Nepali Times
Nation
Head for the hills



CHONG ZI LIANG
Lele

Lele is a small village in southern Lalitpur, perfect for a picnic or country walk and only a 45 minute bus ride from Lagankhel. On the way, you pass through Chapagaon, a cluster of quaint Newari houses with a bajar and temples, where it's also worth stopping for a wander. You can also mountain bike to Lele: but be warned that in the dry seasons the road after Chapagaon is incredibly bumpy and dusty. But as quickly as the dust rises, the lush basin of Lele arrives. There are sprawling rice fields, small local eateries on the roadside and mules carrying bricks from the factory. Just above the Tileswar Mahadeb temple is a small patch of green where you can set up your picnic. But if you want more isolation, walk upwards to the sparsely occupied hills that overlook the fields. Lele's U-shaped valley may mean that you can't view snow mountains from here but what you get are lush green hills.

KIRAN PANDAY
Kakani

With a spectacular view of mountain landscape, Kakani is a great one day get-away. It is easily accessible and there are a handful of small restaurants to eat at. Located about 29-km northwest of Kathmandu, it is at least an hour away by bicycle. However, you can also get a microbus from Machapokhari bus stop, Balaju to Trisuli. Leave early in the morning so that you can spend the day exploring, even walking back via Shivapuri. Kakani is the place where you can eat some of the most delicious rainbow trout and sukuti.

MIN RATNA BAJRACHARYA
Godavari and Phulchowki

To scale Pulchoki you start at Godavari. There are some verdant botanical gardens, as well as an outdoor fresh water pool for swimming and boating, a Tibetan monastery and a smattering of little eateries. Pulchoki is even richer in birdlife than Shivapuri. On the way you'll see the Shanti Ban Buddha?a huge golden statue of the Buddha which is said to look better from a distance than close-up. Start early, ideally by 7.30 AM, and be armed with plenty of water, snacks and lunch, although if you reach the summit by lunchtime the soldiers guarding the telecom tower are pretty hospitable and will reward you with a bowl of noodles as you marvel at the spectacular views.

The mountain is lushly vegetated and the footpath pretty untrodden?though there is also a steep and slippery track that snakes its way up to the summit. Pulchoki is home to 570 species of flowering plants, including magnificent red and white rhododendrons in March and April and a third of Nepal's bird species.

KIRAN PANDAY
Nagarjun

Towering above Balaju in the north-west of Kathmandu, Nagarjun offers an excellent day-long retreat. Nagarjun's lush green forest greets you after just a 15-minute drive from Kathmandu. Head up for a three-hour hike through the forest to the top of the 7000ft hill and visit the Jamacho stupa atop the hill.

No worries if you don't enjoy walking. You won't miss the breathtaking view of the mountains and the valley below for there is a motorable road that leads up as well. Famous for its low limestone cliffs, these hills are ideal for rock climbers. Stock up on food and essentials before you set out. Recent incidents of crime means you shouldn't walk alone.

DEWAN RAI
Chobar

For a taste of Nepali folklore, head to Chobar. Easily accessible by bus and within walking distance of Satobato, this is the site where Lord Manjushri supposedly drained the water out of Kathmandu Valley by slicing through the limestone hill with one mighty swipe of his sword.

Indeed, a deep chasm with jagged rocky edges runs through the hills around Chobar. The Bagmati River flows through it, suggesting it was geographical and not mythical forces at work here. Chobar is also perfect for cavers who like squeezing through the maze of underground caves. Guides are on hand to take you through different routes lasting 15-45 minutes. Be prepared for lots of crawling and squeezing. Not for the claustrophobic.

The village itself is picturesque with the 15th century Adinath Lokeshwar Temple dedicated to Rato Machhendranath with an astounding array of metal pots, pans and water containers hanging from its roofs?kitchen utensils donated by newlyweds to ensure a happy marriage.

CHONG ZI LIANG
Shivapuri

National parks are aplenty in Nepal, but only one is within Kathmandu Valley itself. Shivapuri lies on the northern fringe and microbuses go all the way to its gates. Nepalis pay a mere Rs10 for entry but foreigners will need to fork out Rs 250. The park, which is the valley's main water source, offers various hiking routes but the route to Sundarijal is the best for a day trip. Stock up on water and food before setting off from the park entrance as there are no shops inside. And binoculars: Shivapuri is a haven for birdwatchers from all over the world.

Roma Aryal, Shradha Basnyat, Katy Elliott, Chong Zi Liang and Paavan Mathema



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LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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