Rukum :The center of study of Magar culture, Dhorpatan hunting reserve, the area where Yarsagumba is found, from Bukipatan to Chaurjahari valley are all of tourist importance. Due to its heritage of religious, tourist and other natural significance, tourist arrivals have increased in recent times. Rukum, popularly known by the nickname Baunna Pokhari 53 Takuri, is now associated with another tourist name, ‘War Tourism’.
Tourism has also been linked to peace in the district, which has been plagued by long-running armed conflict. The base areas built by the Maoists during the conflict, the remnants of the conflict and the tourist spots here have become centers of attraction. Chintamani Dahal, information officer of the district coordination committee, says that the attraction has increased as the tourist sites and religious places including the Dhorpatan hunting reserve have been included.
The Trekking Agents Association of Nepal and the Nepal Tourism Board have constructed guerrilla footpaths in collaboration with the District Coordinating Committee. The guidebook was prepared by Alonzo Lyons, an American citizen. So far, 25 groups of internal and external tourists have visited the footpath, said Information Officer Dahal.
Three to 10 tourists come in a group. Tourists can visit important sites from the remnants of the war, including religious, tourist and environmental sites. Another feature of it is hunting in Dhorpatan hunting reserve. Religious and tourist fairs are held here at different times of the year.
According to the District Tourism Coordinating Committee, there are three roads in the guerrilla footpath. The first way is 19 days, the second is 14 days and the third way is 27 days. All three roads start from Pokhara and end at Rolpa’s Sulichaur. These roads include Beni, Dhorpatan, Thawang, Sharpu Daha, Musikot, Rukumkot, Sukulbang, Jailbang, Khara, Mykot, Kayam, Pelma, Lukum and Banfikot.
“Tourist attraction is increasing as most of the places are in Rukum,” said Narendra Kumar Rana, local development officer and chairman of the Tourism Coordinating Committee. “It has become easier for the villagers to arrange homestay on their own initiative.” The guerrilla footpath is also useful for studying Magar culture. Remnants of the then Maoist and government attacks are also the center of attraction.
A section of the footpath on the border of Rukum and Salyan, bordering Bazaar Khaula, Khara Basti-Dalsinge’s beautiful dense forest-Chunwang, Thabang-Mahat-Rukumkot-Musikot is the choice of tourists. Some tourists use Rukumkot-Sharpudaha-Musikot-Khara road from Taksera and Taksera as Dhorpatan hunting reserve. Various places where the then CPN-Maoist conducted its various underground activities have been included in the war tourism.
Holeri of Rolpa police station and Athabiskot of Rukum, which were attacked by the then Maoist party for the first time in a single day at the beginning of the armed conflict, also fall under the same footpath. The places of tourist importance in the area have been made more attractive. Tourists say that the area is considered different even for the observation of rural settlements and local tastes.
It is said that the entire site of the guerrilla footpath was the main route used by the then Maoists and the state army and police during the conflict. On the way, small and big lakes, rivers and streams, temples, waterfalls can be seen. From the footpath, one can see the Dhaulagiri mountain range and the Sisne Himal. The journey continues along the Sanovheri River overlooking the Putha Himal, a rich Magar cultural settlement of the district, including the beautiful tourist heritage of the district, such as Sarputal, Kamal Lake, Deuradali Cave, Dhorpatan, Taksera, Kanda and Kakri.
As the guerrilla route touches most of the conflict-affected settlements, observing the suffering of the conflict victims, the damaged physical infrastructure and the different cultures will give a sense of the war at that time and will also teach about the effects of war. There is a time limit of 14 days to visit only the main places, 19 days to visit the battlefield in detail and 27 days to visit the places of natural beauty and cultural significance.
All the roads for tourists coming from Kathmandu have been started from Pokhara. For other tourists, the short route from Dang via Salyan or Rolpa can be used. The village has good accommodation and the hospitality of the locals is also attractive. Various local products and organic products can be taken as symbols. According to Rana, the cost is Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per person.