The journey to Pokhara
This was one of the most unplanned trips with many surprises after we booked the tickets. The plan was going haywire with sudden work commitments taking precedence. However, we decided to go into the unknown and take on the surprises head on.
My friends were joining me from Bangalore while I was traveling from Hyderabad. We had a flight from Delhi to Pokhara and were really not sure if we would make it on time for the flight as transit time was less and Terminal 1 and 3 are far from each other (about 20 minutes drive). To top it all, the weather was bad and my flight took off 30 minutes late. Thanks to Indigo, reached on time (to my surprise before my friends) and got my luggage also soon. My friends arrived 15 minutes later. Meanwhile, I had booked a cab and waited outside for them. Our driver was nothing less than the driver in the movie Jab We Met who drives at a snail’s pace when Kareena misses her train. We somehow reached the airport and I showed my passport and ticket to the immigration officer and was let in. My worst fears came true when my friends were denied entry as they did not have their passports and none of the other documents they carried were deemed valid. Our pleading with the immigration officers fell on deaf ears. We sat outside the airport not knowing what to do. After a lot of discussions, we decided to stay in Delhi for a day and travel to Pokhara the next day by bus. I will write a post on what we did in Delhi for a day soon.
The next day, we boarded a bus from Tis Hazari in Delhi to Gorakhpur and reached in 12 hours. From Gorakhpur, we took a shared auto from the dropping point (Bharat Petroleum) to Gorakhpur railway station. We then booked a shared cab for Sanauli for900 INR from there. The journey took about 2.5 hours.
As we were reaching Sanauli, the climate suddenly changed and it started raining. We reached Sanauli and booked our bus tickets to Pokhara. There were a few small hotels where we had our lunch. Buses to Pokhara are very basic and cost about 300 INR. It takes about 11 hrs to reach. A cab may cost around 6 k INR and drop you in 6 hrs. There are small hotels nearby where you can eat while waiting for the bus.
The first day at Pokhara
On our first day, we checked into a hotel at 3 AM, slept and woke up at 8 AM and got ready to search for another one where we could stay for 2 days. After a frantic search for 1 hour, we found our hotel through the Information Center. The agent also guided us on how we could get help through the Indian embassy in Kathmandu to travel back home via flight. We were hoping against hope that we could get the much-needed help. We then booked our trek for the next 2 days to Australian camp and Dhampus, the latter being a beautiful village on the hills.
We had our lunch at one of the restaurants. The waiter was excited to meet we Indians and told us that he studied in Delhi and that his father was in the Gorkha regiment. Nepal is one place where I felt so at home. They treat you like one of their own. Another thing I noticed is that they speak so much trying to help but end up confusing by not coming to any concrete conclusion. Then we headed to lake Phewa, the center of attraction in Pokhara to ride a Kayak. The person renting the kayaks was a lazy guy who was fast asleep and told us to carry our own kayak to the lake. It was 3 pm and we were roasted in the sun. Nevertheless, it was a great 1 hour of kayaking. Then, we headed to the World Peace Pagoda or Shanti Stupa. You have to climb around 100 steps to reach the top. The view is breathtaking overlooking Lake Phewa and Pokhara city. It’s a nice spot for photography if you are into photography.
Just when we were about to exit, we saw two people coming from another exit. We asked them if there was another way and one person (let’s call him Mr.A) told us that they hiked from lake Phewa to the top, which was for him a cake walk! We got talking and he was very interested to know about my camera and what other lenses I had. We said goodbye and left for our next destination Devi waterfalls and Gupteshwor caves. Alas, we reached after closing hours and could not check out these places. Then, we headed straight to the Information Center and booked for the trek and guide, which cost us 4500 NPR including accommodation but without food.
We had our dinner at one of the places where there was live music. I had my dinner and left for the hotel at 10:30 as I was very sleepy. The street was full of cops and men and I headed fast to my hotel room and slept.
The second day at Pokhara
The next morning we got ready and packed for the trek. We started for the trek at 1:15 pm. I woke up late and had an amazing brunch at 11 AM, which consisted of toasted bread, masala omelet, coffee, and hash brown. Came back to the room and packed my luggage so that we were ready to check out as soon as we come back from the trek.
The road to the starting point of the trek was a winding road up the hill with scenic surroundings all around. We started for the trek from a point and after taking 10 steps my legs started aching and I was not sure how I would reach the top. I removed my binders, which I was wearing for my sprained legs and wore the normal socks. Then it became comfortable but the trail was difficult with too many steps to climb. I kept taking breaks to reach the top. I met some Korean nationals who were sweet to give me company as I was lagging behind. They were a fun group! As I turned, I saw Mr. A who I had met at the Shanti Stupa. He told me that he would be staying in the Australian camp too and would catch up if we met. I continued with my arduous journey taking rest in between and playing with the flowing stream in between. At one point, I was all alone and no one ahead or behind me. I felt all alone on the hill and I cannot explain that feeling. Feeling a bit dizzy, I just sat near the stream and listened carefully to the sound of the chirping birds and the flowing stream. It’s true that the best things in the world are free. Reached a small house with an attached cafe on my way. The lady saw me panting and told me to relax and rest for a while. I bought biscuits and refueled myself and asked her few questions I had in mind for the people living on the mountains. She told me how tough it was to stay in the mountains especially when sick but nevertheless liked staying there.
Finally, I reached the camp and saw Shiva and heaved a sigh of relief that I reached the right place. He guided me to the room where I dumped my bag and left to see the view, which was at a walkable distance. I saw that most people were already there either clicking pictures, relaxing or being clicked.
We had tea in the nearby cafe and stayed on the viewpoint till late talking and removing the leeches from our legs. Oh yes, we also met Mr. A yet again!
It was now time to fill our stomach. This is what trek does to you. You feel hungry all the time! We went to the same cafe where I had rested on my way up. We ordered for noodles and it was one of the best! Simple, tasty and spicy. We went back to our room and rested for a while. At 10 PM when we were hungry again, we came out and saw that it was so foggy that we could not see anything. We made our way to the hotel kitchen with help from a torchlight. Ordered tea and mixed fried rice. Ours was the last order and we asked the chef to customize it for us. We then sat on the spiral staircase and chatted away until we were sleepy.
The third day at Pokhara
The next morning, I woke up first and peeped out of the window to see if the sun had risen. It was already bright and people were standing at the viewpoint. I turned to my left to spot the sun and what I saw blew my mind! Snow clad mountains were staring at me. I woke Preethi and Roy, picked my camera, wore my slippers and rushed to the spot. I was so excited that I walked really fast and slipped on the grass which was wet from the rain from the previous day. Moreover, I was wearing the ‘slippers’! I looked around to see if someone saw my great fall and checked my clothes. My grey T-shirt was totally soiled but I did not want to miss the sunrise. I went to the viewpoint and met Mr. A who seemed to have showered and was neatly dressed. In comparison, I looked like a pauper. I decided to stay away from him and prayed that he would not recognize me. But as soon as he saw me he came near and wished me and said how lucky we were to see the clear sky and the mountains, which was not visible for many days due to rain. He started explaining what each peak was and took over the job of our guide, who was probably smoking weed for breakfast.
I tried my best not to show my back to anyone. But no one really cared even me after a point of time as we were all lost in the beauty of that moment. When the sun came out, many people rushed back to their rooms to have breakfast and get ready to leave. We stayed for a little more time and just sat quietly on the rocks.
We had our breakfast and got ready to leave. I thought going downhill would be easier but it was a longer route and my legs hurt even more. But the way to Dhampus and Dhaulagiri villages was beautiful! We came across streams and a better view of the Himalayan ranges. We passed by Dhampus village, which was beautiful, to say the least. There were lush green terrace farms and cute houses with large gardens. I saw some children heading to school. Probably, the only school in the valley. It reminded me of Shillong where our school was also situated on a hill and we would walk miles if we missed our bus. However, these children in Nepal trekked every day to school. Hats off to the children and their parents.
See https://www.instagram.com/ataleofmillioncities/ for more pictures.
We finally reached the destination. By now, my legs were sore and I could not bend my legs. I understood the importance of fitness in enjoying life to the fullest. I wish I had started traveling much early when I was fitter. But as they say, it is never too late.
We reached the hotel around 1 PM, checked-out and kept the luggage at the reception. We decided to collect it in the evening as our bus to Kathmandu was at 8 PM. We had traditional Nepali food for lunch, which was delicious. As I was too tired to walk, I decided to sit near Lake Phewa and while away the time while Preethi and Roy shopped for souvenirs. I came across a viewpoint and took the entry ticket and relaxed on the bench for about 10 minutes. But seeing the beauty of the lake and the changing landscape I got up again to click some pictures.
Preethi and Roy returned with their loot and we moved to a cafe by the lake. We had our tea and watched people pass by. There were sadhus dressed in saffron, firangs in Indian clothes, kids cycling, street vendors selling Pani Puri and girls searching for that perfect place to sit and chat. We decided to have an early dinner and leave at 7 to get our luggage. Just as we ordered food, it started pouring heavily. It did not look like it would stop anytime soon. We quickly had our food and hoped against hope that the rain would stop and we could go to our hotel. We decided to borrow an umbrella from the other guests and return it ASAP. They were kind enough to lend us their umbrella. Roy dropped Preethi and came to pick me up. By now, the owners of the umbrella wanted it back as they had to go too. Luckily, Roy got two umbrellas from the hotel and we both could go back without getting drenched fully. The roads were blocked with water and I blindly followed Roy’s lead as to where to step. Finally reached the bus stop and Roy turned to smile at me. I did not understand why he was smiling. He told me that Mr. A was standing there and could not believe how we could cross paths so often. It all seemed too filmy. Roy headed back to the hotel to pick Preethi and get the luggage.
Mr. A was very excited to see me again and introduced me to his friends. I decided to charge my phone and just as I was recharging, the bus arrived and I hopped into the bus. I decided to sit on the first seat and keep the driver engaged until my friends arrived. Mr. A got in and looked at the seat next to mine to indicate that he wanted to sit but I did not show any interest as I knew it was not my actual seat. Preethi and Roy arrived just in time and Roy told me my seat number. I asked Mr. A where I could find my seat and he made me sit next to him so he could chat more :D. We spoke about his India travel, his visits to other countries and what he learned from people and tips to save on travel.