Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Dhimal homestay operators are running homestay programme at Dodhare Tole at Damak-3 in Jhapa, the only one run by the Dhimal community in the district so far.
Dressed in ethnic Dhimal costumes and accessories, all members of the Dhimal host family keep busy in hosting the guests who are keen to savour cultural hospitality of this indigenous community. The host houses are small in shape and size and are made of straw, mud and other locally available resources. It could be one of the attractions for visitors as the country prepares to inaugurate the Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign on January 1.
Majority of their guests are foreigners, mostly from Australia, Germany, the USA and the UK, who find an attractive alternative in homestay to city’s modern guest houses’ cosmetic hospitality. Each one-storey house in the homestay has separate room for single person. While the vegan guests are served locally grown vegetables and fruits, the non-vegetarians are served traditional Dhimal cuisine and its staples such as ‘ghungi’, ‘crab’ and ‘Chichire’ (steamed rice). Additionally, local chicken’s soup, pork and mutton roast and duck and pigeon’s meat cooked in local spices are also culinary attractions among all the domestic and foreigners tourists, informed Shanti Dhimal, Chairperson of the Dhimal Community Homestay Committee.
“The price for homestay is fixed at such that even domestic visitors in Jhapa would like to visit once to feel the different type of hospitality in our homestay, gushed Shanti, informing, ” We charge Rs 400 for a room and food costs Rs 300-Rs 400.” Shanta further said that apart from the Dhimal delicacies, the guests mostly like the cultural performances, mostly performed after dinner.
Among the 36 indigenious communities enlisted in Jhapa district, Dhimals were recently declared by the Damak Municipality as the ‘first indigenous community’ to inhabit Jhapa. Rural Tourism activist Arjun Karki explained that with the increase in outbound domestic tourists and awareness about homestay programmess, the charm of Homestay began to grow. He said, ‘In view of the VNY-2020, we have begun identifying places to run more new homestay programmes and re-operate those shut down in the past.’