Today is Fools Day, and people say that fools are lucky. Asking for all the luck we can get, even agreed to be a bit crazy people, early morning on the 1st of April we have started to drive narrow streets of Thamel, out of the city towards main highway to Pokhara.
The total trip from Kathmandu to Pokhara, being only something like 200 km, can easily take 7 hours, and sometimes even more (back in 2007 we have spent 12 hours on a bus). The road is partly winding with only two lanes, packed with trucks, buses, tractors, jeeps and bikes. Driving through all this villages, rice fields, stone, cement and bricks factories, there is no chance to go faster then 50 km/h. Trucks sometimes drive with a speed of 20 km/h, driving car or bus on such a narrow road you can wait for a long time to pass them. For bikes things are different, but you can go only slightly faster. Even on the bike you can still stuck in traffic and wait for tens of minutes.
We decided to split the trip in two days. On the first day we have driven to Bandipur, a lovely small one street village with preserved Newari architecture. Which is located on a top of ridge, 1050 m above sea level.
The main challenge is to get out of Kathmandu to Prithvi highway to Pokhara. We decided to start early, 6-7 am, to avoid work traffic and heat. Planning the way out, we considered two options: the first one by the Ring Road, kind of high way around Kathmandu, and second one directly through the city. We have dismissed the first option, to avoid speedy trucks and cars, and, as we saw later, made a right choice. The Ring Road was partly under construction and traffic was forbidden on the part leading to Prithvi highway. For the first 20km the highway is also under an active construction of additional lanes, so we got all pleasure of bumpy road, crazy trucks speeding to deliver the next portion of stones to a construction site, dust, lots of dust, and noise. Happily it was over quite soon after Kathmandu and, totally covered in dust, we got into serpentine.
Bandipur is located around 120 km from Kathmandu, 10 km uphill from the main highway, you need to take a left turn after dusty town of Dumre.
We have been here 10 years ago, the village is still nice. Our lovely guest house, Heritage Guest House, is still there. It’s an old wood and stone building, soaked with traditional smell of milk, oil and fat, run by local family. Very basic but cozy rooms, with lovely views over the valley, are for the offer for 5-7 dollars.
There is only one issue with Bandipur – the main village, as well as nearly all guest houses, is located on a street surrounded by steps, so no vehicles can drive there. But there is a place just before steps that can offer an overnight parking for 100 Rs, they also have rooms if you decided to stay with them.
The village did not changed much in 10 years. Though it was quite close to the epicenter of destructive earthquake in 2015. Some houses were damaged and being restored now, the whole reconstruction is still under progress, but main street keeps it authentic looks and many houses survived the damage.
There are nice walks around Bandipur village, including Tundikhel view point where views towards Himalaya mountains suppose to be spectacular. But the weather were cloudy on that day, so we haven’t seen any mountains at all.
Soon after lunch time the sky got darker and storm arrived. For about 30 minutes we have witnessed a beautiful change of clouds in the storm sky, followed by a shower rain. As a result, electricity was down, so for the rest of the day the whole village became dark.
In the evening we got local meals from the restaurant beneath our room, and some local wine as well. It was kind of surprising experience – hot barley wine, with honey and, gee on top. Gee is a butter which is quite often used for cooking in Nepal and India. I’ve tasted the wine… and I would not want to repeat the experience – yayks.
Rain gave us sometime for evening promenade and after came back for the whole night.