Wednesday, 19 May, 2021

Journey to Jephale: Five Things To Do


Birat Anupam


Simply put, Jephale in Morang is equivalent to Bhedetar. It is because Jephale resembles Bhedetar (1420 meter), a beautiful hill station located at the border of Sunsari and Dhankuta districts. Similarly, Jephale (1800 meter) is also a beautiful hill station in the northern hills of Morang, that also borders Dhankuta.
While comparing with Kanyam, the hill station in the Mechi zone, Jephale is also a mini Kanyam in the sense that it has also beautiful hills enveloped with green tea gardens resembling Kanyam. Located at 24-kilometre-long roadways from Kerabari, the rural municipality headquarters, Jephale is 36-kilometre away from Bhedetar.
For two-wheelers, the mixed roadway that includes blacktopped, gravelled and dirt, Japhale is within something 5-hour-long drive from Itahari to Dharan, Bhedetar, Namje, Dhwadedanda, Rajarani. Likewise, while driving through Biratchowk, Kerabari, Jephale is reached just within a couple of hours from Itahari. This newfound hill station of Province-1 has many things to engage travellers on multiple fronts. Here are five things to do at Jephale, a beautiful hangout for hikers, bikers and other wanderers.

Sunrise, Sunset Views
Jephale bazaar is situated at an altitude of 1800 meter above sea level. This is an ideal location to glance at the rising sun at the dawn. Adding advantage to this glamour, a view tower has been erected at an altitude of 1970 meter.
It is called Jephale view tower. This tower is a perfect point to glance at the rising sun early in the morning. In crystal clear skies, you can glance at the Terai plains, hills and Himalayan range simultaneously.
For this, you need to make almost an hour hike to the hilltop to reach the view tower from the Jephale bazaar. For sprinters, it takes less than half an hour to get there. Domestic travellers are charged Rs. 30 to step into the view tower while foreigners are charged Rs. 200 for the same.
This tower is also a perfect place to view spectacular sunset scenery.

Trip to Mini Kanyam of Morang
Jephale saw its first batch of tea saplings only two decades ago. These days, it boasts 800 Ropanis of tea gardens enveloping over green hills of the locality. Matribhumi Tea State Private Limited owns and operates this beautiful tea garden area.
The man behind this pioneering project Narayan Prashad Rai. Besides green walks and constant clicks of the beautiful tea garden, visitors also have home-stay facilities within tea state premises. If you are pet lovers, multiple pets at your disposal make you more euphoric at this venue. It is just a few minutes walks from the Jephale bazaar

Hiking and biking
For hikers and bikers, Jephale is a perfect place to speed up your pace. Surrounded by beautiful hills, this place offers exciting avenues for hilly jungle hiking and biking. Despite no availability of organized hiking and biking trails, you can create hiking and biking trails of yourself within the vicinity of Jephale.
Your hiking and biking streak gets more magnetic at the sighting of various birds and animals in the jungle area. For beginners, hiking to the Jephale view tower from Jephale bazaar and biking around the fringes of Jephale can be a perfect start.

Home-stay is the mainstay of the tourism business of Jephale. As of March 2021, there are 8 government-registered home-stays at Jephale. Informally the local home-stay was pioneered in 2069 BS.
Formally, it was registered at the tourism office only on 4 Jestha 2074 BS. According to Yuwaraj Khadka, the chairperson of Jephale Community Home-stay, there are no hotels but only certified home-stays at Jephale.
Home-stay operators charge Rs. 1050 for a guest. This includes a formal welcome, tea, snacks, square meals in the morning and night, and morning snacks and tea. According to Khadka, home-stays can comfortably accommodate around 80 visitors in a day. For group visitors, a cultural program is organized including local indigenous cultural dance. Most of the local home-stay operators are local teachers.

Relishing Local Culture and Tradition
Jephale is an amalgamation of different indigenous traditions, culture and lifestyles of indigenous nationalities. The limbu, Rai, Magar, Thakuri and other ethnic groups inhabit Jephale.
Every Thursday, a makeshift marketplace takes place at the bazaar area where you can encounter various local cuisines, attires and lingual varieties.
You can also visit locally important cultural spots like Tinchane, Agangako Rukh (a huge tree) and the pond called 'Rajasthan' which is adjacent to the tea estate.

(The author is a journalist)