Off the beaten Treks
Kanchanpur and Ilam
Kanchanpur: Belkot Lake
Simply Ilam
Ilam: Barahakshetra to be promoted as new tourist spots
trekking areas
Kanchanpur: Belkot Lake
Religious and tourism spot to be developed
Kanchanpur The Belkot lake at Daiji VDC - 5 in Kanchanpur district is being developed as a spot of religious and tourism importance for tourists and visitors.The lake at an altitude of 1,400 metres on the lap of chure hill is awaiting proper preservation because of lack of proper clean up.The 4-hectare area lake is located at the dense forest 8 kms from the east-west highway and 21 kms from the headquarters Mahendranagar.

The lake is now developed as an entertainment park, a picnic spot with running boating after it was cleaned up.The lake is also interspersed with hundreds of fruits and flower trees around, entertainment spots and plenty of birds of various species. The lake has ancient inscriptions depicting the Doteli culture.

A wall was constructed by raising the surface of the lake in association with the ministry for culture, tourism and civil aviation. There lies the important religious shrine of Baijanath temple beside it. A large number of devotees also visit the temple after taking a dip in the lake in Magh Shukla Dashami day. A fair weather road reaches the lake from Jogbudha of Dadeldhura district. People believe that taking a bath in the lake cures all diseases of skin. As per the mythology, the king of Lanka Ravan had received in blessing the Lord Shiva himself and was taking the lord in the form of rock. On complaints of the gods, Lord Bishnu (Wishnu) disguising himself as a cow herder stopped him and Lord Shiva, the rock was dropped here. Many lakes including the Jhimila, Banda, Sundeu, Kalikich, Shova, Puraina, Gadbijila are lying useless because of lack of publicity.


Simply Ilam
Ilam Everybody has heard about it but nobody has really seen it. There isn't anybody who doesn't know where it is yet there are only a few who have actually been to that wonderful place called Ilam. As to what I have felt when I say Ilam, well, here I am, ready to take you on a flight of imagination to the land of the five As.

Alu, Amliso, Adua, Alaichi and Aolan which in Nepali stands for potato, broom, ginger, cardamom and milk respectively is said to be what Ilam is famous for. The sixth A if Imay add is Aura- an aura of mistiness in which Ilam is always covered. It seems to be shrouded in a veil of mist.

Situated in Eastern Nepal, occupying approximately 1703 sq km, Ilam district falls under the Mechi zone. At the extreme east lies Pashupatinagar, a small village separating us from India. The neighbouring town and the quite famous Darjeeling are a mere forty-five minutes drive away.

Ilam was aimed at providing thrill to pleasure seekers and the Barahachhetra for the Hindu devotees of Nepal and bordering cities of India. Ilam, a hilly district situated at the eastern development region is at a distance of 18 hour-bus ride from Kathmandu. The district is famous for tea products and also for the high-valued pilgrimage.

The prime identity of Ilam is its famous tea estates. However, it is also famous for the dazzling sunrise and sunset views from the Sri Antudanda. Ilam is also known for several religious and historically important sites. While Maipokhari and Gajurmukhi are some important religious sites of Ilam, the district falls along the route the famous Pathivara Devi's temple, situated in Taplejung district. The beautiful Buddhagufa, Hanspokhari and Fikkal are the other scenic attractions. Chulachuli region and Manmulang are known for beautiful landscape.

As you drive upwards from Barne, you actually appreciate the gradual climb from the Terai to the mountains. The plateaus and the terraces mark your ascent and theterrain unfolds in front of you as you turn back to view the flat plains of the terai and extend your neck to confront the rising mountains.

Populated with almost "char jat ra chattis barna" or the four main castes and thirty-six subcastes, you will meet robust and friendly people. I say robust because the people have an abundant dose of milk and it"s products and friendly because the mountain air keeps the system clean and besides, there is always some good home-made "raksi" (alcohol) to go around. And while you are in Ilam you can smile and say "cheese" because that is what you are going to see all around, cheese and more cheesefactories. It is said that the cheese factory in Pashupatinagar is one of the biggest in Asia.

Ilam has an aura of greenness about it as the vegetation consists of a variety of evergreen trees namely uttis, dhupi, katus and pines. However nothing is more pleasingto the eye than seeing rolling hills of tea stretching as far as the eye can see. These plantations of the richly flavoured tea are also what Ilam is famous for. Connoisseurs have expressed much satisfaction about Ilam tea because of the simple fact that the tea bushes are much younger and the pliancy and the flavour have not yet been marred by age, - "old is gold" is not what applies here. A "sencha" or green tea factory with Japanese technology, one of the first of its kind in Nepal is also currently underway.

Agriculture is the mainstay occupation of the Ilamese. As seasons change, so do the vegetables and the flowers. It would be unfair of me not to mention the flowers because it is here that you see the most beautiful orchids blossom and those fragile begunias and merry marigolds. Ilam also offers some rare and exotic herbs boastingof medicinal value and which unfortunately and as would be expected we have not been able to exploit. Ilam, situated at such a great height has of course a weathermore on the cooler side. When the sun shines, it is hot for a few months but winters are extremely cold and there have been histories of snowfall in the neighbouring higher villages. After you have acquainted yourself with the ways of Ilam, you can visit all the sites the place has to offer.

A brilliant sunrise awaits you at Antu danda. A solitary mountain, approx. 7637 ft. above sea level, Antu danda is visited by nature loving people to view the sun rise andset. It can be glimpsed as a perfect pink ball gradually glazened by golden hues turning to shiny balls as it rises over this age old mountain. This has helped to name Ilamas "the land of sunrises".

Sandakpur, amidst the Himalayas, situated in the northwest part of Ilam at the Indo-Nepal border is a trekker"s delight. It can be reached by vehicle or for the moreadventurous ones, trekking right up to it would be preferable. There, an astounding sight of our national flower, the Rhododendron or Laligurans, will reward you.Sandakpur is the place of origin of the famous Maikhola that runs through Ilam. Not only does it offer you the festivities of spring but some prefer to roll in the snow inwinter. So it"s a place for all seasons.

Mai Pokhari, a lake situated 15 km north of Ilam is a place of pilgrimage. A very old temple of the goddess Bhagwati lies beside the lake. Known as the abode of nine gods and goddesses, the lake has nine corners. A heavy blanket of trees surrounds the area. As all ancient places, this place also has a story where it is said that in theage of the good, birds kept watch over this lake. They picked up all the leaves that fell into this pond and kept it beautiful and pristine. But the situation is not the same now. The birds and the government have both stopped caring for this holy place so we can all imagine the state that the place is in. Besides its religious background, the place has sentimental value, for many martyrs were killed at this very place in the agitation of 1961. So you will have a lot of points to ponder beside this pond.
Gajumukhi, situated on the banks of Deumai khola is another place of pilgrimage where devotees come with the hope of being blessed with children. Hanspokhari is, orrather was, a lake famous for its temple of Pathivara devi. Each of these places has to its credit a story or rather folklore, enchanting as the places themselves.

If your thirst for visiting religious shrines has not yet been fulfilled, then Ilam has not yet finished offering its wonders yet. You can see the temple of Panchakanya nearthe village of Aitabara. No shrines of statues decorate this place, instead you will find rocks surrounded by trishuls in all shapes and sizes but its simplicity out does the fervour of its devotees. Deep in a cave lies the shrine of Singha Devi Sthal, which you reach after you traverse a tunnel made of rocks. But sinners should beware- the tunnel is said to squeeze people who are not pure, just a saying though.

There are a couple of places where you can shop around a bit too. Definitely it would be wise not to expect too much glamour here. Pashupatinagar, right at the borderwith India offers you an assortment of goods ranging from umbrellas to Camay soaps to Nepali chappals (hatti chhap ones). In Ilam bazaar you can buy the famous "bambaisan mithai" which is a sweet meat made of milk. The wisest thing to buy would be its local speciality, which is cheese and tea.

As to what I personally feel, to feel the biting cold, to sip the freshly brewed tea, to see the green rolling landscape and munch cheese at the same time, to come in touchwith the peace within you at the banks of Mai pokhari, you have to visit the place. It is as simple as that.


Ilam: Barahakshetra to be promoted as new tourist spots
Ilam With an aim to develop alternative tourism destinations, the government and Destination Nepal Campaign (DNC) is planning to promote Ilam as a new hub destination and Barahachhetra as a religious tourism destination. "Ilam can provide excitement to pleasure seekers, Barahachhetra can be an attraction for religious tourists.

Ilam can be developed as a tourism hub. The basic infrastructure like transportation already exists," officials said . While the prime identity of Ilam is its famous tea estates, it is also famous for the dazzling sunrise and sunset views. During the winter season many people throng to Sri Antudanda for the breath-taking sunrise view.

Ilam is also famous for several religious and historically important sites. While Mai Pokhari and Gajurmukhi are some important religious sites of Ilam, the district falls along the route the famous Pathivara Devi's temple, situated inside Taplejung district. The beautiful Buddha Gufa, Hanspokhari and Fikkal are the other scenic attractions. Chulachuli region and Manmulang provide panoramic views of nature.

The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) had recently published more than 10 different types of postcards with the exotic scenes of the district. Similarly, the Barahachhetra, situated at north-western part of the Sunsari district is famous among the Hindus in Nepal as well as in India. The government has already begun construction to develop it as a great Barahachhetra region.

Mai Pokhari designated as Ramsar site

Mai Pokhari, a mid-hill wetland of religious significance in eastern Ilam district of Nepal has been declared a Ramsar site. The Ramsar Secretariat handed over the Ramsar certificate confirming Mai Pokhari as a Ramsar site to Mr. Shyam Bajimaya, Director General of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation at a programme organized during the 10th Conference of Parties to the Ramsar Convention (COP10) at Changwon, the Republic of Korea on 28 October 2008.

Mai Pokhari, with catchment of 12 hectares, is located 13 kilometres away from the district headquarters. It is a major habitat for some indigenous animal species like tree frog, and Himalayan newt commonly known as 'Thakthake' and habitat for more than 300 species of birds. Mai Pokhari holds cultural and religious significance for Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims. WWF Nepal has conducted a detailed cultural and religious study of Mai Pokhari (see the downloadable booklet in Nepali).

With the declaration, Nepal now has nine wetlands listed as wetlands of international significance. The four listed wetlands in Terai are Koshi Tappu, Beeshajari Lake, Jagadhispur Reservoir and Ghodaghodi Lake. Similarly, Gokyo and associated lakes, Gosaikunda, Phoksundo and Rara lakes are the four other high altitude wetlands designated as Ramsar sites.

Wetlands are defined to include rivers, lakes, swamps, and marine areas less than six metres in depth.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands - signed in 1971 in the city of Ramsar, Iran - is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. There are currently 156 Parties to the Convention, with 1,676 wetland sites, totalling 150 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

Member countries of the treaty are obliged to manage all wetlands in a sustainable manner, promoting the wise use of all wetlands within their territory; consult with other Parties about the implementation of the Convention, especially with regard to trans-frontier wetlands, shared water systems, shared species, and development; and designate wetlands that meet the criteria for inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance for conservation.

Source: WWF Nepal , October 2008