Hiking around Kathmandu
Nagarkot Changunarayan Hiking
The Nagarkot - Changunarayan hiking is a brilliant walk in the outskirt of Kathmandu Valley. If you are in Nepal for short holiday, don't like strenuous trekking or looking for weekend outing; the hiking is the best option to get away from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu. It is amazing to see how the villages along the trail still exhibits countryside lifestyle of Nepal even though it is so close from the city. The best of all is the Himalaya in the backdrop of all these natural settings.
On the way to Nagarkot
Nagarkot at the altitude of 2,100 m is the famous hill station in the suburb of Kathmandu Valley. It is 35 km away from the central Kathmandu. The sunrise and sunset view from Nagarkot is magnificent. So people plan a night's halt in Nagarkot. Bhaktapur, the medieval city and one of the 7 world heritage sites is on the way. So for the afternoon, one can discover the Newari architecture, culture and lifestyle wandering through the maze like alleyways of Bhaktapur. This is known as living museum as it still exhibits the medieval look and lifestyle of the people. Majority of the people are farmer and the city is self sufficient. One can see old women weaving their traditional textile, pottery, handmade paper production, wood carving, Thanka Painting and metal sculpting. There are hundreds of monumental buildings around Bhaktapur. Some of them are rented with its latticed window and balcony looking at historical buildings or the tallest temple.
From Bhaktapur it takes about 40 mints to drive to Nagarkot. The road passes through the green fields and climbs through terraced fields towards Nagarkot. The drive is scenic with the green valley view on one side and Himalayas on the other side. Hotels are perched atop the hill facing Himalayas. Walk or drive to the tower at the top of the hill for the best sunset view.
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The hiking trail from Nagarkot gradually descends through the terraced fields to the 'Tamang Village.' Even though the village is not far from the road access and the city, it retains its typical lifestyle. The thatched hoses, painted with ocher are built by locally found stones hand-hewn by local craftsmen. Houses are normally 3 storied with kitchen in the ground floor, bedroom in the second and store on the top. A courtyard in front adjoining a shed for animals. The garden next to the house supply seasonal vegetables and fruits. Spring brings color to the village with off springs of goats and other animals as well as colorful blossoms everywhere. A scene of local wine making is pretty common through out the year. Wine is integral part of their celebrations. 'Tamang' are one of the ethnic group who migrated to the hills of Nepal from Tibet before Buddhism went to Tibet. So their practices are animistic and shamanistic mixed with Hinduism and Buddhism now a days.
The first part of the hiking is an cultural encounter while the second part is more natural as the trail follows the ridge with deciduous forest. The ridge is perched between sweeping valleys of Shaku towards north and Bhaktapur towards south. The Himalayas appear undisturbed. The walking is easy with gradual downhill and fairly leveled path. It will take about 4 hrs to reach Changunarayan from where one can drive back to Kathmandu.
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