When I’m dreaming of my next break or weekend getaway, I tend, like many of us I suppose, to consult my mental list of places I haven’t been to yet. These often include locations I’ve read about or heard rave reviews of from friends. Living in Nepal, where there are so many amazing places to see and visit, this list tends to be long, as you can well imagine.
Yet, there’s also something to be said for repeat visits to old, familiar haunts: in Nepal, for me, one of those places is Nagarkot. I’ve been there more times than I can count, in all seasons. I’ve taken visiting family members up there, and I’ve also spent relaxing weekends with friends. I’ve woken up early to see the mountains, and I’ve lounged on chairs at a restaurants terraced across a steep hillside, watching birds soar above and beneath me. I’ve taken the local bus, I’ve driven up on my scooter; I’ve returned by walking down the winding road as far as Bhaktapur, stopping along with the way for a refreshing beer or two.
Nagarkot is where I’ve eaten the best onion pakoras I’ve ever had, in a little hotel whose name I no longer remember, but which I imagine is still right where I left it. Nagarkot is also one of the places I visited with my mother when she came to Nepal, just a year before her death. Walking through the pine trees with her is a treasured memory.
Despite visiting at all sorts of times of the year, I have nearly always gotten a view of the Himalayas; one particularly memorable time, some friends and I were atop a tall hotel in the early morning, along with twenty or thirty tourists from all over the world, watching the clouds and hoping they’d give way to mountain vistas. Sunrise came and went, and while it was beautiful, the mountains remained resolutely hidden. Almost everyone left, heading downstairs for breakfast or a return to bed, leaving only a handful of people there. We were relaxed and not in any hurry to go anywhere, when unexpectedly, the clouds parted, giving us a clear view of the snow-capped peaks bathed in early morning light. It didn’t last long: after perhaps three or four minutes, the wind blew the clouds back across the range, and it was as if it had never happened.
Sleepily and happily we went for our own breakfast, and I’m reminded of one of the great things about Nagarkot: when I’m there, I never seem to be in a hurry; there’s nowhere I have to go, and if I’m honest, not really that much to do up there, which is exactly why I like it. It’s the reason we remained those extra few minutes—there was nothing to rush off and do, and while you could say we were rewarded for it, the reward for me has always been just in being there, whether the mountains appear or not, wandering through the piney woods with no particular goal.
Photo: Pramod Neupane-WWF Nepal From red pandas swaying on branches in the eastern Himalayas...