Monday, 27 September, 2021

Once a bustling market, Madhumalla now wears a deserted look


By Tikaram Upreti

Madhumalla, Sept. 21: Madhumalla Bazaar, located in Ward No 9 of Miklajung Rural Municipality, serves as the best example to show that development activities kill popular old market places.
Madhumalla Bazaar was a popular market place for the people from Taplejung to Morang in eastern Nepal, to West Bengal and Bihar of India until four decades ago. But today it has almost become an abandoned place.
“Weekly market here used to last for three days from Sunday to Tuesday. People from as far as Taplejung and West Bengal used to visit the market to buy and sell their goods. The Limbu youth of the mountain villages used to perform paddy dance throughout the night when they were here to buy goods. The entire market used to be full of music as singing Palam (Limbu song) was a must while performing Dhan (paddy) nach,” Moti Bahadur Shrestha, 90, recalled Madhumalla of four decades back.
He said back then people had no cash and barter system was in practice.
“They used to bring ghee, green chillies, lemons, green vegetables, goats and bamboo-made baskets from hills and exchange them with salt, rice, edible oil and species,” recalled Shrestha who has been running a shop since the establishment of the ancient market place.
The famous market place located in the lap of hills has become a victim of negligence due to development activities elsewhere. The weekly market now takes place only on Monday and only a few people visit it, said Pabitra Bhattarai, another shopkeeper.
When development activities in the newer areas picked up, Madhumalla has now been history, she said. “This place has virtually become a deserted area.”
Madhumalla fell under the shadow with the construction of the East-West Highway in Jhapa and Morang districts in 1971.
The highway resulted in the massive expansion of Urlabari, located just 10 kilometres south of Madhumalla.
“Growth of Urlabari has a direct impact on Madhumalla,” said Rajendra Ghimire, a local.
Construction of the Mechi Highway linking hills with the Terai further affected the old market of Madhumalla. With the construction of the Mechi Highway Birtamod emerged as the major business centre of Jhapa. Everything from hills is first transported to Birtamod.
The situation became worse after the construction of Damak-Rabi road, which completely ended the relevance of Madhumalla.
When no development project was operated in the erstwhile famous market of the east, it gradually lost its importance. The foot trail that begins from Madhumalla and reaches Tapelejung passing through Ilam and Panchthar districts has been buried under the thick jungle.
No one can now pass along the Mawakhola-Perunge-Todke-Kusende-Chisapani trail, the shortest foot trail to link the Terai with hills, of the past as jungles have grown around it.
Another foot trail to reach Daregauda of Panchthar from Madhumalla via Sagfara of Ilam, and Dashami is also not in use.
Madhumalla that was once a market place also for the people of Sunsari and Dhankuta has now been in a neglected condition as no one paid heed for its development. No motor road to connect Madhumalla with Ilam and Panchthar has been built.
Madhumalla was first established by Rewanta Bahadur Thapa in 1913 by clearing jungle. It was shifted to the present place after a flood in 1949, according to chairman of Miklajung Rural Municipality Devi Prasad Acharya.
“We have no national project here; the local government has focused on the development of agriculture and tourism,” he said.
He further said tourism could flourish if a trekking route was developed from Madhumalla to Perunge.