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In order to reach the area, we had to take a plane from Kathmandu to Surkhet in the Inner Terai, and then walk for 2 days – first up a ridge of 9,000 feet, then down to a valley, and finally up to Dailekh at around 4,500 feet. At the beginning it would take us two and a half days, but by the end we could do it in a day and a half! We always spent the night on top of the 9,000 foot ridge (lekh) at a tea house.
Dailekh at that time had a single main street which was paved, and lined by stone-built houses, government offices and shops. The shops mainly sold cloth, kerosene and a few essentials like soap. None of then sold food. At its southern end was a maidan (open green) with a pipul tree under which meetings were held; at the northern end were the settlements for the low castes, whose houses were smaller and built of wood and mud. Dailekh had a small fort, a district headquarters building and a health centre.
Dailekh’s main street was on the north-south trail which ran from the inner terai (plains) in Surkhet Valley to Jumla far to the north. We often saw caravans of mules carrying packs passing through the town, and also herds of sheep being driven south for sale – like the mules they too carried packs!