HETAUDA, June 11 -- Hetauda Sub-metropolitan City has started works to conserve Churia Tunnel which, according to late Swiss geologist Tony Hagen, is the first man-made tunnel in South Asia.

The historic 500 metre long tunnel was constructed in 1917 to connect the country's first motorable road between Amlekhgunj and Bhimphedi.

The tunnel has even inspired a song that celebrates the king's (Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah) wisdom in commissioning the tunnel's construction that made motor access possible in Makwanpur district: "Hamra raja kya akkildari/Lyaye motor Churia ma bhwang pari"-which essentially translates to "How wise is our king/ For he brought a motor by digging a hole through Churia."

Today, the tunnel lies in a dilapidated state...