I first met BP Shrestha in 1986 when he was running a small guest house off the main square of Dhulikhel. A close friend, Amy Noel Wyman, asked me to deliver a donation to him for his work with school children in the rural areas. This was the beginning of our friendship. I reconnect with BP every time that I return to Nepal, and this year, once again, I was able to see innovation, progress and change in his community.
A book has been written about his accomplishments: “Bel Prasad Shrestha, The Man Behind Dhulikhel,” which you can read HERE. The book is a collection of essays about his work, and includes the chapter I wrote about him in my book.
BP was mayor of Dhulikhel from 1987 – 2003. With the vision of making life better in his village, he recognized that without clean drinking water no other development was possible. He gave us a detailed description of the hoops he had to jump through to get a drinking water system for his small community, when even Kathmandu had not been able to accomplish that. He shared that Dhulikhel did not have a lot of money, but he realized that it wasn’t the amount of money they had, but the determination they had to fulfill the goal. There were people from Germany who listened to him, looked at what Dhulikhel wanted to accomplish, and decided to help. “They recognized our need and our deep belief in the possibility of accomplishing our goal,” he said.
Once the water treatment plant was up and running, this made way for the founding of Kathmandu University and the Dhulikhel Hospital.
BP was instrumental in bringing tourism to Dhulikhel when he launched the Himalayan Horizon Hotel in 1982. During the pandemic, a beautiful new wing was added overlooking terraces, the infinity pool, and the mountains. Interestingly enough, many hotels in Nepal took the opportunity to build or remodel during the pandemic, when there were no customers.
The highlight of our tour of Dhulikhel was the stunning, recently built, Nepal Technology Innovation Center where we were lucky to have the project manager show us around. All the furniture and laboratory equipment were scheduled to arrive the next week. Part of Kathmandu University, this will be where intellectual and academic ideas and research will be transformed into practical solutions that are then tested and grounded in real-life applications.
It was a fascinating design incorporating outdoor space between the buildings with walkways and terraces. What a inspiring place for research!
We were thrilled to get a chance to meet with students from the Shree Shree Khandapur Secondary School. They were still using quonset huts, built after their school was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake, but the new school had been rebuilt. The students welcomed us enthusiastically and were thrilled to meet us and practice their English.
These were just a few of the places we saw on our tour through Dhulikhel this year!
We can’t thank BP enough for his hospitality, and are looking forward to when we get together again.