I have been to Nagarkot hundreds of times but every time the town offers a different charm. A small hilltop town 30 km from Kathmandu, Nepal offers the spectacular view of the mountains and of the valley. On 18th August 2016, we decided to take the alternative route to this beautiful town. This route offers the view of the residing villages and is rugged. Since it takes one and half hour ride from Kathmandu to Nagarkot, we started our trip after lunch. We got on our Royal Enfield and took off. The alternate off road ride to Nagarkot is not graveled and is a bit rugged. The road is narrower and passes through many villages around Kathmandu. The trip begins with lush greenery of Sankhu.
The road is perfect for the Royal Enfield ride, where we could enjoy the nature rather than going straight from the main road and look at the concrete structures. The best part about a bike ride is feeling the air on your face and able to stop wherever we want to click pictures. Whenever I wanted to take a picture or talk to locals, we would stop our bike. From Sanku, we reached to Lapsiphedi.
The road till here is not that bad and the ride is smooth. Since Nagarkot resides on top of the hill, the roads now start to twist and twine and there are more greenery and trees surrounding us. The best part of any travel is the journey. After Jaharsin-Pauwa, the road starts to get rough and we switch our adventure mode on. Along the way, we can see many tourists hiking along the way.
(The route is famous for hiking from Sundari-Chispani-Nagarkot. The hiking takes 5-6 hour to reach Chisapani(Day1) where hikers start their trip from Sundarijal and reach Chispani and stay the night there. The next day hikers walk through the lush green Shivapuri National Park through Jaharsin Pauwa and reach Nagarkot in 7-8 hours).
Along the way, we were lost once or twice since the road is not a popular route and there are no signs but the friendly local people helped us reach our destination.
When we reached near Nagarkot we saw gatherings of people along the way. Since it was JanaiPurnima–one of the popular festival of Nepal, the villagers were celebrating the festival with feast and alcohol. We could see many shamans (Jhakri) performing rituals. We stopped on our way to look at these rituals.
Shamans are People who claim to practice shamanism and interact in the spirit world, which is a superstition for many in the normal world. Shamanism is common in Nepal where people rely on shamans to cure their illness as well as foretell their future. The shamanism is popular in Tibetan-Buddhist and in few Hindu cultures. The shamans are the religious priests who with their experience perform rituals to revive the balance of nature and moral issues. They also are believed to cure illness and people call upon them whenever there is a sick member of the family. The shamans use incense and feathers and adorn fancy clothes to attract the audience and bring more drama. During JanaiPurnima, shamans in Tamang communities, perform rituals to ward off evil spirits.
After reaching Nagarkot and settling in our hotel, we enjoyed the lovely sunset from our hotel balcony. Being on top of the hill, Nagarkot is a bit chilly in the evening and thus we cuddled around the bonfire to enjoy the crisp freshness of air with our drinks. Since we had early morning plans, we went to bed early.
Nagarkot is famous for its sunrise amongst other things. Thus we got up at around 5 am to view the majestic sunrise. Nagarkot tower is the most popular place to view sunrise where people go early in the morning to take look at the sunrise on the backdrop of the spectacular mountain range of eastern Nepal. The tower also provides a panoramic view of Kathmandu valley. After breakfast, we decided to take a short hike around Nagarkot. Nagarkot offers varieties of hiking routes. One can go day hiking to Dhulikhel or take a short hike to Changu Narayan or Bhaktapur. We went around the town to observe the local lifestyle and soak in the culture. Also, the pine tree forest offers coolness during walking and gives the picturesque view of the hill town. Nagarkot is a famous tourist destination but still people follow their old ways of lives. The nature walk provides the perfect view of mountains and serene environment. The nature walk in the pine coniferous forest provides the freshness for mind and soul.
While walking around Nagarkot, we noticed that there were many Nepali baskets (doko) along the road. This initiation was taken by locals for solid waste management. The hikers can throw packets of food and bottles in the basket. But in spite of the baskets along the road, the wastes were thrown outside of the baskets. It was unfortunate to see that people do not take a time to throw the garbage properly.
There are many restaurants and hotels in Nagarkot targeting backpackers to luxurious travelers. Nagarkot is a gem hidden in the Kathmandu valley as an ultimate getaway for couples, families, friends or just a wanderer.