An Easy Weekend Hike: Badbhanjyang to Masiney on a Saturday

Experience Issue 214 Sep, 2019
Text and Photo By Dinesh Rai

I first discovered this road when I wanted to hike in an area I’d never been before. I had seen the road from the highway below while driving in and out of the valley. Since then I’ve hiked here many times as there are some beautiful spots along the route with superb views. The villages around Masiney were devastated during the 2015 earthquake and I came here several times with aid sponsored by friends from New Zealand and the US. So I have become familiar with the people and the villages around the area and it means a lot more than just a hike.
Take a taxi or get dropped off a little before you reach Bhanjyang (the pass leading into the Kathmandu Valley) where a road goes up from the left side of a row of houses along the highway before it turns right towards Bhanjyang (ask the locals for the road to Masiney). Start hiking from here along the motor road that climbs up. You can rest assured you won’t be encountering too many motor vehicles along this road. When you reach the top in about 10 minutes, look towards the right and you’ll find a road that leads up to the telephone tower (a side trip). There are a couple of tea shops at the junction here from where you get views of the valley and hills beyond Bhanjyang. Tea is available at the shops here and you can stop for a breather.
The climb to the hilltop with the telephone tower and small shrine of the miniature sleeping Vishnu is worth the time and effort because the views on both sides are spectacular. On one side lies the Kathmandu Valley while on the other is the valley that leads to the Tarai, and you can watch vehicles on the highway. The valley that stretches from Bhanjyang sweeping past Thankot all the way to the city is truly remarkable. This is the first view that visitors driving in get to see of the Kathmandu Valley, albeit from a lower perspective.
After enjoying the views, retrace your steps and head back to the tea shops. From then on it’s a straight stretch and the views begin to open out. On clear days you can see the Ganesh Himal and further west the Annapurnas. The highway lies directly below and you can watch the trucks and buses toiling up towards Kathmandu. The vast green valley stretches below towards the plains with the settlement of Naubise directly below. Kathmandu is now out of sight and behind you. As you walk, notice the rock formations on the wall which clearly indicate how the Himalaya was formed under tremendous pressure as they shot up from the plains. The layers of rock form patterns that are almost vertical in places and the little plants that grow on these bare rocks look like works of art.
This is an easy hike along a road built by Plan International which is always in good condition even during the monsoons. There is perennial road work going on here, either reinforcing the retention wall or expanding the road. There is a gradual drop and then a steeper one as you walk towards a resort that was built just after the earthquake while the villagers were busy building temporary tin shacks just meters away. After about 20 to 30 minutes of walking you come across a bifurcation. The upper road leads to the big village of Masiney on a ridge while the lower one leads to just a few houses above the road. The entire area is known as Masiney which may confuse some visitors. You can hike anywhere in this region for a pleasant afternoon excursion, but I choose the lower road as it leads to the Heavenly Village Resort where one can stop for a coffee, snacks or even a meal. It takes a little less than an hour to reach the resort from the starting point, unless you take a lot of pictures along the way. The upper road goes past the main Masiney village and further up to a ridge with astounding views.
The road goes down and climbs up again during which time you may encounter some trucks transporting rocks or other material for road building. Besides that, there are just a few vehicles on this road at any given time. You can see the resort sitting on the best spot overlooking the valley below. From here it is all the way downhill until the resort; no sweat! The houses of Masiney are mostly above this road and there are just about half a dozen houses near the Heavenly Village Resort.
The resort has chosen this spectacular hilltop that rises straight up from the highway below and there are views all around. The exterior has been done better than the interior with verdant grass covering most of the walking area and a few tables and chairs laid out for those who prefer the outdoors. On the ground floor is the main restaurant with sofas for you to relax. The two upper tiers have cushions for sitting on the floor. The top tier is more like a viewing platform with remarkable views but you can’t see it sitting down, which is a shame; they should have tables and chairs instead. You get a wider view of the valley below and the distant mountains from the top. The resort serves a variety of food and obviously has momos on the menu besides burgers, chowmein, naan, vegetable and meat curries. For those interested in staying overnight they offer double rooms and triple rooms which are rather small but quite neat.
After a much needed cup of coffee, I was off again hiking towards another village on a ridge named Kafal Taar. Kafal are berries and they grow in abundance here. The village is perched on this ridge (a taar in Nepali) that has even better views than the Heavenly Resort, so it’s just a matter of time before someone opens one here too. You can look further out towards the Tarai and enjoy a wider 360 degree view. There are about a dozen houses here and a school above the road. Walk past the houses to the edge to get a clearer view. The hike from the Heavenly Resort to Kafal Taar is about 45 minutes but takes about an hour on the return journey as it’s more tiring.
While heading back, another stop at the resort could be for a meal as by now you’d be famished. The place seems to have quite a few local visitors on a Saturday. So there’s loud music in the air which I wasn’t quite pleased about and chose to sit outside in the feeble sun, enjoying the view. The hike back to the highway is easy as there’s only a short steep climb after which it is gentle and finally downhill all the way. For those who want to catch a local bus, there are empty buses waiting (just as you reach the highway) to take you to Tripureshwar, New Baneshwar and beyond. It’s an enjoyable four to five hour hike and you could come back with great pictures of valleys and mountains, if not rock art!