Keshav P. Koirala
Langtang, April 25
Out of 150-plus houses, only one that was built under the cliff in the direction from which the quake-induced avalanche fell upon the village existed and people inside it survived. At least 216 people, including 41 foreigners, were killed in the tragedy, while 82 are still unaccounted for.
One year after the devastating earthquake, more than 200 people — most of them kith and kin of those who perished in Langtang — trekked from Syafrubensi and reached the site today to pay their tributes to their beloved.
They gathered at the ruins of 600-year-old Serkasa Stupa, where a Memorial Mani Wall has been built with the names of those who were confirmed dead inscribed on it.
A ceremony was organised as per the Buddhist tradition praying for the departed souls and the world peace.
“My daughter Sydney who had recently graduated from high school was trekking with her colleague, Bailey Meola, in the region last year,” Jay Schumacher, a Seattle-based contractor, said.
Sydney’s body was found while Meola is still missing. Schumacher came to Langtang along with his son to express solidarity with those who lost their kith and kin in the tragedy.
Cambodia-based Australian photographer Athena Zelandonni, 26, had witnessed the last year’s devastation herself.
She returned to Langtang remembering the fellow trekkers who she had befriended but were not lucky enough to survive. “It was important for me to come. It’s emotional time,” she said, with tears rolling down her face.
Speaking at the function, Nepal Mountaineering Association’s President Ang Tshering Sherpa pointed out the need for revival of tourism in Langtang and the whole country.
“We need to get tourism up and running,” he said, asking the visitors to carry the message that Langtang region was now safe to travel.
On behalf of Climate Alliance for Himalayan Community, Sherpa announced a support of Rs 1 million to rebuild the ancient Serkasa Stupa.
He said CAHC has been supporting locals to rebuild monuments and monasteries in other districts as well.
Expedition Himalayan, which organised a memorial trip for foreigners from Kathmandu to Langtang also announced a support of Rs 50,000 to the local community.
“Langtang is still alive,” Nabin Trital, Managing Director of Expedition Himalaya, said, “And it is safe to travel.”
Mehrup Tamang was in Kyanjin Gompa when the big earthquake hit Nepal on April 25 last year.
It was a violent shaking but he did not have an iota of idea what havoc it wreaked on his ancestral Langtang village seven kilometres down.
“I was in a total disbelief. I turned numb and irresolute when I saw huge rocks and ice masses burying the entire village,” the 42-year-old recalled, pointing finger towards his house in the lap of beautiful mountains.
There was no trace of his house while his younger brother who ran a hotel perished along with other guests. One year after the devastation, he is trying to come to terms with the reality. “But it’s really hard,” he shared, turning emotional.
And, he is not the only one to share such a story.
“We lost our families, land and yaks,” Babu Tamang, who is close to 70, mourned. “We literally don’t have anything,” he said. But he is hopeful that Langtang would spring back to life someday.
The Tamang duo were among the locals who walked to the erstwhile beautiful and happening village from neighboruing settlements where the Langtang residents, who survived the last year’s tragedy, have taken shelter.
Meanwhile, Expedition Himalaya’s Dawa Gelje Sherpa and nine participants, seven Americans and two Canadians, had started the memorial trip to Langtang Valley from Kathmandu on April 20. Pasang Nuru Sherpa flew in on a chopper today to join them after the memorial ceremony.
The group is scheduled to reach Kathmandu on April 28, according Pasang.
A version of this article appears in print on April 26, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.