Dunai – A heavenly corridor to Dolpo

Damodar Dhakal

Situated at an altitude of 2000m, Dunai is a town occupied by a scanty population of meager 350 households which is perplexing yet fascinating. There can be no denying about the fact the Dunai is a holy place of sheer beauty and precious. It is the biggest town of Dolpo district and serves as its district headquarters. Dunai stands as the only gateway to Dolpo. The settlement is spread across the bank of Thulo Bheri River and is surrounded by green hills. Local bazaar at Dunai is a regular attraction for locals as well as travelers to Dolpo.

Dunai is a heavenly doorstep that introduces the amazing Dolpo circuit trek. It connects both Upper and Lower Dolpo which is famous tourist destination. It is home to Shey Phoksundo National Park and Phoksundo lake- the deepest lake in Nepal. Despite its aura and precious natural diversities lack of basic infrastructure has dented its beauty. For the people to admire and experience its uniqueness there are no road connections to Dunai. In the recent past the only way to Dunai was through a small STOL airport, in nearby Juphal village. The tourists visiting Dolpo had to take a flight from Nepalgunj to Dunai which takes about 45 minutes. This did not end here next they had to make a long way trek from Juphal and then be at Dunai.

However things have changed dramatically now, as a track has been opened along the Tarpare cliff under the Jajarkot-Dolpa road section. This connects Dolpa’s headquarters Dunai to the national road network. This instrumental change has brought smiles in the lives of the locals. As Without access to the road network, locals of Dolpa had long been struggling in various fronts, both economically and socially. The road is expected to bring a huge respite to the struggling life of the district.

What is so special about Dunai?

This arid Trans Himalayan village is known for its distinct beliefs and varied natural features. The clouds, sky and mountains are worshipped here, the rivers are holy, and waterfalls are believed to descend from heaven. Not only that, lifeless boulders sculpted by rivers are venerated, plants and trees are treated like sentient beings.

The spectacles of Dunai are spell binding, each element present glorifies its varied beauty to the maximum. The streets is ably embellished by the cross over bridge that is set on the the Bheri River.  To its northern banks lies the Sulighat keeping north it reaches and stretches to the fascinating Shey Phoksundo National Park.  Here an array of rock-strewn trail climbs above the serpentine Suli Ghad River. Moreover it takes you through a series of hemp trees to Kageni. This astounding hub is known for its tropical walnut and maple forest, as far as your eyes can see. Besides that you get to see the impressions of Tibetan culture. Similarly savoring the views of fluttering prayer flags, cascading waterfalls and lush vegetation is an awe-inspiring experience.

A panoramic corridor for basking under the splendid vies of Dhaulagiri and Churen Himal ranges from Dunai itself is inexplicable.  This unique hamlet is a perfect example of religious harmony, and tolerance without discrimination. One can get to see the age old practices of both Tibetan Buddhist and Bön, Po culture. As for the daily life it is interesting to note the variety of crops that are grown in this area. The staple crops on which the locals thrive include millet, pumpkin, potatoes, sweet corn and chilies. Occasionally, you come across areas overgrown with marijuana plants giving you as well euphoric, relaxed feeling.

Besides that Dunai to Phoksundo Trek is one of the popular treks in the region. Those who are interested in longer adventure often choose to go to Rara Lake in Jumla district. Dunai also holds a scar of its past atrocities, impressions of which can be still seen. It holds testimony to the instrumental battlefields between Maoist guerillas and government forces during insurgency period. All the infrastructures have been rehabilitated in the town since the end of Maoist revolution. The town now boasts of school, electricity, health office and basic communication facilities and is slowly coming to terms with modernity.

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