Ghalegaon crowned model village

On the lap of peaks, the village offers respite for souls tired of city life

Lamjung, March 1:

Ghalegaon village of Lamjung district has beaten Ghandruk and Sirubari villages to the top slot as Nepal’s model village in terms of scenic beauty and cultural richness. The decision to put Ghalegaon on top was taken in New Delhi by foreign ministers of SAARC member states.

Ghalegaon comprises 115 houses and 2,000 people of Ghale and Gurung communities. Nestled in the Himalayan region, it provides spectacular views of the sunrise and sunset. From Ghalegaon, a dozen Himalayan peaks, including Annapurna, Lamjung Himal, Machhapuchhre, Ganesh Himal and Manaslu, are clearly visible. To the south, one can have a bird’s-eye view of 12 districts, including Kaski, Tanahun, Gorkha and Chitwan.

Marsyangdi, Madi, Midim, Khudi and other rivers are also visible. The village has tea gardens and a museum. The Uttar Kanya temple is also located in the village. Locals practise communal sheep farming. The village is known for Gurung culture and traditions. Each morning, the nearby forests come alive with the chirping of Himalayan birds like pheasants and golden orioles and the sounds of wildlife like deer and rabbits.

Ghalegaon is situated in Uttar Kanya VDC of the district. The VDC was named so after the temple in Ghalegaon, said villagers. Located 2100 metres above the sea level, Ghalegaon is spread over three wards.

The local unit of Ama Samuha (mothers’ group) and youth clubs clean houses, lanes and surrounding areas of the village daily. Guests are given a royal welcome complete with song and dance, tika and garlands. Departing guests get the same treatment and a send-off till the border of the village. On an average, 15 to 20 tourists come to Ghalegaon daily.

Aside from natural scenic beauty and culture, Ghalegaon boasts of skilled artisans and handicraft workers, who produce carpets, bakkhus and sweaters from sheep wool.

This village came into existence in the 19th century during the reign of Ghale kings and now boasts of modern amenities like transport, telephones, health services and schools. Guest rooms are located in the backyard of every house and there are toilets and bathrooms with ample water supply.

Each house has panels on the roof for harnessing solar power.

Gundruk, phaphar ko dhindo (mash of buckwheat), maize, soya beans, sel roti, daal made from flowers of shishnu (nettles) and home-brewed liquor are the local specialties.

Dipak Gurung from Pokhara, who came to Ghalegaon, said he was fed up of the concrete jungles all over the country, adding that the village was indeed a sight for sore eyes. Villagers had been holding annual festivals for seven years to put Ghalegaon on the SAARC model tourist village map. A preening Prem Ghale, who is a social worker and rural tourism conservationist, said, “Nepal Tourism Board and the media did a lot to help Ghalegaon bag the honour of being the country’s sole model tourist village.”

Ghalegaon residents hope that their living standards will get better as their village has been recognised internationally on the tourist map.