Nepal Travel: An Extraordinary Trip

June 16, 2015
nepal
Nepal Travel: An Extraordinary Trip

As an Indian, Nepal doesn’t feel so different to us. After all, the lineage, the food, the people are all very similar to India’s. However, on a trip there, I realized that Nepal has a distinctive feature, a unique aura which only someone who has been to this country can understand.

One of the safest countries in the world, Nepal is one of those places where one can experience what “other worldliness” actually means.  My fondness for Nepal began as soon as I arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport. The Nepali air has a certain charm to it. Kathmandu, the capital city, is the first city you’ll see but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Kathmandu is a microcosm of Nepal, filled with cacophonous roads, crowded streets, buzzing nightlife, temples, monasteries and the great Himalayan aura.

Durbar-Square---Nepal
Photo Source : Dipti Goyal

Knowing that I had entered the land with the highest concentration of world heritage sites, I was eager to discover what Nepal has to offer. I had a lot to see in two days: Thamel, Pashupatinath, Swayambhunath, Durbar Square, Boudhanath, Bat Cave, Shechen Monastery and the Natural History Museum. There are many more places to say, but my office group had chosen these destinations. Though they are all tourist attractions, they are still definitely worth visiting. Durbar Square and the Pashupatinath Temple, were especially extraordinary.

Nepal Travel: A Short and Extraordinary Trip

Durbar Square

Durbar Square features a cluster of ancient Nepali temples. It is not easy to explore it all in one day but be sure to stroll along the square and to take in the mesmerizing beauty. Divided into three different pockets, the Hanuman Dhoka Durbar, Patan Durbar and the Bhaktapur Durbar Square make up the whole vicinity. My favourite part of the visit involved just sitting there, putting on my earphones and enjoying the picturesque views that came into being.

Durbar Square is also the hub of the some fantastic shopping. From traditional Hindu and Buddhist artifacts to Kamasuthra miniature idols, there was a lot on offer. The best part about my shopping experience was not what I purchased, but my chitchats with the artisans and the shopkeepers. From them I learned  about the best places to see, the weather, the food to try and what to take back from the country.

Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupatinath Temple, Nepal

Pashupatinath Temple allowed me to reconnect with my religious Hindu roots. The ‘Aarti’ in the evening, the music, the funerals, the euphoria in worshiping the animal deity, and the “Santana dharma” chants stayed with me long after I had exited the premises where “Only Hindus were allowed”.

A remarkable feature about the country is its religious harmony–not only do the Hindus and Buddhists live together in peace but the intermingling of India’s oldest religions is on full display in Nepal. No wonder that the ancient Pashupatinath Temple is worshiped as Shiva’s for three days and as Buddha for the next three.

Nepal Travel: A Short and Extraordinary Trip

Volunteering in Nepal

I also happened to pay a brief visit to a Nepali orphanage where volunteers from across the globe tried to give back to the fantastic Nepali hosts. This visit was the perk of working with Volunteering Solutions, an organization that promotes volunteer work along with traveling. All in all, the day in Kathmandu was well rounded and well spent.

Orphanage Photo // Nepal Travel: An Extraordinary Trip
Nepal Travel: An Extraordinary Trip

Nights in Kathmandu are as lively as its days, with its pubs, restaurants, and live music shows. Needless to say, the night in Kathmandu was as good as the day time in a regular kind of way. Good food, good music and an ambiance to die for at costs which were triple back home.

Nepal Travel: A Short and Extraordinary Trip

Pokhara

Following the Kathmandu experience was my favorite part of Nepal – Pokhara. A 7 hour car journey from Kathmandu, the journey was as good as the destination. I enjoyed the mountains, the rickety roads, the eateries at every second step and also the opportunity to spot the comical and also interesting differences between Hindi (my native tongue) and Nepali. One doesn’t remain active for all the hours though. There comes a time when you just want to sit back, enjoy your bumpy ride, plug in your earphones and experience the trees, the glances of people on the road who you’ll see just once in your lifetime and await the destination with eagerness. The song “Society by Eddie Vedder” was on loop during my journey. It perfectly accompanied the effect that Nepal had on my state of mind.

Pokhara is a quieter cousin of Kathmandu. Its tranquility and beauty are mesmerizing and relaxing. As I traveled deeper into the city, the holiday euphoria in me kicked in. Yes, the city has adapted to the tastes of its largely western tourists but its hospitality and essence still remain very real and very Nepali. This got me thinking, is there a positive point of poverty? Does poverty keep us more real, more rooted?

Nepal Travel: An Extraordinary Trip
Nepal Travel: An Extraordinary Trip

I decided to shun the thinker in me, let my hair down and enjoy every bit of the treat that is Pokhara.  With Phewa Lake, Sarangkot, Devi Falls, the bat caves and some of the most beautiful temples and monasteries, the city offered plenty of sightseeing options. 

Nepal Travel: A Short and Extraordinary Trip

The Bat Cave in Pokhara

The bat cave in Pokhara filled me with feelings of adventure, thrill, fear, anticipation and an eventual sense of accomplishment. The brief slippery trek, dark and silent interior and most importantly the anticipation of the end of this ride is what makes a visit to the bat cave so memorable.

The restaurants and pubs in Pokhara were also pure delight, filled with live music, good food and tranquililty. The live performances were the best part of my evening. Be it the melodious “You’re beautiful” amidst the Himalayan mountains and cool breeze or the traditional Nepali offerings, but there is nothing quite like Art–raw, real and upfront. The walk back to the hotel was also memorable–safe, calming and emotionally riveting.

Pokhara had plenty of good restaurants and hotels that offered good food, comfortable stays and experiences with very little money to shed.

Sarangkot

The best part of my Pokhara diaries, although, was yet to come. It was the early morning visit to Sarangkot to witness the sunrise. Sarangkot was also a small peek into what the Himalayas actually are–mind-numbingly beautiful and accessible only  by an exceedingly dangerous terrain. The one thing that was clear to me as I reached the Sarangkot top was that one moment of glancing at the peaks is worth traversing the dangerous terrain. I could now understand why some people gamble with life for that view. It is completely worth it. Numbness overtook my senses as I breathed in the lap of Mother Nature. The unadulterated fresh air revitalized my senses…and also my life.

Nepal Travel: An Extraordinary Trip
Nepal Travel: An Extraordinary Trip

Nepal will stay with me for years to come because for me, it was symbolic of that balance that is ideal–real yet accommodating, disturbed yet beautiful and insignificantly small yet home to the most powerful piece of nature.

 

Nepal Travel: An Extraordinary Trip // Nepal Travel* 

About Aparna Sharma

Aparna SharmaAparna is a English Literature Graduate from India, her passions include reading extensively, watching good television programs and trying to dwell deeper into the questions about life. Working in the travel industry, She wishes to travel to all continents (yes, even Antarctica). Aparna wants to share and gain experiences here and tell the world what being an Indian woman is actually like.

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