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Nature’s wonder in neglect freefall

During the Treta Yug, a sage had cursed a king and turned him into a python that lived near the Kakolat Falls. The king was rid of the curse when the Pandavas visited Kakolat during their exile.

On his salvation, the king proclaimed that those who bathed in the waterfall would neither die of snakebite nor be reborn a snake. But many today — including the candidates caught in an ugly flight to reach Lok Sabha from Nawada — are blind to the beauty of Kakolat, 140km south of Patna, and the spiritual benefits in this nature’s hidden gift to Bihar. Nobody wants to come here anyway.

The 33-km Nawada-Kakolat Hills road is a nightmare to drive on, full of craters and ditches. And if you reach there after a nearly three-hour-long backbreaking journey, you will find no place to rest or relax in. The guesthouse looks like a ghost house — it has not been repaired in living memory.

Residents wonder why chief minister Nitish Kumar has ignored the road and the tourist hotspot of mythological importance. “Had it been Lalu Prasad we would neither have been shocked nor surprised. But it is hard to figure out why Nitish — known for taking utmost care of roads and places of historical, cultural and tourist importance — has turned a Nelson’s eye to such an important asset of the state,” said a police officer at Govindpur police station.

“Nitishji has taken utmost care of historical and tourist sites in his Nalanda district, barely 43km from Nawada — on the same Ranchi-Nawada-Nalanda-Bakhtiyarpur highway. He invariably takes a break in the sylvan surroundings of Rajgir in Nalanda. He has ensured state-of-the-art maintenance for Venu Ban, Ghoda Katora, Buddhist and Jain sites in Nalanda, but has seldom turned his attention to Kakolat, its guesthouse and the approach road,” says Bisun Singh at a village on the Nawada-Kakolat stretch.

The residents did not bother as much about the road and other civic facilities during the Lalu-Rabri regime as they had then reconciled to the fact that Lalu epitomised “non-performance”. They seemed to revere Nitish for his “outstanding” contribution to roads and maintenance of historical sites. The neglect of Kakolat is, therefore, glaring.

Kakolat waterfall, approximately 160ft in height, is known also for a festival during Chait Sankranti and Baisakhi that attracts pilgrims from far and wide. “The number of visitors has fallen drastically in the last two decades. There used to be many more visitors in the 1980s and 1990s. Now, few want to brave the bad road,” laments Ram Prasad Sudharo, a 55-year-old daily wage worker at the waterfall’s guesthouse.

The Telegraph team found just some youths splashing under the waterfalls. This is tourist season but there were no tourists.

Residents here had little to say about April 10 when Nawada goes to the polls. But, not far from these neglected, tranquil waterfalls, is a raging battlefield where three “toughies” are slugging it out to make it to the Lok Sabha from Nawada.

The ruling JD(U) and the RJD have fielded two dons — Kaushal Yadav and Rajballabh Yadav — respectively. Though not convicted in any case, the two have stayed behind bars for years in connection with cases of grave offences involving the Arms Act, abduction and road hold-ups. Nawada has witnessed many gun battles between them.

The BJP has fielded former minister, Giriraj Singh — known more for illegally domesticating emus, goats and ducks at his official residence than taking interest in the state’s infrastructures and assets. Following a rebuke from the chief minister, he had to remove many animals from his bungalow. An upper caste Bhumihar candidate, Giriraj sees a chance for himself in the protracted rivalry between the two Yadavs — Kaushal and Rajballabh. But whoever wins, it looks like Kakolat will still lose.