A walk on the Valley Rim: Mountain view from Dahachowk

Destination Issue 51 Jul, 2010
Text and Photo By Dinesh Rai

For years I had been planning a walk up the Dahachowk hill.Every time I went down the highway past Thankot, I would see the hill on the right just as we were leaving the valley. From Baadbhanjyang (where vehicles stop for security checks), the hill on the right rises up steeply and reaches quite a respectable height. Climbing to the top to catch a view of the mountains had been my dream for many decades.

At long last, here we were getting off the bus near Tribhuvan Park at Thankot. A short walk up the highway and we take the road that leads down towards Dahachowk. Of course, we have to climb up, but first we must walk down to the base. We were told to walk by the Shree Mangalodaya Madhyamik Vidyalaya (School), but the road further up seemed a better choice. We walk down the dirt road and then past the brick factories spewing smoke before we climb away from the smog and the traffic noise. We don’t have to walk far before we enjoy the peace and quiet of village life and the smell of cow-dung.

When we reach the bottom, the only way is up. We bump into a small crowd of people who are watching a man possessed by a Devi (Goddess). They are gathered at the Devi’s temple. We climb for an hour and reach a road that runs right to left and not up. It leads us towards a forest and we decide to take this route. There is a road that leads straight up, but we feel we need to explore, as none of us has been here before. On the way we come across a few houses. We stop to chat with a woman washing clothes and discover that she grows mushrooms to sell. We inspect the darkened shed where she grows them.

We then walk on for about ten minutes and come to the forest area. A man in uniform confronts us, “How many are you?” he asks and gives us the once over. But we are soon chatting with him about the rules and regulations of the forest Department. He informs us that people can cut firewood if they pay the fee, which is very low. There are women returning with firewood and they inspect us with curious eyes. There’s a path through the forest but the man tells us, “It’s better to walk up towards the grassy knoll.” We take his advice and when we reach the top, we can’t believe our eyes. The view of the mountains is spectacular and the manicured grass is so tempting, we are soon lying down.

We decide to have our packed lunch here; out come the knife and boxes of food. We admire the mountains and this is a particularly clear day. The month has been good weather-wise, and we can see Langtang gleaming in the sun. There is the Ganesh massif and further west we see Himalchuli. We put the camera on a tripod so we can all get into the picture. It’s a wonderful day and the winter sun does not burn too strongly. Taking it easy, we took more than an hour to reach this ridge from Thankot.

After lunch we are craving for tea and as luck would have it, we do not have to walk far. A steep climb up and we come to a school next to which is a teashop. Behind the shop is an open space from where we get an even better view of the mountains. We order tea and relax, gazing at the beautiful Himalaya. Soon the tea is delivered to us and it tastes good. We thank our lucky stars, as everything so far has been perfect. The hike up the hill was lovely, the view of both the Kathmandu valley and the other side are great, the weather is perfect and the tea could not have been better. We sit down; take some more pictures, while some go to answer the call of nature. Then we order another round of tea. Some kids come with a puppy and we take a shot of them smiling.

After asking for directions to Ramkot, we are off. Some more climbing, some more exciting views and then we are heading down. We come across the pond next to a temple complex that gives the place its name. ‘Daha’ is a pond. There are many choices of route. We choose the longer route, so we can enjoy more views of hillside terraces and the forest below. There are some flaming red trees, which add color to the landscape. The walk down is pleasant. In another hour we are at Ramkot and following the motor track. After walking the dusty road we finally come to a decent roadside teashop and decide to halt. Once more, the tea is good. There are many houses along the road and the buses passing by raise clouds of dust. But now we’ve reached the blacktopped road and there’s less dust spewing in the air.  We soon reach Sitapaila and the road starts descending towards Swayambhu. From Dahachowk it has been an easy walk, downhill all the way. Those who are walking the valley rim for the first time are thankful. By nightfall we are in Thamel in search of some more tea and Thakali Daal-Bhaat to wind off the day. It’s been a lovely hike and a great way to spend the weekend. You can do it too.