Exploring the Beauty of Nepal: A Journey to the Roof of the World
Updated: Jun 28
Everyone who travels solo says, "You never come back alone." And there came a point in my life when I decided to embark on a solo trip. My life was consumed by work, family, and daily chores, and I almost forgot the love I had for traveling. It was the year 2012, and I was working for Oman Air, the national carrier of Oman, based in Muscat. I knew I had to break the monotony, so I called my boss, took a two-week leave, and packed my bags without deciding on a destination. Yes, that's the truth. And guess what? The most amazing trips are the ones that are unplanned.
I was always fascinated by mountains, hills, and the simplicity of people. So I chose Nepal as my destination. Yes, Nepal 🇳🇵 it was. I know almost everyone has spoken and written about this country, so I was a little hesitant to write about the same place. That's why I kept postponing it for almost five years. However, I realized that although the place may be the same, everyone has their own story to tell.
So here's mine. I flew from Oman 🇴🇲 to Nepal 🇳🇵. Working for an airline, it was advantageous for me to travel whenever I had sufficient leave. The moment I landed in Kathmandu, I knew I wasn't wrong about my destination. The freshness, beauty, and warmth of Nepal had everything I was looking for.
Despite traveling alone, I never felt lonely in Nepal. That's the beauty of this place. On November 25th, 2012, I arrived at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, and the winter temperature was around 2 degrees Celsius, which was quite cold compared to Muscat where I was posted. It didn't take long for me to realize that I wasn't prepared for this weather.
Upon arriving at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, I took an airport taxi to Thamel, a commercial neighborhood where I decided to spend the night and plan my journey to explore Nepal. After a night's rest, I was eager to venture into the unknown. I was not interested in exploring the city as I craved an escape from the chaos of urban life. Thus, I set my sights on Chitwan as my next destination, choosing it randomly based on its distance from Thamel, which was approximately 158 kilometers via the E-W Hwy/AH2. I had already decided to rent a motorcycle for the journey and had my map ready, marking out various pit stops along the way. I also made a conscious decision to interact with the locals at each stop, eager to forge a direct connection and immerse myself in their culture.
I rented a Yamaha FZ Series motorcycle from BS Motor Bike, a motorcycle rental agency located on Thamel Rd Bhagawati in Kathmandu. The rental process was quick, taking less than 15 minutes, and the prices were quite reasonable. As I hit the road all by myself, I felt a sense of liberation that is hard to put into words. Riding a motorcycle in the midst of breathtaking hills, curvy roads, and pleasant weather was an experience like no other. The sound of the motorcycle's exhaust and the light music on my ears added to the experience, making me feel like the happiest person on earth. Riding a motorcycle is one of the greatest joys in life, and I agree with the sentiment that we should be okay with the emotional state it puts us in.
During my journey, I made several stops to capture the breathtaking beauty of the nature surrounding me. Riding a motorcycle allowed me the flexibility to stop at any point along the way, giving me the opportunity to appreciate the scenic views and capture them through my camera lens.
After arriving in Chitwan at 6:30 PM, I had to search for a place to stay for the night since I hadn't made any prior reservations. Eventually, I settled on the "Chitwan Jungle Lodge," which had great accommodations and supportive staff. After checking in, I booked a wildlife tour for the next morning and spent the night enjoying a big dinner and a beer before heading to bed.
Although I arrived in the dark and had no idea what the area looked like, the next morning I was astounded by the beauty of Chitwan. I prepared for the wildlife safari and departed at around 8:00 AM. To my surprise, the safari was on the back of an elephant, which was my first-ever wildlife tour of this type. It was quite an adventure, and I was able to see many animals, including rhinoceros, deer, samba, leopard, elephants, crocodiles, and more. I even captured some moments on camera.
As Chitwan was a great place for unwinding, I decided to spend the night there and plan my next day's travels. The area had plenty of small shacks where I could enjoy good food and beer, so I stopped by one of them to relax and think about my itinerary for the next day. As the sun began to set, the scenery became even more stunning, and I took some beautiful pictures. After finalizing my plans, I decided that my next destination would be Pokhara.
After a restful night's sleep, I set out on my motorcycle for Pokhara, feeling excited to explore this new destination. Pokhara is a city situated on Phewa Lake in central Nepal and is considered a gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, a popular trail in the Himalayas. I arrived in Pokhara at around 1:30 pm and made only a few stops along the way, eager to reach my destination well before sunset. Since my plan was to spend only one night in Pokhara and I had limited time off from work, I wanted to explore Kathmandu and nearby places with the remaining days I had left. However, I planned to return to Pokhara in the future for a trekking expedition of the Annapurna circuit. I stayed at the "Hotel Grand Holiday Pokhara," which was affordable and provided a comfortable stay. I spent a splendid evening gazing at the lake and snow-capped mountains while enjoying a beer. It's hard to put into words the feeling of watching nature at its best, but the view of the lake and laid-back lifestyle made for a perfect moment.
The beauty of the place is not just limited to its scenery, but also to its people. I must admit, the locals are equally stunning as they are always ready to lend a helping hand, guide you through your journey and always wear a comforting smile that made my travels even more delightful. After spending a wonderful night in Pokhara, I started my journey back to Kathmandu with the intention of spending a day shopping at Thamel before heading back to my workplace in Muscat, Oman the very next day. I set off early in the morning at 6:30 am, but unfortunately, I missed my route and ended up going 40km in the wrong direction. Luckily, I met a group of young guys who were able to help me get back on the right track. They too were headed towards Kathmandu and offered to accompany me until I reached there. This is what I love about traveling – you meet so many people and never end up being alone. Two of these young guys, Arjun Joshi and Santhosh Sen, became my close friends even until today as I write this blog. Both were studying engineering in Kathmandu. I followed them from the intersection and by the time we reached Kathmandu, we exchanged stories about Nepal, people's lifestyle, politics and built a connection that made us friends. We even stopped at certain places along the way to take some pictures because, for me, pictures are important as they take you back to the place and people, down memory lane.
The breathtaking view captured below is my personal favorite. It showcases the Trishuli River, which flows between Pokhara and Kathmandu. The Trishuli River is a significant tributary of the Narayani River basin in central Nepal and also a trans-boundary river. The river originates in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China and is known as Kirong Tsangpo there. It gets its name from the trident of the powerful Hindu god Shiva, as per legend. According to the myth, Shiva created three springs, which were the source of the river when he drove his trident into the ground at Gosaikunda, giving the river its name, Trishuli. Over 60% of the Trishuli's total drainage basin is located in Tibet, with around 9% covered by snow and glaciers.
At around 4:30 PM, my new friends Arjun and Santhosh dropped me off at my hotel in Thamel. However, they decided to stay with me and took me around Thamel to places I had not visited on my first day. Since I was being shown around by locals, I got to taste the country's delicacies and I can vouch that the food is one of a kind and should not be missed. I don't know what it was, but these guys didn't want me to leave the next day. They promised to show me around unexplored places, and as a big fan of such places, I agreed. I called my office and extended my leaves for another 2 days and rescheduled my flight.
We had already made plans for the next day, which included visiting
Pashupathinath, one of the famous temples dedicated to the deity Pashupathi to the east of Kathmandu.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the plaza in front of the royal palace of the old Bhaktapur Kingdom, also towards the east of Kathmandu.
Swayambhu, an ancient religious architecture atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, to the west of Kathmandu city.
Since Swayambhu was towards the west and the other two places were towards the east, we decided to visit Swayambhu first.
So early in the morning, around 8:00 am, we headed to Swayambhu. I had no idea how Swayambhu would be, but it was so elegant with structures of Amitabha Buddha, Padmasambhava, and Avalokiteshvara. I had never seen such huge structures of Buddha before, and it is definitely a must-visit place while in Kathmandu. Here are some captures from this place.
After our visit to Swayambu, we proceeded to PashupathiNath, the sacred Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. Pashupatinath is one of the most revered and sacred Hindu temples in the world, located in Kathmandu, Nepal. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is considered one of the most significant pilgrimage destinations for Hindus. The temple complex is spread over an area of 246 hectares and features various temples, shrines, and ashrams. The main temple of Pashupatinath is a two-tiered pagoda-style temple built in the Nepalese pagoda style of architecture with golden roofs, silver doors, and wood carvings of various deities.
The temple complex is also home to many sadhus, who are holy men and devotees of Lord Shiva, often seen in their saffron-colored robes. We also witnessed cremations along the banks of the Bagmati River, which runs alongside the temple complex, as it is considered an auspicious place for the final rites of Hindus. The temple complex is also home to many sadhus, who are holy men and devotees of Lord Shiva, often seen in their saffron-colored robes.
After realizing that time was running short and we had to cover Bhaktapur, we set off towards our next destination. Upon reaching Bhaktapur at around 2:00 pm, I got to sample some local delicacies for lunch which were simply amazing. The Bhaktapur Durbar Complex left me awestruck with its stunning architecture and massive size. The city itself is a marvel of old world beauty, and anyone visiting Kathmandu should not miss the opportunity to explore Bhaktapur. I highly recommend visiting Shiva's Cafe Corner to experience more authentic Nepalese cuisine. Here are some glimpses of the architectural wonders of Bhaktapur that I captured during my visit.
As the sun had set by the time we arrived back in Thamel, the three of us decided to visit some pubs and enjoy the rest of our day. I tried Nepal's local alcohol made from wheat and rice, which I highly recommend. We did some pub hopping and I must say, Thamel has some of the best pubs with great music, good crowd, and each one has its own unique charm.
However, as the saying goes, "all good things must come to an end," and my one week stay in Nepal was no exception. The next day, I had to bid farewell to this amazing place and prepare to board my flight back to Oman. But what surprised me was that these boys insisted on dropping me off at the airport.
As I'm not good at saying goodbye, I was overwhelmed by their gesture and couldn't refuse their offer. As I mentioned before, whoever travels alone never really comes back alone. And this trip was no exception, as I made some very good friends that I still keep in touch with.
In conclusion, this trip was truly liberating for me and my soul.
Here are some helpful tips for those planning to visit Nepal:
Research about the place, people, and culture before traveling.
Pack lightly and carry only what is required.
Drink bottled water whenever possible.
Be mindful of using public toilets, as there may be limited options along the way.
Ensure that you have enough Nepalese currency and exchange it before leaving the country, as there are legalities related to carrying Nepal currency outside the country.
Remember that Nepal uses 220 Volts, so carry the required adapter.
Try to limit the use of plastic items.
Keep in mind that the nightlife in most places ends by 10 PM, with some exceptions in Thamel.
Plan to visit Kathmandu and nearby places towards the end of your trip.
Budget for entry fees when visiting heritage sites.
Be aware of strikes and protests in Nepal, which may cause local disruptions to transportation.
If you plan to go trekking, make sure to research and prepare accordingly.