The CIA’s Secret Himalayan Hotel for Tibetan Guerillas
It’s been 43 years since the CIA cut off support to the Tibetan guerillas that the agency trained and armed to fight a covert war against China. Yet, a monument to the CIA’s secret war in Tibet is still standing in Pokhara, Nepal.
The former Hotel Mount Annapurna building sits on a quiet side street off the Pokhara airport. Established in 1972 with CIA funds, the hotel was meant to give former Tibetan resistance fighters based in Nepal’s nearby Mustang region a livelihood and a future as they laid down their arms and transitioned to life as refugees.
Tibetan guerillas and their families ran the hotel until it closed in 2010. Today, the Hotel Mount Annapurna building is a nursing school. The aging concrete structure with 1960s lines looks tired and nondescript. Paint is peeling off the exterior walls. The once lush and well manicured landscaping is overgrown and wilted. This relic of the CIA’s secret Cold War guerilla campaign in Tibet is now locked behind a rusting metal gate and easily overlooked. It is in a part of town into which tourists rarely venture.
The area around the Pokhara airport was prime real estate in the 1970s. But business slowly dried up as Pokhara’s tourism center of gravity shifted to the Phewa Lake shoreline to accommodate waves of hippies and trekkers. The Lodrik Welfare Fund—an NGO that former Tibetan resistance fighters created in 1983 to provide welfare for veterans and their families—currently owns the property and rents it out to the Gandaki Medical College