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Batule Ghars on verge of extinction



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By Amar Raj Naharki, tanahun, Mar. 24: Batule/Ghumaune Ghar or Round House that used to be an identifying feature of the Darai community is now on the verge of extinction.

Found mainly in Tanahun district, such houses are no longer constructed. As modern houses made of concrete have gradually replaced them, the community fear there won’t be any left before long.

With the fall in the number of Ghumaune Ghars, the remaining ones in the tourist areas have been preserved. For tourist attraction, one house each in Vyas Municipality—10, Dumsi, Darai village and Aabu Khaireni are conserved.

Basundhara Gharti, chairperson of Federation of Indigenous and Tribal District Coordination Council, Tanahun informed the younger generation are fascinated by modern houses, and so, the conservation has been a challenge.

Even though the Batule Ghar is traditional to the Darai community, other castes like Kumal too are known to live in such houses. Darais lived exclusively in such houses, hence, making the architecture synonymous with themselves. However, now that even they don’t live in such houses, the Batule Ghar is feared to go extinct. “We demonstrate sample Ghumaune Ghar to the children during fairs to increase their curiosity,” Gharti said.

Bir Bahadur Darai, treasurer of Bhadgaun Darai Society, said, “The introduction of modern-style houses increased the destruction of traditional houses, which is why the houses are becoming extinct.”

The Ghumaune Ghars are environment as well as material-science friendly. So, they should be conserved, said Darai.

The house has an opening on both east and west. So, sun rays enter as it rises and sets. The thatched roof and the mud flooring keep the house cool during summer and warm during winter. The attic is used as a storehouse.

The ground floor has four rooms. One is used as a kitchen, two are used as bedrooms and the other room is used to grind cereals. There are two entrances on the east and the north, which is in line with Vaastu Shastra.

Darai reminisced some tourists come to Bhadgaun to know about the speciality of Ghumaune Ghar. The place was once covered with houses; however, with the passage of time, it is difficult to spot even a single Ghumaune Ghar.

Tanahun has a population of nearly 4,000 Darai people. The typical houses that their ancestors used to live in have been reduced to a number that can be counted in hands.

In Darai village, Man Bahadur Darai runs a homestay where tourists can stay in a Ghumaune Ghar. Both domestic and international tourists highly enjoy the stay.

They click photos, make TikTok, vlogs, he said. He also stressed the conservation of the houses as they are preferred by tourists.
Bandana KC, who had returned to Nepal from England, expressed that her stay in Ghumaune Ghar was extremely pleasant.

The obsession to construct concrete houses has spread over villages too replacing the traditional ones. Mila Darai, a journalist, remarked, “Some years ago, there was a lot of Ghumaune Ghars, but with the increasing interest to construct modern houses with good facilities, the traditional houses are disappearing.”