Unearthing “Lodging Path” and its fading stories
Just like ink on paper, everything eventually fades with time. Stories lose their meaning and legends are long forgotten. Yet these stories are what link us to our past, and can be a looking glass into the future. Today I want to uncover one such story. It is of a place that we have all passed by, and have even spent many a quaint evening at. What we know today as Lazimpat was once called “Lodging Path,” and just like the old name has slipped through the cracks of history, the stories of the ventures that once stood here and gave it its name and identity, are fading like ink on paper.
This story begins at a time when tourists had started to only trickle into Nepal, and Thamel hadn’t mushroomed into a tourist hub yet. Today’s Lazimpat was then called Rajpattan and was lined with bungalows that were rented out as homes to foreigners and expats who worked in the embassies in the area. Yogendra Shakya, the CEO of Hotel Ambassador, knows this place intimately and relishes any opportunity to speak of it. “Hotel Snow View was the only guest house in Nepal then, even the Royal Hotel was yet to be established.” As expats and foreigners flocked to the locale, it came to be known as Lodging Path, the Nepali disambiguation of which evolved to become Lazimpat.
Since those days, a lot has changed. The windows of Hotel Snow View must have once opened up to gleaming snowcapped mountains to the north. Lazimpat offers no such views today. So much else has been lost in the transition. Hotel Ambassador which is one of the oldest buildings in Lodging Path was dismantled last year and its history is rebuilt and repackaged.
“Change is opportunity,” says Yogendra Shakya as he veers away from Lodging Path to speak of the history of Hotel Ambassador. “In 1961, when Queen Elizabeth II visited Nepal, the Royal entourage was to pass through Lodging Path towards the Royal Guest House at Sital Niwas. But the road was too narrow at the time making it impossible for the entourage to needle through, so a part of Hotel Ambassador was cropped to make room.” During the reign of late King Birendra, Britain’s sovereign would pay Nepal another visit; this time plans were in place for the royal entourage to be led by a six-horse carriage for a trip from the Royal Guest House to the British Embassy. “Hotel Ambassador stood between their plans yet again, and was again cropped to accommodate the plans. It is unfortunate, but Ambassador has suffered every time the Lazimpat stretch has seen an expansion,” adds Shakya.
As recently as last year, when Kathmandu saw more road expansion during Baburam Bhattarai’s premiership, Hotel Ambassador was compelled to cede land for public use again. This time Shakya decided to dismantle the hotel and begin anew. “I had to break from a 35 year old tradition and all its memories but I guess what is happening is for the good and will bear fruits someday,” he muses.
Over the years, Lodging Path has seen monumental changes; even its name has not been spared. Today its streets are lined with clubs and pubs and its restaurants have evolved to become the premier destination for an evening out. The tourist hub may have moved to the mazy streets of Thamel, but the industry owes a bow to Lodging Path, where it all started.