Author Topic: Nepal Walkers Paradise  (Read 868 times)

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Offline haku Black

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Nepal Walkers Paradise
« on: March 29, 2008, 02:18:16 PM »
Visitors often
overlook this country?s complacent charm, the subtle curiosities that only a back-alley ambler or trailside dawdler will discover. Travellers bound by impatient schedules, locked into impetuous patterns, take in all the sights but fail to see the true Nepali essence.

It doesn?t take more than a few days in Nepal to realize that life here beats to a different drum. Cows mosey down busy Kathmandu streets undaunted by blaring taxi horns. Lanky, barefoot farmers ride plows behind sleepy-eyed water buffalos across dusty fields. Prayer wheels spin water-driven blessing ? ?Om Mani Padme Hum? ? to scattered breezes. In the peaceful hills or the industrious Kathmandu Valley, daily rhythms set an unhurried pace that is all but obsolete in today?s whirlwind world.

Visitors to Nepal often overlook this country?s complacent charm, the subtle curiosities that only a back-alley ambler or trailside dawdler will discover. Travellers bound by impatient schedules, locked into impetuous patterns, take in all the sights but fail to see the true Nepali essence.

The walker, however, is sure to stumble into unexpected delights and fascinating encounters that whiz by unnoticed from a tour bus? tinted windows.

Stroll through Kathmandu?s medieval marketplace taking rights and lefts at whim as you weave through cobbled streets encrusted with centuries of tradition. Wander in any direction from the city?s heart and find yourself in a puzzle of rice paddy terraces. Shun the common carriers and venture on foot to the valley?s ancient temples or nearby high points for an unhampered view of the northern Himalayan skyline, an aerial perspective on ever-changing Kathmandu.

Its only recently that paved roads have connected Kathmandu to east and west. Young people still recall the days when porters would thread across the valley?s fields bringing the morning?s harvest to central market. Trails lead in and out of Kathmandu Valley in every direction: the road through busy Asantol (Kathmandu?s main bazaar) and Hanuman Dhoka once carried traders to Tibet. Where the radiating roads end at Buddhanilkantha, Sundarijal, and Sankhu, paths continue over the ridge toward Helambu and beyond.

The valley?s  temples ? Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, Boudhanath, Dakshinkali, Changu Narayan and others ? the ancient rival cities ? Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan ? are all linked by footpaths; some through rice paddies, others skirting neatly swept front yards, and some following streams or forested ridges.
Inner Kathmandu holds many surprises to the free-spirited wanderer. Between the Royal Palace and Durbar Square, the Central Post Office and Thamel (to cite a few recognizable place names) there are a web of winding stone paths. These periodically merge with familiar thoroughfares, such that a first-time wayfarer need not fear getting lost. Step into a hidden courtyard where amber grains dry on straw mats in the sun; women in every colour sari fill brass water jugs from the communal hand pump; cherub faces peer out of carved wooden frames that sag under weed-sprouting rooftiles.

See a processions? Follow it! Every morning you?ll see people young and old carrying brass plates of flowers, egg, fruit, and red powder to their neighborhood temple, offerings to the all-powerful gods. During the astrologically determined wedding seasons, you?ll undoubtedly encounter more than one wedding party making their way through the streets, accompanied by a motley troop of musicians tooting discordant tunes with no apparent consensus.

Early morning walks reveal the ambitious entrepreneur as well as the morning-after straggler. Vegetable hawkers set out their produce as a painter would prepare his plate. Street sweepers, resigned to their grim duties since birth, haul away yesterday?s remains that escaped the cows? and dogs? hungry eyes.

Evening strolls through Kasthamandap (near Durbar Square) promise a melodious treat. Singers gather nightly chanting prayers and playing drums, cymbals and an air-pumped organ. Bulb lit temples topped with exotic wood struts and pagoda roofs take on a magical aura in the solitary blackness.

Enough of the city? Take to the countryside, where 90% of the native people live and have no choice but to walk. Trails worn smooth as the soles that walk them lace the kingdom together. Distance is measured in number of days? walking; communication, whether by letter or spoken message, travels by foot from village to village, valley to valley. Even the cows? methodical plodding is put to use, stomping the chaff from harvested grains.

Thousands of foreigners each year come to Nepal to walk ? to hike through the great Himalaya for days and weeks on end. Some reach a high point just to turn homeward again. Others make base camp from which those more driven merely begin their climb. People come to escape hectic agendas, unceasing demands, and the inevitable stresses that have come to control their lives.

Hiking in the Himalayas, better known as trekking, is quite different than backpacking as most Westerners know it. Sure, you can carry a pack and sleep in tents, but unless you go to high (over 11-12,000 foot) secluded areas, you needn?t bother to bring much food or cooking gear: you?ll most likely find villages, or at least a seasonal shepherd hut, along the way. Most country folk are happy to share their meal or lend you their hearth for an hour while you or your cook prepare your own. The few rupees income, plus the chance to host visitors from a strange land, will brighten their day.

However you trek ? on your own, with a guide/porter, or in an organized group with a trekking agency ? take your time. Don?t hasten a pace that keeps you from savoring a special moment: pausing at trail?s bend for one last look at a memorable peak; exchanging smiles and Namastes with a woman cutting millet from the stalk; studying a bird, a flower, or a familiar tree and putting nature?s puzzle pieces together.


It?s a relaxant, a stimulant, a method of meditation; sometimes difficult but good exercise, and overall satisfying. Few things are more rewarding if you open your eyes to the sights, the sounds, and the smells around you. Wander through Kathmandu?s street-maze of curios. Roam the ever-fascinating Himalayan landscape. Discover the intricacies of a land built by hand, a people powered by foot.


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Re: Nepal Walkers Paradise
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2008, 03:28:23 PM »
super super info

Offline waxyhair856

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Re: Nepal Walkers Paradise
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2012, 03:25:07 PM »
I suggest that if you are trying to showcase a landmark more effectively, posting it with pictures is a huge help. Thanks for the info anyways. Incorporate pictures next time :)


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