On January 1, 2012; I went to Tato Pani — a popular destination in Bhurjung Khola, Kaski — known for the hot springs, for the very first time.
A selfie from the time when I actually had no idea it was even a thing. The term ‘selfie’ became a rage a year later, in 2013, when it was announced the word of the year by the Oxford Dictionary.
Anyway, back to the story; that was the first and last time I visited the place – until recently. A lot of things happened in these years — in my life, and more importantly, in this area; and how I wish I could say — good things, but not really. Four months after I visited the place, something terrible happened.
It was a sunny Saturday morning, with no signs of rainfall – on May 5 when the area was hit by a massive flash flood in the Seti River that originates in the Annapurna mountain range. The flood washed away dozens of people and just everything in its path.
The flash flood rolled down the Seti River and inundated Sardikhola and Machhapuchhre village development committees in Kaski, killing more than 70 people — mostly locals and visitors bathing in the river or labourers working in stone quarries on the river banks — and destroying property worth millions.
The mysterious flood, that happened on a clear day before the monsoons arrived, was believed to have been caused by an avalanche on the flanks of the Annapurna mountain.
The place that used to attract a lot of tourists, now struggles to get a glimpse of them — even after all these years since the catastrophe.
Earlier this week on Monday, I was invited for an outdoor meal by a dai. He was taking all of his staff to Tato Pani for a picnic. A bus had been arranged to reach the venue. I was confused – while a part of me was afraid, the other part wanted to go to the place and see what became of it. So, it was a yes.
We left from Lake Side at around 8 AM, and in less than an hour and a half, we were there – well almost.
It was a lovely day, and on the way, we were greeted by such beautiful sights.
The road to there isn’t really the smoothest one, but it’s not really bad. You know, it’s the kind that makes you sing, “Country roads, take me home.”
And of course; where there’s a way (in Nepal), there’s a cow.
And they stare at you like they are saying, “Sala, hamro area ma ke garna aais re budhbak?”
Just when we were about to reach the place, we were stopped by this bad boy right here:
Don’t ask me. I, too, have no idea what is that doing in the middle of the road. So, yep, we then had to walk (because we forgot to invite Hulk), carrying all the stuff we needed for the picnic.
At least, it was a relief that we didn’t have to carry the big ass utensils as we weren’t really cooking but going to a small resort called Tato Pani Retreat.
To reach there, we had to walk for around half an hour, or may be it was around twenty minutes, I didn’t really check the time as I was busy enjoying the journey, instead of thinking about the destination or the time.
Oh, almost forgot to tell you one thing — all of these pictures are taken from my cellphone, and also, I am not a very good photographer. So you know, it would have looked way more beautiful if a pro took these shots.
As soon as we reached the place, we had breakfast, obviously – all of us were super hungry and we ate like it’s our last day on earth. And then with the satisfied tummies, we finally had the courage to think about doing other stuff other than eating. And we played the most common game that every picnic group plays, yep – you guessed it right, musical chair.
I don’t really have any pictures of the game as I was conducting it, and later played it myself (and lost terribly). No worries, you all know how the game goes.
And then, another all-time favorite classic game started. Antakshari. Boys vs Girls.
The boys won.
There was still some time for lunch and hence, naachi deu maichyang… timi bluetooth speaker ko taalaima.
Now, there’s one thing that’s common in every single group – whether it’s a picnic group, the people at a wedding or a function, or in any other party – there are these three sub-groups.
A group of people that likes to dance, and they can just dance to even the sound of a generator.
Another group, consisting of people who just like to watch others dance and take pictures.
(I belong in this group.)
And then, there are these.
At around 2, we had lunch.
The food was decent.
(The boy looking at her plate like he is thinking, “Hoina, kati khanu bhako ho didi le!!”)
After lunch, it was time to play the last game of the day – Balloon Stomp Game. Just in case you haven’t yet played this game; do play it – it’s super fun. You just have to blow up the balloons very full, tie a balloon to each participant’s left foot with a string, every participant then tries to stomp all the other balloons, the participant whose balloon is popped needs to leave the play area, and the last one with a balloon wins the game. Simple.
And that’s how our day ended.
After playing various games, taking dozens of photographs, eating twice (and drinking); it was time to say goodbye to this beautiful place.
We then had to walk back to the place where our bus was waiting for us. On our way back, we noticed a lot of things that kept reminding me of the disaster this place experienced years back.
But it’s good to see that the locals have done their best to move on and rebuild the place they call home. In case you are still hesitant to visit the place, please don’t be. It’s still beautiful, and it’s still welcoming. Just gather your friends, and go there. You won’t regret.
For the people, who wanted to see more of me in this article. Well, tathastu!.
Enough, I can hear you scream, “Bhayo ke bhayo, pugyo. Pleaseeeee stooooop!”
Alright, signing off with this picture of ramri keti haru!!