Godavari: The Summer Resort

From The Rising Nepal (September 22, 1972) – Courtesy MPP Archive

Half a century ago Rana Prime Minister Chandra Sumshere built for himself a summer resort at Godavari, a place tucked away in the extreme south-east corner of the Kathmandu Valley. He, like everybody else who has been there, was enchanted by Godavari which offers perfect solitude to the city man, as well as a climate that goes unsurpassed in this part of the country. Situated at the base of the towering Phulchowki, Godavari is a reservoir of natural life; birds, butterflies and fruits are everywhere, and wildlife abound in its mountain forests.

Godavari’s climate, except for a short period during the monsoons, is exceptionally fine. During a full month of heavy rains, this valley is filled with the continuous roar of bulging streams that cascade down the hillsides. At this time of the year, to the terror of female picnikers, leeches abound. When one of these slinky parasites surreptiously lodges itself inside your socks, no amount of spitting crashing or cursing is going to do it any harm.

Come autumn, and the rain and leeches depart. Fine weather sets in again and the air is once more fresh and clear. Winter mornings are very cold, but the days are excellent.

Spring is the best time in Godavari, ideal for picnics. It is the time when hundred of varieties of flowers come into full bloom. Multicoloured orchids, wild roses, and red rhododendrons make themselves felt in the forests, besides a vast number of other exquisite wild flowers. Collectors have discovered a hundred and fifty varieties of orchids alone in Godavari’s jungles.

During Spring, fruits and berries invade Godavari. This is time when the yellow “ainselus” and bright red “kaphals” are plenty in the forest. The climate is ideal for fruits. Among others, plums, apricots, apples, pears, peaches, and lapsis’ thrive especially well.

Godavari’s bird population consists of the invisible cuckoos, long-tailed ‘lampuchhres’, ‘fistays’, finches, thrushes and scores of other colourful birds. More than eighty types of butterflies alone, spiders, and insects are also very much present in Godavari.

Leopards were once the terror of villagers here when a kill was reported almost daily. Now, however, they have retired to the higher reaches of Phulchowki-chased off by modern guns, traps and increasing population. Animal wildlife of Godavari consists of rabbits, barking deer, bears and mountain-goats.

Godavari can be said to be the base camp for those who come for the tortuous tow hour climb to the top of Phulchowki (9,000 ft.) From there one can have a fantastic view of Kathmandu. And if one reaches the summit on an early winter morning he can see a panorama of the Himalayas stretched out from Dhaulagiri in the west to the Sagarmatha (Everest) in the east. The ascent to the Phulchowki has now been made easy from Godavari.

Marble Hill, a protruding spur of the Phulchowki, contains a quarry which produces excellent marble, said to be comparable with Italian marble. Due to the lack of demand, however, much of this precious marble has to be destroyed and made into powdered lime.

There is a huge fish far which breeds fingerlings for many fish farms. A highly flourishing botanical garden, a heaven for the hundreds of picnikers that flock into Godavari, is also situated in the vicinity of the fish farm to Phulchowki, there is an iron mine consisting of two seventy-foot shafts dug into the hillside. We have already said that a variety of fruit is grown at Godavari. A medium sized peach farm located here grossed eighteen thousand rupees last year. Any person with some initiative could easily open up a bigger farm and possibly establish a canning plant.

Godavari is also a very important religious center. There are two main temples here, Nau Dhara and Panch Dhara, so named after the number of water sprouts in them. Every twelve years, a huge religious festival takes place here, Thousands of pilgrims from all the surrounding countryside flock in to Godavari to bathe in Panch Dhara. Some rishi of time bygone is said to have lost his deerskin way down in the River Godavari in South India which he later is said to have found it in the pool at Panch Dhara.

Another interesting thing in Godavari is the presence of St. Xavier schools called simply “boarding” by the villagers. The school, started twenty years ago by Jesuits, is situated in and around the mansion built by Chandra Sumshere. It needn’t be said that the atmosphere of Godavari, its perfect solitude and freshness, is admirably suited for study.

Soon however, Godavari could be robbed of its solitude and freshness. With the coming of prosperity, come population. More inhabitants and more picnikers. Then there would be the danger of indiscriminate tree cutting, of more hunting (illegal). With the howl of motor cars and scraping of virgin forests, wildlife flee Godavari. Nothing of the sort has happened yet, but may very well be so in a few years time. The thing to do is to insure that, while Godavari’s resources are being exploited, its natural life is not affected in any way whatsoever. Perhaps setting aside Godavari’s yet untouched forests as natural conservation park would help. We only hope that Godavari’s present beauty shall be allowed to stay, and not disappear like so many other places.

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