Nepal trip-I: Welcome by the unknown land
When the things are not meant to be, the things just happen,
When the actions are not supposed to be, it just knock the door,
When the journey is not supposed to be, the best journey is on the way for sure to build the memories.
From Nalanda to Nepal
The journey to Nepal was a pure act of spontaneity. It was neither planned nor expected. I couldn’t even realized how my plan to Nalanda suddenly shifted to a foreign land. It must be considered as a foreign land according to the world map but once you are there, it is not a foreign land anymore and feels like our own country.
Aditya and I suddenly decided to take the night bus from Patna to Raxaul. The success of whole plan was left to the mercy of fate. No tickets were booked, passport was not there with me (luckily Indians don’t need it if traveling via road) and itinerary is definitely not a thing of our choice. But that night fate was with us and we easily got the last ticket of a bus. The last ticket is always reserved for the fun loving people as the superb shock absorbers makes your ride a roller coaster one. I got the window seat reserved for me which is always a good companion in the time of night journey since you have nothing like sites, random people, passing villages, etc. to accompany you but the imagination of your own mind.
Crossing the border, foreign land for the first time
We reached Raxaul bus stop at around 3.30 am. After drinking straight three cup of hot tea, we opted for one more shock less ride (after Bus) i.e. Tanga or horse carriage. India-Nepal border opens at 5 am in the morning. Since, we arrived early, we had to wait in the chilling winter amidst the dense fog. The fog reminded me of era of Sherlock Holmes when the luxurious horse carriage was in vogue and carriage used to penetrate it with its trotting sound. After crossing the border, we took a bus to Hetauda. We gave a surprise visit to one of the relative of Adi where we get the one of the best home-made food for lunch and met a beautiful sweet little daughter of one of the family member. Anyone who has been to Nepal will be proud of the fact that women are in leading front from handling shops to the big parlours.
I was not very glad to bid adieu the sweet little daughter but journey means continuously moving forward. We were now on a TATA SUMO car to reach Kathmandu. It took us around four hours to reach there. The sloppy hills, rope bridges, a variety of Hindi songs, scattered hill houses and dry river bed were our companion. I was enjoying the Bollywood songs in a foreign land. The hilly roads and the sharp turns were in rhythm with my body moves. I was enjoying in my way and Adi was in his own way i.e. by taking a nap.
Namaste is often used here and even the numbers on board were written in the same way which I studied in my Hindi medium Kindergarten classes in Saraswati Shishu Mandir School. It feels in a true sense that the whole world is a family and every individual who took birth on this planet has a distinct culture which has still some similarity in its fundamental values.
Nepal seems like a neighbour cum an extended family country.
A word of advice
If you have not activated international roaming, it is fine. It is excellent to disconnect yourself from the online world for a while and completely feel the world of Nepal which is just in the vicinity and very similar to our world.
The city called Kathmandu
We reached Kathmandu by 4 pm. The devastating effects of Earthquake of 2015 can be seen in the buildings and structures. We directly headed towards one of the most popular tourist destination in Kathmandu- Thamel. The streets of Thamel is the home to small shops which sells the items ranging from local and international cuisines, clothes, DVDs, Buddha paintings, handicrafts, mountaineering gears and tools required by climbers, foreign exchange booths, mobile shops, restaurants, pubs, clubs, etc. It is like a self-sufficient city in its own. It remains in action till the midnight. This place is considered as the Ghetto by some and tourist prefers it for its low-budget hotels. We book a hotel for INR 800 per night. After unloading our self, we decided to walk through the whole area. Half-filled stomach is the best option if the journey is for a longer period.
A great head start for the street night
The time was good. The environment was good. The sky was on the verge of erupting the brightness of stars and the Sun was ready to take some rest. And then we decided that before dwelling into the beautiful intricacies of the streets, let’s fill our soul with the light music, hot beverage and an ambience prepared for the coming Christmas eve. The cool breeze and spices in the tongue was the perfect melange to give the rest to our tired soul but the just started bonfire made our halt at BLACK OLIVES Restaurant a splendid one. It acts as an energiser for us so that we can walk for the whole night.
We were strolling through the street and observing the liveliness of every element of it. The colours of lighted shops is a mesmerizing view. I bought my all-time favourite gift i.e. Greeting cards with the picture of Nepal tourist places for my family members and friends. As a souvenir, I also bought a Buddha idol and a sketch painting for myself. The public transport in Kathmandu is comparatively cheaper and a lot of working women can be seen.
Experiencing the Spiritualism
The next morning was the time for visiting some more places. While on the way to Pashupatinath Temple, we observed that every school going students were well-dressed. This temple is one of the sacred Hindu temple and is dedicated to Pashupatinath. It is also a UNESCO World heritage Site. Pashupati means the lord of all Pashus (animals in English) whether living or non-living. It is located on the bank of River Bagmati. The architecture was impressive but the whole place become lively and vibrant when the pigeons sitting on the roof of the temple flap their wings in harmony and as a result create a pleasurable sound. An important fact of this temple is that only Hindus are allowed to enter this temple.
The next stop was Narayanhity palace which was once the residence palace of Kings of Nepal but now turned into a museum. It had a simple yet elegant architecture. It was built by the King Mahendra in 1963. It is full of big halls and separate rooms are there for dignitaries. The distinct rooms for rest, meet, ceremony like oath taking, public functions, award functions, crowning of new king and for parties were there.
This place has the power to kick off a time travel to the past. At the backyard of whole palace, a separate hall was there where the Nepalese Royal massacre occurred on 1st of June 2001. Adi explained to me the whole plot of this massacre. The Prince Dipendra killed his family and the father King Birendra and mother Queen Aishwarya. The gun shots still creates a vivid scene of this massacre in the eyes of every observer. King Birendra was considered as the avatar of Vishnu and was loved by the whole nation. People literally mourned over his death.