Khopra Ridge Trek

Khopra Ridge Trek

Text: Dovan Rai Photographs: Sean P. Grady and Dovan Rai October 2016: Three of my friends were visiting Nepal for the first time and one of the interesting things they wanted to do in Nepal was trek in the mountains. Considering the tight schedule and their unfamiliarity in the terrain and my own, I picked the famous Poon Hill trek. But my friends wanted to go further and higher. So, we modified our original Poon hill trek itinerary and extended further north to Khopra hill. Khopra trek was not a well-known trekking route and I had my concerns. But I am very glad that we chose this lesser-known route. Within four days, we got to experience varied vistas: beautiful and breathtaking, heart-warming and humbling. Starting with beautiful villages and charming tea-houses, we walked through far-away forests and exhilarating ridges, taking elevation each day and feeling closer to the mountains. Our itinerary Day 1: Kade (1770 m ) to Ghandruk (1940 m) Day 2: Ghandruk to Dobato, Muldai Dhanda (3637 m) Day 3: Dobato to Khopra (3660 m) Day 4: Khopra to Tatopani   Day 1 Our hotel van drove us from Pokhara city and dropped at Kande. We started our trek from there. Since it was a peak trekking season, there were a number of people starting their trek from Kande. We also met a lot of people trekking towards us, probably concluding their trek. We walked through various cute villages. It was already dark when we reached Ghandruk. Day 2 Ghandruk as our starting point, we trekked up to Dobato as our destination for day 2. This was the most...
An Evening by the Lake

An Evening by the Lake

We Humans have striking accomplishments in our names. Be it diving deep into the ocean or climbing the highest mountains in the world, landing on the moon, and many more, we have done it all with astounding precision. Its our tendency to always try to do things that are never done before. Despite all these achievements, sometimes, this heart of ours still feels void. And that is when the heart needs a “Soulscape”. A soulscape is not a literal escape from the standard vocation, but rather an inquiry into self, “Who Am I ?”  Far from the uproar of  the city, into a place where we can rediscover ourselves spiritually. It could be climbing a  mountain or simply sitting by a peaceful lake. After coming back from Mardi base camp, I chose to spend few days in the Lake city. Individuals from all across the globe visit Pokhara to satisfy their spirit with the views of the Annapurana Mountain range and sail in the chill water of Phewa. Having returned from the mountains, I was very little intrigued into the sight of the mountains (which was not very remarkable in the trip because of awful climate), and, the entrancing dusk took my heart away. The breeze from the mountains in the waters of Phewa, caressing me was a fascinating feeling. Moreover, the mystical dusk was making the water appear fluid gold which was captivating. You can only see it but keep it in your recollections forever. With the experience of having visited more than 30 districts of Nepal, I can bet this is the best place to see the nightfall. Sitting by the lake, doing absolutely nothing, watching the sun take cover behind the mountains...
Karnali Diaries

Karnali Diaries

It was the month of October.  I was walking alongside the bank of Karnali river with Deepak Sharma, a guy from Nawalparasi and my travel companion, whose first name happened to be same as mine. Apart from the two of us, we were accompanied by porters (who were in turn followed by asses/mules with heavy loads packed in their backs.) We were travelling from Manma of Kalikot to Nanikot V.D.C. Nanikot falls on the Northern part of Kalikot and is a three day’s walk from Manma. Despite the long walking distance and heavy backpack, I was feeling glad. The lifestyle of the local people of Karnali, the clean and fresh environment was compensating my tiredness and making me feel good. On the second day of our journey, we came across a small boy of around 7 years old who was carrying his small brother.  I began conversing with him. After the thorough interaction, I came to know that the boy was going to school which was one and half hour walk up the hill, and it was his daily schedule. He covered this walking distance every day with his brother on his back. I was astonished by the way this boy was taking such a huge responsibility from such a small age. The boy made me compare the differences in lifestyles of this boy and the boys of the same age in the sophisticated cities like Kathmandu. The meeting with the boy made my heart heavy, but we had a huge distance to cover and we didn’t have time to linger. Thus, we moved forward without looking back. After covering a good distance,...
Trek to Imja Glacial Lake

Trek to Imja Glacial Lake

After waiting for over a week for the inclement weather to clear up, we couldn’t be patient anymore and decided to take our chances. Our journey towards Imja Glacier (5010 masl) began at 6 am early in the morning from Kathmandu. Crammed in a small jeep, we reached Salleri (the headquarter of Solu district) after 12 hours. Thankfully, the sky had cleared up after a week of incessant rain. After spending a night in Salleri, we kicked-off our journey towards Imja glacial lake at 06:30 am on 8th Sept, 2016. It was a tough walk on the path, mostly used for transporting goods on the backs of mules; the path was muddy due to the recent rainfall and it was difficult to find a good foothold. It took us 5 days to cross Nunthala, Jubhing, Kharikhola, Paiya and Surke – the entrance to Chaurikharka VDC – before we reached Namche Bazar (Namche VDC) to the North. The trek was tough, however, the lush green pine forests, the sweet fragrance of pine, numerous waterfalls, the giggling of Dudhkoshi – made it worthwhile! We witnessed the catastrophic landslides in Surke, which had swept away 3 houses. The locals, though, quickly cleared the trail. We were also fortunate enough to have a close view of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa’s home at Surke – the first ever Nepali woman to climb Mount Everest in 1993. All these villages (mentioned above) have primary to secondary level schools and micro hydropower. WiFi is avaialable in every lodge and hotels, so you are always connected to the outside world. Visitors can recharge their cell phones and camera...
Backpacker’s Valentine

Backpacker’s Valentine

May you never be too busy to go to Mountains…. The Heart beats and the Mind wanders. My soul craves to roam somewhere else leaving my physical body. Longing for adventures to come. Thrills of joy .Somewhere far away, pathless woods awaiting. This kills me. Maybe its time for me to leave, to go away from everything, the crowd, noise, attachments, just everything that’s around. Bored,restless; I can’t breathe here anymore. Screaming Echoes in my head . Dead, I feel inside. Numb,nothing left. Stuck,drained. Storm in my calm mind, fire in my burning soul and a mess in my eyes. Always dreamed  of living. Frustrated, baffled. Running, awaiting storm, dwelling to disperse faraway. Enough of you, this crazy society.They don’t understand, they won’t, they never tried to .Fading light you are, passing by just like every other day. Never want my soul to be confined within walls, I want it to be wanderer of the wild. Feelings of failures trying to find a new beginning but I find being a lost cause already. Maybe, I need to move beyond these walls, need not to hear your counsel. Maybe, I forgot to live trying to survive. Maybe, I forgot what life tastes like in this crowd. Maybe, I need to go away to the place I belong. Where ” I” means only me. Me I so wanted to be. Me for myself. Me that I dreamt of, so desperately desired to be. No more,no less. I dream to stand far away in solitude to breathe again, to smile again. There’s no time for anything else.   As they said,”There are...
Holidaying in the Street: The echoes of Patan

Holidaying in the Street: The echoes of Patan

Mountains are always inviting, the hills are always welcoming, the plains are truly vibrant, but many a times in life, we are bound by the concretes. The city just does not let us go anywhere. While trekking, hiking or camping would ideally come to our minds for a recreational vacation and exploration, the city and its spaces through its concretes can also provide sufficiently to celebrate a weekend in a unique way. Kathmandu Valley is both profane and sacred. While this city seems so indifferent and is sandwiched between the ugly towers and its shrinking rivers, the city has its own unique charms to keep you awestruck, if you are really willing to stand and stare a bit.   Once we stand and stare, we will actually realize that this city that we often find struggling for its visibility between the dust and its sloppy streets, actually oozes with ancient fragrances and offers vibrant colors of our day to day lives. Kathmandu Valley unveils its treasures in the narrowest of its lanes. Three major Durbar Squares – namely Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square are its life lines, which keeps its tangible heritage alive and where Gods and Goddesses come alive. I am today talking about a Saturday in Patan Durbar Square. One of the most intriguingly structured spaces of the ancient city, Patan Durbar Square and its adjoining lanes offers you the most vibrant theatrical experience you can earn within a matter of few hours. A Saturday in Patan Durbar Square Wear your comfortable casual outfit, carry average money – approximately 500 rupees and...