We had been planning for hiking since last year but due to some unreasonable cause things were not aligned. Apart from that we had our reason of heat, rain, leeches blah, blah, blah… But this time we put our excuses aside and decided to go ahead for the hike.
That day was something, it was raining since morning. We a group of 6 people/ non-walkers with our comfy shoes, carried an umbrella and were all set to walk. Though we were supposed to meet at ring road at 8 am, nobody showed up on time and the plan got resumed only after 2 hours. We got into a small microbus and drove 20 minutes to Budhanilkantha Temple, just 8 kms north of Kathmandu. After breakfast at a local tea shop, we paid a visit to Budhanilkantha Temple, Narayanstan. The temple was crowded with Hindus who came to touch the feet of Lord Vishnu.
Situated 9 km north of Kathmandu, a holy Hindu shrine of Buddhanilkantha, is especially popular for its reclining statue of Lord Vishnu resting on a bed of snakes. Hindus pray to the sleeping Vishnu with offerings of flowers and fruits. The tourists are not allowed to touch the deity; however, they can visit the temple complex. The temple offers unique pleasure and mesmerizes everyone by its beauty, quietness and holiness.
It is a must visit and as someone has rightfully said “you can find your personal Shangrila” in the serene environment of Buddhanilkantha.
After praying, we walked towards Shivapuri Narargun National park. The calm weather and joyful conversations made our walk easy and interesting.
Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park is then within 30 minutes of walk. Entry charges are foreigner/SAARC/Nepali Rs 250/25/10, car Rs 75, motorbike Rs 15.
Shivapui Nagarjun National Park is located on the northern part of Kathmandu which is the nearest national park from capital. This park is named after Shivapuri hill– the second highest hill near Kathmandu valley at an altitude of 2563m and a paradise for bird watchers. Covering an area of 159 sq. km. in the districts of Kathmandu, Nuwakot and Sindhupalchowk, the park is a protected range and home to many endangered flora and fauna. Several good hikes and mountain-bike routes criss-cross the park.
Baghdwar source of the holy river Bagmati is also located near Shivapuri which has its religious and historical importance. People flock in this place at various festivals.
The hike started from the south side of Shivapuri area. We follow the trail passing through bamboo groves and oak forests and occasional streams on the way. The trek above is somewhat steep. We were huffing and puffing a lot but the beautiful bird songs refresh our body and soul. We did not encounter any wildlife, but saw oaks and rhododendron trees, shielding ferns, moss and a large variety of grass. We could not have the clear view of mountains but were rewarded with some nice glimpses of the Kathmandu Valley along the way. As we walk further, the views of Kathmandu valley started getting more and more magnificent. We used these views as an excuse to take a couple short breaks as we headed up the trail. The trail is famous for bird watching and also offers an ideal photographic opportunities. After around two hours walk from the national park, we reached to Nagi Gompa.
Nagi Gompa is the Tibetan nunnery, perched near the Tarebhir cliffs. It is situated at 2340m and is 3km from the main gate above Budhanilkantha. It is famous among foreigners and locals who want to practice Buddhism and meditation and holds retreats for foreign students every November. The gompa is also popular as a viewpoint offering panoramic views of Langtang Lirung, Dorje Lakpa, Ganesh Himal and magnificent views of the sunset and sunrise, with the magical change of color that they produce on the mountains.
As soon as we reach the gompa, all the tiredness was rewarded by the serenity and ambiance of place. We visited the monastery, clicked beautiful photographs of the foggy atmosphere then we sat on a ledge and ate our packed lunch. We spent couple of hours in the monastery, enjoying the lovely views, and gratefully rested our legs.
After relaxing and enjoying the refreshments, we headed downhill. Our destination changed from Sundarijal to Jorpati because of fatigue and we were happy for the downhill after such a steep ascent. The trail displays the best of Nepal’s rural culture, biodiversity and stunning Himalayan views. I was feeling that I was in a different world, far away from the dirts, pollutions and the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu valley. It took us almost two hours, with two refreshing breaks, to finally reach to Jorpati. We got into the microbus and drove back to Kathmandu. A return to the hustle and bustle of the city from the tranquil hill was a sharp contrast.
Shivapuri Trek is an outstanding choice for those who are looking for a short hike within limited time and respite from city life.
By AMBIKA KHATRI