Bethanchwok, located on the southern hills of Kavrepalanchwok, is believed to be the highest peak of the Mahabharat Range. Located at an altitude of 3000m from the sea level, it boasts different views of the hills and Himalayan ranges. Some places of Makwanpur and Janakpur can also be seen from Bethanchowk. Hilltops in Nepal are one of the best place for sightseeing in Nepal many offering views of Tibetan peaks on the North and Indian plains in the south. Bethanhowk is one of them.
Actually, this whole mountain is called Bethanchowk Narayanthan, named after the small temple, Narayanthan, enshrined at the hilltop. Narayanthan is crowded with devotees during the Fagu Purnima every year. The peak is usually known as Narayanthan rather than Bethanchowk. People also refer it as the King of the Hills. The suitable month for visit is Mangsir according to the villagers.
How to get there?
According to the locals of Kavre, there are several trails to reach Narayanthan, one from Dhungkharka, one from Kavre and another one from Makwanpur. We went from Dhulikhel. Dhungkharka is about 25 kms away from Dhulikhel and 55 kms from Kathmandu. From Dhungkharka, it takes about 5-6 hours of uphill hike to reach the top of Bethanchwok.
Must Have Stuffs:
The essentials are season dependent. They vary according to the season you are going there. As we visited on the month (Jestha), below are the must have accessories for the hike.
- Hiking shoes or comfortable sports shoes.
- Wind cheaters, Thermo coat and down jackets (in winter).
- (40-50) L Bag.
- Dry foods, instant energy provider such as chocolates.
- Min a couple liters of water per hiker.
- Mats, blankets and sleeping bags (mandatory).
- Lighter or matchsticks and kerosene (if possible), for overnight stay or camping.
This is not a mainstream hike trail. So, the luxury of accommodation and good foods on reaching the destination isn’t available. Instead, this can be termed as camp fire in a the middle of nowhere, on a hill surrounded by the jungles all around and no human settlements nearby. A complete “into the wild” experience.
Hiking shoes on, backpacks ready and with aspirations to delve deep into the wilderness, me along with my friends decided to hike Narayanthan and stay overnight at the hilltop. We were thirteen in number. Narayanthan Hiking can be completed in a day but we made it a two days trip as we planned to stay overnight at the top. We all were very excited about our hike as we escaped the hustling bustling urban life.
We gathered at our University premises early in the morning. (Kathmandu University, Dhulikhel). The first couple of hours was bus ride to Dhungkhara, which was about 1.5 hours off road from Panauti. Hungry as we were, we began to search hotels for lunch as soon as we got off the bus and found one near the bus stop. But the hotel owner informed us that we have to wait about half an hour for the food to get ready as we were 13 in number. After our meal, we rested for about an hour. As the trip coordinator, I discussed about the arrangement of “Tuchha” (Local Kodoko, Local Wine) and potatoes (Sittan or snacks) for the night with my friends. :p
Dhungkharka is a village located on the base of Bethanchwok. It’s a beautiful valley with cool weather, undisturbed peaceful village with potentials of tourism. We started hiking from here on at around 1 pm. With our slow uphill ascent, we gradually left the remote settlements of Dhungharkha. Thanks to the mother nature, the drizzle all along the climb made our hike much more pleasant and bearable.
After hiking for half an hour, we decided to carry one jumbo bottle(1.5-2l) of water per person following the suggestions of a kind local aunt . Even though there was a rainwater harvesting system on the top, there was no availability of safe drinking water. The day was foggy, while light rain poured constantly. Despite all that, we felt hot as we were going uphills. We still we had 4 hours of hike to reach the top. Drenched in a sweat, we marched forward with the hilly flora and fauna all around us, taking pictures on our way.
We also an option of a motor road which went about the half distance of our trip but we chose the hiking trail as it felt more adventurous and exotic. Occasional jokes and funny exchanges between friends was a real respite for our hike. As we climbed higher, we decided to rest for ten minutes and drank some water. On one hand, we were tired and exhausted because of the tough hike. But on the other hand, that seemed to pay off with enchanting and breathtaking vistas of misty hills.
We enjoyed the view while some got busy capturing photos and posing for the camera in the bountiful backdrop. On the way, we met four hikers returning from the top. Their story made us even more excited to reach the top. After a while, we reached Bhanjhyang. Here onwards, the hike became comparatively easier. After Bhanjyang, cool breezes comforted us while we were above the clouds. We also used branches of small trees as hiking sticks on the way.
After hiking for about 5 hours from the base (Dhungkharka), we reached the top (Bethanchowk, Naranthan). The picturesque view as seen from the peak was far better than what we’d seen in the video clips of the movies, and totally different. As it was dusk, we also had a sunset view. Finally, the Mahabharat Range that we had been reading about geography books in school was right in front of our eyes. It was amazing. After dusk, we gathered in a sanctuary which would be our shelter for the night. It was like a junkyard, so we swept and cleaned up the place.
We unpacked our backpacks and arranged all our dry foods, drinks, sleeping bags and mats separately. The we went out together to gather the firewood for the night. We could feel the temperature going down every minute as night crept in. We also had one emergency light, knife and a Khukuri (in case of mishaps). We lit firewood, prepared tea and sat around the fire.
‘Local Rausi’, poleko aalu and Patpatey (Chaauchaau saadheko) helped us beat the cold while a few rounds of lok dohori songs made our night. We were at the top of 3000 meters without a single trace of any human settlements, we felt a little thrilled yet calm and serene. Enjoying the tranquility and getting intimate with nature, we went to sleep around 1 am. We wanted to wake up early in the morning to witness the majestic sunrise.
We woke up early the next morning and watched sunrise, upclose and beautiful. The mystical green hills were engaged in offering us charismatic air and bizarre cloud motions. Oh boy, we were literally dumbstruck by the view. After breakfast, we walked for three hours down the hill and reached Dhungkharka, basking in the moments we had last night. After lunch, we got on the the bus to Panauti and reached Dhulikhel by the evening.
To wrap up, it was a very budget friendly hike. We went from Dhulikhel, but one can go from Kathmandu too, following the same schedule as we did. 😊
After visiting Naranthan, I realized that it is one of the most underrated hiking trails in Nepal although being so close to the capital. We ticked off Bethanchowk, Naranthan from our bucket list. Bethanchowk periphery is filled with different vegetation, flora and fauna. Secluded in hills, Bethanchowk is pristine, peaceful and undisturbed. For anyone interested in having adventurous moments within a low budget and short time constraint, Bethanchowk might be the option you may be looking.
Essentials are mandatory, without those, the journey will prove to be a tough one. Notice that I have focused in carrying drinking water. This hike made us realize that once in a while getting away with nature is really rejuvenating. Moments at the hilltop, provide soothing comfort to your eyes and serenity to a discomforted soul.
In a nutshell, it’s a nice and fairly unexpensive weekend getaway. Bethanchowk, Naranthan has an appealing essence that one should visit it once during their lifetime.
Some More Photographs:
I would like to express my gratitude to all of my friends for providing photos of Bethanchowk, Naranthan of different seasons.