The District of Sunsari
The District of Sunsari Reviews
A beautiful place in the South of Nepal Mar 11, 2011
I had been living and volunteering the City of Kathmandu for about one month when i was invited to visit my new Nepalese friend's home in the South Nepalese District of Sunsari. Sunsari District, a part of Kosi Zone, is one of the seventy-five districts of Nepal. The district, with Inaruwa as its district headquarters, covers an area of 1,257 km² and has a population (as of the 2001 census) of 625,633.
The area was originally part of Morang but became its own distrinct in 1962 when Nepal was divided into 14 zones and 75 districts. Major cities in Sunsari district are Dharan (the third largest city in Nepal), Itahari, Tarahara, Duhabi, and Inaruwa. After a few days thinking about it, i bought my ticket to Dharan. The price for my ticket was 700rs, by bus and was VERY cheap considering the distance i was about to travel. After hearing many scary stories about Nepalese night buses i decided to go on the day bus. My friend and i left Kathmandu about 5am in the morning and after nearly 12 hours of bumpy uncomfortable travel, sharing a bus with chickens and goats, we finally arrived in Inaruwa. Inaruwa is a big town in the south of the district of Sunsari and is very close to the Indian border.
As it was nightfall, the city was a little quieter as many of the people you see during the day live in the hundreds of villages in the surrounding area. My friend (manav) comes from the village of Prakashpur which is about 1 hour by bus into the very rural east of Inaruwa. After what felt like 5 minutes compared to the 12 hour journey i had just suffered, we were finally in the small village of Prakashpur. First impressions were of a VERY remote area, mustard field after mustard field as far as the eye can see with traditional little wooden Nepalese houses dotted around. After arriving at Manav's home and meeting his friendly family we got our heads down and got a well awaited sleep. The next day we were up very early and as it was January, the morning were cold and extremely foggy. The weather quickly cleared by about noon and by that time we were on our way to a temple in a very large forest near to Prakashpur. This Hindu temple was dedicated to the Hindu god Ram who was said to have camped overnight in the forest and lit a fire that still burns to this day in the temple. The next few days involved spending time and getting to know Manav's family and experience traditional Nepalese culture. Highlights included celebrating the Nepalese festival of Maghe Sankrati which brings an end to the ill-omened month of Poush (mid-december) when all religious ceremonies are forbidden. Even if it is considered the coldest day of the year, it marks the coming of warmer weather and better days of health and fortune. During this festival i witnessed the family's biggest goat being quickly killed and stripped and chopped into kgs for the whole village to buy. It did make me feel a little sorry for the goat but once it was dead, i understood then that it was meat and the guilty feeling quickly vanished as i took my first bite. It is a little like beef but a bit more tough. After another few days of spending my time bathing in the afternoon sun and teaching the many local children about Scotland, myself and Manav visited Inaruwa where we i went a little wild with buying as i had been drinking water and eating rice for too long. I bought grapes, apples, coke, samosas, toilet paper and we even visited a Nepalese Cinema which eventhough the whole movie was in Nepali, was very enjoyable. We stayed in a little guesthouse in Inaruwa and i have to say that it was very dirty but it was a bed to sleep in for the night and was very cheap (about 50 rupees) as the hotel was for Nepali people as not many tourists visit this area. The next day myself and Manav took the bus from Inaruwa(50rs) to the largest city in Sunsari - Dharan. Dharan is a busy city but nothing compared to Kathmandu. The main centre of Dharan is the Clock Tower and from here we walked to the nearby taxi rank. The main tourist trail for Dharan is to get in a taxi which will take you to 3 famous Hindu Temples in the hils above Dharan. It costs about 500rs for the stop and start journey/tour but there are not many Foreign tourists in Dharan so do NOT let the taxi drivers rip you off like they did with me. My Nepalese friend Manav was a great help and got me down to 500rs which was excellent compared to the 2000rs i was being asked to pay by other drivers. The drive to the temples is about 15 minutes out and up into the ancient hills of Dharan. At the time of year i visited, the view of the city was impossible due to the fog but it made it even more spiritual to visit the temples with a foggy backdrop. Visiting the temples, i noticed i was the only foreign person in the whole area which i enjoy. There were many beggars in the temple area but none will hassle you, instead they will wait at the side for you to give them a few rupees. My eye caught a very elderley woman sitting in the temple grounds. She was staring right at me with the biggest and most welcoming smile i have seen in Nepal. I quickly walked towards her and gave her a namaste and 50 rupees to which she blessed me and was shouting that God will give me a blissful life. it was very funny and leaving i felt very thankful to have visited these temples and to meet a wonderful woman. After another few hours exploring Dharan, manav and i took the bus back to Inaruwa and then back to Prakashpur where we spent another few days with his family. On one of the days we visited the landmark of Kosi Barrage on the Kosi River. In 2008 the river completely flooded the surrounding area and even when i visited the devastion was still visible. The river itself though was a beautiful green colour with lots of birdlife living on its shores. After about 3 weeks in the district of Sunsari, it was time to say goodbye to Manav's family and head back to busy, polluted Kathmandu. I left feeling like i had experienced a unique travelers experience as not many people visit this area. For the traveler who is visiting Nepal for a long amount of time and wants to get away from the tourist areas into the less well known Terai region of Nepal, then please visit beautiful Sunsari District.
If you are thinking where you will stay when you get here, then i suggest staying in Inaruwa or Dharan. But please do visit if you can, the village of Prakashpur and the Kosi Barrage. I will be visiting Sunsari District again when i return to Nepal in August 2011 to visit my friend and his family, so if anyone is in Nepal at that time and wants to join me, then feel free to get in touch.
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