Nepal, I'm coming back to you.

Tripoto
25th Dec 2018
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Day 2

Woke up early in the piercing cold to watch the sunrise after which we went down the hill on the back of a pickup truck which was... err... fun. Once in the town, we walked down the street and signed our respective consent forms at the Fly Nirvana Paragliding office.

And then I did it. We travelled to the top of a mountain in Sarangkot, Pokhara, and did the first thing I could to check one thing off my bucket list.

I went paragliding.

The one thing I'm most proud of about myself is that I felt no nervousness. Every time I indulge in an adventure there is a teeny bit of nervousness and palpitation that I experience. But this time, be it when I signed the agreement for assumption of risk, be it while I was being given instructions, be it when I ran and levitated in the sky, be it when I was up there over the mountains and valleys among the birds and other paragliders, or be it when I landed; there were no palpitations. Though it was exciting and there was adrenaline rush and pure joy, I did not scream like I usually do when I'm at an amusement park. Maybe it was bliss?

I wish all the positive energy of the universe upon my pilot, good man Mr. Omnath for the experience, and for doing all the hard work up in the sky as he made sure I was seated like royalty. He made sure I was comfortable throughout. With his help we did some acrobats mid air after which he suggested I become a paragliding pilot because I stay put and enjoyed it without getting sick.

Thank you universe.

I'm sure this is what Valhalla feels like.

Once toned down from the high of the experience, we sat on the shore of the beautiful Fewa Lake to tone down our excitement a little bit more so that we could save up on energy to walk up to the World Peace Pagoda. The breathtaking view of the city of Pokhara from the Pagoda and then the sight of a playful little pup was the best way to end the day out. Also, it got too cold to stay outside.

I DID IT!

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

The Fewa lake

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

Streets of Pokhara

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

The World Peace Pagoda

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Day 1

After a breathtakingly beautiful plane ride from Kathmandu to Pokhara, we had delicious hot breakfast and tea to cope with the cold, which was followed by a bumpy drive to the top of the hills to reach Astam, where we'd be staying at the Annapurna eco resort village with a paradisiacal view of the snow clad Annapurna mountain range.

We were served hot chamomile tea, I completed my mandala universe, made new friends, plucked an orange from the tree, contemplated getting another tattoo from the travelling tattoo artist, backed out, and wouldn't stop behaving like a happy puppy because I was seeing snow for the first time. Lunch and dinner was served made with homegrown ingredients. The day concluded with us sitting around a bonfire and conversing with people from different countries. Gary from Australia stated the unspoken obvious. He said, "There are four things in this world you can never be tired of staring at; the moon, mountains, the ocean, and fire."

Thank you Gary.

The view of the Annapurna mountain range from the eco village in Astam

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

The view of the valley from our room. I could wake up to this every single day sigh.

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

Abode

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

Fresh local donuts

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

To bonfires and conversations

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Day 3

We began the 6 km trek from Astam to the foothills after saying goodbye to the good people at the Annapurna eco village.

Throughout the trek, we kept singing and dancing, cracked lame jokes as usual, made fun of each other, and stopped to see mama goat and her kid. After 3 kms, we got to the spot where we witnessed the scenic beauty of river Seti. After another kilometer or two, we came across a beautiful temple where we hydrated ourselves.

We did our victory dance after we reached the base. Then we boarded a bus to the city and roamed the streets waiting for the annual street festival to start. Once it did start, we went around eating the variety of local street food like we hadn't eaten in ages.

My fingers went numb again.

And the trek begins!

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

View of river Seti

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Day 4

After waving a heartfelt goodbye to Pokhara after the Annapurna range decided to reveal her beauty to the fullest, we travelled to the birthplace of Lord Buddha, Lumbini.

The area has various Buddhist monasteries and temples of different styles, more like a contribution from different countries representing their approach towards the religion/way of life. Out of the 32 situated in the 5 acre land, we were able to visit only the Thai, Cambodian, Burmese, Korean, Chinese, German, French, Japanese, and Vietnamese monasteries and temples due to time constraints.

The moment we entered the area where the Mayadevi temple, the birthplace of Lord Buddha is situated, I felt so much good energy flowing around and I teared up a little because I'd always wanted to visit the place. We paid our respect at the exact spot where he was born, and then sat by the sacred pond where his mother, Queen Mayadevi took the ritual dip prior to his birth and where he had his first bath.

I thank the universe for making this possible.

Cambodian temple

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

Pagoda at the Burmese monastery

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

Sri Lankan monastery

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

Sri Lankan monastery

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

Korean temple

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

Chinese monastery

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

The area of the Mayadevi temple, birthplace of Lord Buddha

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

The Mayadevi temple

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Day 5

An evening spent at the Pashupatinath temple on the banks of the holy Bagmati river was a divine experience.

After the conclusion of the pooja at one of the little Shiva temples in the complex, the priest gave me prashad (an orange), and asked me where I was from. When I told him I was from Udupi (Karnataka), he was so overwhelmed and told me that one of the former head priests of Pashupatinath, Raval Padmanabha Shastri Adiga, also is from Udupi. Then he gave me a beautiful Rudraksh mala and flowers and blessed me.

A few moments later, I was told by a localite that the location we were in was one of the places which was shot as the location for Kamar-Taj in Dr. Strange. I cried because I probably stood where Benedict Cumberbatch once stood.

After admiring the huge temple complex, we realised we had gotten the opportunity to witness the majestic Pashupati Bagmati Aarati. It followed three priests conducting the custom by taking oil lamps and moving them in circular motion and dedicating their act to the Divine. Bhajans were sung by devotees during the Aarati, creating a blissful surrounding.

As the Aarati was is process, over five cremation ceremonies took place on the other bank of the river. The entire environment had a blend of emotions and energies. Some people were happy to be there, some in trance of the Aarati, and some crying over the death of their loved ones. It's an experience to remember for a lifetime.

The entrance of the Pashupatinath temple, Kathmandu

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

Frikkin Kamar-Taj!!

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

The Pashupatinath temple

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

The Aarati

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Day 6

We literally spent the last day of the year in the best way possible.

We started the day by visiting the Patan Durbar Square and learning the history of the place; the royal family, the temples, the deities, and the animal sacrifices (over 180 animals; deer, bull, and others, are sacrificed every year during the annual festival and then their intestines are hung on the threshold of the doorway of the main temple). We then walked around in the streets and took in the colours and fragrances of the culture for one last time.

Good guy Hemant, a friend of a friend, showed us around the city and then the Swayambhunath Stupa, also popularly known as the monkey temple because of the high population of the beings. This ancient golden temple lies at the top of a hill, west of the capital, making it easily visible from almost every angle from the Kathmandu valley. To reach the top of the stupa we apparently climbed over 350 steep stairs during and after which we were super exhausted, but it all vanished once we reached the top and had access to the panoramic view of the city. It was enchanting.

In the evening, Hemant introduced us to his best friend who happened to be Lochan Rijal, a well known Nepali singer, song-writer, and multi-instrumentalist. He has three albums to his name, and is a recipient of several national and international awards. He discussed his plans of establishing an international music academy in the capital, one of its kind in the world, which is under construction. He showed us the site, around the city, the Kathmandu Durbar Square, did the Kali darshan there, and then had us over for dinner. He's such a humble human. Also, we were told that he had ties with ACDC, Metallica, Eric Clapton, and Elton John. You can probably imagine how excited we were! We shared stories, my sister and cousins couldn't keep it in their pants and showed him my covers and he offered me a collab (I died), and then gifted my sister an amazing pair of combat boots! It was a privilege to spend the evening with him and end the year on such a positive note.

Then off we went to Thamel, the party hub of the capital, where a concert was being held on the streets, to celebrate the welcoming of the new year. Though we survived an almost stampede, we enjoyed the music and the crowd.

I'm thankful for everything ❤️
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Duration of the trip: 6 days (26 - 31 December, 2018)

Cost: 45,000 INR

Currency: 1 Indian Rupee = 1.6 Nepali Rupee

International commutation: Direct flight from Bangalore to Kathmandu, and back (20,000 INR)

Domestic commutation: Since travelling by road (private vehicle) is more expensive, and public transport would be time consuming, we flew internally (Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini-Kathmandu)
The flights on a whole costed around 14000 INR.

Paragliding: 3,750 INR per person (we got it for 3,500 INR after some bargaining :P)

Stay: We booked places to stay through AirBnB. The villa in Kathmandu costed 2,500 INR per night (500 per head since it was the four of us). The cottage in the Annapurna eco village, Astam costed 2,000 INR per night. The hotel room in Lumbini costed 2,500 INR per night.

PS. Indian 200, 500,and 2000 Rs notes are not accepted. So prepare yourself with a lot of change.
American Dollar is accepted.

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

Patan Durbar

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

This cute little old man wanted me to take his picture underneath the intestines of the animals sacrificed.

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

On the way to the Swayambhunath stupa

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

The stupa

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

That's us with Lochan Rijal!

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha

Mother ????

Photo of Nepal, I'm coming back to you. by Meghana Saldanha
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