Chandani and Dodhara Villages in Far West Nepal

The “far” in far west may have meant far from civilization once, but it’s no longer true today connected by roads that often bring to same those in the capital itself, the region leads in many fronts like community initiative and nature conservation. Life goes on as usual in the far West, even if it’s with a sense of neglect and detachment. The residents of Chandani and Dodhara allege that they have to bribe the security personnel at the Indian border to pass through any goods every time they travel to and from India. Bribing has become a part of life for the people of these two villages. There are people not only from surrounding Kanchanpur, Kailali, Bardiya and Banke, but also from far away hill region from Surkhet and even from eastern parts of the country. Most young people from Dodhara and Chandani go to India for work. Even elder men and women go to work on a daily basis to bordering Indian farms. The two villages are connected to the Nepali main land by a suspension bridge, 1452.96 m long, completed in 2061 B.S. However, people largely still need to travel through Gadigoth and Gadda Chauki in India when traveling in a group, on four wheelers or when transporting big loads. The travels through the Indian Territory take 1.5 hours. If a motor able bridge were to be built in place of the suspension bridge, the same journey will be possible in 5 minutes. The residences mostly use Indian currency for their everyday transactions. They only use Nepali rupees for official purposes like transfer of land and property, for which one has to use Nepali currency. In the past less fortunate people from other parts of the country migrated to Dodhara and Chandani in search of land and work. Due to that history of migration, there are now people from different ethnicity and backgrounds co-existing peacefully in two villages. According to the 2001 census, the population of Dodhara and Chandani combined is – 25,814. Mundre Yatayat, the motorbike taxi service, transports locals and tourists, from Mahendranagar to the two villages. It has become a necessary for locals transporting goods they buy in Mahendranagar. Named after the character Mundre in the popular TV series Jire Khursani, it was started by some young local boys immediately after the bridge was constructed in 2061 B.S. They charge anywhere between Rs. 100 to 250 per person and normally carry two passenger on one bike. Right now, there are about 25 young people involved in the service, earning around 10.000 Indian rupees per month. It is, however, not legal to ride a bike on the suspension bridge.

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