The Far West

“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Himalayas

Most tourists travel to Nepal to trek to the Mt. Everest or the Annapurna. But this beautiful country has far more to offer than just the enormous Everest. For those who like to touch the virgin lands, the Far West of Nepal is their ideal destination.

Hidden Himalayas  The Far West, also commonly known as the ‘Hidden Himalayas’, is the least developed, and also the most untouched part of Nepal. People in these regions live in extremely exigent conditions, especially people in higher altitudes. Due to difficult topography, they are dependent for all the basic necessities, which are delivered to them regularly through several airlines. Most of these places are accessible only through airplanes. plane

 

Humla district, in the far west, is one of the most untouched regions. The only way to get there is to fly to the district capital of Simikot. It has one of the better runways due to its recent improvements. Very few tourists arrive in Simikot, and those who do are mostly the ones heading to Hilsa towards Kailash Mansarobar. Fewer take time out to travel to Simikot to trek the unexplored trails of Limi Valley. What makes this place even more pleasing is its raw and non-commercial nature.

 

Simikot

If you are looking for a place where you would like to immerse in the beauty of nature, spend some peaceful time in the Himalayas, where tourists are rare and locals are more, Simikot can be one of the places on your list.

Simikot, which is a gateway to the pilgrim destination of Kailash Mansarobar, is a spectacular place in itself. Surrounded by grand mountains, this village is almost paradise. As, even though, it has an absolutely stunning panorama, the human conditions are quite appalling.

Simikot

The runway in Simikot was recently renovated and is now one of the better airstrips in the far west. This runway divides the village in two. All the basic necessities and medicines are flown in to the Humla district through this airport. Hence, the conditions in Simikot are a lot better compared to the rest of the district. The only hospital and higher secondary school of Humla district are in this village.

Thukpa

On my travel, I landed in Simikot in the morning. Completely awe-struck by its magnificence, I headed to a restaurant for some breakfast. Being a Tibetan restaurant, they welcomed me with ‘Su-Chia’, also popularly known as ‘butter tea’. I ordered a bowl of thukpa, which was perfect for that weather. I enjoyed my butter tea and hot bowl of thukpa, while the enormous snow covered mountains were staring at me.

It was one of the most tranquil moments I had ever experienced and definitely the best location to ever have breakfast. Since, many pilgrims transit in Simikot on their way to Mansarobar, many types of cuisines (Nepali, Tibetan, Indian, Chinese, and Continental) are easily available in various clean and hygienic restaurants.

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There is one massive resort and about six guesthouses that provide accommodation, but none provide rooms with heaters, as there is dearth of gas. In such situations you can join the villagers in their bonfire over some ‘thungba’ or ‘rakshi’. These will definitely keep you warm and merry. Also, plenty of places are available to pitch a tent for travelers, who intend to trek in Humla. But the winters are extremely harsh, and under such conditions, it is better to travel between May – November.

 

People & Lifestyle

 

With a bare population of about 43,000, majority of people living in here are Hindu’s amidst a small Buddhist minority. Most of them belong to different ethnic groups such as the Chetris, Burmads, Thakurs and the Lamas.  The Hindu population is very diverse and easy to distinguish amongst the different types. The characteristics of Thakuri women are particularly striking and hard to miss. If you spot women wearing excessive gold and silver jewelry, it is the Thakuri women.

These extremely hard working Humli people are exceptionally warm and welcoming. They greet you with a smile and are always ready to help. They all seem happy and content in spite of their abysmal conditions.

Most of them are very poor and live in multi storied mud houses. However, many people in Simikot are building up modern houses with wood and stones. Most of these houses are springing up near the airport.

As you walk towards the right side from the airport, you will encounter several visuals of old men sun bathing and smoking outside their houses, a stretch of market with small shops and quaint looking hair salons and many long haired cattle walking around. Further down is the part of the village with clusters of mud houses. Beyond these houses there is a huge empty ground with a small temple at the edge of the mountain, where you can witness the most breathtaking scenery.

Landscape

Needless to say, this region is one of the most stunning and unblemished part of Nepal. And the challenges it brings along make it even more adventurous. It is undoubtedly a must-travel-to destination in Nepal.

The journey to Simikot is long but completely worthwhile.

 

 

Text and Images: Mithila Jariwala

mithila@nepalsutra.com

 

 

 

 

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7 Responses to “The Far West”

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