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Dasain escapism


Are you one of those for whom Dasain is just too much of a chore? Do you hate being forced to pay respects to relatives you don't respect? Is it just too touchy-feely for you? Are you allergic to abir and jamara and the stuff makes you break into rashes? And you are not much of a kite flier, and a vegetarian repulsed by all the blood and gore of sacrifices? Do you wish you could just get away for the whole Dasain and come back refreshed, your batteries recharged?

Well, here is your chance. After all, Nepalis do not have annual vacations like in the west, and by collecting all your unused casual and sick leave you could get away for three weeks.

Dasain is ideally timed to coincide with the post-monsoon season which is the best time to see Nepal in all its glory. The combination of lush green with white mountains and turquoise skies is what make October and November unique.
Take off from this garbage-filled city and celebrate it a little differently. Get some fresh air, avoid obnoxious relatives, and get away from all those headless buffaloes.

Dasain is the time for discounts and deals, and except for bus tickets, you are likely to get a bargain in most places. To help you decide where to escape to, Nepali Times brings you a list:

Pokhara


The town is a destination by itself, but also a springboard for fabulous walks in the surrounding mountains. This is the most vertical place in Nepal: from this tropical valley 800m above sea level the Annapurnas rise to above 8,000m within a mere distance of less than 30km. The effect is awesome. Try the ultra-light sightseeing flights for a better perspective, or head up to Poon Hill, Sikles, or just the ridge above the Peace Stupa for great views unparalleled on earth.

Manang

One of the most scenic trans-Himalayan Valleys in Nepal. Charter flights from Pokhara and Kathmandu need to be booked early, but worth the trouble because you are rubbing your nose against the north wall of the Annapurnas. Most people just make Manang a transit point on the way to Thorung La, but Manang is a destination in its own right with comfortable clean lodges, good food and exhilarating walks up the Gangapurna glacier or Tilicho Lake. Now there is a road halfway up and you need to walk only two days to get to Manang village.

Langtang

The closest wild place from Kathmandu. Ride and walk to Kyangjin in three days and spend a whole week exploring this awesome valley for which only the term 'out of this world' would suffice. There is plenty to see: the fluted and delicate face of Gang Chenpo, Langtang's massive face towering over the valley and at night the mountains aglow in the moonlight.

Nagarkot

The easiest, most accessible and most touristy of the hill stations outside Kathmandu. Despite noisy city picnickers and swarms of tourists trying to catch a glimpse of the sun rising from behind Chomolungma, the mountain vistas still make Nagarkot stunning. Some hotels like Club Himalaya are world class but there are also Thamel-style lodges or tranquil meditation places like the Farm House run by Vajra Hotel.

Dhulikhel

The same mountain vistas as Nagarkot but with a diversity of sightseeing including forest hikes, Namo Boudhha monastery, historic Panauti and great mountain biking trails including the return track to Kathmandu via Lakuri Bhanjyang. Dhulikhel is only 30km from Kathmandu and is the best managed town in Nepal and has emerged as a tourism, education and medical hub.

Tengboche

You have only one week, and you don't know when you'll be in Nepal again but want to get up close and personal with the highest mountain in the world. Then it's Tengboche for you. Fly to Lukla and walk via Namche to the monastery township that is one of the most spectacular places on earth not just for its views of Ama Dablam, Chomolungma and Thamserku but also the spiritual energy that the place exudes. Three days up two days stay there to explore side valleys and two days down to Lukla for the flight back.

Kalinchok

One of the best and least-known walks near Kathmandu that takes you to a 3,900m mountain shrine. No tourists, no lodges, and strictly camping all the way. Take the bus to Charikot and it's a two-day walk to the summit from the top of which is a staggering view of Gauri Shankar. One gets a distinct feeling that this is not a trek, but a pilgrimage.

Hatiban

This is Nagarkot without the crowds and even more superb views (including a much better angle on Chomolungma) with Kathmandu's urban cauldron spread out below you. There is now a footpath with steps all the way to the summit of Champadebi, and a trail further up to Chandragiri from where the views are stupendous, covering nearly 500km of horizon from Dhaulagiri to Makalu. Hatiban Resort, known more for its secret political meetings, is offers individual bungalows and decent rooms.

Daman

At 3,200m above sea level at Sim Bhanjyang on the old Kathmandu-Hetauda highway, Daman is an ideal getaway surrounded by dense forests. Because of the altitude, Daman offers an unparalleled view of the entire Himalaya. Anywhere else in the world, Tribhuban Highway would be called a Scenic Parkway and would be a tourist attraction all by itself.

Chitwan

One shouldn't take 'heading for the hills' too literally because there is always Nepal's most famous national park: Chitwan. Sauraha is a bit scruffy, but there are the up-market hotels inside the park that offer elephant-back safaris and nature walks at one of the world's most-successful conservation stories. Chitwan's tourism is recovering from the conflict years and every visitor dollar counts in this park and other eco-tourism reserves in Nepal.


Recharge your batteries

If you have seen it all in Nepal, time to head abroad. Airlines flying to Nepal, and travel agencies specialising in outbound travel are offering Dasain packages that can be quite affordable if one takes the whole family. In fact, travel agencies these days make more business from Nepalis going abroad for holidays than foreigners coming to Nepal. As middle class income grows, more and more Nepalis are heading for Phuket rather than Surkhet.

The destinations range from the usual beaches in Thailand, to more exotic, yet surprisingly accessible places like Mauritius, Maldives and even Sharm-el-Sheikh. Visas can be a hassle, but many travel agencies will take care of that for no extra cost. So, pack your flip-flops and flippers, get out your swimsuits and sunglasses, and head off this Dasain. Get away before the festival gets to you.

President Travels and Tours

Dubai (5 days)
Price tag: Rs 65,000
Mauritius (6 days)
Price tag: Rs 130,000 per person

Lalit Mandap Travels and Tours

Charms of Europe (14 days)
Italy Switzerland - France
Price tag: Rs 345,900
Best of the East (12 days)Malaysia-Singapore-Thailand
Price tag: Rs 139,900

Amtrip

Mystical Bhutan (5 Days)
Price tag: Rs 111,157
Maldives (5 days)
Price tag: Rs 120,000

Ace Travels
Extravagant Japan
Price tag: Rs 235,000
The Egypt Cruise (8 days)
Price tag: Rs 102,000

All prices are quoted per person on twin/triple sharing basis



1. kerr
The Charikot Panorama Resort in Charikot is a delightful spot for a few days get away from Kathmandu. Run by a wonderful Swiss-Nepali couple. Great food, big fireplace in the great room.honest recommendation from a past guest! I've been there several times, and went to Kalinchok once with guides from the resort. I'd have to say trekking to Kalinchok with hundreds of sadhus heading there for a sacred ceremony was one of the highlights of my many times in Nepal. Many other great treks begin near Charikot, including the Rolwaling Himal.

LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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