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Jewel of the west

ALOK TUMBAHANGPHEY in RARA



ALL PICS: ALOK TUMBAHANGPHEY

There are only two ways to get to Rara-either take an expensive and dangerous air route, or walk for days up and down the narrow trails. But once you arrive at 2999m above sea level, the journey is worth it.

The lure of the blue glimmering water of this pristine lake has in the past inspired kings to write poetry. For trekkers and local tourists, the panoramic beauty of the lake can still leave one breathless with awe. When the sun is out, Rara Lake, also called Mahendra Taal reflects in its icy cool waters the majestic Chuchemara peak (4039m) in the south and the Ruma Kand (3731m) and Malika Kand (3444m) in the north.

Rara Lake spreads across 10 sq km and is also a vital habitat for water birds like ruddy shelduck, coot, mallards, teals, and grebes.

The lake is at the heart of Rara National Park, established in 1976 to preserve this life-giving watershed, as well as the nearby snow-capped peaks and high altitude pine, spruce and juniper woodlands.

Hordes of Himalayan wild boar, musk deer, Himalayan black bear, otters and snow leopards roam the sub-alpine coniferous forest where the air is fragrant with the smell of fresh blue pine, black juniper, rhododendron and exotic herbs by the dozen.

As the lake drains to the Mugu - Karnali through Nisa Khola, the vegetation changes into walnut, oak, fir, and birch.

The park itself covers only 106 sq km and is the smallest in the country but hosts the largest lake in Nepal. Little has changed in the lives of the culturally rich people who live around this magical jewel of Nepal's western Himalaya, once the ancient kingdom of the Khas Mallas.

Lake Rara is two and a half hours walk from Talcha airport in Mugu, two and a half days walk from Jumla and a ten day walk from Surkhet.



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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