Nepal is a small bordering country of India where Indians don’t need passport or visa, even Aadhar Card works to go through land and Voter ID Card is enough to reach there by flight. Its a beautiful country with several spectacular travel and trekking destinations specially on Himalayas.
I went to Nepal last year in the month of May, but that tour did not give satisfaction to me. It was an incomplete feeling not to witness the magnificent peaks of Mt Annapurna, Mt Machapuchhare or Mt Everest going to Nepal.
I thought it would be better to keep Mt Everest for the next time while covering the tourist destinations centering Kathmandu but this time I planned to visit places centering Pokhara and view Mt Annapurna and Mt Machapuchhare. In my previous trip I could not visit local tourist spots of Pokhara as my companion was not interested just because she visited them before. I planned an itinerary for 13 days trip. It included Ghandruk, Dhampus and Begnas lake.
According to my plan I boarded Mithila Express from Howrah Station for Raxaul on 30th March. Elite Guest House owner Purna, in Pokhara, suggested me to come during the month of March but I could not manage earlier.
I reached Pokhara taking a bus from Birgunj. I exchanged 5000 Indian currency at border. Hundred Indian rupees is equal to hundred and sixty Nepali Rupees. They take 2% commission which is an affordable rate. Indian currency works in Nepal but not in the interior villages and small shops.
There were quite a few buses and this time my tongawala tried to mislead me to take another bus that would leave at 11-30 or later but I went to the previous bus counter and the bus left at 10-40. I reached Pokhara in the evening at 8 oclock and I took a taxi from Prithwi Chawk at 400NC (Nepali Currency) to reach Hallan Chawk, Lake side.
Purna welcomed me and this time he gave me a lake side room with balcony. I took dinner from Annapurna Bhanchha( Kitchen in Nepali). Annapurna Bhanchha at Hallan Chwak serves lunch and dinner at a quite reasonable rate. The food is good and fresh as well.
Next early morning I was very happy watching first sun rays on Himalayan Range from my hotel balcony. I went for local sight seeing package after breakfast by bus arranged by Purna at the cost of 750NC. I visited Gupteswar temple, Bindhabasini Temple, Shanti Stupa, Seti river gorge, Mahendra Gufa etc. I liked Gupteswar temple as it was situated in a unique natural cave. There was a natural water falls at the end of the cave which was Davis falls.
Next day early morning I went to Sarangkot to witness Sunrise. I missed the bus for Annapurna cable car so I took a taxi and later realized that it was a better option for me to visit the view point otherwise I would have to walk longer way and might miss the sunrise. Wide range of Mt Dhaulagiri, Mt Annapurna ( there are few peaks of Mt Annapurna range), Mt Machapuchhare, Mt Manaslu etc. was spectacular with sun-rays.
After breakfast I went to Nepal Tourist office to make my permit. Though I did not trek but Ghandruk and Dhampus were restricted area and it was safer to make permit in case I faced any natural calamity. It is the responsibility of Nepal Government to rescue a person if the person is a registered traveler.
In the evening I roamed around Phewa Lake and watched evening Aarti at the west bank of the lake. It started drizzling. I came back and had dinner.
Next morning I went to the bus stand for Ghandruk bus at 7-30 in the morning. Bus started at 8AM. It reached Ghandruk bus stand at around 11 o’clock. The village was 2/3 kilometer distant from the bus stand. I started walking with my luggage. First one kilometer was a wide soiled road with gradient slope. It was 12 noon and sun was scorching. I walked in slow pace. I realized that I had to stay at the bus stand for a while and should have taken light lunch and go to toilet instead of start walking immediately getting down from the bus. On the way I met few shepherds who were taking their donkeys and sheep. I requested one of them to carry my luggage. He agreed instead of 500NC.
After that stone staircases started. When I reached the gate of the village I felt quite uneasy due to several reasons. I sat on a stone beside the path. Someone offered me water and I washed my face with it, drank too. I was sweating profusely and feeling dizzy. The porter boy waited patiently and informed that there was a home stay very near run by one of his acquaintances. I carried my body there and decided to stay there.
The owner woman and her daughter in law both were sympathetic and congenial but the homestay had very basic amenities. After reaching there I fell asleep immediately for a while. When I woke up I felt better. I had khichri as lunch. In the afternoon I went for a walk to find how distant was the main village.
Next early morning I went to see sunrise walking a kilometer within the village. I requested a girl in a hotel named Royal View Inn to allow me to go to their roof top to take few photos. It was a good hotel at a very strategic point to witness Mt Annapurna range from a very close distance and Mt Machapuchhare too. Sunrise was extraordinarily spectacular.
I came back buying 4 bananas at 120NC from a small departmental store for my next two breakfasts. In the interior parts of Nepal food is quite costly. I had to pay 2000NC for four very simple khichri meals( lentil, rice, potato, green chilly, salt and little butter) at the homestay. If I would stay in the main village, food would be costlier. From my previous experience I carried some sugar and roasted gram flour for breakfast.
Next day early morning Sangeeta, the daughter in law of the homestay owner carried my luggage to the bus stand at 1000NC. She was a hardworking girl.
I came across many foreigners’ group at the bus stand who came back from Annapurna base camp trek. I felt envious and sad watching them. I shall never be able to go for such trek. I am too crippled for such missions now. I had a cup of tea at the bus stand. The bus started at 8AM. I had my early lunch on the way back to Pokhara.
The bus dropped me at Hari- Chwak in Pokhara from where I could get bus for Dhampus. I got a shared jeep there and reached Dhampus at around 2 PM. I found a hotel nearby “Hotel Panorama”. I got a room there at 1000NC. The hotel was clean and decent with a nice view from the window. Mt Machapuchhare seemed very close from here. Dhampus seemed a little desolate to me. Later I came to know that mostly tourists stay at Australian camp now a days. The hotel owner was a nice person, gardening was his hobby. We talked about plants and flowers.
Next early morning after breakfast with roti sabji I went to Australian camp. It was about 3 kilometer walk from my hotel. It was two kilometer from where the motorable road ended. The path had stone staircases. There were chirping of different birds, rhododendron trees and innumerable butterflies all through.
I found quite a number of foreigners and met one Korean man who was going for Mardi Himal trek. We exchanged a few words. He gave me a Japanese milk toffee which was uniquely tasty. When I reached Australian camp, haze started spreading over the mountain due to heat. I could not get very clear photos. I came down to the village. I came across a French boy who was interested in visiting Muktinath. I shared my knowledge and experience of Muktinath trip.
When I reached hotel, it was time for lunch. I enjoyed roaming around in the afternoon. There was a tasty tit-bit mixture shop, I felt tempted but could not take risk of tasting it for my weak stomach. Next day after breakfast I came back to Pokhara.
In Pokhara, I had a plan to visit Begnas Lake. I heard and read a lot about Begnas Lake and its fish. So after breakfast taking bus from lakeside bus stand I reached there. Unfortunately I did not like the smell of fish all over the area. A couple was having their pre-wedding photo shoot. I took few pictures, had a cup of tea and came back to Prithiwi Chawk where I bought a lungi at 800NC. Nepalese village women wear nice printed cotton lungi.
I took a bus next day and came back to Birganj to catch train which I found later was a wrong decision taken by me. Birganj is just a transit town and has very dull atmosphere. I wish instead of visiting Begnas Lake and coming to Birganj one day earlier I would have visited Baglung or spent a day in Chitwan. But I consoled myself thinking I have kept a reason to comeback to Nepal again.