The black river under the brooding sky, gushing its way mightily from far off Muktinath, and cutting its way through Baglung district, seemed to be holding many a black secret. The heavy black clouds, the black silt and sand, and the blackness of the Kaligandaki River reminded one of black hearts, black promises, and black death.
However, the abundant green mountains encasing the immediate vicinity managed to salvage some of the foreboding picture. There were some gold diggers on the banks, as hopeful as the Californian gold diggers of the 1800s, and as dirty. Gold and copper and fossils were to be found in the deep confines of the Kaligandaki. But, if one looked into its black viscera, one got the eerie feeling that the murky depths must be hiding many black and mysterious secrets.
As the bus rolled along the sides of the Kaligandaki, the big green and brown rocky mountains appeared to be desperately seeking our attention as well. Nevertheless, for the duration of the journey that the smooth road paralleled the black river, one’s attention was completely absorbed by it. And why not? For this is the valley ruled by the mysterious Kaligandaki.
It was certainly not so before Kaligandaki had come into view. For a major part of the 72-km journey from Pokhara to Baglung, picturesque scenes of burbling brooks, scattered white frothy waterfalls, lush greenery, high hills, and compact and picture postcard villages constantly brought out sighs of wonder from the soul. Often, one had to forcefully remind oneself that this magnificence of nature’s bounty was in Nepal, and not in some exotic foreign locale.
The soul had already been stirred the night before in Pokhara, when a full two hours had been given to gazing at the gentle and serene Fewa Tal. I had not been able to pull myself away until the last boats had come ashore, their bellies disgorging sated nature lovers, and the lights had started to twinkle in far away hills.
The soul had been so stirred that I had taken the five-kilometer walk from Baidam in Lakeside to Mahendrapul in town. My decision to do so was proven to be devastatingly wise when I came across all sorts of lovely resting houses (calling them simply hotels would be doing them injustice), and equally lovely eating places (again, not restaurants, for the same reason), with their designer lights and manicured gardens, all of which I would probably have missed if I had taken a taxi. The lovelier ones were nestled in tiny gardens in the side streets.
Baidam and Pardi in Lakeside reminded me at once of a bride in all her bridal finery, glowing and expectant, awaiting the arrival of the groom’s procession. Pray she is not disappointed. The atmosphere was not exactly one of joy, however, the season still not having taken off.