in the late evening.
Cultural-historical assets of Dullu
Wherever the caravan reached and met the locals, there was jubilation of a very high order. People just enjoyed the presence of this galaxy of Kathmandu-based academicians and scholars in their midst. A feeling of reunion surfaced wherever the group went and stopped over to interact with the people. It was a meeting of hope, love, respect and understanding, and a true homecoming for the visitors whose ancestors had moved east, leaving the original home like Dailekh and other mid-western hill districts.
During the heyday of the Khasa rulers, who ruled from Sinja Valley, art and architecture made a high-point mark never seen before. Stone monuments such as victory pillars (birkhamba, dedicated to the heroes of wars), water conduits (naulo), shrines and palaces bear witnesses of the high level civilisation of the Khasa kingdom. Some shrines such as the Dhuleshwar Mahadeva and a few others at and around Dullu as well as the pillars need preservation in order to glorify the history of the region and the country.
The Shirasthan, Navisthan and Jwalaji remain nature's wonder as they sing the glory of the Shiva-Parvati story based on the Swasthani Purana where Shiva carries the dead body of Parvati and sees the fall of her decomposed body at places later known as tirthas or pilgrimages. Here on the bank of the Karnali, Parvati's head and navel had fallen. This apart, what is surprising here is the eternal flame coming from the bank of live streams. These flames may need scientific exploration as they present nature's surprise and potential gas and other mineral deposits at the same time.
Finally, through the 5th national convention, Folklore Council, Nepal, was able to bring cultural awareness among the people of the areas along its trail. The convention completed with the final meet at Birendranagar, Surkhet. More than 80 papers were presented and discussed at length. The convention entrusted Taplejung for the 6th Folklore national event. This convention will involve Taplejung, Terhathum, Phidim, Ilam, Sankhuasabha, Dhankuta, Bhojpur, Morang and Jhapa districts in terms of theme and geographical coverage. (concluded)