Tribhuvan Airport in Kathmandu is crowded. Tourists come and go in plane-loads throughout the day and this airport is inadequate. Chinese, European and tourists from other parts of the world want to see this beautiful country. You start off queuing up to get your hand luggage checked through the x-ray machines when you disembark from the plane to enter the airport. Walk over to the baggage claim as guards with sniffer dogs casually stroll among the passengers waiting for bags. Once you get a hold of your bags, go through immigration and push your way through the crowd to get outside!
If you need a sim card immediately for your phone, it is available at the exit. Have a passport sized photo ready!
There is a lot to do and places to see in Nepal. I was going to fit it all into one blog post, but that would be a very long post, so I am writing about it in parts.
The first thing we did after checking in was to book a trip around Mount Everest by flight for the next morning with a local airline in Kathmandu. Next order of business was a visit to the Buddhanilkantha Temple. The sight of the gigantic Narayana in repose surrounded by water is a darshan that remains in my mind. I did not take any photos of Nilkantha as He is worshiped here.
I can’t say much about the hygiene factor in Nepal in general. it could do with a lot of improvement! Especially since I am used to the beautifully maintained Narayana Temples throughout Tamil Nadu!
Early the next morning, we headed out to the domestic airport in Kathmandu. It is equally small and crowded. We were a bit late so didn’t get the best seats, but good enough. Take breakfast with you, sandwiches should do. After an hour’s wait, we headed out to the plane. It was a small 40-seater with only 20 on board so we all got window seats! There were only foreign tourists on board besides us. We got fabulous views of the Great Himalayan Range. At 7000 ft altitude, it was indescribable. We took tons of photos and went around Mt. Everest.
Pasupathinath Temple is a huge Shiva temple in Kathmandu that is quite crowded. It was a hot day and we had to walk about 1-2 km to go inside from the car parking lot. You can leave shoes at a shoe stall closer to the temple entrance. The temple is popular so queues were there, but not too long, we waited about 10 min. There are several entrances to the Inner sanctum and you can stand at any one to see the Lingam.
Boudhanath Stupa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When we were there in 2019 a signboard said repairs from the earthquake of 2015 were almost over. Take a walk around the Stupa to wash away your sins and to get blessings. Remember to walk clockwise, that is with the Stupa on your right . This is also an opportunity to see all the shops surrounding the Stupa. There are many interesting shops filled with knick-knacks and antique-looking articles. Prices are touristy of course. There are plenty of places to eat too. You can pick a place with a great view of the Stupa as you eat. I suggest you visit Pasupathinath Temple and then the Boudhanath Stupa, stop for lunch or a snack and then continue touring.
There are lots of training centers for Monks here, so you may come upon the delightful sight of little trainees as they go about their business!
There is a tiny garden with eight stupas and a Buddha statue to visit just off the main one. The smaller stupas have the story of The Buddha written in plaques at each Stupa.
After a light lunch you can continue your tour at the Durbar Square in an older portion of Kathmandu. There is a lot to see here. The remains of Royal life of another lifetime are fascinating to see! The Kumari, a young girl chosen as a child to be the Goddess or Devi till she attains puberty, resides in this area at Kumari Ghar.
There is a lot of shopping that you can do here too, if the price is right! Shawls, stoles and knick-knacks abound!
The Swayambunath Stupa sits on a hill in Kathmandu, looking gently down at the valley. You have a great number of steps to climb to get to the top. Huff and puff your way to a beautiful view of the Kathmandu Valley. The Stupas and pagodas at the top are revered by both Hindus and Buddhists. There are a lot of shops here too along the steps…
It was a hot and bright day when we visited tourist attractions in Kathmandu! Take plenty of sun screen, a hat and water with you. Wear cool cotton clothes too! Expect to walk a lot!
if you love sunsets drive to Chandragiri Hills for the best views! The Himalayan range is visible from here too. The weather is cool and great hotels can make your stay comfortable.
Trekking and hiking are a big part of activities here. Mt. Everest Base Camp is about a two weeks walk from the closest bus station or airport. Of course if you can afford it, fly into the base camp but be careful of altitude sickness at 5500 meters! When you trek from the base of the trail-head to the Base camp, you have time to acclimatize as you ascend.
I did find that Nepal is expensive compared to India or Bhutan for that matter. There is a heavy tax on goods from cars to every kind of food. The main source of income is tourism. This poor nation does not have any big industries to speak of. So it was surprising to see the condition of the airport and the poor roads. Cost of living is high but the spirit of the people is lovely. They remain cheerful and hopeful despite the humble life they lead.
Our Chitwan and Pokhara adventures are for another day…
I’m taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s #MyFriendAlexa Season 4!