Gudel is a small community nestled alongside the Hunga River that flows underneath the Mera Peak massif. To reach Gudel, it takes two-day drive from the capital Kathmandu over extremely rough roads and half a day of walking, Gudel is home to 833 houses and 4,244 people, all tucked into small settlements bordered in all sides by steep terrain and massive cliffs. Though road has not reached Gudel, it is expected sometimes in 2019 or at the very least by 2020.
While, like our other partner community of Cheskam, the predominant cultural group is Kulung Rai, there are also settlements with the Tamang, Sherpa, and Kami communities. Each community has their own distinct language, culture and tradition.
Twice a year, two important festivals are observed here — the Hungeshwari Festival and the Panchami Bazaar festival. Each of these traditional Kulung Rai festivals lasts for multiple days and attracts hundreds of people. In Gudel, there are two sacred areas where Goddesses live (‘Devithan) and a famous large white cliff that ascends out of at thick forest called ‘Pomalung’ – here the Kulung Rai and Nachhiring Rai people believe is the dwelling place of all their ancestors. There are also three Buddhist temples (‘Gompa’) where Sherpa communities worship.
The community forests around Gudel are plentiful and filled with ningalo – a type of bamboo that is useful for weaving. Many residents earn income from weaving baskets and other bamboo products for sale locally. Many individuals have also begun to grow black cardamom and the medicinal plant chiraito to supplement their crops. Others have begun to process ‘allo’ – a stinging nettle fiber used for fabric, and many people work in the prosperous Everest region.
Many people are engaged in lucrative Everest Trekking trade, most residing part or full time in Namche, the hub of Everest trekking route. In recent times, many people have also gone abroad for foreign labor.
Gudel is the first VDC to be declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) in support of dZi Foundation. It is also the first one to be declared Open Plastic Free (OPF), which was an initiative of our local NGO partner-Nava Jyoti Yuwa Samiti.