Places to see: Outside Kathmandu Valley

  Baglung   Dolkha Dev Ghat Janakpur Lumbini
  Bandipur   Daman Gorkha Tansen Palpa Pokhara
  Chitwan   Muktinath Tatopani Kodari    


BAGLUNG:

Baglung Bazar

 

Baglung is a city in western Nepal, and 275 km west of Kathmandu. It is the administrative headquarters of Baglung District and Dhawlagiri Zone. Baglung is the largest and most populous of the Tri-cities area of the Kali Gandaki valley composed of two other district headquarters Beni and Kushma. The total population of Baglung city is estimated to be close to 30,000. The Tri-cities area of the Kaligandaki valley is home to a population of 1, 32,783 permanent residents. Baglung is a major business, financial, educational and healthcare center for the people of Kali Gandaki valley. Baglung enjoys warm summers and mild winters. Rainfall is heavily affected by the Monsoon and most of it occurs during the months of Jun-Sep. Rest of the year is mostly dry and sunny. Snowfall is extremely rare though surrounding mountains see occasional snow during the winter months.


Baglung is connected to Beni Bazar of Myagdi to the north and Kusma Bazar of Parbat which are located 13km to the north and 12km to the south, respectively. A paved highway connects the town with Pokhara, 72km to the east. Tracks for the highways to connect Tibet to the north via Mustan, Rukum to the west via Burtibang and Sera Bazar to the south via Balewa airport have been completed recently. Baglung airport is located 12km to the south of the town across the valley from Kusma.


Places of Interest:
From Baglung one can see good views of the Himalaya’s. To see the panorama of the various range of Himalayas Bhakunde is a good place. Terraced fields, waterfalls, forests, deep gorges and caves are abundant throughout the area. The temples in and around Baglung make an excellent spot for pilgrimage. Baglung Kalika temple is visited by thousands of pilgrims each year especially during the festivals of Dashain and Chaitre Dashain. Trekking, biking and rafting make it an ideal location for thrill seekers. Baglung is also the vantage point for trekkers to Mustang, Dolpa and Mt. Dhaulagiri. Baglung has the only hunting reserve in Nepal. Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve is a prime habitat for blue sheep and snow leopard.

 


BANDIPUR:

Bandipur Village
Bandipur originally is a Magar village in the early 18th century; today it is settled by a variety of Nepali ethnicities with different beliefs. It is a hilltop settlement in the Tanahu District, of Nepal. Bandipur is progressively been coming to the attention of tourism, because of its preserved, old time cultural atmosphere. Bandipur is located on a mountain saddle approximately 700m above the Marsyangdi River Valley, 143 km to the west of Kathmandu and 80 km to the east of Pokhara

 

Places of Interest:
Its medium elevation proves excellent for viewing of the Hiamalayas: Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Manaslu, Ganesh, Langtang Himal, the Marshyangdi valley, Mount Manakamana and Gorkha. One can also see the preserved Newari architecture of its buildings, which have not been replaced by modern types found in many other towns of Nepal. Various Newari and Magar festivals can also be of interest to tourists. Sorathi and Chukta dances are also very popular. The Bindyabashini temple and the library in the village centre, Thani Mai, Tindhara, Raniban, the downhill trek to Siddha Cave and a hike to Ramkot village. On Mukundeswari, the elevation at the western end of the saddle is a little shrine and one has a view of Bandipur itself.

 


DOLAKHA:
The historically and culturally rich district of Dolakha is situated in the Janakpur Zone of Nepal. The district covers a land area of approximately 2,100 square kilometers of mountainous terrain. The main town in the district, Dolakha is a popular tourist destination where visitors are assured of a friendly welcome from the local people. The scenery in the area is breath-taking and the environment is unpolluted. The houses in the village are decorated with beautiful wood carvings and the newer buildings have been built to blend with the older ones in as ascetically pleasing manner.


One of the major attractions in the town of Dolakha is the Bhimsen Temple. Pilgrims from India and other parts of Nepal visit the temple in anticipation of their wishes being granted. The main statue featured in the temple is the god Bhim. The statue is known to sweat and it is considered to be a bad omen for the people if it sweats on the left side. If the statue sweats on the right side it is an indication that the Royal Family will be struck by tragedy. Adherent wipes the liquid up with bits of cotton cloth and keeps it in their homes for good luck to ward off bad luck. Other temples in the near vicinity include Tripura Sundari temple, Kalinchowk temple, and Kali temple. There are also a number of decorative Buddha stupas located around the town.


The jagged snow covered peak of Mount Gauri Shanker, at a height of 7,134 meters, is an awe-inspiring sight which is seen from a distance. Trekking is forbidden at the peak because it is venerated by Hindus and Buddhists, but the surrounding area is very scenic and popular with trekkers. The Tsho Rolpa Glacier Lake is situated in the Rolwaling valley of the mountain. Covering an area of 1.65 sq km, it is Nepal’s largest glacier lake.


The Dolakha language is a dialect of Newar and is only spoken in the Dolakha district. Efforts are being made to ensure that this unique language does not die out. Parents are encouraged to make sure that their children are bilingual, by one parent speaking to them in Nepali and the other in Dolakha right from when they start learning to speak.


Visitors who travel to the fascinating district and town of Dolakha in Nepal are sure to have a memorable experience.

 



DAMAN:

Daman


Many people realize that just a few miles outside from Kathmandu lies a beautiful village named Daman. As with most destinations in Nepal, it is located in a region that is surrounded with natural splendor and characteristics that are unique to the village. This secluded village does not have much to offer in regard to late night restaurants, cafes and nightlife, but opens a gateway to the world of nature and breathtaking landscapes. Mountain bikers and hikers will thoroughly enjoy the trails and walks that are located around the village. Some can be strenuous, as Daman is located at a height of 2,320 meters, but the challenge is worth the effort. In spring, the rhododendron forest comes alive with color and forest animals and is a very fascinating part of the Daman area to explore. Panoramas from the viewing tower or hill station can be enjoyed with the naked eye, or through the mounted telescope. From this sightseeing point visitors will be able to look upon the unchallenged beauty of the Himalayas. The most well-known peaks and hiking destinations in Nepal can be seen from here. They include Phurbi Chyachu, Choba Bhamre, Annapurna and Mount Everest. Around the tower, visitors will be mesmerized by the abundant variety of flowers and wild orchids that decorate the dense forests.


Another attraction in Daman is the Tibetan Buddhist Monastery that is approximately a thirty-minute leisurely walk away from the village. The Indra Sarobor and Rishikeshwor Mahadev Temple are also extremely interesting sights to visit. Most of the attractions and sights can only be reached on foot, and visitors are recommended to pack comfortable walking shoes, while staying in Daman.

 

The cultural lifestyle that is practiced by villagers, the panoramic views and the diverse natural wildlife that is located here offers a truly amazing adventure to embark on. Here visitors will find the seclusion, tranquility and quiet that is so hard to find in many tourist destinations in Nepal. Instead of nightclubs and throbbing music, Daman has the lull of the forests and peaceful songs of the nocturnal animals, with majestic sunsets and unforgettable moments of beauty.

 


DEVGHAT - Religious Retreat:
The village of Devghat, situated five kilometers north-west of Narayanghat in Nepal, it is renowned for its pervading atmosphere of tranquility. Resting in an area where the Kali Gandaki and Trishuli Rivers converge to form the Narayani River, which goes on to flow into the great Ganges River, Devghat is considered by Hindus to be one of the holiest place. This is also the spot where wooded hills meet wide open plains, adding to the exquisite beauty of the landscape of this popular pilgrimage destination.


Legend has it that Sita, the heroine of the epic Ramayan, died at Devghat. Adding to the religious significance of the area, King Mahendra’s ashes were sprinkled where the three rivers meet. Many who have renounced the world live out their last days in houses on the banks of the rivers. By renouncing the world these sanyasan hope to achieve a favorable death and rebirth. Others have retired to their children, or because they have no children and resident priests will perform the necessary rituals upon their death.


In January each year, the Makar Sangratri festival is celebrated in Devghat, attracting Hindu devotees from far and wide who gather to perform ceremonial bathing rituals in the river. There are a number of historical and sacred sites in and around Devghat which visitors to the area will find interesting. These include the Triveni temple and the Balmiki Ashram, where the retreat of the great sage Balmiki was situated. Tourists can visit the Someswar Kalika temple and the Kabilaspur fort, which was built by the kings of ancient Palpa. Another noteworthy site is Pandavnagar, the home at one time of the supporters of the Mahabharat. The epic poem, Mahabharat, is significant in Hinduism as Lord Krishna preached the gospel of duty, or Bhagvad Gita, to Arjun at the time of the great battle of Mahabharat. This profound philosophy on the preeminence of duty became a foundation of Hinduism.


Visitors to Devghat will soon appreciate why it has earned the reputation for being one of the most tranquil places in Nepal, while enjoying the unsurpassed beauty of the surrounding scenery and contemplating the significance that Devghat has for those adhering to Hindu teachings.

 


GORKHA:

Ancient Gorkha Durbar


Gorkha, situated at 140 km west of Kathmandu at an altitude of 1,135 meter, is the ancestral hometown of the Nepal’s ruling royal family. Gorkha is only 18km up a paved road of the Pokhara-Kathmandu Highway. A brief visit on the way to or from Pokhara would provide more insights into Nepal than one is likely to get at lakeside in Pokhara.


Gorkha’s small town is perhaps the most important historical town of Nepal. From its hilltop forests, King prithivi Narayan Shah, the ninth generation paternal ancestor of the present King, launched his lifelong attempt to unify the independent states of Nepal, a wildly ambitious project which succeeded due to his brilliance, and the effectiveness of his locally recruited troops. The British term Gurkha evolved from the name Gorkha, referring to the famed fighting soldiers of the region.


Gorkha’s centerpiece is the magnificent Gorkha Durbar with a fort, a palace and a temple with excellent views of the surroundings valleys, and the Mansalu range.


Places of Interest:
Gorkha Bazar is primarily a cobbled street market place where by people from neighboring hill dwellings come to trade. There are a few temples near about, but not much. Yet, it is worth a visit as it provides a very good vista of the quiet charm that soaks a typical hill village of Nepal.


Gorkha Durbar is the main attraction of Gorkha, an hour steep walk up a hill from the bazaar area. It used to be the dwelling of King Prithivi Narayan and his ancestors. The Durbar itself is a humble, yet quite impressive, complex of a temple, fort and a palace built in the Newar style of Kathmandu. The view of the Himalayan range and the deep valleys from up there is quite breathtaking.


Gorakhnath Cave ten meters below the palace’s southern side, is the sacred cave temple of Gorakhnath. The cave is carved out of the solid rock and is among the most important religious sites for mainstream Brahmins and Chhetris of Nepal.
Gokha is also an alternate starting point for a few trekking routes in the region. Gorkha-Trisuli is an easy three day walk along the unspoiled Nepali country side. One can also walk a long day’s walk to Besishahar, which is the usual starting point for Annapurna and Manang area treks. One can also walk through Besisahara area to Pokhara in four days.

 


JANAKPUR - A holy city in Nepal

Janaki Mandir - Janakpur


Janakpur, also known as Janakpurdham, which denotes a sacred place, is unquestionably Tarai’s most fascinating and mystical city just 165km to the east of Birganj. It is a religious site, and those traveling the Hindu pilgrimage circuit are required to make a stop to show their respect.


Janakpur has been identified through Hindu mythology as the capital of the ancient kingdom of Mithila. It was here that mush of northern India was controlled during the tenth and the third centur BC. Mithila finally came under the strict control of the Mauryan Empire in the third century BC. Thereafter t came under hardships and was neglected for two millenniums until the arrival of Guru Ramananda, founder of the sect of the formidable Sita and in doing so revived the city to its former glory as a religious center during the seventh century.


It can be quite disconcerting as everything in Janakpur is immersed in the Indian culture to the point that one could mistakenly think they were in India. The only difference is the political government governing the area. Janakpur is a great delight to visit. Traffic is all but non-existent with all motorized traffic banned from the center of the city, which means you can have a relatively peaceful stroll around the city.


At the same time though, Janakpur is a thriving city with so much going on its hard to keep up, so if you are thinking of a limited stay its best to rethink and allow for a couple of days to fully absorb this amazing atmosphere that will surround you for the duration of your stay. It must be noted that accommodation, restaurants and other facilities for tourists do not really exist in this area and so it is important to speak to your travel agent, do research and make sure you are prepared. Something else of great fortune to the city is its only operational railway in existence in all of Nepal just so happens to resides here making for an entertaining adventure.

 


TANSEN PALPA:

Tansen Palpa

 

Tansen, an ancient hill town, with its architecture strongly influenced by Newari migrants from the Kathmandu valley is waiting to be discovered by the tourists. Situated at the southern slope of the Mahabharat range; about half way from the Indian border to Pokhara and the Himalayas, this town offers an opportunity to experience genuine Nepalese culture, away from westernized places like Thamel in Kathmandu or Lakeside in Pokhara. Old artistic Newari houses and cobbled streets shape the townscape. The town’s hill, Shreenagar, allows breathtaking views of the Himalayan range from Dhaulagiri in the west to Ganesh Himal in the east.

 

The name of the town ansen has its origin in Magar language, meaning northern settlement. Magars are one of the ethnic groups of Nepal having their own language, culture and history, and are assumed to be the first settlers in this area. Due to the diversity of the ethnic groups living in this area, one also finds a diversity of languages spoken. Although the main language is Nepali, in the core area the Newari community is partly using their own toungue as do the Magar people leaving in the surrounding villages. The main religion is Hinduism, followed by Buddhism. Tansen is the district administrations headquarter of Palpa district, one out of 75 districts in Nepal, and since 1957 a Municipality. It is itself often referred to as Palpa, and its people as Palpalis.

 

At an elevation of about 1350 meter above sea level the town experiences a pleasant climate throughout the year. The maximum temperature, even in pre-monsoon times, hardly exceeds 31° C and only in December/January the minimum temperature can fall below 10°C. 

 

Tansen Town: the town of Tansen is prosperous looking-collection of red brick houses set on the steep hillside and is among the largest far-flung Newar trading posts scattered across the hills. Though the Newar community forms one of the major communities in this place now, the place originally belonged to the Magar community, one of the most delightful ethnic groups of Nepal.

 

Tundikhel: the large plateau in the southeast part of the town, near the bus park, is the best starting point to discover the fascinating destinations of the town. The former kings of Palpa made this artificial plateau when they needed a drilling and parade ground. Today Tundikhel is a popular gathering place for people to chat, walk and play in the afternoon. A statue of King Birendra marks the southwest corner of the Tundikhel; the building at the north side is the town hall.

 

Amar Ganj Ganesh Temple: is a beautiful three-storey pagoda style temple. The rest house of the temple that has space to shelter thousand people has been converted into a school. On the premises of the school, there is an old small one-storey temple of Bhairab. The mask of Bhairab, which is worshipped here, was snatched from Kathmandu by Mukunda Sen, King of Palpa. To get here one needs to follow the northeast path from Tundikhel.

 

Amar Narayan Temple: is one of the largest temples in Tansen. The whole temple complex, including the temples, the ponds and the park was built under the reign of Amar Sing Thapa, the first governor of Palpa. According to a legend, a holy spring is hidden under the three-storey pagoda style Narayan Temple. The two other temples of the ensemble are dedicated to Vishnu and to Shiva. The remarkable huge dry stone masonry wall surrounding the whole premises is called The Great Wall of Palpa. One can get here by taking a west path from Tundikhel and then turn right to get to the temple at its upper end.

 

Sita Pati: near Ason Tole, is the most popular square in Tansen. The square is named after the white octagonal shaped building, which lies in the middle of the square. The Sital Pati was built under the order of Khadga Shamsher, governor of Palpa. Khadga Shamsher, an ambitious politician, was exiled from Kathmandu after plotting against the prime minister.

 

The south corner of the square leads to ggi Dhoka, the main gate to the Tansen Durbar, the former palace and today's district administrations headquarter. There still exists a room called the throne hall in the Durbar’s second floor. Baggi Dhoka is the gater where the chariouts of religious festivals have to pass through. The fine woodcarvings on the buildings on both sides of the gate represent the fine Newari craftsmanship. This Baggi Dhoka leads to the palace grounds. The right route leads to the Bhagwati Temple that was built in 1815 by Col. Ujir Singh Thapa to commemorate the victory over the British-Indian troops in the battle of Butwal.

 

The gate opposite to the palace leads to Makhan Tole, the main bazaar of Tansen that focuses the town’s commercial activity, notably the sale of Dhaka cloth. Of woven cotton or muslin, this cloth is characterized by jagged, linear designs originally made famous in Bangladesh. With principal colours of red, black and white, the cloth is used to make saris as well as topis, the hat that is an integral part of the national dress for men.

 

Taksar: is another interesting place of the town, where for centuries the famous bronze and brass works of Tansen were produced. One can have a look at how the famous ancient articles such as Karuwa, Hukka, Antee etc are produced.

 

Shreenagar hill: at 1525 meter high, is about an hour uphill from the town center. While climbing this hill, one can not only enjoy a breath-taking panoramic view of the Himalayas running from Dhaulagiri in the west to Ganesh Himal in the east, but also get pleasure of passing through peaceful forest, pine plantation and deciduous forest with a lot of beautiful rhododendron flowers. There is a statue of Buddha at the eastern end of Shreenagar ridge. It takes about half an hour to reach this statue. Thai monks donated the Buddha statue with the monkey and elephant. It commemorates a part of Buddha’s life. According to legends, when Buddha was meditating in a jungle for roughly three months, a monkey and an elephant served him in many ways.

 

 

Situated at the Terai plains of the southern Nepal, Lumbini is the place where Siddhartha Gautam, the Shakya Prince and the ultimate Buddha, the Enlightened One, was born in 623 BC. The sacred place, marked by a stone pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka of India in 249 BC, is listed as one of the World Heritage Sites.


Today the holy site is being developed with international support as the supreme Buddhist pilgrimage and a symbol of world peace. The shrines and monasteries that many countries have built or are still building reflect the architectural traditions of the respective countries, and thus giving Lumbini an international feel with a message of universal friendship and brotherhood.


About 300 km east of Lumbini is the village of Tilaurakot which is believed to have been the location of the Kapilvastu royal palace where the Buddha grew up as the Shakya dynasty prince, until he renounced it at the age of 29 in search of enlightenment.


The main attraction of Lumbini remains the Sacred Garden, which is spread over 8 sq.km and possesses all the treasures of the historic area. Today as part of the global initiative to promote Lumbini, many countries have built or are building temples, monasteries or stupas near the Sacred Garden, in the International Monastery Zone. Temples or shrines that have finished their construction so far are Myanmar Temple, International Gautami Nuns Temple, China Temple, The Nepal Buddha Temple and the Dharma Swami Maharaja Buddha Vihara.


Ashoka Pillar: carrying an inscription identifying the holy site as the birthplace is situated nearby the Sacred Garden. To one side of Ashoka pillar is the Mayadevi Temple which houses a bas relief depicting the nativity. Recent excavations have turned up a stone bearing a “foot imprint”, indicating the exact place of birth. The Puskarni pond, where Queen Mayadevi, the Buddha’s mother, had taken a bath before giving birth to him lies to the south of the pillar. Kushinagar is the place where Lord Buddha passed into Mahaparinirvana. Here are a lot of chaityas, stupas and viharas to see. The Muktabandhana stupa is believed to have been built by Malla dynasty to preserve the temporal relics of Lord Buddha. A smaller shrine nearby contains a reclining Buddha which was brought from Mathura by the Monk Haribala. Bodhgaya is the place where Buddha attained enlightenment. The tree under which Buddha attained wisdom is called the Bodhi tree, while the temple making the sacred spot is known as Mahabodhi temple.


There are also three museums in Lumbini,

The Lumbini Museum, located in the Cultural Zone, contains Mauryan and Kushana coins, religious manuscripts, terra-cotta gragments, and stones and metal sculptures. It also possesses an extensive collection of stamps from various countries depicting Lumbini and Buddha.


Lumbini Intrenational Research Institute (LIRI), located opposite the Lumbini Museum, provides research facilities for the study of Buddhism and religion in general. Run jointly by the Lumbini Development Trust and the Reiyukai of Japan, it contains some 12,000 books on religion, philosophy, art and architecture.


Kapilvastu Museum is situated 27km west of Lumbini in the village of Tilaurakot. The museum holds coins, pottery and toys dating between the seventh century BC and fourth century AD. The museum also has good collection of jewelry and other ornaments of that period.

 


POKHARA:
Pohara - Fewa Lake, Fistail in the background


Pokhara is situated on the edge of the Pokhara Valley which is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in Nepal. Here the Seti River has dug incredible canyons in the floor of the Seti Gandaki Valley. Most of these canyons are only visible from higher viewpoints but they are stunning to behold. If you wish to see what they look like, getting a little higher off the ground shouldn’t be too difficult. The mountains here rise from 1000 meters to over 8000 meters over the short distance of only 30 km. This astonishing fact makes them one of a kind. The Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu ranges can all be seen from Pokhara and makes a stunning backdrop. There is a fantastic waterfall known as David’s Falls where the water from nearby Phewa Lake thunders into a large hole and disappears mysteriously.


Summers in Pokhara are relatively hot and winters are mild. The region is sub-tropical because of the elevation and this means you can expect lots of beautiful green shrubbery all year around. Pokhara has changed much since the 1960’s. Back then it was a quiet little town which could only be reached by foot. Many considered it to be even more mystical than Kathmandu. The completion of the first road in 1968 soon brought a change to this. Tourism quickly became a major industry and the city grew rapidly. Though Pokhara is considerably bigger than it was only a few years ago, there are still a lot of green spaces which make the place feel peaceful and spacious. Most of the town’s traffic is made up of tourists travelling to the Annapurna Base Camp.


Since most of the city’s growth has occurred in recent years, Pokhara is relatively modern. However, the old center, known as Purano Bazar, is quite interesting and reminiscent of days gone by as are the mule caravans which arrive regularly from Mustang. There are a lots of temples to visit in the region and lots of hiking trails to do. The lakes are generally not very good for swimming though boating is popular. There are a great number of natural attractions in the area which are well worth visiting.


Many tourists enjoy Pokhara as it is not as cramped as Kathmandu, but it does not house as many cultural attractions as Nepal’s capital. While it does have some great cultural sights, the focus tends more towards the many natural wonders around the city. Pokhara should definitely not be missed.


Places of Interest in Pokhara:

Phewa Lake: the second largest lake in the kingdom, roughly measuring 1.5km by 4 km, is the center of all attractions in Pokhara. The enchanting lake is an idyllic playground. Brightly painted wooden boats and sailboats can be rented on reasonable cost around lakeside. The lake is neither deep nor particularly clean, but the water is warm and swimming is pleasant if you don’t think about the probable pollution. The eastern shoreline of the lake, popularly known as Lakeside or Baidam, consists of seemingly endless strips of lodges, restaurants, bookshops and souvenir shops. One of the fascinating parts of lakeside is the splendid view of the mountains, especially when the still water reflects the peaks, creating a double image.


Begnas Lake and Rupa Lake: the lakes are located about 15km from Pokhara at the end of a road that turns north from the highway to Kathmandu. Divided by the forested hillock called Panchabhaiya Danda, the lakes offer the perfect nature retreat because of their relative seclusion. Splendid boating and fishing can be done here.

 

Barahi Temple: this is the most important religious monument in Pokhara. Built almost in the middle of Phewa Lake, the two storied pagoda is dedicated to the boar manifestation of Ajima, Devotees can be seen, especially on Saturdays, carrying male animals and fowl across the lake to be sacrificed to the deity.

 

World Peace Pagoda: the pagoda is a massive Buddhist stupa and is situated on top of a hill on the southern shore of Phewa lake. Besides being an impressive sight in itself, the shrine is a great vantage point which offers spectacular views of the Annapurna range and Pokhara city. You can get there by crossing the lake by boat and then hiking up the hill.

 

Seti Gandaki: flowing through the city, the boisterous river runs completely underground at places. Amazingly, at certain points the river appears hardly two meters wide. But its depth is quite beyond imagination-over 20 meters. Mahendra Pul, a small bridge near the old Mission Hospital, provides a perfect view of the river’s dreadful rush and the deep gorge made by its powerful flow.

 

Devi's Fall: locally known as Patale Chhango, Devi’s fall is an awesome waterfall lying about 2 km south-west of Pokhara airport on the highway to Tansen. An interesting modern legend says that a foreigner named David was skinny-dipping in the Pardi Khola when the floodgates of the dam were opened, sweeping him into an underground passage beneath the fall, never to be seen again.

 

Gupteswar Gupha: a sacred cave lies 2 km from Pokhara airport on the Siddhartha Highway leading southwest from the city. The entrance is right across from Devis fall and the cave is almost 3km long. It has some big hall-size rooms and some passages where you have to crawl on all fours. This cave holds special value for Hindus since a phallic symbol of Lord Shiva is preserved here in the condition it was discovered. An entrance fee of Rs 5 is charged and taking pictures inside the cave is prohibited.

 

Mahendra Gupha: locally called Chamero Odhaar, is the large limestone cave. Shepherd boys are said to have discovered it around 1950. A two hour walk to the north of Pokhara, it is best to bring your own torch to see the stalactites and stalagmites, although most of them have been carved out by souvenir hunters.

 

The Old Bazar: Pokhara’s traditional bazaar is colorful and so are its ethnically diverse traders. In its temples and monuments we can see ties to the Newar architecture of the Kathmandu Valley. Located about 4 km from Lakeside, the markets original charm is alive and well.

 

Bindbyabasini Temple: is the center of religious activity in the old bazaar. It is dedicated to Goddess Bhagwati, yet another manifestation of shakti. Worshippers flock here to perform sacrifices, and especially on Saturdays the park like grounds take on a festive fare.


Himalayan Vista: the magnificent Annapurna panorama that’s visible on the northern skyline of Pokhara is quite incredible. The main peaks are Annapurna I to IV and the beautiful Machhapuchhare. Besides these, you can also see the Himchuli, Varahashikhar, Gangapurna and other peaks. The mountains will probably be hidden in the clouds between April and September. A nice evening on the banks of Fewa lake with the mountain range as the backdrop is what Pokhara is really about.
 


CHITWAN:

One horn Rhino in Chitwan National Park

 

The name Chitwan is a composite of Sanskrit words “cita” meaning heart and “vana” meaning jungle or forest. Thus, Chitwan actually means the Heart of te Jungle.Chitwan falls among one of the seventy-five districts of Nepal.  It is located in the western part of Narayani Zone with Bharatupur, being the seventh largest city of Nepal and it also serves as the headquarters. The district takes its name from the Chitwan Valley, one of Nepal’s Inner Terai valleys between the Mahabharat and Siwalik ranges, both considered foothills of the Himalayas. The Royal Chitwan National Park, was also listed in the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1973.The wildlife and the landscape are not as breathtaking as those found in Africa but still, the experience will stand out.

 

The place gets steamy from March-June, with peak temperature reaching 43°C in the shade. Short grass makes February-May the best game-viewing season, but the autumn months are gorgeous, with Himalayan views, and in winter December-January, Chitwan is pleasantly warm compared to Kathmandu. The monsoon season July-August s intense, with pounding rain, swollen rivers and luxuriant vegetation. While the rain isn’t constant, the humidity is all pervasive.

 

Narayangarh, on the bank of Narayani River, is the main town with numerous shopping zones where people come from all over the district and neighbouring districts. Now there are about 40 Village Development Committees and one sub-metropolitan city – Bharatupur and a municipality Ratnanagar each of which has more than nine wards or urban areas. Chitwan is one of the few remaining undisturbed vestiges of the Terai region, which formerly extended over the foothills of Nepal. Chitwan is also famous for agriculture as the soil in Chitwan is very fertile.

 

Places of Interest in Chitwan:

Though one can visit neighboring Tharu villages in Chitwan, the major interesting focus of Chitwan is still the exploration of the Chitwan National Park. The flora and fauna of Chitwan makes it a great place for nature lovers. Chitwan has over 50 different species of mammals, 400 different species of birds, and 65 different types of butterflies in its hardwood Sal forests, revering vegetation and elephant grass savannah. More than 70 different species of grass grow here. There are many species of birds, crocodiles, rhinos, sloth bears, tigers and monkeys. The elephants you will see walking through the village are domesticated and used for taking tourists on sightseeing excursions. Of course it would not be Nepal without the usual cows, goats, and stray dogs roaming the village as well. Rhino sightings less than a half-mile from the village are not uncommon.

 

Elephant Ride:
An Elephant ride is the most popular way of exploring the Chitwan jungle. The elephant takes you around the jungle for an hour and half. There are two trips a day, one in the morning at eight and another at four in the afternoon. During peak seasons, there are long lines for tickets. Some of the luxury lodges inside the park itself, have elephants too. The privately owned elephant rides take you around the outside of the park, where the chances of game spotting are far less.

 

Jeep Safari:
Jeep safaris are also very popular. They take you around for four hours. A great way to spot wildlife in areas further inside the park which are less trodden.

 

Canoeing:
Canoeing along the Rapti River is another option; you can canoe downriver for about an hour and take a three hour guided walk back. With some luck you will get to see Gharial crocodiles, marsh muggers, and variety of fish. With a lot of luck you may be able to see a Gangetic dolphin. The trip is a paradise for bird watchers with possible spotting of kingfishers, ospreys, and egrets. Chitwan is known to have 400 species of birds.

 

Jungle Walk:
Jungle walks through the jungle is a good way to spot game. Monkeys, birds and deer are assured; rhinos are less common. A guide is recommended, and they can help you stay safe as well as point out interesting things.

 

For those who want a more extended experience, and are there for more than a couple of days, overnight jungle hike deeper into the jungle can be rewarding. Most do a two night hike where you can camp inside the designated camping spots inside the park. You may have to rent your camping gear in Kathmandu, because there aren’t really any such facilities in Sauraha itself.

 

Elephant Polo:

Elephant Polo in Chitwan

 

Elephant polo is one of the rare adventure sports only played in Nepal. The World Elephant Polo Association (WEPA) organizes this tournament annually in airfield of Meghauli Chitwan. This Game is somehow similar to the Horse Polo but it is played riding on the elephant with the longer sticks. Four players from each team plays this game on 140 X 70 meters pitch with a standard size polo ball. It consists 20-minutes (10 minuets each) of playing time with the interval of 15 minutes. Several teams from all over the world like Scotland, Thailand, England and Hong Kong including Nepal participates on this exciting game. This tournament is usually organized during the late November to early December

Click here for Chitwan Package Tour

 


TATOPANI AND KODARI:

Kodari Friendship Bridge

 

The picturesque village of Kodari lies in an area of exquisite beauty to the border between Nepal and Tibet. As the starting point of the ancient Trans Himalayan Caravan Route, which is considered to be the Nepalese equivalent of the Chinese Silk Route, Kodari is steeped in fascinating history, legends and folktales of the intrepid early pioneers that established a trade route between the two countries. Merchants on their way to Lhasa would head north when leaving Kodari, cross the Kuti pass and then turn east to begin the perilous high-altitude journey over the Tibetan plateau. Kodari remains an important Nepal-Tibet trading post. Traveling to Kodari from Kathmandu is an adventure in itself. Tourists generally make use of shared taxis or local buses to make this scenic, and sometimes hair-raising, journey. The road twists and turns at seemingly impossible angles as it ascends to Kodari, and those who can bear to tear their eyes away from the narrow road and the horn-blowing bus-driver, will be rewarded with views of indescribable beauty.

 

While Kodari is by no means a large town, it is geared up to catering for tourists making their way to and from neighboring Tibet. There is a good selection of well priced accommodation and a number of activities to enjoy and sights to see Adventure seekers may want to try out the highest bungee jump in Asia, situated a stone’s throw away from Kodari, the famous Tatopani hot water spring, with its therapeutic properties, is located just three kilometers from Kodari – perfect for soothing the muscles after an adventure filled day.

 

The Friendship Bridge that crosses a deep gorge to join Nepal and Tibet is unique in a number of ways. In Tibet vehicles are required to keep to the right, while in Nepal traffic drives on the left, so halfway across the bridge drivers have to change from right to left and vice versa. The halfway mark on the Friendship Bridge also marks a change in time zones, with Tibet being two hours and fifteen minutes ahead of Nepal. So you may leave Nepal at 1200 hr and arrive in Tibet at 1415 hr and yet have only moved a couple of hundred meters. Regular travelers of the route are no doubt accustomed to this, but for first time visitors it can be quite disorientating. There is little doubt that travelling to Kodari in Nepal will be a memorable experience.

 


MUKTINATH:

Muktinath Temple

 

The beautiful Saligramam, or as its popularly known Muktinath, is a sacred pilgrimage site regarded highly in both the Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. From here, at a height of 3,710 meters, the world seems to open up in all its glory with stunning views of the magnificent Himalayan Mountains. There are many legends that tell how the holy shrine of Muktinath rose up on its own accord amongst seven others, which include Srirangam, Triupati, Sri Mushnam, Thottadri, Naimisaranyam, Pushkaram and Badrinath. The holy shrine is also considered to be part of the 108 vaishnava shrines found here.

 

Most people wishing to travel to Muktinath will start their journey at Kathmandu from where they will take a quick flight or catch an excruciatingly long bus ride to Pokhara. Pokhara is the starting point for the trek up to the Muktinath and the climb up the mountain is incredibly beautiful and worthwhile. At the foot of the Thorong La mountain pass, you will find the Muktinath temple complete with beautiful craftsmanship and mystical aura. The holy temples feature 108 different waterspouts which is probably why the Buddhists call it Chumig Gyatsa, Tibetan for “Hundred Waters”. The different elements of earth, fire and water are artistically combined at this sacred place of worship to create a special atmosphere where one truly feels that they can find salvation. Hence the Hindus call the temple “Mukti Kshetra” which means plave of salvation.

 

It is interesting to note that Muktinath is considered to be one of the 24 Tantric places in the Tibetan Buddhist faith. According to tradition, Guru Rinpoche, who founded the Tibetan faith, stopped here to worship the Dakinis or sky dancing goddesses on his way to Tibet. For Hindus the importance of the shrine is a bit different. Hindu Vashanavites consider the Muktinath shrine to be one of the 108 holy places where a person should worship lord Vishnu. Whatever you believe, a trip to the Muktinath temple and shrine is definitely worth a visit. It features stunning water features, breath taking views and a man-sized idol of gold. Keep in mind that the best time to visit is between March and June since weather conditions at other times of the year make travel here difficult. As if the temple itself wasn’t enough, you will also see a number of great attractions along the way. So start making your plans to hike to the Muktinath Temple in Nepal.



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