Located south of the Kathmandu Valley is the famous hill station, Phulchoki standing tall at the height of 2,782 meters. And that is where our destination was…
On August 14th (Sunday), the faculty members of the High School and School Administration team gathered at the Deerwalk Complex at 7:05 A.M to set ahead to our ‘Last Sunday Hike’ destination-Phulchowki. Heavy rainfall, the night before the hike, set a premonition amongst us that we were going to experience the same during the hike. So each hiker came prepared. No, not for the rain but for the swarming LEECHES! After making sure our mode of transport was in good condition to take us to the destination and bring us back home, we departed at 7:40 A.M. We were eight members initially while departing from the school premises, the other three members were to join us on the way; making us altogether a team of 11 members.
One of the primary rules a hiker must follow is “ Be informed and well equipped”. While most were theoretically well informed of the place, we decided to entrust Madhusudan sir to lead us to the top of the hill. As for the “ well equipped” part, we needed food and water supplies. So we stopped at Salesberry to be fully “well equipped”.
The weather was chill, perfect for hiking. We reached Godawari at around 8:50 A.M. It is the base station to start the hike uphill. To fuel up our hiker’s spirit we had to fuel up our stomachs first. Our little research to be “well informed” helped us to know that the way uphill was pristine with no sight of any man-made amenities in between. So, we filled our stomachs with the morning breakfast at the local tea shop. Since all of us were hungry we welcomed all the food available in the store to our table which included eggs, tea, sel-roti and tarkari. Few minutes drive and we reached the entrance from where our hike started. To start the hike we had to register our entries. A lady notified us that it takes Rs. 10 per head to get the pass. Once we got the permit ticket from “ Naudhara Samudayik Ban Upavokta Samuha”, we distributed our food and water supplies and headed to our destination.
Just like the first level of every game the way started easy with a fine graveled road running between the forest lighting up the mood. The sun was not too high and the hike was pleasant for a while but once we entered inside forest flies were buzzing around, which was kind of irritating. As we moved ahead with the guidance from Madhu sir, and get rid of that as well. The constant dense mist floating and covering the way constantly reminded us we were entering deep into the forest and afar from the buzz of the Kathmandu city. After walking around 4 kilometers, we got our first short cut route specifically made for hikers. It was a series of stone-made stairs piercing amidst the jungle leveling up our difficulty but increasing our adventure at the same time. We took multiple breaks to munch on snacks and quench our thirst as the series of stairs uphill was depleting our energy and the increase in altitude was shortening our breath. But each tiring step was healed by the mesmerizing clear views as the cloud shifted.
Walking, taking breaks, checking for leeches, clicking photos and with continuous desperation to reach atop with Madhu sir’s “ This is the last shortcut and we will reach at top” at every entrance to the shortcut, we stopped at a spot which was famous amongst the local as‘ Bagh baghini’. Here at the entrance of the stairway lies 2 stones that apparently looked like a pair of lion and lioness. After walking around four and half hours we finally saw the sign stating Phulchowki was 1 km away from us. Also some visitors returning home in a taxi boosted our tired enthusiasm saying the view from up is a worth one. So after around 45 minutes of walking from there, at around 2:30 P.M we reached the army camp stationed at the Phulchowki hill top ‘Shree Suryadal Gan’. An army asked us the number of visitors and we listed as per their query. It was a different place and experience. As the place was inhabited by armies the only people there except us were them happily and cozily playing table tennis and carrom board. They were welcoming and we had our team of table tennis players from our side too. We climbed the last few steps to the top from where we can almost see the 360 degree view and there also resides the holy temple of the ‘Phulchowki Mai’. Sadly the weather did not favor us in enjoying the surrounding view as the mist got heavier and the clouds covered the sky.
Luckily the army has set up a canteen in the area which provided few options of snacks.We all chose to have tea and say a bittersweet farewell to the area. Finally, we descended down and since we could trace the difficulty in every members’ face we decided to call out Bir Bahadur dai to bring hiace halfway. We took the same shortcuts in hope to reach down sooner and that’s when two of our hike members Nirmal sir and Youbraj sir went missing. The rest of the team, exhausted, finally made it to the transport but since the two members kept us worried we stopped at each shortcut hoping they would pop out of the forest. We were fueled up from the only breakfast we had before starting the journey so once we sat on the hiace, our hunger started to build up. After constantly trying to communicate with our lost members, we finally reached them and learnt they were safe and would meet at the base of the hill. We reached the base and waited around one and a half hours and finally we could see them from afar. A SENSE OF RELIEF! Our team members were not tragically the food of the wild animals in the forest.
The two were lost in the woods but they explored much more of the forest than the rest of us. The thrill and adventure they experienced could be seen in their faces and in their bodies as they were covered in mud, dried leaves and the happy leeches clingling along with no sign of leaving. Until they were on sight we were mad as they splitted from the team and kept us worried and maybe it was a tad little bit of ‘HUNGER’. On our way back we did not need any music, we had an interesting and adventurous survival story to hear from both Nirmal sir and Youbraj sir. We had already booked for our dinner at Thasang Thakali Kitchen, Jawalakhel while waiting for them so we headed to the restaurant. We had our dinner at 7 pm. and that was our only heavy meal for that day. The whole 9 hours hike started to wear off the strength of our leg muscles but the hike did give us a break from the monotonous 9 hour work schedule, so we were mentally refreshed and spiritually recharged.