Growing up in Gorkha District, Rajendra Bajgain had a lot of history all around him. A history, that started, in fact, from Guru Gorkhanath, who gave the area its name. A name which has been adapted by the British to Gurkha (hence Gurkha soldiers) but both, Gorkha and Gurkha are correct. It was also here in Gorkha that Prithvi Narayan Shah was born; the last King of Gorkha and the person who went on to unit Nepal into its current form, becoming King of Nepal in 1768.
Life was not always easy in this remote area and political upheaval continues on during the Panchayat era of 1960 to 1990, which curtailed civil rights and freedom of political parties. A movement spearheaded by KP Bhattarai, who became prime minister under the Congress Party, ended the Panchayat era and brought democracy to the country. During the struggle for democracy, one of Rajendra’s relatives was the security chief for BP Koirala, a prominent politician and first democratically elected Prime Minister (1959 to 1960). Bisheshwar Prasad Koirala, fondly known as BP Koirala, is a pillar in modern Nepali history from overthrowing the Rana regime and bringing back King Tribhuwan from exile in India to fight against the Panchayat system (a party-less system of governance). Unfortunately BP Koirala died (1982) before he could see the new constitution put together by KP Bhatarai’s government, balancing civil supremacy and monarchy. In this atmosphere, it is natural that the young Rajendra was greatly influenced by politics. Something he took up seriously during recent years, standing in the elections of 2018.
Meantime, education in Gorkha during Rajendra’s time was limited to secondary schooling, and that in a school building his grandfather had erected (around the 1980s). In order to do more for his community, Rajendra came to Kathmandu where he took up a job in journalism and later in tourism. With the rising of the Maoist/Government conflict and the massacre of the Royal Family in 2001, tourism waned in the country. Added to this, Rajendra’s first ventures into business were not going well. Again, politics came to mind, as the Congress party acted as an umbrella for him to help poor people, and it was to those less fortunate that Rajendra was drawn.
Over the years, Rajendra has come into contact with many influential people, be it clients or those with like-minded ideas of tourism and social work. One of his more prominent clients is Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of UAE, billionaire and hotel magnet in London and New York, to name two cities only. Rajendra organised the Prince’s trip to Bhutan which was a personal interest trip, as well as a business and diplomatic one. On this trip, Rajendra also met the King of Bhutan, again building his network. Among other famous names is Sir Edmond Hillary, who he knew and assisted in Sir Edmond’s latter years.
Rajendra narrowly missed entertaining Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, when he invited him to participate in the Lig Lig Marathon, held biannually in Gorkha. At that time Prince Harry was involved in military training so had to decline through his Private Secretary.
Featured in the Leading Lights section of the Asian Voice, in his role as a business man, tourism entrepreneur, networker and politician, it is perhaps for his social work that Rajendra is best known and most proud.
This was highlighted during the Gorkha Earthquake of 2015 when Rajendra organised relief materials from his own trekking company’s supplies of mattresses, tents and equipment; bought food stuff and hired a military helicopter to take the relief supplies to Gorkha, which was the epicentre of the earthquake. “Trekking comes and goes and I thought why not use the trekking equipment such as tents for those in desperate need. For me, it would be easy to buy these goods again in the future. But at that moment, people were in need,” Rajendra.
And today, Rajendra is focussing on revitalizing Gurkha Encounters, targeting both the regular and luxury markets and introducing handcrafted and tailor-made itineraries which are unique to his company. Just in time to celebrate 20 years of the love of travel!