In October 2015 I visited Nepal to see how the communities of serving and ex-Gurkhas were coping with the aftermath of the April and May earthquakes. I wanted to do this both as Colonel of The Royal Gurkha Rifles and as a Trustee of the Gurkha Welfare Trust (GWT) so I could better understand what more the serving Brigade and the GWT could do to help. Those affected are showing remarkable fortitude in trying to re-build their lives but there is still much to be done as these photographs show. All royalties from sales of 'The Gurkhas: 200 Years of Service to the Crown' go to the GWT. There is little doubt that these funds, along with other monies raised by the GWT, will be well spent helping repair the damage done by the earthquakes as communities prepare for the onset of winter.
The pictures above show buildings in Kathmandu's Durbar Square which were badly damaged by the earthquakes. The Square features in 'The Legacy', as do other parts of the city. I was able to do further research into some of Kathmandu's historical sites as my return flight to UK was delayed by several hours. This was fortuitous as some of the action scenes in 'Reasonable Doubt' are set in Nepal, not least because Harry Parker - the action hero at the centre of this series of books - is based in Kathmandu having retired from Britain's Brigade of Gurkhas.
The hill fortress of Prithvi Narayan Shah, the King of Gorkha who, by about 1768, had succeeded in unifying Nepal. Fortunately, this historic fortress was not badly damaged by the earthquakes. The story of how Prithvi Narayan Shah unified Nepal is briefly covered in 'The Gurkhas: 200 Years of Service to the Crown'.
The ex-Gurkha pensioner in the left hand image above stands in front of what remains of his home. The picture in the middle shows one of the hundreds of landslides caused by the earthquakes. The picture on the right shows all that remains of a village school. Text books can be seen scattered amongst the stones. Fortunately, the main earthquake on 25 April occurred on a Saturday and therefore the schools were empty.
The epicentre of the April earthquake was near the village of Barpak in central Nepal. The above pictures were taken in the village in October, so 6 months after the earthquake, and give some idea of the work that remains to be done to restore the village to its former state. The pile of stones in the middle picture is all that remains of the home of an ex-Gurkha pensioner. Sadly, he was killed when the house collapsed during the earthquake. The family on the right are standing in front of a temporary home that they were in the midst of building. Although they were stoic about their predicament, the heavy snowfalls expected in Barpak over the winter will make life particularly challenging.