Gandaki, Nov 20
Failure to reopen the International Mountain Museum in Pokhara that has been closed for long due to ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic has posed risks to the protection of museum materials, it has been said.
Apart from loss of incomes generated from tourists visiting the museum, there have been challenges to conserve and protect valuable materials in the museum, said Kul Bahadur Gurung, General Secretary of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, adding that rats and insects have chewed the materials and they have started decaying.
However, pesticides have been spread and a clean-up has taken place on a daily basis to save the materials from a loss, he said. The museum houses materials portraying lifestyle of the people residing in mountain area, photos and documents including activities done in mountains impacts of climate change, rocks and remains of livestock and various devices and materials including activities of ice skating, research, poaching, mountaineering and hiking .
Located at Ratopaihra in Pokhara Metropolitan City-17, the museum spans approximately 4.5 ropanis of land. The museum is spread across 100 ropanis land bought by Nepal Mountaineering Association. A replica of the Manaslu Mountain has been constructed on the outside of the museum. This model Manaslu is a separate attraction for the visitors.
The museum used to be full of visitors before the imposition of the nationwide lockdown on March 24 to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. There are almost negligible visitors since then till date. The museum employees and guides used to be busy issuing entry tickets, checking them and showing the visitors around. But these days there are no visitors and this has incurred hundreds of thousands of rupees loss, general secretary Gurung said. Various equipment and tools used in mountaineering expedition as well as photos related to them have been kept at the museum. Museum Director Shankar Gautam said that before four employees were assigned on duty daily for securing and cleaning the archaeologically valuable materials.
But after the lockdown all employees have been assigned on duty turn by turn. “The museum used to teem with visitors from august till Mid-December. The visitors coming to the museum return without entering the museum as the gate is locked. A group of 15 people that had come last Wednesday had to return as the gate was not opened,” he said. The tourists who have come for a visit after long time despite the coronavirus infection risk are annoyed to see the closed museum gates and feel their visit had become futile. Mountains like Machhapuchchhre, Annapurna, Dhawalagiri, Lamjung and many more can be observed from the place the museum is located in the southern side of Pokhara.
One can enjoy the beautiful view of the Himalaya range and the Pokhara from the museum. Besides the mountain museum, other museums of interest in and around Pokhara include the Pokhara Regional Museum, the Gurung Ethnographic Museum at Sickles and the museum at Prithvinarayan Campus. The number of visitors to these museums has also significantly decreased resulting in loss of revenue. Meanwhile, the domestic tourists have been attracted to various adventure activities like paragliding and others after the tourism entrepreneurs here started providing discount.