I was always curious about and keen on visiting beautiful Nepal and hence, when
my flight landed at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan Airport on 14th November,2017, I
was thrilled and glad that finally, I could make it! Though the sole purpose
was to participate in the Tenth South Asia Economic Summit, I had planned to
spend some time to see, experience and enjoy Nepal, especially Kathmandu!
Nepal, particularly Kathmandu, is a globally recognized tourist place, thanks to the serene
beauty of the Kathmandu Valley - the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Kathmandu,
Lalitpur Patan and Bhaktapur. Other attractions of this region are its arts and crafts in
metal, wood, stone & terracotta, with an amazing blend of Hinduism and Buddhism.
Two more attractions of Nepal are, undoubtedly, the birth place of Gautam Buddha
and the world’s highest peak - Mount Everest. Pashupatinath Temple is one more star
attraction, besides several other important temples and shrines. It is no surprise that all
these attractions, coupled with spectacular landscapes and exotic culture, pull more and
more international tourists to Nepal. Tourism therefore contributes to a large chunk of
GDP of this small country, which is smaller than my state – Gujarat in terms of area and
population! Kathmandu was ranked third amongst the top ten travel destinations on the
rise in the world and ranked first in Asia, in 2013! While 2015 earthquake had disturbed
the tourist traffic, I guess now it is speedily getting restored.
But, I got my first jolt the moment I came out of the airport. There was utter chaos in the
name of traffic... the roads were there for namesake... I could see that there was acute
shortage of water... there were piles of rubbish all around...drainage work was going
on at snail’s pace...it was like an urban nightmare. But surprisingly, people were taking
it easy, as if it was fate accompli. It seemed, neither the administration nor the citizens
were concerned about this chaos!! My visit to Bhaktapur was even more disappointing
because, almost three years after the earthquake, this heritage city is still in shambles!
It sounded like restoration and maintenance of this heritage site is nobody’s business.
Many tourists were disappointed with the state of affairs but for locals, it was life as
While talking to locals about this state of affairs, the blame was placed on the unstable
government, political uncertainty and widespread corruption. But while talking to some
of the administrators and planners at the summit, I was told that the main culprit is
unplanned, unchecked and uncontrolled urbanization. Population density of the region,
I was told, has created allied issues like vehicular density, garbage disposal, water supply,
sanitation and so on. A ray of hope here is the involvement of many international
agencies working in the region.
Anyway, these are the common issues of developing economies the world over and
we have to live with the situation and enjoy life because, it goes on. That’s the reason,
as my flight was taking off from Tribhuvan Airport, I promised myself to come again to
understand Nepal and see some more places in the foothills of the great Himalayas...
Publisher - INSITE