Once Maoist battlegrounds, now tourism hotspots

Once Maoist battlegrounds, now tourism hotspots

Once a battleground between government forces and Maoist rebels, Holeri of Rolpa has been attracting a significant number of tourists of late.

Domestic as well as foreign tourists are flocking the Holeri Area Police Post, which was targeted by the Maoist rebels 19 years ago to launch the insurgency.

“As it is one of the first targets of the Maoists, people are interested in knowing about the police post,” said Shanta Raj Bohora from Dahawan near Holeri. A Maoist cantonment was placed at Dahawan after the peace process began. Holeri is an hour’s walk from Dahawan.

Local residents are making efforts to preserve the Holeri Area Police Post realising its tourism potential. And, the post has been relocated to another place. “We are worried that the bullet marks on the walls are being erased,” said local Rishiram Shrestha, adding we have asked the authorities concerned to preserve the site.

The police post lies along the under-construction Dang-Thawang Shahid Marga. And, the locals fear the post may have to be demolished. “The police post can attract a significant number of domestic as well as domestic tourists, and the government should preserve it,” said Shrestha, who is also chairman of the Gadhilekh Tourism Preservation Committee.

Besides the Holeri Police Post, the district has numerous other erstwhile battlefields and places where the Maoist insurgents trained which have the potential to attract tourists, intellectuals here say. Some say the entire Ropla district can be converted into a “war museum”.

On February 13, 1996, a group of unarmed Maoists cadres launched the insurgency by targeting the Holeri Police Post and looted weapons. They again attacked the same post six years later and abducted the several police personnel.

UCPN (Maoist) central committee member Dipendra Pun, who was a member of the Maoist group first attacked the post, said they plan to develop Holeri as a tourism spot.

Jaljala Leka, where the Maoist insurgents trained for a long; Thawang, the Maoists’ main base; villages like Jelwang and Gam where many people were killed; and Nepal Army’s joint base camp can also be developed as tourism spots.

“District Drinking Water Office that was bombed by the rebels, Ratamata Telephone Tower at Ranka, Satdobato Hill, that was captured by the Army, and the barbed district headquarters are other potential areas,” said Pun.

A government official visiting Rolpa to study its tourism potential said the state must invest to make Rolpa a tourism spot.

An engineer involved in reconstructing the damaged property also said they were suggesting the government to preserve the damaged structure for tourism purpose.

Nepali Congress District President Krishna Bahadur Gharti Magar said the structures that reflect the war should be preserved.

Despite immense potential to promote war tourism here, the government and the District Development Committee do not have any plans on this front.

Source: eKantipur