We had Thursday 30th and Friday 31st off school for 2 public holidays and Saturday was the weekend so instead of hanging around in Besisahar we decided to make the most of our time and head to Gorkha!
On Thursday 30th January, we woke up at 4:55am and by 5:20am were walking down the street with Shiva (a teacher from Bhupu who was effectively our guide for the trip) towards the bus syndicate. We had planned to get a direct public bus at 6:20am to Gorkha but at 5:45am we were told that the woman had changed her mind and was now directing that bus to Chitwan National Park. We had some Chiya in a cafe and were debating whether or not to pay more and get a micro bus when we were met by Hom, a teacher from Chandi Danda. It really is quite astonishing that 2 teachers were willing to get up so early in the morning to help us get on a bus! It was then decided that we would get the public bus going to Chitwan and change at Khaireni. The public bus to Khaireni was definitely interesting! I had a window seat and was next to a window that was permanently open which led to a very cold and tired Emma! The bus took about 2 hours and when we got there we ran to the nearest toilet (the back of someone’s shop/house) and then grabbed some samosas and chiya from their shop before heading off to find our next bus to Gorkha. This time we ended up on a microbus which is smaller that a minibus and has around 10 seats. However, there were at least 20 people in the bus who sat on each others laps for the whole journey. Our favourite was when 3 police officers where all sat on each other’s laps!! We arrived in Gorkha at 11.30am and found the guest house the guide book had recommended – Hotel Gorkha Bisauni. We chilled in the sun on a really pretty outdoor terrace with a stunning view and had some chiya and then lunch. After lunch we went on a walk up past the temples and around the hill. We stopped to take some ‘classic’ photos (of us jumping) in front of an amazing panoramic view of the whole valley! When we got back to the guest house we played cards until dinner and then went to bed tired and dreading another early start.
On Friday 31st January, we were up by 6am and had left the guest house and started our hike up to the Gorkha Durbar by 6.20am. We had to leave early to avoid walking up in the sun! The route to the Durbar splits into 2 about a third of the way up. One route is much steeper, with stairs heading straight up whilst the other curves around the hill and has some pretty temples on the way. We choose the less steep route so I’m not sure how many of the infamous 1500 steps we actually climbed. The climb took us about an hour and we spent a further hour exploring the Durbar. The Gorkha Durbar itself was much smaller than I had expected but no less magnificent. It is ‘regarded by many as the crowning glory of Newari architecture… It is a fort, palace and temple all-in-one.’ It is also the birthplace of Prithvi Narayan Shah, born in 1723, a man that created an empire extending far into India and Tibet and so the Durbar has huge significance for Nepalis. We took flowers and incense with us as offerings and so were lucky enough to experience the palace and temple as a Hindu would. The Kalika Temple is ‘a psychedelic 17th-century fantasy of peacocks, demons and serpents, carved into every available inch of timber’ as the Lonely Planet so eloquently describes it. The Dhuni Pati palace is ‘covered in elaborate woodcarvings, including a magnificent window in the shape of Garuda.’ We entered the Durbar through the Western Gate and on our way out through the Northern Gate we passed the mausoleum of Guru Gorakhnath (the reclusive saint who acted as a spiritual guide for the young Prithvi Narayan) and the former Royal Guest House. As we left we decided to climb further into the hills but when we could only see army barracks we decided to head home. It was at this point that Shiva realised he had lost his hat and so instead of walking down the steeper steps, we retraced our steps and eventually found the hat at the third-of-the-way point where we had stopped to buy our offerings and some much needed water! We were back at the guest house by 9am and had some breakfast before we headed out to visit the Gorkha Museum and some temples at 11am. Unfortunately, when we got to the museum we found out that it was closed due to it being a public holiday (the very reason we were able to be in Gorkha). We decided to explore some of the temples and then went and sat in the sunshine of a park for an hour. When everyone was feeling a little less tired we headed off on a walk to explore the other side of Gorkha which again involved walking up a hill. The views were, yet again, incredible. When we got home, Shiva explained that he was going to visit his grandfather and with that we were on our own! We decided to treat ourselves to dinner at the Gurkha Inn – where 2 of the men who work there are good friends with out AV coordinator, Gaurav! The dinner was delicious despite there being a power cut for most of it and we again headed to bed exhausted.
On Saturday 1st February, we were up at 6am to catch the direct public bus at 7am to Besisahar but when we went to buy the tickets we were told the bus had been cancelled! There was another direct bus at 1pm or we could get a bus at 9am and change at Dumre. We decided on the 9am bus and headed back to the Hotel Gorkha Bisauni for breakfast. The bus at 9am was headed for Pokhara but as Dumre is the main town for changing buses it was easy to spot! The bus to Dumre started off fairly empty but just half an hour in there were people standing the whole way up the aisle! At one point, Olivia and Freya, who were sat in front of Sam and I, were handed a baby. She was very sweet and did not cry for the whole journey. The same lady had another daughter who threw up in front of them though. She had also brought 2 bags each stuffed with a chicken (that looked dead) and placed them in the luggage compartment above Freya’s head. When we were about half an hour away from Dumre, one of these chickens emptied it’s bowels directly onto Freya’s head as Sam and I watched dumbfounded. The woman was very apologetic and helped to mop up most of the poo in Freya’s hair with her scarf which was also covered. Freya’s jumper was the worst affected though. When we arrived in Dumre we again were all desperate for the toilet and Olivia managed to get us into someone’s house. There happened to be a tap right next to the toilet and so Olivia washed Freya’s hair for her. Freya then changed her tops and we bought some chocolate from the lady that owned the house and accompanying shop and headed off in search for a bus to Besisahar. They were very easy to find once you were on the right street and it just so happened there was only a 20minute wait for the next one and we could even wait on the bus. I chatted to a lovely Nepali man who gave me some of his local orange when he saw that I had picked up some Indian ones. He told us how long the bus should take and what it should cost us – he said Rs100-120. When the ‘ticket man’ came he charged us each Rs250 but there was nothing we could do! This bus was just as packed as the first; I had a little boy sat on my knee for an hour and a girl pressing her elbow into my neck for quite a while. Window seats are definitely the safest and most comfortable option when travelling on public buses! We arrived home in time for lunch having really enjoyed our time in Gorkha and thoroughly amused by our journey home!
Our next trip is to Pokhara at half term (19th-22nd February) and we are just as excited to see what Pokhara has to offer.
I hope everything is well with you all. If you want to know about anything feel free to write a comment. I know my Dad wants to know about the weather which is much hotter than I had expected at around 15-20’C during the day. It does get much colder when the sun goes down though!
Love to all,