By Rajiv Joshi
Nepal is a country full of villages and ethnic settlements. Be it the outskirts of the cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara or the far-flung places of Nepal, each villages carry their own culture and traditional as well.
Even though there are many to count, but when it comes to naming the popular ones among all the villages found in Nepal, there are few names that is taken or heard of. Ghale Gaun in Lamjung, Sirubari in Syanga and Chitlang in Makawanpur are some of the names that come in the mind when its comes to villages. Each village carries its own uniqueness, culture or way of living. Nepal also houses a large number of ethnic groups with each one having their own unique culture and traditions.
Near Kathmandu lies one of the most unique and culturally rich villages of Nepal. Kunchhal Village located at Taha Municipality Ward No. 1 in Makawanpur District lies at a distance of 35 kms south-west from Thankot of Kathmandu. The history of the village dates back to Nepal Sambat 833 and is inscripted in a historical stone spout near the village. The village is originally inhabited by the people of Gopali community. Gopali people are believed to be Gwalas or the herdsmen of Lord Krishna. With the total population of around 1,600 in 250 houses, the village is the typical settlement of the people from Gopali community.
There are many other things to look upon at this historical village. Old stone spout, temples of Ganesh and Gokhureswor Mahadev mentioned in 64 Piths, and centuries old traditional Newari community and their lifestyles can be seen in the village.
Bajrabarahi temple at a close proximity from the village is named after the Goddess Bajrabarahi. The ancient and old temple of Bajrabarahi is the major pilgrimage site here and the locals celebrate a jatra or festival on Baishakh purnima in every 3 years.
The temple is also historically important because of historical Kunchhal, the Gopali village and manuscript of King Amshubarma among others.
Kunchhal is being developed as an off-beat tourism destination. Because of its ideal location and ease of access from other major tourist destination like – Daman, Chitlang and Kulekhani, the place can be a destination to experience culture as well as tradition. Kunchhal also hosts a festival every 12 years which is celebrated with much fanfare. Locals here showcase the dances of gods and goddesses during the festival.
The village is also an ideal place to treat your taste buds with Newari cuisines, locally prepared alcohol, curd, ghee, honey and organic vegetables. The area is also regarded as a prime location for different seasonal vegetables and fruits and one of the exotic fruits, Kiwi, is also grown in the area. The place changes its colors with the change in season, forest in the vicinity is covered with Rhododendron flowers during spring and while the autumn season makes the display of the rich colors of the farmlands.
Recently, Village Tourism Promotion Forum (VITOF) – Nepal organized a familiarization trip to Kunchhal. The objective of the trip was to promote Kunchhal as a tourism village, as a part of VITOF’s plan to promote three villages each year.
It was quite an awesome experience visiting the historical town. Whole team of the familiarization trip was offered a warm welcome by the locals.
A cluster of evenly built traditional houses and the view of the village from a distance is a sight you won’t forget. Uniformly roofed houses seen from distance is quite a view. Houses here are built with clay and wood, and the architecture of each house resemble the true presence of Newari culture.
The villagers even showcased their cultural aspects through their attire, traditional music and cultural dance forms like Lakhey dance, Rajarani Dance, among others.
Apart from all the cultural and traditional aspect of the village, it also has turned into a homestay village. Even though the home stay facility here is not on par with other villages that started homestay years before, the experience and the closeness to local culture and tradition is incomparable.