The perfect escape
Our holidays were short. And the four of us were getting restless.
For us, it’s difficult to manage a long vacation just for the sake of travel, and we wanted to make the best of what little time we had.
A quick discussion and the name Chitlang popped up.
Chitlang is a small village lapped among the hills of Chandragiri. No more than 22 kilometers away from Kathamandu. Strangely though, none of us had been there yet!
And that was that. A hike to Chitlang was going to be our perfect escape.
And it begins
It was early March, which is one of two best seasons for visiting Nepal (other being sometime around October-November), as around this time spring has bloomed in its full glory and the skies and weather are clearer.
We were to set off on our journey at around 10 am. But it wasn’t until 1:30 pm that we actually got on a bus from Purano Buspark in Kathmandu.
The bus took us to Thankot. There we got off and bought things for the journey (mainly food, junk and lots of it!)
Apparently, buses were available that took you as far as a place called Godam, but we decided to begin our hike from Thankot itself. (But since there’s nothing much to be missed on the road, you may choose to go for the bus.)
15 to 20 minutes of walk later, we arrived at the site of an ongoing ropeway (Cable Car) construction project. A few locals suggested that after its completion, it’d be a 9 minute long ropeway that took the passengers to the top of Chandragiri. About 90% of the work on the cable car was done and it was soon expected to start its operation.
It took us another one hour to reach Godam (in Nepali, Godam means “Warehouse”). The place was named after a famous warehouse, which in the past used to store all the commodities to be distributed among Chitlang and other villages.)
Beyond Godam, we had to take a narrow hiking route (goreto) and, thereon, settlements started getting thinner and thinner. Along our path, we occasionally arrived at the intersection with major roads but we obviously, ignored the easier pathway and went up the narrower, steeper Goreto.
Three hours on from Godam, we arrived at Chandragiri Bhanjyang.
Here, our path split up in two. One went toward Chandragiri Danda (and its famous View Tower), from where you could see the entire Kathmandu Valley at a glance.
The other path led to Chitlang village.
RELEVANT FACT: Apparently, The Great King Prithivi Narayan Shah set his sight upon Kathmandu (then the Kingdom of Kantipur) that eventually led to one of greatest battle in Nepal’s history.
Where we turned poets
Somewhere at that junction, lies a small Khaja Ghar (Food House), where we ate to our heart’s desire. And by the time we were done, the dusk was almost upon us.
The sun poised beautifully in the western horizon, its dying colors sprayed across the sky like brush strokes of Da Vinci (sorry, couldn’t help).
With this glorious artistry of the nature spread out before us, we allowed ourselves a few moments to ponder about life, and success, and its ups and downs, before finally bidding farewell to the heartwarming spectacle and resumed our journey downhill, toward Chitlang Village.
Chitlang! (Typical yet different)
A quick note. If it’s Friday, and you’re visiting a destination that’s not that far from your place of stay, do make reservations.
We, however, failing to do so, struggled to find roof over our heads. Luckily, a boy from one of the homestays arranged a place for us in his relatives’ house. (Though, chances are good, you too will get lucky, people in these villages are always helpful.)
We slept soundly that night.
Having arrived quite late the other day, we woke up early to make for the lost time. We didn’t want to miss a thing that Chitlang had to offer.
In the mists of early morning, perched before the backdrop of a spire of green hills, Chitlang was your classic Nepali village — beautiful, serene, peaceful… full of life and energy.
It wasn’t so much as what you could see than what you could feel. The calmness in the air… the smell of the early morning dew… the whole experience was something different. Divine, if you would.
More of Chitlang
We had a good talk with the locals as we sat for our breakfast.
They spoke of how the roads to Chitlang had been built a long time ago, but due to the ignorance of locals as well as the government, Chitlang has somewhat faded on many tourist’s map.
They also bemoaned the fact that people often came to Chitlang for a day (guilty), but they suggested that two to three days of visit would be most appropriate, as Chitlang allows for a quick visit to the neighboring Daman (another beautiful hill-station) and Kulekhani, as well as other surrounding places, which will enhance the experience of visiting Chitlang.
We mentally made a note that the next time we would do just that.
We would like to urge you to interact more with the local inhabitants. For two reasons, mostly:
1) They are super friendly, and they will do anything to help you. It might seem like they won’t understand you, but you’ll be surprised to see how languages aren’t a barrier if you really want to make a connection.
2) You might miss out on a lot. When it comes to exploring new places, even the best of travel agencies/agents may not be as good as an average local resident.
After breakfast, we continued exploring Chitlang, enjoying the poignant landscapes that lied in our tread.
Returning back, we had two choices. We could return the same way we had come (boring), or take another route.
No prizes for guessing what we chose.
Boats and Fishes
One hour later, we arrived at Markhu. A place where you get to a part of the great Indrasarobar Lake. The mere sight of this lake reminded us of its delicious fish that you can get at Kulekhani.
We knew we just had to make it to Kulekhani.
We found some good folks who informed us that a boat-ride of about 45 minutes to Kulekhani would be well worth than another hike.
However, we weren’t sure if the cost of NRs. 1,500 was something we wanted to pay for the ride. Then again we thought who knows when we’ll return. So we took the boat ride anyway.
The vast expanse of clean, blue water, and a gently rocking boat at the center of it, did get us nervous. But then adrenaline kicked in, and the whole experience thrilled us like anything.
Just as promised, we arrived by the shore (of another end) of Indrasarobar about 45 minutes later. We got off the boat and walked for 15 more minutes to the famous fish-eating spot of Kulekhani. We weren’t surprised to find a crowd people, coming as far as from Hetauda and Kathmandu (on bikes or cars), to gratify their craving for fish delicacies.
We joined in and, needless to say, ate to the limit of our stomach and our appetite.
It was time to return to Kathmandu. Since we didn’t have our own vehicles, the only transportation we would get was a Sumo (a public SUV transport) that came from Hetauda. As we waited, we realized that most Sumos came completely packed from Hetauda itself, and we had slim chances of getting a seat — let alone four seats!
Luckily, (seemingly, we tend to get lucky a lot) we managed to find at least one seat vacant in each Sumo and the four of us returned to Kathmandu in four separate Sumos.
Despite being so close to the capital city, Chitlang gives you that perfect escape from the hubbubs of everyday city life, and takes you a little closer to serenity. We definitely recommend Chitlang to everyone.
What we liked: Being so close to the Capital we could enjoy the ambience of the place similar to other beautiful villages around the country which could cost us more time and money.
What not to miss: Its quite good environment with beautiful landscape, please feel easy & comfortable to explore every corner of the village and interact with locals.
Tips: Book the hotel/homestay before heading towards Chitlang.
Take permission of locals before taking their photograph.
Translated By:Sarthak Parajulee