Muga in Dhankuta is a historic village with many stories. Thapagaun in Muga happens to be the ancestral village of the late five-times Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa. The Thapa’s who hail from Muga have a rich history, traditions and customs that they work hard to continue today. A visit to Muga was an instant ‘yes’ from me! After all, I am always fascinated by people’s origin and where they come from.
Talking about the Thapa’s in Muga, I’ve been told that they also moved to the area from the Western corners of Nepal. Seetashma shared that the Thapa’s who made Muga their homes initially came from Jumla following orders from Prithvi Narayan Shah to expand the Gorkhali state. These are stories from a complete different time; much has changed since.
The drive to Muga was long and bumpy but the sight of the historic Thapagaun homes were a gift. It was nothing like the villages I had seen before. I am more accustomed to seeing mud built two storey properties but these homes, they were modern-day villas and mansions even palaces in their own right. According to an article by Nepali Times, the homes were built by masons from Kathmandu and Thapagaun was one of the first villages in the hills to receive piped water.
It was pretty crushing to see these homes crumbling and slowly falling apart. Comparison is never a good thing but properties like the ones we saw in Thapagaun Muga would be ‘listed’ buildings in the UK (Grade 1, Grade 2 properties). I only wish the families that trace their roots back to Muga and these beautiful homes would do more to beautify their properties. Of course easier said than done…
Former PM Surya Bahadur Thapa’s house in Muga was apparently beyond comparison. It was a forty-room property that was sadly set on fire by the Maoists in 2004. Today, only ruins remain of the heritage property. Whilst we didn’t make it to the former PM’s house, we did see a couple of Thapagaun homes and they were stunning. I couldn’t help but wonder how the homes were lit in the evening back in the days… oil lamps and candles? Also, how many remain today?
History is complex. The deeper we dig, the more likely we are to be faced with uncomfortable truths. It’s important to acknowledge, reflect and pass information forward; to make a sound argument or judgement depending on where you are operating from. The history that the Thapagaun homes carry should also be written about, archived and presented for curious minds. It would be incredible to see atleast one of these heritage properties renovated in the near future.
Below are some photos of the late PM Surya Bahadur Thapa’s house in Thapagaun Muga.