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The Other side of Annapurna

November 27, 2017
Life on the trekking trail is often seen through the lens of the trekking season—you mostly meet people in the tourism industry and miss the nuances of life in the small villages along the routes. The Annapurna Circuit is one of the more popular trekking routes in Nepal. After walking this route a few times, I wondered what life must be like beyond the window of the trekking season. That spark of curiosity led to these photographs of Marpha village in Mustang district.
This work represents my attempt to understand the people of Marpha and their relationship with the changes to the land. It is a reflection on the silence and rhythm of life on the other side of the Annapurna range. The village and the people are beautiful beyond doubt. Yet, there is a sense of emptiness about the place. Many of the young have left in search of work. Those left behind have a faraway look in their eyes, as if they too would like to be somewhere else.
The more lucrative jobs in the village have historically been in the hands of the Thakali community, whereas menial and agricultural jobs are largely performed by Dalits and seasonal migrants from other rural areas. But this is slowly changing, with many villagers migrating abroad, mostly to the Gulf states. Those who remain struggle to survive from one trekking season to the next. Dalits are particularly vulnerable to the seasonal fluctuations. When a trekking season ends, a sense of desolation hangs over this striking landscape. People live in limbo, uncertain of what the future holds.
  • Village of Marpha, Mustang.
    Marpha, Mustang Nepal
  • The Pariyar family.
    Marpha, Mustang Nepal
  • A mule waits for the wicker basket to be filled to carry stones to a nearby construction site. Mules are prized possessions used to carry heavy loads. Their numbers have decreased in recent years, after the construction of road in the region.
    Marpha, Mustang. Nepal
  • Binshu Gurung, a seasonal migrant from Gorkha takes a break from working in the field.
    Marpha, Mustang. Nepal
  • An abandoned football field.
    Marpha, Mustang. Nepal
  • A school boy.
    Marpha, Mustang. Nepal
  • A woman waits for a bus early in the morning.
    Marpha, Mustang. Nepal
  • Santosh Pariyar in the midst of performing at the Saturday mass.
    Marpha, Mustang. Nepal
  • A mother with her newborn daughter.
    Marpha, Mustang. Nepal
  • Last bus heading towards Jomsom.
    Marpha, Mustang. Nepal