इलामभित्र झापा ॥ एउटा जिल्लाको बीचमा अर्को सानो जिल्ला ॥ Jhapa surrounded by ilam

इलामभित्र झापा ॥ एउटा जिल्लाको बीचमा अर्को सानो जिल्ला ॥ Jhapa surrounded by ilam

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We all know very well that each of Nepal's locations have their own unique speciality. But we might not now there are some which are totally different than what we think. This is Badamtar area in Ilam. Shaped just like a badam(peanut). All of this area is Ilam, but there are several islands here which falls in Jhapa district. Right in the middle of Ilam district is this small area of Jhapa.

Should be around 150 bigha(a unit of measurement). Even the taxes are paid in Jhapa district. Not just a single area like this, but there are several which falls under Jhapa. This is old Dhaapar Pokhari, now an agricultural land which falls under Jhapa. This also falls under Jhapa. I am standing in Ilam right now.

Whereas everything around it, all of these mountains is Ilam. A good agricultural land Badamtar, where people only lived during the day. And returned back to higher grounds during the night because of the fear of malaria. After working all day here, and then in the evening... Because of the fear of malaria, they went across to spend the night in places called Tungne and Ekratey.

And that's how they worked this land. I am the old man who survived all odds. Biring river almost swept me up there in Odare. I married 12 times. 12 marraiges!

We will explore Shantipur village of Ilam. We will enjoy our time around the beautiful temples and tea gardens in Shantipur. We will explore some beautiful places today. We will traverse through rivers and agricultural lands on this journey. Now, how to go further? Just push through! We will present to you some captivating footages of Badamtar, Shantipur, and a piece of Jhapa district that falls within Ilam.

Please, do watch the video till the end! This is Birtamod. A major trade hub of Jhapa district. A well developed and facilitated city with proper health, education, and transportation. And it looks equally grand. This is the city of Birtamod, a major city of Eastern Nepal.

And this is the main junction of the city called Mukti Chowk. Today, our journey takes us North from Birtamod. And we'll be going to an interesting place called Badamtar via Khudunabari. And the place, Badamtar falls under Rong municipal of Ilam district. So, a village sits in an island like area at that place. Surrounded by Ilam on all sides, but a small island like area falling under another district, Jhapa.

Plus, we'll show you many other interesting places and things today. And other places that we come across in the journey. Mukti Chowk of Birtamod, very busy and alive. This is a major bazaar for regional Terai areas as well as many Eastern moutainous region. We head North from Birtamod.

This is called Sanischare road. And we travel straight to Khudunabari. And from there, we leave the main road and travel further inside. This is Sanischare Bazaar, an old bazaar of Jhapa district. But recently, there seems to be lesser activities here.

There's Arjundhara Temple in Sanischare. We'll pay our respects there and continue our journey further. This is the Pashupati Nath in Eastern Nepal.

Arjundhara Jaleshwor Dhaam, pashupati nath of the East. Where Arjun shot his arrow to produce water for quenching the thirst of a cow. Arjundhara Jaleshowor Dhaam is an important site during the Mahabharata period and holds a great religious importance. We continue further North. This is the bridge in Biring river. Before this bridge was constructed, the life of people living across was quite challenging.

It was impossible to cross during the monsoon. The bridge took some time to be constructed, and it's much convenient now. Large plots of rice fields, and beautiful houses constructed in the middle. This house has been constrcuted in a different way, and it looks unique and beautiful. The road is paved and is quite convenient until now.

A similar quality paved road has reached up to Danabari of Ilam. This is Tangting river and the bridge here was constructed in latter years as well. Just a decade ago, this area faced great difficulty in transportation. Our destination today is that mountainous region that you see far way from Tangting river.

But I cannot say for certain, which one. This is Khudunabari Bazaar. There was a Bhutanese refugee camp in this area. And this bazaar was much alive during that time.

After the Bhutanese refugees relocated to other nations, the activities here have drastically diminished. You can see a statue of Mahaguru Falgunanda in this junction. The bazaar is actually quite expansive.

We're at Khudunabari Chowk. There used to be a Bhutanese refugee camp in this place and it also has a large bazaar. The straight road from here will take you to Danabari and then to various regions of Ilam district.

Whereas, we're heading towards the East to Badamtar from this point. Through some winding roads... I guess, we'll reach there in around an hour. We leave the major road from Khudanabari to Danabari, and head East towards Badamtar. We travel via a place called Dudhe, and then to Badamtar and Shantipur. However, there are other alternative routes to Badamtar.

But during the rain, we've learned that it's easier to travel from Ganjabari, Dudhe, and finally to Badamtar. And we choose this route. Now, the settlements thin out. A large expanse of agricultural land with healthy rice paddies. The road continually ascends, but a subtle uphill climb.

The village is spread out in this way. Very less traffic and most are travelling by foot. Lush green rice paddy wherever the eyes roam. A very fertile land for agriculture.

Irrigated by a river nearby, must be the Tangting. Beautiful carpet of rice paddy. A flatland resting on the foothills of beautiful hills. The view is absolutely beautiful, let's spend some time here. We crossed innumerable big and small rivers and brooks.

Now, the roads are a bit tricky. We've left Jhapa and entered Ilam. The river that we crossed earlier was Jhapa, and further down the road... And the first village on that road is this village, Dudhe.

Badamtar is a little further ahead. The roads are not that difficult, however, it can be challenging during the monsoon. A bit muddy. They say it's even muddier further ahead.

Now, we head straight to Badamtar. You are only at the tail of Dudhe. First, you get to Dhansar, and then to Mangalsar, and finally to Badamtar. How big is this village? It's stretches till up there. This Dudhe village extends high up there. After that, there's a short stretch of jungle, and then you'll reach another village called Dhansar. And straight ahead from there, Mangaltar.

And further ahead is Badamtar. Yeah, the roads are in quite poor state in places. We've left Jhapa and now enter Ilam. All of this falls within Rong municipal of Ilam.

There's a good production of Betel nuts and banana. Plus, an abundance of rice fields everywhere. A very fertile land indeed. How to go now? Just push forward. After a short uphill ride, we reach this place called Mangaltar. If the top portion of a moutain range is a flatland, it is called Taar or Tar. Tar, Pathar, or a small plateau.

There are many such Tar in this region. This is Mangaltar, and there's a nearby Tar called Barphalang, and then finally, Badamtar. The West-South region of this Rong municipal could be called a region of Tars.

These Tars are very good for betel nut farming. Betel nut is a major cash crop here. It fetches good income yearly with little effort. Most of the Betel nuts produced here are contracted and purchased by Indian merchants and exported to India.

The road is not too bad with exceptions in few places. Gravelled road. Old traditional houses rests peacefully amongst the groves of Betel nut trees. The houses are very spreadout. There's some distance from one house to another.

A subtle uphill ride, you don't realize the altitude that you've gained. After a 1.5 to 2 hour ride from Birtamod, we have arrived at this place, Badamtar region. Badamtar seems to be a large plateau.

Tar meaning a flatland atop a hill or a mountain. There's a large settlement here, lots of houses. Predominantly, rice fields. And a huge number of betel nut trees in this area.

A captivating and cool place. Two rivers flow on either side, and huge chunk of land has risen high from the ground. In a big area. And there's a flatland atop this mass of land. And a village had settled in this unique area, Badamtar.

A school in the lower part of the village and village spread across the plateau. An abundance of cash crop, Betel nuts and food crop, rice. A fertile land where everything grows and a very beautiful place. Most houses in Badamtar are still the old traditional wooden houses.

A few cemented houses here and there. A massive plateau spread out across hundreds of hectars of land. Enjoyable even when roaming aimlessly. This place holds a great tourism potential, but nothing has been done until now. Old traditional houses nestled within beautiful garden.

There are multiple side roads branching from the main road. Adn these side roads reaches almost every corners of the village. Here's a interesting place. Locals Narkumar Rai and Sandhu sir and giving us a tour of Badamtar. Jhapa district surrounded by Ilam on all sides. Actually, we've already left main region of Jhapa district, but these are small areas of Jhapa.

Very unusual! The area you see behind me, that we're capturing on the camera... A region situated in the middle of Ilam district, which is Jhapa district. The mapping began from Jhapa... And all of those regions that were flatlands...

And those regions... When the government began mapping of the land... And this middle portion that we talked about was also mapped by the Jhapa district. That's how we should understand it. It should be around 150 Bigha. So if these lands are personal, where are the owners of these lands? Some are here, living in Ilam district.

And some are in Jhapa district as well. The taxes are also paid accordingly, the Jhapa region pays their taxes to Jhapa district. This region is called Hattisunde. So, it's like... It's surrounded by Ilam on all sides. But the middle region is Jhapa. Almost like a valley.

The shape of this place is almost like a Hattisundh(Elephant's trunk). That must be the reason it's called so... We don't exactly know how our forefathers named it. The land you see far away including the rice fields is called Hattisundhe.

As you can see, it comprises hundreds of Bigha of agricultural land and settlements. But all other areas around it is Ilam district, we left main Jhapa long ago. But this middle region is Jhapa, again.

The mapping was done by Jhapa district, all land transactions, taxes and stuff, everything is done in Jhapa. Jhapa within Ilam district, it's quite intriguing to hear and see this. This is Jhapa district. It spreads out around 100-150 Bigha. Some plots are Numberi whereas some are Ailani. The Jhapa within Ilam is quite mesmerizing.

But here, this is Ilam. And you can see that first rice field, that is also Ilam. The moutains far away and everything in and between is Ilam. But the rice fields to the left is Jhapa. Now, another intrigue. This is old Dhapar Pokhari(pond). Currently, a fertile agricultural land. Right next to Shashi Madhyamik Bidhyala in Badamtar...

There used to be a pond called Dhapar Pokhari. Just to make a rough estimation of this area... I'd say it's about 5 to 6 Bigha, but I can't say for sure.

But this particular piece of land falls within Jhapa. Where I'm standing, it's Ilam. All you can see from here, all the mountains, everything is Ilam...

But this pond... After it dried up, you can see that it's used for agriculture now. And you can see rice plantations here. And the official works, taxes, and other stuffs, all of it has to be done back in Jhapa.

What's intriguing is that this small piece of land, which was a pond before is Jhapa. And all the area surrounding it is Ilam district. It's quite interesting. Badamtar also has an interesting history. To learn more on the subject, we head towards Shashi Madhyamik Bidhyalaya. Since the year BS 2011...

People started clearing the land and settling here. As far as I know and can tell... Since BS 2018, people built houses and permanently started living here. To the East is Goyang river and to the west is Tangting. And surrounded by these two rivers...

The geography of this place resembles a peanut in shape... So the first theory was that it was named Badamtar because of that. The other theory is that, in the beginning, a man named Badame Rai... He was the first person to live in this place. So since Badame Rai was the first to live here...

Hence, it's beleived that it was named so because of the first resident of this place, Badame Rai. But in fact, it actually resembles a peanut... So I think that could be the probable theory.

Long ago, people were afraid to live permanently in Badamtar. They worked the fields all day, and returned back to the higher grounds at night due to a fear of malaria. The elders tell us that there was an epidemic of malaria in this place back then.

They used to work here all day, and then in the evening... Because of the fear of malaria, they went across to live in places like Tungne, Ekratey, etc. There was a tradition of working the fields in that way for a long time. But after BS 2020-2021... Eventually, people started coming in and settling in this place. So such is the history of this place.

Even though, there's still a challenge regarding roads and transportation... Water and irrigation system has been existing here for more than 50 years. Irrigation began in the year BS 2034 through an endless effort of an individual and the initiative succedded as well.

But we've learned a sad fact from the locals that he was murdered during the civil war in the country. From the year BS 2032, the drinking water in here... Was facilitated... The drinking water project was done by ILO.

And as far as I can tell, from the year BS 2034... Irrigation was established in this region. For which, our local elder leader Mr.Chandrakanta Bhattarai has made a significant effort and contribution. His vision...

And according to his plans... Irrigation was introduced here. Because of which, irrigation is still used in this region. The irrigation channel was cut in through a large landslide. Because of which, in this area...

Rice, corn, and wheat... A very fertile soil for these crops. The land is fertile and we have irrigation. There's drinking water in every house.

This place has actually transformed in to an ideal place to live. The environment out here is also very ideal. Not too cold in the winter and not too hot in the summer. And in terms of nature and environment...

This place is very ideal to live. Most of the people in this village are engaged in farming. Some are in foreign employment. And some work for the government as well. A good mutual reslationship between different castes. And very beautiful in terms of natural beauty as well.

Eventhough, the locals have come up with numerous initaitives towards developing this place as a tourist destination, There hasn't been any substantial work towards it. But it undoubtedly possesses great touristsic potentail. One can come here and return back to Birtamod within a day.

There aren't any hotels or homestays in Badamtar at the moment. It holds great potential towards agricultural tourism. You can witness an interesting irrigation channel system in here, which is considered amongst the oldest of Nepal. It's food and cash crops... We can conduct studies of vegetations along the foothills of Mahabharat mountain range.

There were many lakes and ponds in this Badamtar village. And with time, these ponds were used as agricultural lands, and these ponds became the Numberi lands. You can still see and make an estimation of the sizes of these ponds, such as Dhapar Pokhari, Goje Pokhari, etc. The water dried up long time ago.

This is the old Goje Pokhari. Some even claim it to be within Jhapa. But we've learned that it is in Ilam. As you can see, the circular shape of then Goje Pokhari. If you give it a closer look, you can see that this could indeed be water source once. The locals say that there was another similar pond East from Gojey, but there are no remnants. A legend says that a drum was beaten in the pond at night.

And later, Shriman Khulal began farming this land. And trade of the land began eventually. Currently, it's still registered under Ilam district.

We went to Shriman Khulal Ji's house. I'm sure we can get some knowledge from the village elders. He is the oldest to farm on the land of Goje Pokhari. Yes. Yes, I used to farm it and then, I sold it later on. Yeah, there was water before, and I cleared it. And then, he bought it later on. There was a buffalo grazing area, and I cleared it and started to farm there.

I came here... I was 12 years old when I began farming here. Back when I used to live in the bazaar... I used to pound rice all night. I'm a hardworking old man. There aren't any others like me left here. You had to travel through Sanischare...

Some would bring in... Jayanarayn Wagle used to bring in to give it the people here. He passed away, Mr. Jayanarayan Wagle. What did he do? Well, he used to bring it and give it to the people...

He used to collect the produces after, say, when lentils were reasy for harvest. Was he a merchant or a trader? Yeah. Yeah, he was. So what did he traded with? Well, he traded with...

He used to bring in goods and trade them for produce in the village during Dashain and other festivities. So that he will be paid when the lentils are ready. That's it. The water had risen during the monsoon. I'm a tough old man who survived the certain death, you see. I was carrying a Mun and Biring swept me away for a moment there. Up there in Odare, it swept me and I survived it. I am such an old man.

I married 12 times? You married 12 times! And what about the family? Yeah, I do have them. You have them all, then? Yeah. Yeah. I have. We lost one daughter but we have all the others. A sister and a brother-in-law. And my own younger wife, three. And son, one...

Two daughters, a lot! So you've performed many final rites then and you married 12 times? Badamtar is expansive from all sides. As soon as the higher flatlands ends, the river flows on either sides. Meaning this place is a massive chunk of flatland right in the middle of the two rivers. There's a Siddhadevi Temple in the upper regions. An important place of faith for the residents in the village.

It's an old temple built around 100 years ago, an ancient temple. There are two statues here. One is of Singha Devi.

The other one of Siddha Devi. Singha Devi was believed to have emerged here so it was worshipped here in the same way. And the statue of SiddhaDevi... during the time of Thari Mukhiya...

There's a big banyan tree at the end of the village... It's at the end of the village and there's no place to worship here... All forms of purity should be maintained... For nine nights...

After conducting Navratra Paath... And Shapta Sadhi Paath, then it was established here... Such is the story told by our forefathers. After exploring the beauty of Badamtar, we decided to explore the higher mountainous region as well. Shantipur is just half to an hour's distance from this place. They say Shantipur's tea gardens and the village is quite captivating.

From here, we'll reach Shantipur, and then return back to Birtamod via Sadhutar. We travelled much ahead from Badamtar. We've arrived at a place called Tungne in 20-25 minutes. This area is actually the Shantipur area previously. We plan to go a little further ahead. There's a beautiful tea estate up ahead.

And our journey today also ends in that tea estate. We arrived in Shantipur Chowk after 45 minutes ride from Badamtar. A cozy little village in Shantipur. We're at Shantipur Chowk.

Previously, under Shantipur VDC... Currently, under Rong municipal, ward no 1. A beautiful place. We've already gained some altitude. We're at an altitude and it's quite cold out here.

Surrounded by beautiful tea gardens and various shrines and temples. And a little further ahead, you can find a temple surrounded by Salla and Dhuppi trees. Surrounded by a tea estate, we'll explore it now. The major attraction of Shantipur, these beautiful tea estates.

Two artistic temples atop. Lush greenery, cool weather, and beautiful villages... Literally, a mesmerizing view. Everything natural! everything clean! We're walking towards the temple premises from Shantipur Chowk. A 5-min walk to reach the temple. Foggy and mysterious, what a beautiful environment? All you can see around is lush greenery.

Natural and pollution free. I've been living here since BS 2046. So this Shantipur village, was established much earlier than my arrival... A number of wealthy people lived here.

The old traditional wealthy families lived here. It's said to be quite developed. There also used to be a bazaar held here.

And after that... When land development initiatives was implemented in BS 2022... And then all these wealthy people here... Since they owned land in Jhapa as well, they relocated to Jhapa. They left these mountain lands and moved to the flatlands of Jhapa.

And after that, let's say, the environment of the place kind of deteriorated. But, up until the year BS 2007. Nepal achieved freedom and democracy. Before that, during the Rana regime...

During the reign, there weren't any schools as well. But right after the democracy in BS 2007, the following year... A new school was established.

And in that school... It only schooled students till the 7th grade, but now... Since 10-12 years ago... We're running it as a high secondary.

And in a way, not just the name Shantipur, but the environment here is actually... The environment is actually peaceful. Yes. The place is indeed beautiful. We're on the premises of this temple.

So this temple here... The founder of Kankai boarding, Mr. Jaynarayan Dhungana... He constructed this temple with his own personal investment. This was his birthplace. Since he was born right where the Devi temple now stands. He established the Devi temple right where he was born.

To actually talk about it, he has a vision to transform this place into a tourist destination. But he has been involved in many such developmental initiatives... He has been occupied with much larger develpmental programs elsewhere, so he hasn't been able to give his time here.

And after those projects... He has a vision to develop this place into a touristic destination. Before, this place was quite remote...

But we have all the facilities here now, water, electricity, transportation, etc. It has transformed environmentally over the years as well. It's an ideal place to be, I should say. You all have come here and explored the place.

And studied various important sites of this place. The greenery, the tea estates... After you've seen this place... If it could be promoted in this way, by interested people like yourself...

I'm sure other visitors will also know of this place. I hope that this place can be transformed into a much attractive touristic location. Ilam's Badamtar, Shantipur area... has been in the darkness eventhough it holds great touristic potential.

This place has been kept hidden to the external tourists because the main Mechi highway bypasses this region. Just the development of the roadways would change this place drastically. A must visit place! I humbly request you all to visit this place at least once. So how did you find Badamtar and Shantipur? Do give us your feedbacks. For today, I(Sachin Neupane) and the team would like to ask you leave. Thank you. Namaskar.

2022-10-15 00:00

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