Exploring Chitlang's Charms

Features Issue 211 Jun, 2019
Text by Sajan Shreemali

If you’re searching for a perfect getaway nearby Kathmandu Valley, it can be hard to know which to choose, especially when there are multiple destinations and adventures to choose from. And we are fortunate enough to be blessed with the boon of nature of all kinds. What more do you need? If your desire is for a rejuvenating journey, there lies a beautiful village called Chitlang located in Makwanpur District in the lap of Chandragiri Hill.

The drive to Chitlang is a different experience all its own, but an overnight stay here makes the trip all the more ideal. Chitlang is a perfect short city escape, roughly 50 km distance on the Dakshinkali - Hetauda route. One will not suffer bumpy roads till the halfway point, but after reaching Markhu, the journey gets a little tougher due to unpaved trails. Nonetheless, tempting views of blazing red rhododendrons, boats floating on the Kulekhani reservoir, and green hills resting beneath a blue sky offer solid reasons to make the journey worth your while.
After about three hours, you are welcomed by nature itself, the air is fresh, and a panoramic view of green hills relieves the exhaustion of the ride. There are several homestays available here: Organic Village Resort is one those, which offers a pleasing ambiance for a relaxing stay. The premises are covered with an organic pear garden, and one can enjoy delicious local food and night camp fire with friendly hospitality.

Chitlang is an absolute treat for a short morning hike; there is a particular trail that takes about three hours to cover. Birds chirping all around as you walk portrays the beauty of nature. As the majority of villages in this area are inhabited by people of the Newar community, there are many cultural aspects and heritages to see and experience. The villages are blessed with a number of historical and religious sights. During the hike, Saatdhara (Seven Water Course) is the first attraction for hikers. Located within a splendid botanical garden, locals tell of the religious significance of this property; it is worshipped every year on the day of Basanta Panchami, gratifying Goddess Saraswati and other Hindu gods.

Ashok Chaitya is the next pull for walkers. It is named after Emperor Ashoka the Great, who had visited Chitlang and built this chaitya in memory of Lord Buddha. The history dates back more than 2000 years. Ever since, Ashok Chaitya has been a pilgrimage site for Buddhists on Buddha Jayanti every year.

A short distance further, and you reach the famous Swachhanda Bhairab Temple, a final point for hikers on this route. Swachhanda Bhairab is known as an incarnation of Lord Shiva, one of the prime deities of Hindus. It sounds miraculous, but the locals say that the temple guards a 600-year-old peepal tree that is situated just behind the statue, and a number of rituals and functions are performed in this sacred temple space.
Apart from the short hike route, Chitlang offers more than a few other attractions, such as a cheese factory, a bheda farm (sheep farm), Shikhardham, Krishna Temple, a suspension bridge over Indrasarovar Lake, and an astonishing rear view of Chandragiri (moon-shaped) Hill.

Visitors can choose one of several ways to return from Chitlang, but a good option to archive a fulfilling memory will be another three hours of hiking on the Chitlang – Chandragiri – Thankot route. This is an early route to Kathmandu Valley, which was also followed by King Prithivi Narayan Shah and his troops when marching towards Kathmandu for the ultimate conquest. Beholding all the beautiful scenery, experiencing exciting wildlife moments within dense forests, and walking along ancient, historical trails, it’s enough to make you not want to leave Chitlang at all!