“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine
True. Having been taught the gospels of Saint Augustine in a school named after him, this is one of his teachings I believe in. You cannot discover more than half of yourself unless you have travelled. Each new sight and sound, flora and fauna unravels a part of you hidden hitherto from your own soul.
I have travelled in India, yes. As a family, we’ve done the usual ‘South India’ tours, the ‘Bombay-Goa’, ‘Rajasthan’, and the shorter ‘Puri’, ‘Darjeeling’ ones. There’s one more tour that people from Calcutta usually cover early in their life – Nepal, our beautiful neighbouring country. My parents had missed it, somehow. My in-laws have visited there recently. It seems we’re one of the few couples in our family not having been there. I’ve always longed to visit Nepal as I primarily adore mountains. The alluring chill of the hills, the tranquility that is hard to find in the plains, and the familiarity of the people in language and habits are reason enough for a visit or two. So I had planned a Nepal trip long ago including places to visit, food to eat, adventure, religious shrines, national parks and lakes. The itinerary got easier with Skyscanner providing a credit of 1 lakh rupees to accommodate all my plans. Here’s the plan all chalked out for any one to have a great trip in Nepal. I have pointed the key places I’d like to visit in the map here – Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Patan (5 km from Kathmandu), Royal Chitwan National Park, Pokhara and Lumbini. Each has it’s own significance in my trip, read further to know how they fit.
I’ve chosen end October-early November this year for the trip as it fits well in our holiday calendar, right after Diwali. I searched for flights from Calcutta to Kathmandu and realizing they’re quite expensive for some reason, I decided to break the journey to Calcutta –> Delhi –> Kathmandu. Skyscanner provided a plethora of search results with the cheapest and most feasible fare. The return trip from Calcutta <-> Delhi would cost around 7527 INR per person and the return trip from Delhi <-> Kathmandu would be a humble 10157 INR per person.
Cost of the round trips would be : (7527*2) + (10157*2) = 35368 INR for a couple, which is quite cheap indeed.
I still have quite a lot of credit to spend on the rest of the trip! Flights having taken care of, next on the tick-off list is a decent hotel in Kathmandu. Since we will be making the capital city our base, we do need a good hotel with the basic amenities hot and running. I summoned the Skyscanner genie to rescue and he provided me the best deal I could get.
The hotel looks good to go with a high rating, meeting our requirements of location and amenities – all in an affordable price.
Adding the cost of lodging, our damages would soar up to 66804 INR.
Flights – Ticked off
Hotel – Ticked off
Car rental in Kathmandu – Ticked off
Unfortunately, Skyscanner couldn’t provide me with a car rental service in Kathmandu. But never mind, we’ll surely find something locally, won’t we?
Day 1 – The first day in a trip always belongs to local food and markets for me. Reaching Kathmandu in the afternoon leaves us ample time for a quick lunch, an afternoon nap and exploration in the evening. I’ve heard that Kathmandu is a very vibrant and colourful city and I’d plan my first evening to soak up all the colours and flavours. Nepalese cuisine is a hit in east and North-eastern India and who would give the lovely, succulent, juicy momos a miss!
Day 2 – Time to venture out from the comforts of our hotel. I would plan a day trip to the Chitwan National Park since it is located at a distance of 148 km from Kathmandu. It is the first national park in Nepal, established in 1973 and was open only for the Nepalese royal family as a hunting spot. The main attraction for me would be the presence of Royal Bengal Tigers in the park. I’d consider ourselves damn lucky if we can spot one!
Day 3 – Another day in Kathmandu and we would plan to visit the heritage city of Patan, on the opposite bank of the Bagmati river. It is one of the largest cities of Nepal, earlier known as Lalitpur. The most important monument of the city is the Patan Durbar Square, a UNESCO heritage site. We’d also add the great Pashupatinath Temple on our list, the major and most popular temple in Nepal.
Day 4 and 5 – With Kathmandu half-done, we would travel to Pokhara to visit the next best attraction of Nepal. On the way from Kathmandu, Devi’s Fall is a very attractive spot near Pokhara. It is locally known as Patale Chhango (Hell’s Fall) and is 500 meters deep underground. It is said that a certain Swiss Mrs Devis was swept away into the fall in 1961 and since then it is known as Devi’s Fall. Pokhara is also famous for the Barahi Temple built in the middle of the Phewa Lake, another hot spot for tourists. Devotees carry goats and other animals through the lake to offer as a sacrifice to Shakti, the female deity in the temple. Finishing off the brief trip with a little shopping at the old Bazaar in Pokhara and a visit to the Pokhara National Museum. I had searched Skyscanner for a good hotel in Pokhara and it came up with Trek-O-Tel, with a good rating and all the amenities we needed.
With the hotel expense counted, our total cost went up to 76749 INR. Still a lot to cover in the rest of the trip.
Day 6, 7 and 8 – Checking out from Pokhara, we would come back to Kathmandu on the 6th day for some rest and respite. Refreshed and rejuvenated, we would venture out for Lumbini, the birth place of Gautam Buddha for a 2-day trip. Since it would be a 2 night trip, I looked for another hotel and found one in Lumbini as well, aptly named Hotel Nirvana. The expenses would shoot up to 85114 INR.
Lumbini is declared as another UNESCO heritage site with the exact birthplace of Buddha as a major attraction. It is the holy ground of Buddhists visiting the site from all over the world. There is also the Maya Devi temple to visit, with an idol of Maya Devi giving birth to Buddha. Kapilavastu is an archaeological spot near Lumbini where Lord Buddha spent his early years. I’d also like to visit the beautiful Lumbini Garden.
Day 9 – Pretty much the last day in Nepal. We would have come back to Kathmandu from Lumbini the earlier day. Having rested and cleared our camera of the beautiful photos, I’d like to visit Bhaktapur, which is only 13 km from Kathmandu. It is an old city again, full of rich heritage and culture. It hosts the Nyatapola temple built in 1702, a 5-storey pagoda which evokes much interest in me. Though it is home to the goddess Siddhi or Laxmi, the temple has splendid stone idols in its courtyard.
Signing off with a splendid sunset from Bhaktapur, clicked by my father-in-law.
Day 10 – Flight back to Delhi, rest for a day and party with old friends. Day 11 – Back to Calcutta from Delhi.
Total flight and lodging expenses – 85114 INR. I would like to spend the rest of the money for car rentals across the trip, exploring the local cuisine and of course, shopping my heart out in the alleys of Kathmandu. Skyscanner has been extremely kind to fix a budget of 1 lakh INR for a lovely and cozy trip to Nepal.