Stopping by in Surkhet

Surkhet, along with Nepalganj is the main air base for Western Nepal. Four different companies (Makalu, Tara, Goma and Kashtamandap) fly from Surkhet to many destinations in the west. Some of the major destinations are Simikot, Rara, Jhumla and Dolpa.

Due to its remoteness and exigent conditions, the Western Terai is not popular amongst tourists. Very few tourists travel to the remote west and fewer stop by in Surkhet to explore the town. I being one of them, only happened to explore Surkhet by chance, when my flight from Surkhet to Humla was cancelled due to bad weather and heavy snowfall in Simikot.

I took that as an opportunity and toured around Surkhet valley. Apart from being the base to reach the remote west, Surkhet also has a lot to offer. Surkhet is blessed with enormous mountains on all the sides. I have witnessed one of the best sunrise and sunsets in this valley.

Surkhet is not a popular tourist destination, but a very significant National Heritage site of Kakrebihar, brings many tourists to this town, especially history buffs and also archaeology students. It is an interesting site and what makes it more intriguing is that everybody has their own version of story about this place. There is not much information available about Kakrebihar, except that it holds remains of an ancient Buddhist Monastery.

Another place you must visit in Surkhet is the Museum. It is very small, but well presented and very informative. I learnt a lot about different tribes living in Surkhet, most thought provoking of which was the Raute tribe. Raute are a nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe existing in mid-west Nepal. They are a dying tribe with about 200 of them living as nomads. They normally live in jungles and can be sometimes found in Surkhet, when they come to trade their handmade wooden pots and boxes.

Apart from the history, there is also room for some adventure in this town. You can hire a vehicle and drive up to Dailekh. It is an extremely scenic ride. The view from the top is magnificent.

Also, rafting at Bheri River brings many tourists to Surkhet. Moreover, you can go fishing and pitch a camp by the river in the summers.

Getting there

Most people either fly to or take a bus to Nepalganj to get to Surkhet. Several flights and buses operate from Kathmandu to Nepalganj. The flights normally take slightly under an hour and about 4000 Nepali rupees to get to Nepalganj, while the bus costs around 1000 rupees and takes about 12 to 14 hours.

Journey from Nepalganj to Surkhet

Journey from Nepalganj to Surkhet

Surkhet is about 96 kms from Nepalganj, which can be reached by hiring a taxi or a bus. The entire journey is refreshing as you move from the busy town to lush green countryside through the long stretch of National Park on the way.  If you are lucky, you may get a glimpse of a deer, fox or even a tiger. Nepalganj is comparatively much warm than Kathmandu, so as you move towards Surkhet, you will progress towards a pleasant climate.


Text and Images: Mithila Jariwala

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