The Great Himalayan Trail (GHT) is one of the most famous trails in the world starting from Naga Parvat, Pakistan. It stretches over a distance of about 1700 km and passes through high-altitude landscapes. The GHT trail has been divided into two paths: upper and lower route. The lower route goes through the country’s mid-hills with an average altitude of 2,000 metres. As my desire to follow such a wonderful trail, the journey started on October 30, Monday 2023. It was not only for entertainment but with a set of objectives to assess the socioeconomic status of Dalits and their livelihood practice in the GHT-lower route trail following the transformed sociopolitical context of Nepal. For this study, the seven-point theme was developed to collect data: social demography, household facilities, access to natural resources, family income and expenditure, social capital/ structure, cultural belief system, politics, and leadership. GHT-lower route (1700 km long trail) was purposively selected as the field of this study. The journey started from the eastern border (Yakling village: the last human settlement of Panchthar district) and ended at Khalanga bazar (headquarter of Darchula district), the western border of Nepal. The data were collected from 675 households residing in 27 districts: Panchthar, Taplejung, Terhathum, Sankhuwasabha, Bhojpur, Solukhumbu, Ramechhap, Dolkha, Sindhupalchwok, Nuwakot, Dhading, Gorkha, Tanahun, Lamjung, Kaski, Myagdi, Baglung, East Rukum, West Rukum, Jajarkot, Dolpa, Jumla, Mugu, Bajura, Bhajang, Baitedi and Darchula. It used the mixed method approach, as quantitative method, the cross-sectional survey design, and observation as an ethnographic approach. During my journey, I observed thousands of villages located at the GHT-lower route trail including the Dalit settlements. The Dalit settlements and their lifestyle along the trail is characterised by poverty, vulnerability, and inequality. The Dalits have limited access to natural resources and employment opportunities due to various reasons including caste-based discrimination.

The study has found that the Dalits are found in every village of the GHT-lower route. However, the Dalits life-world is in a critically vulnerable situation due to various reasons. Most of the Dalits households do not have enough access to natural resources. They are surviving with less amount of agro-production from a tiny piece of land they have. Due to the sociocultural belief system, the caste-based discrimination practice still prevails and as a result, Dalit people do not have good access in running hotel and homestay as a service provider for local people. Moreover, Dalit people do not have good access in politics and leadership positioning in the GHT-lower route compared to non-Dalits. The educational status of Dalit people in the GHT-lower route area is  low. Dalit people have only access to school education, a very few have access to higher education. As a result, the social capital of Dalits in the GHT-lower route is very weak and lacking behind in involving social networks and local-level organisations. Due to less amount of land, many Dalit households do not have enough agro-production, and food stuff is sufficient for just three months. Thus, Dalit people are forced to engage in wage labour available in their locality. Due to lack of employment opportunities, large number of youths, including Dalits, have to go to different cities of the country, Indian labour market and other countries as well. The data shows that the increasing trend of foreign employment drags the Dalit youths in foreign labour market as a result, indigenous knowledge and skill practice of Dalit is going to collapse in near future. For example, Aran industry, where agro-tools and home appliances are produced, has seen a decrease in youth involvement for the past decade.

Many Dalits in the GHT-lower route area are surviving with limited access to resources, politics and power, weak social capital and leadership, poverty, inequality and less employment opportunities following caste-based social practice and vulnerability. The caste-based practice differs with context, community and culture. Untouchability is not found strong in the localities of the eastern area of the country as compared to western villages. The findings could theoretically and empirically be a supportive insight for the policy makers and concerned authorities and Dalits.