It is hard enough to spend a month living with the same person under one roof. So if you complete an year of doing that, it is certainly cause for celebration. So these celebrations were our motivation for flying to Nepal. It turned out to be an interesting trip, the Himalyan country does have a charm, contributed to by many reasons.
To begin with, it is the first country that I have visited where the Indian rupee has an upper hand over the local currency. After years of watching a bagful of Indian rupee vanish into a handful of dollars or euros, it is exhilarating to find your money being revered and earning for you a thicker wad of notes. The stay seemed cheap (~5000 INR per night for a 5-star), the food seemed cheap (~600 INR for a meal for two!) and the drinks! (150 INR for a Margarita!)
In Kathmandu, we stayed at Yak and Yeti, which is a palace converted to a hotel. The usual fanfare is lower than a 5-star, but I think Nepal is a great place when it comes to service (It may not be efficient, but the service will not be absent). The food was good – we particularly liked the breakfast buffet. The palace has 3 other restaurants, but we stuck to the Sunrise cafe, even though Chimney is supposed to be quite good, but opens only for dinner.
Kathamandu itself is a vibrant city, but very reminiscent of a small Indian town. It looks too similar to feel like a foreign land. Despite being in Himalyas, the day-time temperature is high, and the city is densely populated, not to speak of the chaotic traffic which could put Bombay to shame – or may be not.
We took a taxi to visit the city of Lalitpur, which is better known as Patan. It is a historical city, somewhat like the old parts of Jaipur – with a traditional architecture, rich cultural heritage and scores of jobless people enjoying the sun. On steps of most buildings, and on pavements, you see people chatting, reading, sitting idle, and the place feels so alive that we felt immediately invigorated. We visited a museum, mainly for its architecture – low stairs, rooms leading into each other and into different floors – very interesting.
We also visited the famous temple Stupa of Swayambhunath, which offers a very good view of the valley being on a height. Despite the crowds, the place is surprisingly quiet, and it was nice to just stand there for a while.
Next day we took a taxi to go to Nagarkot – a hillstation just an hour’s drive away from Kathmandu- even though at a significantly higher altitude (2000m). More about Nagarkot later – because I think that is a place which deserves a dedicated post.