We had actually planned to paddle to Lumbini, but due to unavailability of enough time, we decided to visit Beni instead. The distance of Beni from Pokhara is 91km. All of us agreed to visit Beni on our mountain bikes.
We reached Naudanda after one and half hour’s regular cycling from Pokhara. When we arrived at Naudanda, it was already 12 o’clock in the noon. We had set out at 6 o’clock in the morning but the president of Cycle City Pokhara, Jitendra Man Shakya, did organise a welcome programme for us. We attended the programme where we were given best wishes and good luck for the successful completion of 182km long distance to and from Pokhara.
We had our lunch at a Naudanda roadside restaurant. While having lunch at Naudanda Tirtha Awasthi, a senior cyclist and a pharmacist at Manipal Hospital, asked me to have a little butter with rice. I outright refused but he had had half a spoon full of butter to eat with rice. Later he was charged fifty rupees extra for the butter. One of our cyclist members was charged fifty rupees extra because he had eaten more rice. It was our first experience to have food at such a restaurant.
We rode regularly but stopped at places of great natural beauty. At about 6 o’clock in the evening we reached Beni Bazaar. When we reached there Prakash Paudel, the station manager of Myagdi Kali FM 88.2Hz and Suraj KC, president of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) Myagdi were waiting for us. We four cyclists Tirtha Awasti, Lok Thapa, Saroj Thapa and this scribe were feted with khada. We are always very grateful to Suraj KC who made our lodging and boarding arrangement in Hotel Yak. After dinner we plunged into slumber as soon as we threw ourselves on beds only to get up at 7 o’clock in the morning the next day.
Before we set out for the returning journey from Beni to Pokhara, we decided to make one complete circle of Beni Bazaar on our mountain bikes with an intention of letting the people know that four cyclists had been to Beni. While returning from Beni to Pokhara it was almost uphill until Kande. Way before reaching to Kande, darkness engulfed us and the rest of 40km distance we covered with the help of one light attached to Tirtha Awasthi’s mountain bike. By the time I reached home it was already ten o’clock in the night.
Beni is the district headquarters of Myagdi district, which lies in Dhaulagiri zone. The name Beni means confluence of two rivers. Beni Bazaar is located at the confluence of Kali Gandaki River and Myagdi River at an altitude of 889 meters. In the past , Beni was important point on the Tibet-Nepal trading route.
Beni is the gateway to reach Mustang and Tibet. Many tourists who love trekking and adventure come to Beni round the year. Dhaulagiri Himalayan range is situated in the northern part of the district.
Some places on north like Tatopani, Ghasa, Dana, Tipliang, Larjung, and Jomsom and to the west along Myadi River like Babayachour, Sasardhara, Darbang and uphill to Sikha are the places of great importance. Nangi village is only five hours’ trekking from Beni Bazaar where free wifi is available. Mahabir Pun, the recipient of the world famous Magsaysay prize, has completely transformed his village. He has brought revolution in his village with free internet and now he is working in the surrounding villages.
Beni Bazaar has sprawled along the Kali Gandaki River. The city is not big but it has still a few places of remarkable beauty. Galeswor temple, Tatopani kunda, Ruise and snowfall in Dhaulagiri are few to name which are quite popular among the tourists. Beni is quite popular for orange and Timmur (Szechwan pepper). The city of Beni Bazaar looks awesome from the peak of Malla’s Heritage. There are some hotels in Beni which provide modern facilities to their guests.
Beni Bazaar is not big yet the city has not been managed properly. Beni Bazaar is no different than many other growing towns of Nepal. Negligence and misappropriation of local budget have marred local developments of Beni. Local bus park of Beni Bazaar is in a poor state so are the roads. Prakash Paudel, a local journalist, said “Local tourism entrepreneurs are not united to develop tourism sector of Beni. We have famous Kali Gandaki River, but no effort has been made to utilize this river for rafting and canoeing purposes. Trekking agencies of Kathmandu and Pokhara bring tourists with them for the rafting and canoeing and take all the benefits.
There are several longer and shorter trekking routes from Beni which the ;local trekking and travelling agencies can operate independently but no such effort has been made till date”.
Next day early in the morning we tightened our boots to scale a steep uphill with 1,963 steps to reach the Malla’s Heritage. The moment we scaled the mighty hill and reached its peak we were greeted with a beautiful resort opened by Mukunda Malla. The mountain resort was a former palace of the Malla family. Nearby the resort lies the original palace of earlier Malla kings. Its history goes back to 110 years. A new resort beside the old palace was built by Colonel Tej Bahadur Malla, who had brought skilled craftsmen and artisans from Kathmandu to work on his resort. The visitors can feast their eyes on both new resort and old palaces at a distance.
There is no entry fee to see the resort and the palace. There are two Mustang dogs firmly tied with poles, which are left loose at night. The guard there told us that those two Mustange dogs have many times fought with mountain tigers.
“These two Mustange dogs have enormous strength and courage. They have fought several times with mountain tiger and every time the tiger had to run away for the safety of his life” said the guard with a mysterious smile across his face.