Third time lucky is what a lot of people believe in and this rang true for me when visiting Nepal. My first two visits were too short for what I planned to do and the number of days I visited the beautiful terrain of Nepal but this time I was lucky enough to stay only in Kathmandu and spend quality time savoring each attraction I visited and spent more time with the inspiring and gentle residents of the city.
While Kathmandu is perfect for shopping, dining and soaking up the creative art and culture, my previous visits to other parts of Nepal such as Pokhara were more intense and adventure filled. If you love adventure, then head straight to Pokhara after resting a couple of days in Kathmandu.
The beautiful mountains, early morning excursions for the best views as the sun rises are experiences that will stay etched in your memory long after the photos have faded. River rafting on the way to Pokhara is a must and the cuisine of course is wholesome and generally organic from the fields.
Exploring Kathmandu is an exciting and an intoxicating experience for visitors with bustling streets, medieval temples and some of the best hiking and walking trails if you engage a guide and head to the outskirts.
The city has character with old charm architecture intricately carved wooden doors and windows, lively narrow streets filled with shops dedicated to small yet thriving specialist businesses full of different colours, smells with sounds of tourists mixed with locals.
My visit this year was for the Himalayan Travel Mart, organised with the aim to establish Nepal as a Gateway to the Himalayas and as a destination capable of hosting events at international level. The travel mart hosted around 74 Buyers from 36 countries and over 50 sellers, representing the Himalayan Region, Bhutan, India, Tibet, Indonesia and Nepal.
Even if you head to Pokhara, stay at least a few days in Kathmandu and book sightseeing tour of the city with a visit to the Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu Durbar Square), an ancient durbar (palace) with its numerous old palaces, temples and pagodas. Visit the famous Temple of Living Goddess “Kumari”, and the Kasthamandap Temple.
My favourite part of the adventure was visiting a monastery in the mountains and meeting the resident monks. A definite must visit is the Boudhanath Stupa – an ancient colossal stupa and the center of Tibetan Buddhism in the world and the Pashupatinath Temple – the Temple of Lord Shiva situated on the bank of the Bagmati River.
The excursions take time but if you want good views, head to Swayambhunath Stupa, which is situated atop a hill from where you can get a bird’s, eye view of Kathmandu Valley. I also enjoyed the views from the Namo Buddha Stupa, which offers a serene ambience ideal to meditate in.
Our group visited an orphanage after a visit to a monastery. The orphanage is part of a CSR initiative called Mission Himalaya, which focuses in providing free education, free healthcare to the needy children from the remote and under-developed regions of Nepal.
The many shops and markets offer beautiful gemstones, colourful pashmina shawls, soothing musical instruments and comfortable yet classic clothes designed to stay trendy for years, especially from the luxury boutiques.
It was certainly a delight meeting travel aficionados from all over the world at the Himalayan Travel Mart who are passionate about Nepal and all the country has to offer. It is a country where a number of visits are required to do justice to the natural beauty of the place and experience the warm and generous demeanor of the smiling and hospitable people of Nepal.
By, Shereen Shabnam, Editor In Chief, Executive Women