Recently our very own Bela Banker went to Nepal to visit some of the incredible sights in this Himalayan country. Here’s the list of some of the unique places to stay and must-do activities in the country!
Our Favorite Places to Stay in Nepal
Hotel Dwarika, Kathmandu
As I entered the hotel, I was struck by its gorgeous beauty with carved windows, tall doors and a large courtyard with beautiful huge brass pots with floating fragrant flowers. I felt as if I was staying at a royal residence of the King. The rooms are all designed with Nepali traditional luxury, with walls adorned with Thangka painting. The hotel is decorated with traditional Hindu sculptures and Buddhist prayer wheels. Dwarika has all the comforts and luxuries of the modern times yet it whiffs the fragrance of the bygone era.
Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge
As I reminiscence my tranquil two days with breath taking views of the Himalayas, I feel so blessed to have an opportunity to visit this beautiful lodge. From the early morning tea at 5:45 am, to watching the sunrise in the Himalayas, till evening time of a delicious dinner, the service and attention to detail is beyond comparison. The views from every room and place are unforgettable. And the meals from its fresh organic gardens, both the Nepali cuisine and international fare, were all excellent. You have not visited Nepal, unless you have stayed at this lodge. The property is removed away from the stresses of the world. A few nights can benefit from the healthy mountain environs and relaxed pace of life.
Dwarika Resort in Dhulikhel
The Dwarika Resort is 45 minutes away from Kathmandu, far from the hustle and bustle of busy Kathmandu; a Himalayan heaven, simply a paradise. A slight downfall is that the property has a lot of steps, however the views from each room overlooking the Himalayas are fantastic. The resort focuses on rejuvenating with Himalayan spa treatments and there are a host of activities to enjoy. I spent an afternoon with the local chef to learn to make Nepali momos (steamed dumpling) with its special delicious tomato sauce, and spent the evening in meditation. All the rooms are very spacious with uninterrupted views of the Himalayas. This place has a true “wow” factor!
Our Favorite Experiences in Nepal
Bodhnath in Kathmandu
Bodhnath Stupa was built in 5th century AD and is 10 minutes away from the Dwarika Hotel in Kathmandu. It is the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It is one of the most popular religious sites, where a lot of tourists and local people visit. The Stupa is decorated with colorful flags and you can see many Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns walking around the Boudha, chanting. The air is thick with incense and it is very crowded. There are a lot of shops and restaurants around the Boudha, selling Tibetan wares and local delicacies like momos, thupka and other favorites. It is a great introduction to Nepal and its people and culture; a must for all tourists!
Patan Museum, Durbar Square, Kathmandu
The newly renovated Patan Museum in Darbar Square is truly a gem. It is the perfect spot for anyone interested in Asian art, art history, the history of Nepal, as well as religion. The museum was the home of the old residential court of Patan Darbar, one of the former Malla kings of the Kathmandu Valley. Its gilded door and window face one of the most beautiful squares. Most of the objects are cast bronzes and their meaning and context are within the traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism are explained. Additionally, the restaurant attached to the museum is a great place to have lunch under the trees.
Streets of Thamel (Kathmandu)
It was the first place where Nepal’s popularity began with hippie culture, artists who spent weeks and other travelers who came to enjoy the local culture. It is the pre-base camp for mountaineers from far and wide. Thamel has a unique street life and it is a photographer’s delight. Thamel streets are narrow and choked with taxis, motorbikes and people. Navigation is not a simple task in Thamel, making it particularly interesting, and one can never guess what is coming from the next turn. The entire Thamel district is like a maze, with colorful and exciting streets. As I ventured down the street, I slowly became accustomed to the sounds, smells and crowds, and soaked in the uniqueness of this bustling street.
One of the three royal cities in the Kathmandu Valley, I spent an interesting afternoon in Bhaktapur. Located an hour away from Kathmandu, it is the only place where a unique German-Nepali initiative restored the city to its former glory. The results on these efforts are a functioning infrastructure, which included a sewage system, private access to water for individual households and street upgrading. The city is filled with monuments, terracotta wood carved columns, palaces, temples with elaborate carvings, gilded roofs and open courtyards. Bhaktapur is a walking city, which is perfect for exploring, as there no motor vehicles, buses and taxis allowed.
Trekking near Tiger Mountain Resort in Pokhra
Trekking with a guide after the morning tea from the Tiger Mountain Resort in Pokhra was a spectacular experience, and the views of the mountains were magical. With the morning mist covering the landscape, I was walking amidst the cloud exploring the surrounding villages and enjoying the local beauty of the flora and fauna. The two hour hike is wonderful way to enjoy the incredible views of the Himalayan range.
Namo Buddha is a monastery which is 2 hours away from Kathmandu. For the Buddhist, it is one of the most religious sites in Nepal. It is a beautiful place; very quiet, pure and the air is fresh, cool and healthy with beautiful views of the Himalayas. The hike we embarked upon started from Pannauti and we trekked for three hours through lovely farmland and villages to reach Namo Buddha. Alternatively, you can drive an hour from Dhulikhel to reach the Buddha if the trek is too rigorous. Namo Buddha is situated at an elevation of 1750 meters and is the historically important place where a prince sacrificed himself for the sake of a sick and hungry tigress and her cubs. It is a holy site, a Buddhist retreat and a pilgrimage for this century; a wonderful place to visit in Nepal.