KALINCHOWK: A Little Closer To Heaven
At the eminent height of some 3800 meters, Goddess Kali resides in the form of Kalinchowk Bhagwati. Surrounded by the spire of mountain ranges like Ganesh and Gaurishankar, it truly is one of the most splendid grandeur of Gods on Earth.
AND SO IT BEGINS
During winters, it isn’t uncommon to find Facebook Wall full of pictures from Kalinchowk, which was enough to convince us that we were missing out on a lot!
As a travel enthusiast, the fact that it took no more than 2 days (in motorbikes) to visit Kalinchowk and return, was an added bonus.
We were six, on three bikes, heading out on a 150 kilometers long journey toward the north-east of Kathmandu, where the hill of the Goddess Kalinchowk Bhagawati looms large.
We began from Koteshwar at around 7 am. We sped up the Araniko Highway and stopped only at Suryabinayak for a light morning breakfast. Six kilometers from there, we arrived at Sanga, where the world’s tallest statue of Lord Shiva stands to a height of 44 meters. But being built at the edge of the hill, its height gets even more magnificence. You can get the glimpse of this statue from the highway itself.
We moved further up the highway and passed Banepa and Dhulikhel (where, one of Nepal’s top university, Kathmandu University, is located) along the way. From Dhulikhel, you can enjoy the view of northern mountain ranges. But that would have to wait for now.
Further up the highway, we reach Dolalghat, which is a small town settled by the bank of Indrawati and Sunkoshi River. And because of that Dolalghat is also famous for its fishes. And its riverbanks are one of the popular picnic spots for the people living in and around Kathmandu Valley.
The highway runs alongside the bank of Bhotekoshi and, around 40 minutes later, reaches at Khadichaur. From there, we leave behind the Araniko Highway, and cross the bridge that takes us into Dolakha district.
One and half hour of narrow, winding roads later from Khadichaur, we arrived at Mudhe. We stopped there for a quick snack and tea.
THE MAJESTY AMONGST MAGNESITE
Our next stop was Kharidhunga, which was only a short distance away from Mudhe. And one of the most beautiful places that lied in our journey.
You cannot miss Kharidhunga. Specially, when the weather is clean.
Panorama of the spires of hills crowned with snow. A little below them, a bit hazy to the eyes, a ragged line of green hills. Then, lower still, a clearer line of rich green hill, dominated by the yellowish patch of grass. This beauty in diversity of the landscape all around was at play at Kharidhunga.
The earth beneath us felt slippery and the rocks were dark, an augury of the presence of the largest magnesite mine of Nepal under our feet. And the vista, a manifestation that we stood before one of the most glorious sights in Nepal.
At that moment, for us, it was the most beautiful place on earth.
The moment called for an extended photoshoot, no doubt. So the clicks and poses lasted for about an hour.
Soon enough, the sun threatened to crash-land on the horizon, but who cared! The grandeur of the landscape vindicated our lingering.
We resumed our journey with the sun fading away to orange, forming a calm reddish line on the western horizon.
The road was narrow, curvy, and the destination still afar. So we guiltily ignored the beauty that sprawled across the sky — courtesy, a setting sun and random-shaped clouds.
THE DARK RIDE
Dusk found us at Charikot. A quick inquiry informed us that our destination was still about three hours (and some significant off-road ride) ahead. An off-road climb at that.
After a quick discussion, we decided to make the rest of the road that very evening. And, thus, we traveled up one of the most difficult roads I had ever ridden on a bike. In dark.
Had we had any hindsight on the condition of the road, or had there been any more light available to our eyes (other than our bikes’ headlights), it would have been rather difficult for us to make that road. But the situation, such as it was, led us to speed up in darkness through one of roughest paths you can imagine.
It was almost night when we finally arrived at the small hamlet of Kuri. And within just one and a half hours too!
THE COLD VALLEY
Enter a cold valley. Where wind blew softly, but with a sharpness chillness.
Fire became our savior. And hot water. There may or may not have been other things mixed. Later, the hot supper gave a new surge of heat to our wind-chilled bones and Lady Sleep demanded our attention. We couldn’t agree more.
Fortunately, the next day, a day’s bike ride hadn’t had its toll on our bodies yet. However, no matter how tired or rejuvenated, one just cannot simply forsake the warm early morning sleep (magnified by the cold winds of winter). And that is how, and why, we lost our perfect opportunity to watch the sunrise from the Kalinchowk top. Later, only when the sun had ascended above the mountains, did we recollected our vigor to set on our prime destination.
IT’S THE CLIMB!
Stepping out of our hotel, we realized we’d slept right at the foot of the great Kalinchowk Hill. For the great hill(base) stood right before us, not even 50 meters away.
The hotel owners said it would take us about one and a half hours to make it to the top. We gave ourselves two.
The entire way up our climb, snow-capped hills gave its glimpses on different facades of the horizon. Teasing us. Challenging, if you will. You can almost hear it say, “Climb! Climb and see me in my full glory!”
I kid you not.
A LITTLE CLOSER TO HEAVEN
I’m definitely not one of the most religious persons you will meet, that’s for sure. But, right there, atop the Kalinchowk hill, before the shrine of Goddess Bhagwati, among the soaring skies, and with the mountain range of Gaurishankar, Ganesh, and Sagarmatha on the horizon (and at our eye-level!), it did feel a little closer to the heaven. A little closer to the God.
THE RETURN (OF THE SIX)
Our timing in terms of season, and the time of the climb, couldn’t have been more perfect. Being just before the beginning of prime winter, somewhere in the middle of Paush (about the end of December), the skies were ever clear and the view of the fading series of hills, glowing mountain range, and the vast landscapes appeared to us in their full glory.
At some time past noon, we descended the great hill. Only when we did arrive the bottom, and had our meal, the tiredness of a relentless day’s ride, and the trek, dawned on us. We leaned against our bikes, reluctant to resume our journey. However, the day was not long left, and we had great miles to cover back home.
Finally, we bid farewell to Kalinchowk Hill, standing proud and resilient. We left the hamlet of Kuri, a unique world in its own. We left a place that greets any visitor with a duet of nature and religion.
- It is one of the nearest yet beautiful destination from Kathmandu.
- If bike is not your kind then a bus ride from Old Buspark/Koteswor to Charikot,Dolakha(6-7hrs ride) would be best option. From there you can reserve a local jeep or walk upward for 5-6 hrs north.
- If its weekend then booking hotel at Kuri is recommended. Rs 5-6 thousands would be enough for the entire trip unless being sober is not your priority on the trip.
Translated By: Sarthak Parajulee