Hidden Himalayan sites tell the story of our world

Image copyright Sabyasachi Mukherjee Image caption In 1945, fresh military action led to Mao Zedong moving Tibetan settlements inside camps near Ginchi in eastern Tibet

I’m standing in the middle of a ravine that cuts through a string of forests in the centre of western Nepal, near Sainte Claire-de-la-Tour.

The Wangyang caves, in which I am standing, have been protected for thousands of years. Thousands of years, and without barbed wire and razor wire, either.

I’ve come here with two rare Himalayan species, bamboo and trilobites, to film some of their ancestors, now extinct, found in the caves.

But don’t think for a moment that we are just tourists.

At this gorge we are meeting four modern women and one man. And it’s only because a team from the International Ice and Avalanche Museum of Canada has been employed to record them that we are in this site in the first place.

The women are part of the Jungles of Confluence project, an effort to bring together three vast sub-groups of biodiversity, all of them related to the Pandemic Pandemic.

This spread through Nepal and China, killed between 80 and 100 million people, mutated between 100 and 150 million more, and wiped out around half the living Tibetan tribes living at the time.

The pandemic was ravaging across the Tibetan plateau when the men behind it used war to establish military control over the vast region between Lhasa and Ginchi, the junction of the Tibetan and Nepalese.

On the edge of Ginchi was a mountain called Wuchang, or “Wanching” in Tibet. In the foothills of Wuchang lay some 30,000 Tibetan Buddhist rickshaw carts, their descendants now numbering 4.5 million.

These ancestors, planted in terraced foothills and naturalized in forests, were the major sources of food in the Himalayan valleys, as they today grow fruits and vegetables in the Sarayan Dhangta, the moonscape villages in north east Nepal that give this country its name.

The countries of the west are overrun with injured ex-soldiers from WW2. They should be deployed elsewhere. The Nepal government’s dithering, in an attempt to bamboozle traditionalists and make room for the tourists, is making things worse. I spent 10 days inside a state-run hotel in Katmandu on its best day in 100 years.

No wonder Nepal is so unsafe. Every day it looks like Hungary during World War II, when Hungarians were in the tens of thousands waiting at the borders of Austria and Germany.

In present day, most refugees from Nepal are scared for their lives and they cannot speak English. The government does little to answer these cries of SOS, and the people it considers useful for tourism and foreign investment are treated like terrorists.

At the Jungles of Confluence we have met a few of these Tibetans from Tibet. Over the weekend we had the chance to interview the woman who is helping me to film these forgotten elders and their more modern descendants.

She is a Buddhist nun who came to Nepal from Tibet with her family as a child. She hasn’t seen her family since 1945. She says she’ll never see them again.

Vibhuti Chutani is 75, and is running clinics for the people of Namche Bazaar, a place that like Ginchi, has been known as a medical mecca for generations.

More than 600 people in Namche Bazaar, a district the size of Belgium, live on less than $1 a day.

These are the people responsible for the biomedical and genetic research at Namche Bazaar University, which is leading to the development of vital new drugs and genetic therapies that will have an impact on millions of people across the world.

These Tolkhuvanese (Luoan people) people are also the people who were burned out of Namche Bazaar for the benefit of the British and Americans.

This grandmother of 41 has looked after dozens of children who have died of AIDS. They are the locals who can’t speak English. Their future is being stolen by the wealthy, who live in a squalid concrete world of bars and red wine.

The Nepal government acts more like the mafia owners of Namche Bazaar, privatising the land, providing no healthcare, and working hard to build roads and highways for their masters in Katmandu.

In the Shangri-La they call today, there’s an order of things. The people that you might want to talk to are past and present, exiled and exiled, living in the hills of Nepal and finding

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