Tuesday, July 22, 2014

TRAVEL GUIDE: NAGARKOT AND THE AMAZING VISTAS THAT WE FAILED TO SEE

Nagarkot is a village situated 25 - 32 km east of Kathmandu, Nepal. It has an elevation of 2,195 meters above sea level, and is considered one of the most picturesque spots in Bhaktapur District. Nagarkot is best known for its sunrise and sunset view of the Himalayan vistas including Mount Everest and other snow-capped peaks of the Himalayan range (8 out of 13 Himalayan ranges of Nepal can be seen from here) – ALL OF THESE AMAZING VIEWS, WE FAILED TO SEE.

Nagarkot is a popular international hill station (Nagarkot View Tower) which also offers a panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley rolling hills, and lush pine forests in a charming rustic atmosphere. No wonder it became one of the tourists favourite spots.
The Promised View
(Photo by Tennyson Lee from his blog www.tennysonlee.com)
My Actual View from Nagarkot Tower
HOW TO GET TO NAGARKOT from KATHMANDU

OPTION 1: BUS

1.       Take the bus bound to Bhaktapur from Kathmandu. The rate is 30 NPR for one way. Travel time is roughly an hour if without traffic.
2.       From Bhaktapur, take another bus bound for Nagarkot. Fare costs 25 NPR. It takes another hour to get there.
3.       The way up to Nagarkot is very scenic. The bus passes through the beautiful fields and almost-symmetrical rows of pine forest. The view gives out an idyllic scene, only that the road lies just beside steep cliffs!
4.       From the bus stop, you can hike up to Nagarkot Tower or simply rent a cab to take you up. The driver charged us NPR 800 for bringing us up to the base of Nagarkot Tower and back to the bus station.
5.       Last bus from Nagarkot back to Bhaktapur leaves at 7PM. Be informed that as of this writing, there are no buses that directly brings people from Nagarkot to Kathmandu so you have to consider the travel time.

I am not sure if there are buses that go directly to Nagarkot from Kathmandu but taking a side trip to Bhaktapur Durbar Square is actually a very good option.

OPTION 2: TAXI

Taxi from Kathmandu to Nagarkot costs around NPR 2,000 for one way and it can be pretty expensive if you will rent a cab way and back. Good thing about taking a cab though is that you do not have to squeeze in yourself to crowded buses and you can shorten the travel time. It is less of a hassle but not really comfortable as taxis in Nepal do not have aircon, so you will still inhale dust and smoke along the way.

** Since the best view from Nagarkot View Tower happened during sunrise and sunset, it is best to stay in this place overnight. There are a lot of accommodation options from which you can choose from. (Try checking hotels/inns in Nagarkot online)

If only we knew beforehand that we could’ve gotten a better chance of seeing the Himalayan vistas and snow-capped peaks of the Himalayan range, we could have brought our stuff with us and stayed here instead of staying in Kathmandu. We arrived in Nagarkot a quarter before 2PM and left before sunrise. Not the best time. I did not do my research before going to this place, eh? :P

SEE OTHER PHOTOS OF NAGARKOT

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This entry is part of our Nepal Backpacking Trip which happened last June 23 – July 01, 2014 (JUST CLICK ON THE LINK FOR DETAILS OF EACH ARTICLE)
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Monday, July 21, 2014

TRAVEL GUIDE: BHAKTAPUR – The Living Heritage


This place is located around 15km to 20km east of Kathmandu. It is an ancient city renowned for its elegant art, remarkable culture, vibrant festivals, and traditional dances. In Bhaktapur, you will be able to experience first-hand the indigenous lifestyle of the Newari community.

When I set foot at this place, I initially compared it to our very own “Calle Crisologo” of Ilocos Sur only to realize, while roaming around, that the latter is no match. Bhaktapur gives out an authentic ambiance of traditional environment. Impressive monuments abound the area; most of which are terra-cotta with carved wood columns. You can also find palaces and temples with elaborate carvings and gold-plated roofs. Open courtyards will definitely impress you.

This city, speckled with pagodas, temples, and other forms of religious shrines, is definitely way better, bigger, and beautiful than Calle Crisologo. I felt so stupid to even try comparing them. Bhaktapur is a living City of Culture; indeed, it is Nepal's Cultural Gem.

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT BHAKTAPUR (Source: Wikipedia)

·         It has the best preserved palace courtyards and old city centre in Nepal.
·         It is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its rich culture, temples, as well as wood, metal and stone artworks.
·         The town is famous for a special type of curd called "Ju Ju Dhau". Curd makers say that the taste of curd prepared in this location cannot be found elsewhere in the country.
·         Bhaktapur is popular for different forms of mask dances based on lives of different deities and therefore, it was named "Khwapa" which later came to become just "Khwopa," which is also means masks.
·         It is the home of traditional art and architecture, historical monuments and craft works, magnificent windows, pottery and weaving industries, excellent temples, beautiful ponds, rich local customs, culture, religion, festivals, and musical mystic and so on.
·         Bhaktapur is still an untouched as well as preserved ancient city that is itself a world to explore for tourists.

HOW TO GET TO BHAKTAPUR FROM KATHMANDU

Option 1: BUS

This is a very affordable option but can be so much of a hassle. If you are staying in Thamel (where most tourists hotels and restaurants can be found), you can just simply walk to Ratna Park Bus Station and take a bus from there. As of this writing, the tourists bus fare costs NPR 30 (one way). Travel time is roughly an hour without traffic. Tell the driver/conductor to drop you at Bhaktapur (just several steps away from the main gate)

Option 2: TAXI

This is a more convenient but expensive option. Roughly costs NPR 350- 500 from Kathmandu to Bhaktapur. For some reason, it’s more expensive to take a cab on your way back (Bhaktapur – Kathmandu) as the driver will charge an amount of around NPR 800-1000. You must have a very good bargaining skill or best to ask your hotel about the standard rate.

Make sure to avoid rush hour traffic and set off via taxi or bus by 9AM or earlier if you do not want to get caught in the heavy traffic. Traffic in Nepal is no joke. I am sure you don’t want to experience it.


GETTING AROUND BHAKTAPUR

·         Foreigners should pay the entrance fee of NPR 1500 (good for 1 day) before entering the place. Yeah, I know that’s kinda expensive, but it is worth it, I assure you. If you plan to stay in Bhaktapur for a more than a day (hotels and inns are available in the area), present your passport upon paying the entrance fee and you can get the same ticket extended for one week without having to pay again.
·         Bhaktapur Tour can be finished within 30-40 minutes if you walk non-stop, although I suggest you take your time. The place has so much to offer. There are no transportations available in the area so the only means to go around is through foot.
·         Four Squares in Bhaktapu: Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Taumadhi Square, Dattatreya Square, and Pottery Square. Make sure to visit all of them!
·         Main Items of Interest: The Lion Gate, Lu Dhowka (The Golden Gate), The Palace of Fifty-five Windows, The Picture Gallery, The Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, Batsala Temple, and The Pashupati Temple.
·         Climb up the stone steps of Nyatapola Temple to enjoy the great view of the city.
·         Explore further East through the maze and admire the intricate carvings of Dattatreya Temple in Dattatreya Square.
·         Make sure to visit to the Bhaktapur Durbar square. Enter the museums, and do a side trip through the Golden Gate.
·         Before going home, find your way south along the street marked "Arts and Handicraft stores" and look for some souvenir items. After then, you can go to pottery square to look and appreciate how natives masterfully make traditional pot.

If you have more than enough time after touring Bhaktapur, head right away to Nagarkot. In this place, you can find the second-highest point on the Kathmandu Valley – Nagarkot Tower. Breathe in the magnificent views of the Himalayas and Mt. Everest at an altitude of 2,175!


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This entry is part of our Nepal Backpacking Trip which happened last June 23 – July 01, 2014 (JUST CLICK ON THE LINK FOR DETAILS OF EACH ARTICLE)
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For more virtual and interactive live updates, be part of our FACEBOOK COMMUNITY or connect with us on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM.