The road less travelled… (Part III)

It seems only right that the reason for our good fortune whilst in Gorkha should have the first photograph. This is Sunil, who happened to shout out hello to us as we passed the front of the guest house where we subsequently stayed. We’d gone looking for a hotel suggested to us by someone on the bus, but had managed to turn the wrong way out of the bus park. After a few minutes walking, it became apparent that we were going the wrong way, but rather than retrace our steps across town we decided to see what the guest house with the cheerful boy had to offer…

Sunil. John Callaway 2010

Sunil. John Callaway 2010

Clean, if more than a little spartan, friendly, and most importantly with vacancies, and so it was that we made this our base for the rest of the week….a fact that would be of more relevance as the week went on.

Gorkha is famous as the birthplace of Prithvi Narayan Shah, who unified the rival kingdoms of Nepal into a single cohesive nation in 1769. On the ridge above the town is the Gorkha Durbar…

Gorkha Durbar. John Callaway 2010

Gorkha Durbar. John Callaway 2010

Gorkha to Manakamana is the best part of a day’s walking, but worth every minute. Views of the Himalayas pretty much throughout the day, and plenty of small villages and places to drink tea, eat noodles and generally become a talking point for the locals. The fact that we’re both pretty competent in Nepali is a distinct advantage, and its really good to have someone else who can fill in the gaps for words that I’ve either forgotten or don’t know….

Himalayas. John Callaway 2010

Himalayas. John Callaway 2010

Mankamana is an important Hindu Temple in the region, and a destination for many Nepalis. Consequently its pretty touristic, albeit primarily for Nepalis. ( In truth I don’t think I can recall seeing more than around 10 ‘obviously’ non-Nepalis throughout the time away). So far so tourist, but on the following day things start to get interesting.

Manakamana. John Callaway 2010

Manakamana. John Callaway 2010

Having stayed overnight in Manakamana, the cable car back down to the main road didn’t hold any real attraction and so we decided to return to Gorkha by walking back via an old porter route. The steep pathway out of Manakamana offers up some spectacular views of the Himalayas once you get to the top, but en route are some sacred caves, one of which is inhabited by a Baba. They are made easier to find by a local boy who takes it upon himself to show us the way as we pass through is village. After sharing our biscuits and fruit with him, we part company at the top of the hill and head off back to Gorkha. The Baba in the cave was pretty special, but there’s more to come…

Baba. John Callaway 2010

Baba. John Callaway 2010

(Click here for Baba related music…”I don’t need to be forgiven…” indeed!! Go on…you’re curious.)

After about 15 minutes of walking we pass a small, low structure outside of which is stood a man clad only in a loin cloth, gazing at the Himalayas. We exchange a few words, including the inevitable कहँ जाने ? (Where are you going…?). He’s a yogi, and when he discovers that we are heading for Gorkha by foot, he expresses concern that we haven’t enough food for the journey, and offers to prepare us a meal, make us tea and share his chillum with us…! We figure that a few minutes would be fine, and some 2½ hours later…

Yogi. John Callaway 2010

Yogi. John Callaway 2010

I’ve said this elsewhere, but it really is humbling when a fellow human being who has little in the way of material possessions perpetrates such an act of random kindness. Ginger, onion, potatoes and chilli, with roti has seldom tasted better. Making just enough for three, he divides it into separate containers and offers us two pieces of fresh, warm roti as accompaniment. Poor but rich in spirit indeed.

And the chillum? Those of you that know I have a degree in natural sciences will understand and realise the value that I place upon empiricism and research….

Research is the basis of all good science...

Research is the basis of all good science...

And so, once more on the road less travelled…Lhosar is just around the corner…

…To be continued…

5 responses to “The road less travelled… (Part III)

  • Lesley Callaway

    Nice to see a picture of you…albeit looking naff!!xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  • johnnyc1959

    Ah..the exigencies of research!! Its a tough job, but someone has to do it ! xxxxx

  • aa

    Reading your blog is like experience it again, almost forgot how nice it was. Will sent a link to family and friends. Thanks for publishing! See u soon, AA

  • Bob Cox

    A great story!

    We are going to Nepal in Jan 2012 and wonder if you can describe how to hike from Manakamana up to Gorkha in a little more detail. Looking at maps, my guess is that we hike up the ridge (Northwards), then go right (East) near the top of the ridge — maybe for 2-3 km, then turn North again and make our way to the road to Gorkha, heading at about the point where this main road turns Northwards (about 4 km S of Gorkha). Does that sound like what you did?


    Thank You Johnny !

    Very nice pictures and interesting stories. I am going on this trek in a week. This spring is not very good for the view though so I may not be able to take pictures like you did.
    Anyway thinks again for all those details. This was encouraging and very helpful on planning.

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