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As always, this time also we were searching for some beautiful places to hike around Kathmandu valley. We had already been to Chisapani, Nagarkot, Lakhuri Bhanjyang, Suryavinayak, and Suryachaur. Previously, we tour around UNESCO world heritage sites of Kathmandu valley. This time, we wished to go trekking but our time and college bounded us. We had already trekked various destinations like Tsho Rolpa, Shey-Phoksundo, Gosainkunda and Ghandruk together and separately. This time we wanted to change our travel style and asked our friends and colleagues for camping destinations around Kathmandu valley to spend overnight and enjoy beautiful views. Many people suggested us to go Pokhara-Chitwan to spot one horn rhino, royal Bengal tiger and experience national park activities. Some also suggested us to do some short treks such as Langtang, Ghorepani, Mardi Himal, Khopra, etc. But we were timed bounded so, as suggested by our friend Alex, we decided to go to Bethanchowk, Narayanthan which was a new destination for us around Kathmandu valley. We collected useful information about our primary destination (Narayanthan, Bethanchowk) as well as secondary destination (Dhungkharka) through Alex and the internet. Overnight at Narayanthan, Bethanchowk was semi-camping so we (I, Ronish, Sulav, Saroj and Manil) planned for the overnight and prepared ourselves accordingly.
Narayanthan is believed to be the highest point of Mahabharat range around Kathmandu; the highest point of Mahabharat range in Nepal is Sailung Dada. The hill is named as Narayanthan because of a sacred temple of Vishnu on the hill’s top. According to the locals, the temple gets more crowdie on Fagu Purnima. This place is also known as Bethanchowk. It is located at the southern side of Kavre, 25 km away from Dhulikhel and 55 km from Kathmandu. One needs to reach Dhungkharka by a direct bus from Kathmandu or a local bus from Kavre. The total hiking duration from Dhungkharka up to the top of Bethanchowk, Narayanthan hill is around 4-5 hours depending on your walking pace. There are no human settlements around the hill so overnight at this place can be a challenging and wild thing to do and experience. We all were students of travel and tourism so it was like a part of educational and research as well as an active adventure.
Panoramic mountain view from Bethanchwowk, Narayanthan during sunrise.
August 09, 2019.
The departure time of the direct bus to Dhungkharka as suggested by Alex was 7 am. So, we went to Koteshwor and waited for the bus. The bus did not arrive until 7 am so we asked people around us what can be done. They suggested us to go to Panauti (pointing towards a bus) from where you can get a local bus of Dhungkharka. We did as suggested by them. The bus was not so crowdie so all 5 of us got a seat on the bus. We reached Panauti at 8 am; it was pitch road until Kavre and bumpy and graveled road after Kavre but the view outside was so alluring and attracting after Kavre Bus stop.
Beautiful view from the bus window on the way to Bethanchowk.
We got off at Panauti bus stop and took a bus of Dhungkharka, 50 km southeast of the Kathmandu valley. The bus left at 8.15 am from Panauti. The view outside the bus got more attractive and alluring. The scenery of green hills, warm sun, blue sky, and recently cultivated green wheat fields made us more exciting because these made us feel like we were somehow some miles away from cities. The bus reached Dhungkharka at 10 am. We had already ordered our lunch at Siwani Hotel with the help of the bus conductor who was a local of the village. As we got off from the bus, we clicked some photos and went to buy some remaining stuff from our checklist. Then, we waited for our lunch, had it and rested for some time. We decided to camp in an eco-friendly way and took some sacks for our garbage.
Group photo at Dhungkharka.
We began our hiking at 11.30 am; we crossed Pataney Khola Bridge where there was a welcoming gate of Bethanchowk VDC. It was not a hiking trail but a graveled motor-road. The view from Dhungkharka was more beautiful than earlier. We could see the moving clouds slowly covering the hill’s summit and then the whole hill and again vanishing itself and showing the beauty of those green hills. We had blankets, sleeping bags, mattresses, foods, our own clothes, other camping stuff and a lot of plastic bottles as there were no water sources around our campsite. We walked about 2 hours on the motor-road until we met some locals and told us the shortcut ways. The shortcut was the old trails used by the locals before the motor-road was built. They told us that we have to cross 3-4 landslide areas if we went from the shortcut way. We decided to go from the shortcut way. The trail was so exciting which passes through a dense forest of pine trees. We crossed 3 landslide areas in which one was a little bit risky. Just after crossing the last landslide area there was a beautiful water stream where we captured some photo, quenched our thirst and took some rest listening to the pleasant sound of flowing water in the dense silent forest. Then, we continue walking; the trail was a little steep and slippery from there. Due to those steep, we thought it will take only 2 hours as we were covering more altitude on those steep steps.
Landslide affected area. (Shortcut way;Bethanchowk)
Beautiful stream after crossing the landslide affected area.
Walking for an hour from the stream, the weather got chillier. It was slightly raining from the beginning of the hike so our raincoats did were useful. We were walking in that chilling weather with the fogs slowly moving around us and beautiful white flowers on both sides of the trail. As it was rainy season, many leeches were waiting for us and plenty of them sucked our blood. The white flowers blooming all around the place made it more beautiful and heavenly which made us forget our tiredness. Our friend Alex showed us a video of those flowers and the surroundings captured during his visit which helped us predict that the highest point (our campsite) was not so far.
We got confused in one of the junctions where we got stuck for around 5-10 minutes and then decided to take the right-hand side trail which did lead us to our destination. Later, we found out that the left side trail would lead us to a cave that we had watched in ‘Ghumante’s video’. Finally, we reach the top i.e. Narayanthan, Bethanchowk at around 5.45 pm passing the temple of Lord Vishnu and Shiva. There was a small room without a door and 2 holes as a window where we had to stay overnight. It was damp inside the room and the place was very dirty. We clean the area to place our beddings. We took some rest and enjoyed the cool weather. It was so foggy outside that we could not see things clearly (even 5 meters away). Then, 3 of us decided to light the fire and use the flammable waste of the surroundings.
As the weather was foggy and the surrounding was damp, it was very hard to find dry firewood. So, we decided to collect dead branches from different trees. The place where we were collecting the woods was like 10 minutes down from our camp. We knew that we’ve to collect enough firewood for the whole night and we also were thinking about how to carry all those firewood up to the camp. We climbed different trees and tried to break the dead branches and collect them. Sulav climbed many trees which were hair rising risky for us just to see. After collecting enough firewood, we decided to carry them to the camp. First, it was easy to carry but after walking for some time it got hard for us to carry and dragged them up to the junction where we got confused earlier. From there, we carried as much as we can and left some at the junction. We reached the camp and told the remaining 2 of them to go and bring the firewood. They did so and Sulav began to light the fire as it was still not burning due to the damp environment. While he was trying to light the fire, we began to set our sleeping area and prepare some snacks to eat. The room was so dark but we had backups: a candle and torch. We lighted the only candle we had (brought by Saroj) and began to eat our snacks.
It was not a rough night as things were going well but still burning those wet firewood in that damp room surrounding was still a challenge. We did have kerosene but burning firewood in that damp room was still a challenge. We did have kerosene but burning those wet firewood was nearly impossible without an experienced guy like Sulav. Finally, after great hard work and devotion, the fire started burning. So, we decided to roast potatoes and sausages we brought and ate them with our beverage drinks brought from Dhungkharka.
Around 9 pm, we heard some noise from outside. It was another group like us visiting the same place but was too late. We now knew we’ve to share the camp-house and acted accordingly. They did not have anything like sleeping mats, blankets, etc. They asked for our raincoat and plastics so that they could sit on them and get warmth from the fire. We had some conversation with them and then again continued minding our own circle and fun. One of them had birthday that night so they asked us to join them. 3 of us Sulav, Saroj and I went outside and wished him. Manil and Ronish were asleep already. After wishing him, we also came inside and slept along.
August 10, 2019.
Early in the morning, I heard some noise coming from outside and I woke up; checked my phone, it was 5.15 am. Our friend Sulav was already awake while we 4 were still sleeping like a log. I didn’t get up, just played some songs and started listening. Suddenly, Sulav came inside and asked us to get up and check the weather outside; he was saying it is very cool and the view is gorgeous outside. All 4 of us got up and went outside to see the view from Bethanchowk, Narayanthan.
The answer is blowing in the wind; Bethanchowk .
Just when we got outside, the fresh morning air and the slowly moving cloud views and the hills got our sticky eyes wide open. We did not know what the view was outside, the night before, as it was foggy and dark. The dazzling mountain views added much more beauty to the morning of Bethanchowk, Narayanthan. We could see way too far from the top. The far reddish sunrise that was letting its rays slowly kiss the mountains, hills and the clouds turning everything into gold and warm just satisfied our heart. The rain had washed all the dust off the tree leaves which added more greenery and glowing green hills. We could see some of the Terai regions of Nepal like Janakpur, Birgunj, Makawanpur and most hilly regions with beautiful panoramic mountain ranges. The weather was cold and the fog was slowly moving with the movement of the morning air. We were appreciating the amazing morning view at Bethanchowk, Narayanthan with the far rising sun; captured some photos and videos.
Tantalizing mountain view with warm sun rays, Bethanchowk .
Then, we decided to have breakfast. We made burger with the bun and ingredients that we had and ate them. After hav9ing breakfast, we decided to return back. According to the locals, the direct bus to Kathmandu leaves at 2 pm so we had to move and reach Dhungkharka before 2 pm. We packed our sleeping bags and stuff and started retracing the trail from Bethanchowk to Dhungkharka. The mountain views were already covered by clouds but the hills were still looking amazing with occasional covered by small clouds.
Group photo at Bethanchowk, Narayanthan.
While returning back, we did not have water, even to drink. Our friend Sulav collected some water from a small pond which quenched our thirst and gave us some energy to walk. We reached Dhungkharka (Siwani hotel) at around 1.30 pm and had our lunch. Just after finishing our lunch, the bus arrived and we return by the same bus.
With the flag of Nepal, Bethanchowk 🇳🇵.
Trip to Bethanchowk, Narayanthan was a great experience. This is the nearest and cool place to encounter the magnificent panorama of the great Himalayas with a mind-blowing sunrise and sunset view. It can also snow according to the time of your visit. During winter, Bethanchowk is tantalized with snow and is more beautiful and challenging.
-Story by: Santosh Blon.