“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” ― Jawaharlal Nehru
Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is the gateway to a no. of famous beautiful Himalayan treks like Everest Summit, Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Base Camp etc. The glory of Mt. Everest attracts thousands of trekkers each year. The city is flooded with trekkers’ lodge and trekking accessories shops. In my recent trek to Everest Base Camp, I had the opportunity to explore this beautiful city. Here is all that you need to know if Kathmandu is in your travel-list.
Permits & Visa:
For Indian nationals, there is no need of Visa. But for treks, one need to get the permit. One need to carry any Id proof : Passport / Voter ID/ Aadhar ID/ DL. But taking the passport or any other ID with a photocopy of Passport will do in most of the cases. To get a mobile sim there, the photocopy of Passport is required(Some shops don’t accept Voter ID). There is a nominal permit fee of NC 300 (1 IC = 1.6 NC) for base camp treks. Nepal govt. maintains a TIMS(Trekkers’ Information Management System) for all the trekkers. Registration card is of two type: GT(Group Trekker /Blue Strip) & FIT(Free Individual Trekker / Red strip) For Everest Summit trek, the Nepal govt. collects an amount of $11,000 per person. More than 5,000 climbers have scaled Everest since it was first climbed by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953 and nearly 310 have died trying.
How to reach:
Air: Directly from Delhi to Kathmandu
Train and Bus:
- Till Raxaul: (From Howrah)
- Train No 13043 – Howrah – Raxaul Express (D: 10:50 PM, A: 3:45 PM)
- Train No 13021 – Mithila Express (D: 3:45 PM, A: 8:25 AM)
- Raxaul to Birganj: By Rickshaw/Auto (30 mins) [bad road, heavy traffic]
- Birganj to Kathmandu: By Bus (AC Deluxe – NC 800)
Where to stay:
Thamel area is the most happening area in Kathmandu. There are various trekkers’ lodges, hostels and budget stays available there. One can stay with just NC 350 per day. Alobar1000 and Thamel 327 are two hostels owned by Mr. Tashi. He also owns DalBhatPower, a trek organizing unit. The atmosphere at Alobar1000 is bit chilled and its rooftop is one of the best hangout place, but the rooms are average.
Thamel 327 is bit sophisticated and with lot of restrictions, but rooms are good. There are a lot of other options to explore.
Where to eat:
There are plenty of options in Indian and Nepalese. In Thamel, though the food is bit costly than the other areas, but quality is good. You can walk down till market lane where you’ll come across lot of cafes and restaurants. Chicken Cheese Sandwich is one must try at Burger point. For good budget Indian food, you may pay a visit to Western Tandoori. It may look bit shady, but the food is awesome there. While in Nepal, also give it a try to their local food: Thakali (Indian version of Thali, but with more options).
What to See:
Bouddhanath Stupa: One of the holy places at Kathmandu with a temple of Lord Rinpoche. The atmosphere and the chants at the temple is very soothing and peaceful.
Swayambhunath Temple / Monkey Temple: It is also known as Monkey Temple due to huge no. of monkeys residing there. One need to climb around 365 steps to reach to the top of the temple. But once you reach there, you can see the entire Kathmandu City. A visit in the evening is most rewarding. One can see the city lights getting on one by one from the top and the chill of cool breeze getting smashed on your face. There is a wish-pot there also. You need to throw a coin into the pot to make your wish come true., well that’s what they believe.
Pashupatinath Temple: It is the most sacred place in Nepal. Like Jagannath Temple in India, Pashupatinath temple in Nepal is belived to be the holiest place. Apart from the main shrine of Lord Pashupatinath, there are various small temples in it. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the temple premises.
Durbar Square / Palace: It is just a 20 mins walk from Thamel market.
Thamel Market: It is the best place to buy adventure or trekking accessories. The North Face jackets are really cheap there. A few bike rental shops are also there.
Other sightseeing options:
Kopan monastery, Dakshinakali temple, Buddha Nilakantha temple, Hanuman Dhoka, Bhaktapur, Pokhran Lake
Night Life: Thamel area is flooded with pubs and bars. Nightlife at Kathmandu is equally glamorous as the treks. With so many tourists in the city, the pubs are always crowded. After a tedious mountain climb/trek, pubs are the favorites of trekkers for celebration. Purple Haze and Shisha are nice options. One must try Gorkha beer and Everest beer while at Nepal.
River Rafting: There are many options for river rafting: Trishuli River, Seti River , Bhote Koshi River, Kali Gandaki River, Marsyandi River, Sun Koshi River.
Bungy Jumping: Bungy jumping is offered by The Last Resort. The price is around NC 7500 for Indian nationals. It is the 2nd highest bungy jump in the world with a height of around 160 m.
The details of a few treks:
During my stay at Kathmandu, I also got a glimpse of 7th Nepal Tattoo Convention( 31st March – 2nd April, at Heritage garden, Sanepa) where hundred of tattoo artists from various counties had participated. I also happened to witness the Nepalese New Year ( 14 April) when the entire Thamel turned into a live pub !
Contact No for Bus Booking: (Sapna Travels) /Mentioned only for reference
- Birganj to Kathmandu – 051 – 521382, 051-530365
- Kathmandu to Birganj – 9851181638, 9851159009