“THE OPENING DAY”
It was a late June, 2016!
My journey began from Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport, domestic departure!
Tara/Yeti airways use small, 16 seated short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft, suitable to fly upon high altitude “the Roof of the World”.
In fact intended to fly from Kathmandu through Nepalgunj to Simikot, the hub of Himalaya, but weather of early Monsoon with heavy clouds and some showers were so unfavorable to soar. Therefore our flight could not go directly as scheduled and reached first to Siddharthanagar (formerly called Bhairahawa) which is so close to Lord Buddha’s birth-place Lumbhini.
I was pondered for this coincidence and re-memorized about last 2 years back when I’d visited Lumbhini through this small airport.
Waiting in Siddharthanagar airport for a few hours and then continued to Nepalgunj.
Safely arrived but all the flight programs were cancelled to go forward with the reason of the state of the atmosphere.
No choice but to stay a night at “Siddhartha Hotel” of Nepalgunj.
I’d already expecting to encounter the various unpredictable situations but what happened were almost always too much unforeseeable!
However, I was happy because expedition was already started, so it will be relentlessly sustained!
Hoping to reach Simikot the exit door to Tibet tomorrow!
APPROACHING TIBET THROUGH SIMIKOT”
Next day was like a dream about unknown land.
Early morning woke up and went to Nepalgunj Airport, and fortunately getting the boarding pass from Tara Air.
After waiting some more hours, our little STOL plane flying northwards as right schedule, heading to Simikot. Experiencing skills of daring pilots traveling daily on the highest peaks of Himalaya more than 3,000 metre elevation.
Finally reached to Simikot, a large village which is a headquarter of Humla Karnali Zone in the mountain region of northwestern Nepal.
Runway is relatively short 549 metres (1,800 ft) with airport located at 9,246 ft (2,818 m) above mean sea level.
Small airport building was still under construction and crowded.
However, views were mesmerizing, I can now visualize to continue my journey to reach Purang (Taklakot) in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China crossing border at Hilsa.
There was always another tomorrow, for I have to stay here for awhile.
All the loads were carried by Tibetan speaking village women with wonderful strength!
SIMIKOT: DREAM-LIKE NEVERLAND
Hiked up from the airport and reached to a place for lying down. I’d stayed at “Sun Valley Guesthouse” from where the mountainous views from the window were amazing, and I think I was now in a dream like Neverland. Clock seems to be slowed-down or even stopped.
Simikot is isolated and still as Sangrila. Located over the high pass and inside the inner Himalayas with deep gorge of Humla Karnali river valley.
Going along the tortuous stone paved narrow lanes of village take me through a unique blend of Tibetan Buddhist and Nepali Gurung cultures. Mixed population of Buddhists and Hindus. It is the land where H. H. Dalai Lama had mediated once for the sometime. Every three villages have own Monastery where they go to pray and celebrated the local festivals.
People are looks like Tibetan and speak Indo-Bramble language like Tibetan people. They are simple, quiet, friendly and live in a very humble life-style. Obviously poor but rich again in peace, tranquility and harmony with natural environment.
Their housing style is unique, live in Trans-Himalayan style stone huts plastered with mud. The house types differ little from one ethnic group to the other, but generally easier to visit peoples of the Tibetan-related communities rather than the orthodox Hindu castes who are more reserved and against welcoming strangers inside.
SMALL TEMPLE AT THE EDGE OF THE DEEP GORGE
I walk through the village, proceed through Tallo Gaon part of Simikot, pass by the some cultivating patches and herding ground toward the extreme fringe of the Simikot plateau.
Then I saw the unmistakable temple which I can’t miss it.
It is of course at the southeastern edge of the Simikot ledge, not a big or fancy building, but the environment makes it a very pleasant and special destination. I can view from here to the north to 5-Peaks Pinnacle, above 6000 meters, and a view down to the valley where Humla Karnali river is flowing like a serpentine silver ribbon a thousand meters below.
Experience was, no doubt, physically and spiritually remarkable!