Far West Nepal
The sight of a white-turbaned Dhami, a shaman, with silver bangles on his arms and gold rings in his ears, will indicate just how far west you are of the modern world. Yet Hinduism and Buddhism blends with animism in local devotions, the most famous object of which was the Khaptad Swami, the renowned ‘eco-saint’ who lived to well over 100 years of age.
Organised tourism has so far been limited to the gentle hills and pastures ofthe Swami’s home, Khaptad National Park, with its snowy backdrop of peaks. But the pristine forests host abundant wildlife, including leopards, monkeys, bearsand rich birdlife. For those with a sense of adventure, there is still much to uncover here – exploration that is as much cultural as it is natural. Just one example is the Chamar’s Dasain, when bulls fuelled with rice-wine and marijuana joust for supremacy – the loser becomes dinner and the winner enjoys a year with the cows!
Trekking in the Far West is authentic as it gets. Trails wind through a land untouched by the hand of time, past ancient orange and lemon groves and flagstoned mediaeval villages. The history of the Malla Kingdom that reigned here from the 12th to the 14th century is not readily discernible today. But in a land that history has left behind, the visitor is free to experience a taste of what trekking must have been like when Nepal first opened up to the world beyond its borders.View more on Flickr
Khaptad National Park is also sometimes called Khaptad Swami or Khaptad Baba in reverence to the legendary Hindu guru who made his ashram in the forest there. Khaptad Swami was a sage who...
Treks in this Region
- Buddhist families here still practice polyandry; a woman will marry into a family of brothers, which has the benefit of keeping the population down and preventing land from being split up.
- Hilsa is the gateway to Tibet's sacred Mount Kailash, which pilgrims from across faiths have visited for thousands of years. The northern landscape of Humla is part of a sacred Buddhist mandala stretching across hundreds of kilometres.
- The inhabitants of the three villages of remote Limi Valley are snowed in for six months a year. When the passes open up in spring they head to Tibet to trade their famous wooden bowls for household goods.
- Snow leopards, though seldom seen, are known to prey on domestic animals, as the stone traps set outside Limi villages testify.