|Title||Deer-WALK to Remember|
|Date||18 September, 2010|
|Participants||Abanish Kayastha, Basant Amatya, Ashish Shrestha, Bishwas Bhatta, Kanchan Raj Pandey, Sagar Maharjan, Sumit Shrestha, Vinod Gnawali|
|Photos By||Bishwas Bhatta, Kanchan Pandey|
|Report By||Sagar Maharjan|
|Creative Support||Kanchan Pandey|
Last week we had a lot of rainfall in Kathmandu. We were keeping our fingers crossed for Saturday’s hiking and were blessed by the Almighty as the weather was perfect for hiking.
Abanish recalls the beginning of hike as, “We assembled at Balkhu Chowk at 7 in the morning and headed for Kirtipur. It was a beautiful day and we were all really excited. Sagar was waiting for us in Kirtipur, we had a small breakfast there, got fuelled up and headed for Godaam Chaur (basecamp for Champadevi :)). The view was amazing, we could see the clouds covering almost half of the mountain and wanted to reach on top Champadevi as fast as we could.”
We started our hike at around 9 and were forced to take the first break after 30 minutes. We were attacked by leeches - fought with them, won the battle and resumed our journey, even more excited, looking at the clouds covering the mountains. 15 more minutes - next forced break and thanks to the leeches again. Slowly, they were outnumbering us and it was getting frustrating and the higher we climbed, the trail was getting slippery. Unfortunately, mid-way we had to abandon Champadevi hike.
What next? Once we got back to the base camp, we had to do something. Abanish and I suggested to wander the streets and corners of Kirtipur, a historical and cultural city. As I was the local lad of Kirtipur, I knew each and every corner of Kirtipur and decided to be the tour guide for the day. We all agreed. Still all of us were checking our socks and shoes for the leeches. We had some light food and then started our journey to Kirtipur now.
First we visited Bagh Bhairab Temple. We had already forgotten the leeches and were enjoying the beautiful Kirtipur. The views that we were able to observe from Bagh Bhairab Temple were magnificent. Bishwas got busy with his camera and rest of us was giving pose for him. However, Bishwas was busy capturing nature in his camera and ignored our pose. My fellow hikers were amazed to see the weapons that were won in the battle with the Great Prithivi Narayan Shah on display in Bagh Bhairab Temple.
Next we went to Uma Maheshor Temple, which is located in the highest point of Kirtipur. From there we viewed the Kathmandu Valley. The valley looked like a big pile of bricks, completely unplanned and disorganized. The environment around Uma Maheshor Temple was so peaceful and tranquil that we were taken aback for a moment. Everyone were quiet and busy watching the surrounding scenery. The calmness we experienced there was very refreshing and healing. All of our thoughts of misfortune and peril of the failed hike was gone by then.
We rested for a while and went to “Newa Lahana” for the lunch. Newa Lahana is the only place in Kirtipur which serves traditional Newari delicacies. We enjoyed the food there and ate till our tummies were full and had no space left even for a single grain. In between Abanish, Basant and Ashish were sharing their experiences of India while rest of us was busy with food. We really enjoyed Newari “THO”, a kind of local drink made up of rice.
Around 3 pm, we left Kirtipur with some really good memories. Still we were thinking WHAT IF.
Bishwas shares his personal experience: The weather couldn't have been better. Sun hidden by clouds, chilly air and the calmness of the hills. Everyone was talking about what a perfect day it was for a hiking trip. But never in our wildest imagination have we thought that leeches could ruin our trip so badly. We were all enjoying the climb; breathing in the fresh morning air, viewing Kathmandu through binoculars and taking photographs.
30 minutes into the hike and Sumit shouted “JUKAA” and when we bent down and looked at our shoes, there were more than dozen leeches on each leg. After we got rid of them, we pressed forward. 15 minutes more and those leeches were still bothering us. The path was becoming narrower and more slippery with wild hedges all around and the leeches just kept growing exponentially. They were everywhere; our shoes, socks, all over the path, leaves of the surrounding shrubs. And not just simple leeches that we normally encounter, there were varieties ranging from simple small leeches to big fat ones that we only saw in movies. And the most dangerous was the red one that was almost 5 inch in length.
We were tired of picking out and throwing the leeches away. I myself gave up saying “Jati toke ni tokos!”. We all decided to abandon the hike and descended as quickly as we could. Once we were out of the ganglands of leeches, we threw the remaining ones away, cleaned ourselves and had some quick snacks. 13 of them were already sucking my blood and many more on shoes and jeans. Never have we thought that Aayo Noon can be such a life saver. Sagar proposed a trip around Kirtipur and we all said yes.
Kirtipur impressed me a lot with its historical and cultural monuments. The most striking thing was the community effort to maintain and preserve the heritages. Every street, alleys and temples were clean and we could see people cleaning and maintaining pavements. If every community stepped up and got organized then our religious, historical and cultural sites would be maintained much better.
The food in Newa Lahan was delicious and the view from the eating space was fabulous. I specially liked the Chhoyela, spicy and so soft that it melted away in my mouth. The newari delicacies won our hearts and after everything was served, we were left with full tummy and content smiles.
Now as I remember that day scratching the wounds from those evil leeches, I get a mixed feelings of joy and sorrow. We couldn't reach our destination, but we sure had an awesome time hiking around Kirtipur. Thanks to Sagar for saving the day. For this episode of Man vs. Wild ( Man vs. Leech is more accurate), the wild was victorious. But soon as the leech season is over, we will conquer the heights of Champadevi for sure!