A trip to the Land of the Himalayas
8 days, 7 flights and 1 toddler
Diwali break and my mom’s birthday were reasons enough to plan our next family trip. To the Map! The search for a place not too far, with travel time under 5 hours and no visa hassles, was on. Of the few options the most exciting one was Nepal. We were fortunate to have a very good friend from Nepal who helped us with the detailed planning of how to go, what to do and even where to eat!
How to get there
One of the most common misconceptions about Nepal is that the altitude will be too high because there are only mountains. On the contrary the altitude of Kathmandu is in fact lesser than that of Ooty and there is a lot to experience. As for the weather, November was warm days and colder nights, so pleasant to travel.
Multiple airlines fly to Kathmandu from Hyderabad with a stop in Delhi. We however broke the journey on the way to Kathmandu, Delhi being our second home we wanted Krythya to get a taste of it. Although pre-Diwali pollution levels were so high that we stayed indoors for the most part. We chose a comfortable time around noon to fly to Kathmandu. There was no need to change currency as INR is accepted almost everywhere. For Indian passport holders the arrival process was as simple as domestic travel. The US citizens in our group though had a pretty long wait for their visa on arrival. Once we got out of the airport it was pretty smooth, the local transport was prearranged by our friend which took us straight to the hotel. The choice of stay was a boutique hotel – Dalai La, located in Thamel. The rooms were very family friendly with
two double beds. The breakfast included was made to order and had enough variety to eat and pack a snack for the road. Thamel being one of the most happening areas in Kathmandu, the streets were like broad daylight although we had reached there by around 6pm. Once checked in, we headed out by walk to try some local cuisine for dinner. Krythya’s first Momo experience needless to say was a hit.
The colours and shapes of the momos definitely made it kid approved.
What to do
Boudhanath One of the largest and prettiest Buddhist stupas in Nepal. All around the stupa were prayer wheels at the perfect height for K to reach and turn by herself
Not sure if we earned any peace but she had a lot of fun turning almost every wheel there and we ended up spending more time than planned for.
Pashupathinath Everything you would expect to see in a temple and then some. The larger than life Nandi (Bull) and the monkeys kept K entertained. However, located on the bank of Bhagmati River the temple overlooks open cremations, something I was not ready for.
Bhaktapur An hour’s drive from Kathmandu is the ancient town of Bhaktapur. This town was partially destroyed by the devastating earthquake in 2015. The efforts to carefully recreate each monument to replicate the original architecture is underway. We were able to walk through the whole town in about two hours, while K napped in the bus along with those who couldn’t do the walk.
The best part – tasting Bara Wo – a traditional Newari dish, from a lady who has been cooking the same thing for the last 46 years!
Mt. Everest You can’t go all the way to Nepal and not see the tallest mountain in the world. But even without the toddler I don’t think we would be trekking up… Lol. The mountain flight by Buddha Air was our flight no.3 on this trip.
A guided tour of the Himalayan range and views of Mt. Everest from the cockpit is something worth waking up at 4 am for. The only downside is that it is a bit expensive, more so for non-Indians.
Pokhara Once back we hopped on to flight no.4 of the trip. Pokhara could also be done by road but would take six to seven hours. We had booked local transport there as well and headed to Hotel Dahlia. This was also a boutique hotel located next to the gorgeous Phewa lake. During K’s nap time we were lucky to get the last spots available at Sarangkot to try out paragliding.
With spectacular views of the Himalayas and a very entertaining gliding instructor it was an experience not to miss.
Take a Hike Just kidding… we didn’t really hike up a mountain. But the walks to see the waterfalls, caves and gorges with K in the carrier sure felt like a good workout.
Since she was still under the weight limit for the carrier it was very useful especially since most of the places are not stroller friendly.
Celebrating Tihar In other words Nepalese Diwali. It was a one of kind celebration with zero crackers, lots of lights and rangolis.
Every street corner was filled with kids singing traditional songs that had K humming and dancing too.
Phewa Lake The last of our things to do before heading to flight no.5 back to Kathmandu was boating in Phewa Lake. Going early beats the rush as it’s quite a popular activity. Life vests were provided for adults and older kids, so we used K’s swim vest for her.
She fed some of her biscuits to very hungry fish, spotted beautiful birds and slimy snakes too!
Chandragiri Hills The free day. Our group split up into shopping vs activity. Good guess K was in the activity group. Getting an early start after breakfast helped beat the queue to the cable cars. A very scenic and peaceful ride later we reached the highest playground we’ve ever been to.
A good idea to carry sunblock as it was quite sunny even though it was cool weather. After picking up some lunch and taking in some more mountain views from the observation deck it was time to head back.
Shopping Of course no trip is complete without souvenirs. Around our hotel, was the perfect place to walk around at night to pick up some local artifacts. Early the next morning was flight no. 6 and 7 back to home base.
Where to eat
Food is in abundance in Nepal. But with a toddler in tow making sure the quality is right was very important. So we tried to stay off the streets but still tasted authentic local cuisine.
Hotel Dwarika, on the way to Bhaktapur, offered both local cuisine and continental. Most importantly had lots of open space to move around while we waited for the food.
Kaiser Café, in the Garden of dreams, a beautiful way to spend an evening but pricey.
Himalayan Java Coffee, in multiple locations, for parents who need their coffee fix and yummy milkshakes for the littles.
Roadhouse café, for when you’re momoed out and just want some Pizza!