In the second season of episode 1 of Heaven is Myth, Nepal is real, we traveled to Bardiya to celebrate Holi in Bardiya. We have been to Bardiya in the previous season, but we had gone to play Holi in Bardiya.
Bardiya district lies in the Terai region. The land of Bardiya is fertile plains mostly agricultural land and forest. It is highly inhabited by the Tharu community. Bardiya is also home to Bardiya national park. Bardiya National Park is established in 1988 as Royal Bardia National Park, which shares the bank of Karnali River and is separated by the Babai River. It covers an area of 968 km2 (374 sq mi) making it the largest National Park in the Terai Region. Being an undisturbed national park, 70% of the park is covered with forest. It is home to mugger crocodiles, 23 reptile and amphibian species, rhinoceros, wild elephant (two large elephant bulls), Bengal tiger, swamp deer, and Gangetic dolphin, rusty-spotted cat, and 407 bird species.
Holi in Nepal
Holi in Nepal is celebrated in the spring season, which marks the end of winter and welcoming spring. It is a Hindu festival which is also called Fagu Purnima, which falls between mid-February and mid-May. Holi is played by rubbing colors and splashing colored water on each other. Religiously, this is the occasion of the burning of the Holika. It’s the symbolic extinguishing of the negative energies that have taken hold of you.
We heard that Holi in Terali is celebrated differently than Kathmanduites. Let’s check out how we celebrated Holi in Bardiya.
Day 1- Kathmandu to Tharu community Lodge
It was early morning. We packed our gears, cleaned our vehicles, and headed towards Bardiya. After leaving the busy Kathmandu behind, we took a Prithivi highway and stopped for a lunch. Whenever we travel this way, we always stop here to have a plate of noodles. Having lunch at our favorite place, we moved ahead towards Bardiya. I am very excited and quite afraid too. “Our first season of Heaven is Myth, Nepal is real” was lite. So, it was quite challenging whether we could deliver the content that our audiences were expecting from us. Thinking this, I was riding on my Honda XR 190L. But deep down I am confident that I will be able to meet the expectations of my visitors. Riding a bike on a highway has been a part of my life. It was really very adventurous. I felt like I was Tom Cruise of Missing Impossible.
We reached Malakehu. Malekhu is famous for fish. Fisherman fishes fish from the Trishuli river and those fish are sold here in Malekhu. So, whenever you are traveling Prithivi Highway make sure to stop for fish.
Our team was traveling on the Toyota and I am traveling on my Honda bike. Thanks to our sponsors Toyota and Honda.
Without further wasting our time and having lunch and tea breaks on Highway, we reached Narayabgadh. Due to the setting sun, the temperature seems to be a little cooler than before.
The combination of the Plain lands of Terai and the setting sun was like an amazing landscape painting.
It is about 7:00 pm and we just arrived at Tharu community lodge. Our arrival delay made us cancel our camping plans so we will be staying in our rooms today. Tomorrow we will be heading towards Bardia and we will find a suitable place to stay on the way.
Tharu Comminity Homestay
Tharu Community Homestay is more like a simple resort. It has private thatched-roof cottages with attached bathrooms. The rooms are small but facilitated with all the modern facilities like running water, comfy beds, mosquito nets, ceiling fans, and Western-style toilets. Situated beside the Budhi Rapti River, you can witness the great sunrise and sunset views. You can also enjoy the surrounding of Tharu Community Homestay filled with landscaped gardens, parks, the shade of the cottage, and farmyard animals sprinting around. You will observe the typical village life, culture, and tradition of the Tharu Community.
We gathered near a bonfire at Tharu community lodge and spent some quality time. The gathering made us forget our tiredness.
The cool evening breeze, sound of the guitar, and our team’s interesting talks make that night splendid and enjoyable. Spending time with friends is always amazing. These things make life happening. To entice the night, we have brought Yarshagumba Whiskey.
The Y here is Yarshagumba and it is also trying to represent the human body. The Yarshagumba around the Y denotes that it is providing the nutrients of the herbs to the human body and the circle defines the infinite power of Yarshagumba. That is what I think it is.
We happen to taste Ghoongi. It is a special Tharu dish. It tasted amazing. Make sure you try it too.
We were a bit tired and we went to sleep.
Day 2- Chitwan- Bhalubang
Good morning from the Tharu Community Homestay. I slept late because I need to ride my bike for the whole day today. We are feeling unfortunate that we could not camp here because we were late yesterday. Our team already got up and went to the Narayani river to capture the sunrise.
After having breakfast, we were planning to head towards Bardia. We planned to reach at least Bhalubang. Or find a good place to sleep somewhere on the way. We are planning to at least reach Bhalubang but we were not sure how the road was.
How to reach Tharu Community Lodge?
Traveling from Pokhara and Kathmandu we have two ways that lead to the Tharu community lodge. One is from the Thakali Chowk located in kawasoti Bazar. We have signboards to show you the way and the next way is from the Danda Bazaar. When you cross the gate of Danda Bazar you will start seeing signboards that will lead to Tharu Community Homestay.
Sadly, our team Sonam has to return to Kathmandu, due to some problems. After Lunch, we waved goodbye to our friend Sonam and traveled towards Bhalubang.
The road was plain and dusty. It was green everywhere. That is the beauty of the Terai region of Nepal. Some drivers on the route saw our new Toyota Hiace and were trying to get information about the new model. They were inquiring about the price and seat capacity. Some of them were even busy taking pictures.
The road was so dusty that I was totally covered with dust. I couldn’t even recognize myself.
W headed towards Dang, we were unaware that where to spend our night that day. Despite traveling on that dusty road we all are having fun
We reached Bardaghat, the road was full of traffic and dust. It took us about one and a half hours to cross that road. Butwal after half an hour drive from here.
We reached Butwal. Butwal Bazar was busy. The aroma of taste roadside snacks hit our nose and we planned to have some including fulki and coffee too. We went to one vendor and the brother prepared Fulki for us. It was lit. If you ever travel to Butwal don’t forget to taste Fulki. It’s something you must not miss.
As we headed towards Bhalubang, we passed a place called Buddhanagar. In front of us, we saw a never-ending road of Terai. We also stopped for a few minutes to grab some tea on the way.
It was surrounded by a huge dense forest. The road was good. So, I was enjoying my bike ride.
The sunset from the Terai is amazing. Since no high hills obstruct the sunset view, you can observe the best sunset till the very last.
We also stopped for few minutes to grab some tea on the way. To loosen our muscles we stayed a bit longer. Spending time with friends is always amazing. These things make life happening and the memories that cherish forever. After the short tea break, our journey continued.
It was night and we were traveling. On our way, we saw a wildfire. It was amazing and something new for us. We took a few shots from the drone too.
Finally, we reached Bhalubang. We stayed at hotel Everland. It was a long journey and we were very much tired despite traveling in such comfortable vehicles. We went to sleep.
Day 3- Bhalubang- Bardia
Good morning from Bhalubang. As we were planning to reach Bardiya and we moved right away.
On the way, we grabbed some samosa and Tarkari for our breakfast. It was so hot that my teammates were carrying portable fans with them. But we were having fun.
We reached Banke National Park. It takes two more hours to reach Bardia from there. We took some photos and videos.
The long journey of Terai and the team of good friends, made us think that we were living a very beautiful moment which someday in the future will make us look back and smile at how we used to be.
The lifestyle and people over there were very simple. It was different from Kathmandu. Collecting woods, animal husbandry, and innocent smiles were something about the Terai people.
Everyone needs to go someday
So this day is for celebration
By living these moments
I need to hide time from time itself
This day shall pass, so does the year
This youthfulness shall pass, so does life
Only thing is to laugh and make laugh
And one day lying on a soft pillow of memories
Memories and I shall go on a deep sleep
Saying see you tomorrow to Sun, we moved ahead and reached Bardia Jungle Area. The speed limit is 40 km/hr. We stopped for a tea one broth suggested us a video named Hamro Bardia Ramro Bardia on YouTube, which helped us to know more about Bardia.
Finally, we reached the Dalla community homestay at Bardiya. They are waiting to welcome us. We had a local meal which was very delicious.
It is a community homestay accommodation at Dalla Gaon, Bardiya. It is very basic but contains all the modern essential meeds. The houses are made up of mud and wood that reflect the tradition of the Bardiya People. There is a private room system. Toilets are located nearby accommodation. You will get a chance to witness the culture and tradition of Danguara Tharus and to explore the rarest wildlife in Nepal.
Day- 4 Dalla Gaon- Shiva Community Forest
When we woke up, people over there were already on their business. Cycles are their modes of transportation too. Especially females use that.
We planned to go for a jungle walk from Dalla and capture a tiger. I have never seen a tiger in my life before. One of my teammates said he saw a tiger at Zoo. And we were so much excited.
We reached Shiva Community Forest where we will be camping forest later in the evening. Our treehouse stay will be in the community forest too. We walked around three hours in the jungle.
We saw various wildlife and birds. It was a different feeling.
After completing our jungle walk and lunch, we headed towards our camping site. we packed our things and with excitement, we entered the camping site.
We met some people over there who claimed that they saw a tiger. We were hopeful that we also get a chance to see a tiger. After arriving at the camping spot, we set up some tents, cut down some of the bushes, and made arrangements to spend the night.
The main reason to camp there was because it is said tigers move around this area in the morning to drink water.
We got a buffet system there in this forest. We were very lucky to get such great food there. I really like the pickle.
A huge roof of the sky, below the deadly silence of the jungle, and a few of us sleeping inside the tent. The feeling was something that cant be described in words.
We were there, especially to celebrate Holi. This was not a major part of our trip, but this happened to us and we all were having a lot of fun. This was completely a new experience for me and I was loving every bit of it. This amazing experience has made me speechless.
Day-5 – Bardiya National Park
Good morning! The sleep in the tent was good, but it was a little colder at night. We also heard a roar of a tiger in the forest nearby at night. After having Chapatis, we went back to the homestay, freshen ourselves, and headed towards Bardia National Park for Jeep Safari. We were hoping to see animals, especially tigers. In the evening, we were planning to see burning Holika. In the Tharu culture only after the burning of Holika people are allowed to celebrate Holi.
We reached National Park and hear that people traveling before us saw a tiger. We reached Harry Chowk as a gesture of appreciation to the prince. When the prince of Britain Prince Harry came here. He watched the footage of the tigers from the cameras set up at this location.
We were on the spot and were keeping silent so that the tiger can be seen. Our Jeep safari ended, we waited for about 3-4 hours just to see the tiger, but we weren’t lucky enough to see one.
After finishing our lunch, we headed towards the homestay to see the burning Holika in the evening.
Before a day of celebration of Holi, there is a tradition to burn Holika. Every people in the community gathers to complete this tradition. Before burning Holika, they dig a big hole where they place a mixture of rice, sweet, dubho, and turmeric powder. In the same hole, they place a plant called “RER” and make it stable. After it is stable, they bring some dry bushes and light a fire around the plant. After the fire is lit a young boy goes and catches the stem of the plant and he walks about 3 -4 four rounds around the fire. When the flame gets low we through the mud on the flame and try to extinguish it. Finally, when the fire is extinguished, they dig the hole and take out the rice and distribute it among the people as offerings. The mixture of rice is called Bheli.
This is a completely new experience for me. I have never seen something so unique in my life. Everyone was happy and smiling. I was so happy to be there. We were waiting to celebrate a great Holi tomorrow.
Day – 6 Holi Day
Terai is very beautiful. If there were no trees here, we could see a never-ending land.
After having breakfast we went to play Holi with the farmers of the village. All the people of the village had gathered in a place where an idol called Maruwathan which all the villagers worship. They offer the color to the idol before they start playing Holi. They put red tika on others and pour a little bit of colored water over the head. It was completely different from Kathmandu.
Let’s play Holi. Holi Rey
We changed our clothes and followed the ritual again and start playing Holi. We rubbed color on each other and played like kids. Our friend Sonam looked like a Vasuli of Golmaal movie.
Some women were carrying water. It is used to crack volco. They will add milk to the water later. That’s was something different Holi for me. All the people were friendly and really enjoyed the day. We felt like we belonged to that community ever since.
After playing Holi, we went to homestay no 14 at Dalla community homestay to witness the cultural dance. I have already experienced cultural dance before, but it was new at that time.
Day 7- Treehouse
We planned to stay at Treehouse. So we packed food and collecting essentials. Our Toyota got stuck, but we were strong and made it out. We reached our destination. There was an attached toilet on the treehouse.
It’s been five years since the first treehouse was built. The idea was brought here by a french citizen named Richard. Our community accepted this idea and that is why this treehouse is here today.
Our dinner for that day was samosa, potato dishes, chicken, and lettuce. We took our Yarshagumba and enjoyed it will our small and tasty food.
That was the first time we were staying in a treehouse and we had an amazing time.
That place was really adventurous. When you are in Bardia you must once stay in a treehouse.
Day 8- Treehouse- Karnali Bridge
The morning view from the Treehouse was clear. Green surroundings and branches of trees were making the landscape outstanding. Sunrise and sunset from the Terai Region are exponentially beautiful.
We head back to the homestay, had lunch, and went to Karnali Bridge. One the way we saw some animals too. And my cap flew away while taking GoPro shots. Obviously, I went back to take it. It took 45 minutes to reach Karnali Bridge from the homestay. The one side of the bridge is Kailali district and on the other side is Bardiya District.
We all were having and were busy clicking photos and creating memories. There, we happened to eat fish from Karnali river and treated ourselves to delicious fish. We went to see the fishermen’s fish. People were busy fishing on the banks of the Karnali River.
We went back to Dalla Community Homestay. It was our last night at Bardia. We got to meet very amazing people here. People from Bardiya were friendly. we never felt like we were outsiders, not even a bit. The way they involved us in their community and every culture, was something I could never ever forget till my existence.
We are looking forward to coming back here again soon and we hope Bardia can reach a wider audience. We were headed to Bardiya just to see tigers and to play Holi, these few day’s journeys make us realize that Bardiya is not just about the tigers and Holi. Bardiya is a Dense forest of Terai and home to ever-smiling people. Bardiya is river Narayani, Bardia in itself is a new culture. To the seekers Bardiya is not just Bardiya, it is Everything. There are many things you can experience there, you can stay in a treehouse, you can go on a walk, and a jeep safari.