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Journey to Antarctica

Monday, December 12th, 2016
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Arjun Kumar Thapa, Ram Bahadur Khatri and Bhuwan Singh Biswakarma (from left to right)

From the Nepali Press

Dipak Gyawali in Himal Khabarpatrika (11-17 December)

BUTWAL — How many Nepalis have reached Antarctica? Not many. But three Nepalis who have reached the southern continent are living in Butwal and remember fondly their great adventure.

Bhuwan Singh Biswakarma (64), Ram Bahadur Khatri (56) and Arjun Kumar Thapa (34) are all from Butwal and all served in the Indian Army, visiting Antarctica at different times during their military careers. Among them, Thapa was even part of a team that reached the South Pole in 2011.

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Arjun Thapa was part of a team that reached the South Pole in 2011.

Biswakarma was actually felicitated by the Royal Palace as the first Nepali to reach Antarctica after going there as part of an Indian Army research team in 1986. Biswakarma still has a penguin egg that he brought back from there as a souvenir. He had taken Nepali topis on his expedition and he has pictures of Indian scientists wearing Nepali topis.

Biswakarma had taken Nepali topis to Antarctica, which he distributed among Indian and other scientists researching there. “There was just a vast amount of ice, no other human beings other than us,” he recalls. “I was allowed to speak to my wife on the phone only once a month.”

Biswakarma and Khatri have already retired, but Arjun Kumar Thapa is still with the Indian Army. He recalls: “I celebrated my 28th birthday at minus 47 degrees Celsius in the South Pole.”

After the successful journey to the South Pole, Thapa was chosen for the Mt Everest Expedition of the Indian Army in 2015. But his team had to return from the Base Camp after the earthquake, which also triggered a deadly avalanche.

Thapa’s team made it to the top of Mt Everest this year. “I found climbing Everest much easier than reaching the South Pole,” says Thapa. “The big difference was that Antarctica was pristine, but Mt Everest is full of litter.”

 

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