The small nation of Nepal located between India and China provides for some exquisite and value-for-money trip. There is culture in Kathmandu, to jungles in Chitwan, to adventure in Pokhara. Although many of the areas have been devastated due to the earthquake, it can still provide for a lot of natural beauty and adventurous journeys. This account of mine is from December 2014 before the earthquake took place.
We started our journey from Kathmandu where we landed after an especially exciting flight. The flight had taken off from Delhi, but due to rains and cloudy weather in Kathmandu it was unable to land. The pilot diverted the flight to Lucknow where it refuelled and they served snacks. After 1.5 hours we tried flying into Kathmandu only to find the same weather again. Thankfully, the pilot found an opening in the clouds and dived in to pierce the layer. After a 5 hour trauma, we finally made a rainy landing in Tribhuvan Airport.
The next morning, my mom was adamant to offer prayers at Pashupatinath temple first, probably to thank the lord for safely getting us into Nepal. Once done, we proceeded towards Chitwan where we arrived in the evening. Situated at a lower altitude, Chitwan is a natural inhabitation and home to a national park. So the air was cleaner and warmer. We camped at the Jungle Safari Lodge for the night.
Next morning, we took a tour of the camp area. Small shops, mostly dependent on tourists visiting the national park. The safari started just after lunch. We crossed the river which was said to contain crocodiles for protection. Thereafter, a jeep took us into the forest. Full of deer and crocodiles, the forest is dense and cool. The air was certainly very clean. At the center of the forest is a gharial breeding centre, where we witnessed those tiny-to-enormous creatures grow up. A superb experience and some brilliant evening shots of the sunset.
Once back, we were treated to some chinese meal full of soups and dimsums. The next morning, we took a bus to the western town of Pokhara. The first stop in Pokhara was the World peace pagoda.
With Annapurna range as the backdrop, the peace pagoda seemed like heaven. A ride back to Fewa Lake and we tried Thukpa for dinner. Superb!
The next day started with Gupteswar Cave and Devi's Fall. The cave had some secret worship area and interconnected hallways. Devi's Fall, on the other hand, is named after Devi, a Dutch lady who fell in the water. We then headed towards World Mountaineering Museum which houses a lot of artifacts and information regarding the himalayas and its conquests. Enormous collection and highly detailed. The best were the costumes of the various different groups within Nepal. Last stop was the Fewa Lake where we took a boat ride to the temple at the center. A calm experience and peaceful end to the day.
Next morning, we took the bus back to Kathmandu. A long 6 hour journey and we reached our hotel beside Durbar Square. After a quick freshen up, we targeted the Durbar Square. Although most of the tourist places were closed, there was a protest going on to get democracy into Nepal. A short visit to Thamel and we gorged on fried chicken and thukpa.
After a good night's rest, we hired a cab to take us on a 3 city tour starting from Bhaktapur. This, along with Patan and Kathmandu were the cities for the three brothers and hence each has its own durbar square. The one in Bhaktapur is perhaps the most famous of all.
From buddhist to hindu monuments, from museums to local art, Bhaktapur has it all. The above photograph captures the simultaneous existence of both cultures. We were also lucky to witness some local handicrafts being manufactured in some of the small workshops behind.
Our next stop was Patan and again, its Durbar Square. The guide there actually explained how the culture of sacrifice to Goddess Kali defined the festival of Navratri and others. Earlier the sacrifice was of humans, now its of cows. We visited the museum and temple inside there too. Then we returned to Kathmandu and visited the Swambunath Temple and Boudanath Stupa. Hindu and Buddhist monuments. Huge and extremely beautiful.
After a short visit to the king's house the next day, we took our flight back to Delhi. A week long trip with delightful memories and insightful meetings.