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Story Publication logo December 26, 2013

Religion Along the River


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While Nepal’s hydropower potential is great, economic, health and environmental impacts from dams...

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A girl worships with her family on a small river in the town of Jhapa, Nepal. Image by Steve Matzker. Nepal, 2013.

Rising from the banks of the Koshi River, the town of Barah Chhetra is one of four major pilgrimage sites for Hindus. Because it is believed that all wishes and desires will be fulfilled if one bathes in these waters, thousands of devotees make the difficult trek up the mountain to worship here.

Though the town is located approximately one kilometer downriver from the proposed high dam site and will not be submerged like so many villages upriver, many locals believe Barah Chhetra's significance will be destroyed.

If the dam is built, villagers fear that the building of roads through their town will eliminate the difficulty of the pilgrimage— thus diminishing the value and sacredness of this holy site.

"People should have to work hard to get to a pilgrimage site," said Shyam Poudel, a priest at the temple in Barah Chhetra.



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