Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dhulikhel- Perfect getaway from Kathmandu.

Far from the chaos of Kathmandu and very close to the stunning panoramic views of high mountains lies Dhulikhel. Hardly 25 km from Kathmandu, one gets to experience and enjoy quiet, calm, peaceful & a serene town.

Apart from spectacular views, the tranquility is what makes you fall in love with this place almost immediately. A perfect place to relax and welcome the festival of lights- Deepavali or Tihar (in Nepal.) We pretty much felt at home celebrating Deepavali here in Dhulikhel. Everyone was in festive mood, decorating their homes with flowers, lights and preparing yummy delicacies. This experience taught us more about the Tihar festival and their culture- they not only worship Goddess Lakshmi but also worship crows, cows and dogs. Also, it is only during this time of the entire year that they play Bhailini songs. Group of girls sing Bhailo door to door giving blessings to the family in exchange for money or homemade treats.

It was such a wonderful sight to see the whole town gather together and celebrate Tihar/Diwali with live music and dance and surprisingly with not much of fire crackers. The atmosphere can be easily mistaken for a live concert band.

We recommend Dhulikhel over Nagarkot, Dhulikhel not only offers stunning views of Himalaya ranges but also many other spectacular attractions such as Nammo Buddha, Shanti Ban, Kali temple and Shiva temple.

Nammo Buddha: Legend has it that Buddha in his previous form as a Prince fed his own arm to a hungry Tigress. A Gompa stands here today dedicated to this selfless act. This is one of the holiest places for Buddhists in Nepal. Right behind the Gompa is the Thrangu Tashi Yangtse monastery.

Thrangu Tashi Yangtse monastery is breathtaking and the views from here are very dramatic. There are multiple options to reach the monastery and Gompa, the most challenging one is to trek up which takes 5 hours and its not an easy trek. The most comfortable way to reach is to hire a taxi. The most economical way is to board one of the many buses that ply between Dhulikhel and Nammo Buddha. It takes any where between one to one and half hour to reach Nammo Buddha.

Shanti Ban & Kali temple : One can club both these attractions as they are hardly 10 mins away from each other by foot. Shanti Ban has a huge golden statue of Buddha over looking Dhulihkel. It is a very peaceful location and the doors to this place are open between 7 am to 4 pm. However, the caretaker of this place, a generous man, was very kind to let us in even though we reached a few minutes past 4 pm. A small temple dedicated to goddess Kali sits at the top of the hill. The views from here are stellar and if you want better views, climb the watch tower. This place can be reached either by foot or road. We tried both and despite the roads being very poor, road is the better option as climbing the stairs all the way up can be very tiring and exhausting.

Shiva Temple: One cannot miss the massive Shiva statue over looking the valley. This massive statue towering 143 feet is the world's biggest Shiva statue and grabs your attention even before you could reach Dhulikhel. The construction of this statue took almost 7 years.

We checked into Mirabel Hotel & Resorts and though this place comes highly recommended, there are several other better properties to stay in Dhulikhel. The rooms were over priced & their best room that comes at a premium price for the views do not offer great views. There is no 24 hours running hot water & even during the specified hours we did not get hot water. Pro: The service and food at the restaurant is phenomenally good. The views from hotel terrace, restaurant and gardens were breathtaking.

We highly recommend Dhulikhel Village Resort for stay, their garden & rooms offer fantastic views and are very nominally priced. This resort is a little in the interior making it even more peaceful and calm and just a few mins away from the foothills of Shanti Ban. Please note that this hotel too does not offer 24 hours running hot water.

While you are in Dhulikhel, at any cost do not miss this tiny restaurant called 'Ganapathi Cafe.' This place is on the way to Shanti Ban just as you exit the main road and head towards the market. Their service is exceptionally good, very nominally priced food above all lip smacking. Their fried momos are to die for, the other items to check out are egg fried rice, chicken fry and their different varieties of chutney, It also serves alcohol. The people here make you feel at home.

Next Stop Gorkha