The trip to Nepal always fascinated me, I am really into culture and Hinduism and to see Himalayas up close, Trekking into the Himalayas seemed daunting for I am a girl travelling alone. All my doubts were cleared as the trip progressed from day 1. I think it was really in me because I have too many friends and co-workers back In Australia. Hearing from them about their country was someway different from where I came from. The Himalayas, culture, values, rituals, and even political conversation. So I made up my mind and started packing. I organized my trip and a friend of mine helped me to make it happen.
I arrived in Nepal in late February and stayed in the “tourism capital” of Kathmandu, Thamel. During the first few weeks in Kathmandu, I was shown the highlights of the city, including Pasupathinath, Basantapur, Bouddhanath, Swayambhunath, Durbar Square, Naranhithi, and many more. While I was at Pasupathinath, I learnt about the life of Shiva, one of the three principle deities in the Hindu religion. I learnt about the story of the lingam and how Pasupathinath emerged, fully formed, in its current location, and Sudan told me about Nandi and of the devotion and love of Parvati, and of Shiva’s love for the mountains and for the poor, dhalit members of Hindu society. While at the Royal Palace, I came to know about Nepal’s regal past, developing from the mountains of Ghorka, and how the monarchy moved to Durbar Marg in the early twentieth century.
In addition to seeing the sights of Nepal’s capital, I was also invited to stay at Sudan’s home to experience what everyday life would be like for a typical Nepali citizen. I was honoured to share a meal with his parents and to talk about local and international affairs, and to share my own life experiences. I ate dahl, bhat, takari and enjoyed local wine and raksi.
After a few weeks in Kathmandu, I organised to go trekking to Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world, with Himalayan Dreams. Set in the Mansiri Himal, Manaslu is the “Mountain of the Spirit,” and was first conquered by Japanese trekkers in 1956. Opened to tourists in 1991, the trek is 177 kilometres long, and follows an ancient salt–trading route along the steep sided Budhi Gandaki River. From Deng, the slopes of ravines begin to diminish and views of snow peaks begin to appear. An impressive view of Manaslu’s double-peak, just out of Lhogaon, appears described as “a soaring monarch with a double-edged summit towering above fields of barley”. On the trek I met various people from many Indo-Tibetan tribes, especially the Nubri and Tsum, and enjoyed the sights of traditional Tibetan flat-roofed houses and austere monasteries, maniwalls, chortens and other Buddhist religious landmarks. I was humbled by the people’s sincerity and the amazing array of wildlife and local flora on display.
After returning from my trip to Manaslu, I was eager to trek again. This time I chose the popular Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) Trek. “Annapurna” is a Sanskrit name which literally means “full of food,” but is normally translated as “Goddess of the Harvests.” According to Devdutt Pattanaik, Annapurna is “the universal and timeless kitchen-goddess…the mother who feeds. Without her there is starvation, a universal fear.” Her association with the harvest eventually saw her become associated with Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. The ABC trek is moderate to fairly challenging, and starts from the low land and winds its way up to outstanding high mountains. I particularly enjoyed the hospitality of the people from the Hindu villages at the low foothills to the Tibetan culture of the Manang Valley and lower Mustang. Every night we were greeted and fed before either heading to bed or enjoying some of the local festivities, including cultural music and dance.
My final major tour in Nepal was to Chitwan National park. Located in the district of Chitwan, which literally means “Heart of the Jungle”, the National Park was the first of its kind in Nepal and boasts an array of fauna and flora which is unique to the Indian Subcontinent. The population of Asian Rhinoceros, for example, is the second largest in the world. Here I enjoyed a variety of tourist attractions, such as the Elephant Safari, crossing the Narayani Bridge in Narayangarh, birdwatching, Devghat on the bank of the Trishuli and the Kali Gandaki rivers, and appreciating the other 56 species of mammals, 49 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 525 species of birds which call Chitwan National Park home. It was truly a unique experience.
All in all, I enjoyed my trip to Nepal. The people were humble and welcoming, and the geographical beauty left a lasting impression. I am ever thankful to Sudan, who helped me organise my trip proficiently and to the last, minute detail. He has also taught me a lot and has allowed me to experience a “more-than-touristic experience” of Nepal. Dining with his parents has taught me how the traditional people of Nepal live, and walking the trails of ABC at my own pace allowed me to take in more than what just meets the eye. All in all thank you to everyone who made my trip to Nepal a majestic and memorable. It was just wonderful Sudan was great all the way. Cheddar dai our guide was top class, Rolpa dai our porter the strongest of all and HIMALAYAN DREAMS who came up with all the planning and arranged it so smoothly that I didn’t have any troubles what so ever.