Elephants and Diwali in Nepal
From Pokhara I joined the G Adventures tour to Delhi. Our first stop was the Chitwan National Park in a nice and quiet resort. We visited the elephant breeding centre and as always I broke free from the group and went in a village to take photos and talk with the villagers. The people in Nepal are very friendly and the kids always ask for photos. The houses are made from clay and cow dung. Agriculture is the main occupation.
Some villagers have elephants. It is a strange thing to see the big elephant “parked” close to a house under a sunshade. The elephants sleep lying down only for a couple of hours, otherwise they sleep standing up. And they eat a lot…
The elephant ride was one of the highlights of the trip. Four people riding one elephant plus the “driver”. The “driver” uses the elephant’s trunk to get to the top. He holds the tusks or the elephant’s ears and climbs on his trunk. The ride was quite comfortable. We went into the jungle and were lucky to come close to a rhinoceros with her cub. They look like armored vehicles in their thick, plated skin! Some monkeys and deer have been spotted, but no tiger.
It takes 7 years to train an elephant. An elephant has a lifespan very similar to humans. They are smart and listen to the orders of their “drivers’. If the “driver” rides the elephant, he uses his bare feet to kick the elephant under his left and/or right ear for direction.
It is fun to go to the elephant wash. The elephants love water. They can go under the water, lie on one side and let their owners to wash and brush them. Occasionally they splash themselves with water on the back using their trunks.
Before entering India we visited Lumbini – the place where Buddha was born. The time coincided with Diwali, a big festival for Hinduism, called also “the festival of lights”. People celebrate the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. They light small clay lamps and ornate their houses with “Christmas lights”.
Time to say goodbye to Nepal and for sure I will visit again this wonderful and surprising country!
Date: November 2010