Hiking Route: Kathmandu – Trishulibazar – Kalikasthan – Dhunche (2000 m) –Chandanbari (3250 m) – Cholangpati (3584 m) – Laurebina (3990 m) – Buddha Mandir (4150 m) – Gosaikunda (4380 m)
Total Distance covered: 40 km (approx)
Duration: 4 days
Date: August 14 – August 17, 2008
Participants: Rudra Pandey, Bhuwan Shrestha, Purushottam Pandey, Eyasha Pandey, Vishnu Kchettri, Hitesh Karki, Shamesh Joshi, Nischal Shrestha, Kapil Pandey, Lekhnath Bhusal, Sangeeta Rayamajhi, Babins Shrestha, Sarjan G, Ganesh Thapa and Dhilung Kirat
Photos: Dhilung, Nischal, Shamesh and Hitesh
Caption: Dhilung and Ganesh
Report by: Eyasha, Ganesh, Dhilung and Sangeeta
Creative Support: Dhilung and Dijup
The trip could be summed in two words: arduous and enthralling. And the justifications for would be the comments from people who have had the privilege of making to the base camp and enthralling because one would hardly gets to imagine of a place like this in Nepal, let alone be there gazing at this beautiful lake. The fast track non-stop hike to Gosaikaunda should undoubtedly one of the high points of hiking for any one of us who have hiked so far. For three days in succession, it was nothing more than walk, sleep, eat, and walk – rain or shine. And most of the times it was the prior one. Fighting with the weather gods, this arduous trail has thousands of people walking, taking a dip in the freezing waters –many feeling that they chanced upon getting closer to the gods. For us, it was a rare opportunity to get closer to Nepal and more than that – to our own inner selves.
Eyasha, Purushottam’s daughter – youngest member of the team and probably of the whole pilgrimage and trekkers, has nicely summed up this once in a lifetime trek. Details have been made available by Ganesh, Sangeeta and Dhilung. Read on about this fascinating trip.
First Climb – The Warm-up
Kathmandu – Trishulibazar
I wonder if anybody had even slightest of idea on what was loitering next in the coming days while gathering at the office premises at 4 pm last Thursday. August 14, 2008; it was a sunny day, with occasional drizzles throughout the day.
Though the journey to Trishulibazar on our cozy office van was quite relaxing, four plus hours of drive had certainly made everybody’s mind and body numb and deadened. But a short session of Antakshari, jokes and funny stories was reviving while reaching Trishuli bazaar. It was late evening, kids strolling out on the streets, probably after a stomach full of meal. We were in no mood to waste any time, so we made it straight to our cot after a short hullaballoo over the next day trip and a delicious meal at a Thakali Hotel.
Trishulibazar to Kalikasthan
We came to know that this trail was a tough one, with roads all disarrayed due to different forms of natural disaster. Sensing our vehicle won’t be able to make it on this trail, we hired a local bus; first ill luck struck upon us, we had to pay in lump sum, irrespective to the number of passengers. Once it came to me, it must have been a festive time for the locales, to have been able to make a good sum of cash in a very short span of time. The bus took us for few hours, finally reaching Kalikasthan. We had our breakfast there for the day.
Kalikasthan to Dhunche
Kalikasthan was the end, for vehicles to ride the hill. We prepared ourselves to walk, in mind and physique. I was a little worried about the altitude sickness, a nightmare also for the regular climbers. Others? they looked normal to me.
With have passed just few hundred meters, the scenic beauty started rolling out in arrays, one after another. The scenery was simply breathtaking, comprising of big mountains and waterfalls all over, with the stillness broken by the harsh sound of the waterfall. I could see clicks and flashes all over the way, from all the electronic devices we had. Dhilung was more than excited, rushing up and down, front and back, to not let the moments go away, which was glorious, with all its clarity and serenity; it was more than we could take. I was thrilled and overjoyed to witness this immense yet abandoned beauty, sprinkled all over. Favorably, it also made us forget all the sweat and pain that we had gained out of this long walk. But this joy and elation didn’t last long in all of us when we found a portion of hill, all crumbled down, leaving mass of tiny rocks all over the road, and leaving us no way to pass on. Probably it was reminding us about the rainy season. The soil erosion had made a mass destruction on the way, and to make things worse and more depressing, we could see no sign of restoration. We reached Dhunche at around 1 pm. We grabbed our meal there at a local restaurant.
Dhunche to Chandan Bari
This is the trail I’ll always remember or say, I will never let go away from my memory. Have you ever walked on pebbles, little bigger ones in size? And I’ll add muddy water to it, constantly flowing to your feet. Okie, how about making the trail a steep one? Enough… Don’t cry out. There are more ingredients I still need to add into it, to make up what we went through on this trail. We had started from Dhunche at around 3 in the afternoon, with all concerned if we’d be able to make it to Chananbari till the evening. With Rudra Dai and Lekhnath on the lead, anything was possible. All we needed was the zeal and grit to do it. And probably, that was what was in dire deficit in all of us.
The walk couldn’t go smooth even a couple of kilometers. The trail headed upwards right after crossing a bridge nearby Dhunche. And then there it was, the ever-ending path, with sharp stones poking out every here and there. And to make things worse, it suddenly started raining. The team got distributed in bunches; few were still good enough to lead; few got left behind, to overcome the pain of tired leg, few to provide company to them. It was continuously raining. But we had no time to check out what was going on. All we had in our mind was to reach Chandanbari by the end of the day. It was already getting darker when we kicked off from Deurali after a short halt. The path was same plus a stream of muddy water. The rain was down pouring upon us like we were meant for it. All tired, soaked, with no food and water left, we were still fighting with ourselves to ooze out the last drip of punch, all but to make it Chandanbari somehow. It was not until we reached Dhimsa, we could hear human sounds. It was dead-dark now. Rudra dai and Lekhnath were nowhere to be seen. What they had left was a message to continue. I could hear sighs and groans now. Some came in disagreement to continue. But somehow, we did manage to move from there. The trail was worse; we had no dry space now. The path had gone all muddy and small potholes could be seen every now and then. We did reach Chandanbari at around 9 pm. Searching for a good hotel to stay was yet another story, in the making.
A day with Gosaikunda
Celebration had already begun for the first elected prime minister of Republic of Nepal, Olympic at Beijing was at its full swing and many were enjoying the Saturday morning coffee at the comfort of their home. Untouched by all these happenings, fifteen of us were struggling to climb a barren alpine ascending, the same ascending that the General Ambar Singh Thapa had followed about 2 century ago. Legend tells that Thapa was deeply dejected by the Sugauli treaty. So he went in to exile and died at Gosaikunda. With exhausted and almost crippled legs, we were actually moving in a creeping motion while hundreds of people returning from the Gosaikunda seemed flying down hill. Perhaps our will power was the only friend at that time to help us conquer the vertical ascending.
Saturday trek had begun from Sing Gompa (Chandanbari) (3250m). Traditional ethnic settlements of Sherpas were relatively unspoiled despite the fact that Kathmandu was easily accessible. We enjoyed passing through the thick forest and peeping into the mountain range through them. In the cool and clean morning our startup was quite exciting. The excitement was fueled by the thought that we were going to see the holy lake Gosaikunda, just after few hours of walking. We had no idea that ‘few hours’ would turn into ruthless ‘many hours’ on the run.
After relaxing for few minutes at Cholangpati (3550m), the notorious steep climb of Laurebina began. Our team got dispersed into different groups during the climb like the prism disperses the white light. In fact the team was never together during the whole day. We could not make a group photo at Gosaikunda. But the good thing was every group had separate interesting stories to tell. I was told that if we could reach Gosaikunda early then only we can capture the scenic beauty of the lake. After waiting my team for half an hour at Laurebina (3900m), I decided to move ahead. Ebullient crowd of Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims, shamans and traditional witch doctors were sliding down hill performing their cheerful demonstrations of ethnic songs and dances. Though the would-have-been-wonderful sight of Himalayan range was lost behind the misty sky, those demonstrations compensated the missing delight till I reached Buddha Mandir (4150m).
Buddha Mandir to Gosaikunda was the last part of the trekking and good news – no more steep route to expect. “A piece of cake” I thought. But burrowing through the thick mist and hopping to see the Gosaikunda emerging out of the hazy sight, last part became the longest part, at least in my psyche. As I finally arrived at Gosaikunda, the scene was disappointing due to misty weather. I took few cheesy shots and waited for others to arrive. HiteshK’s group arrived. I felt good that there was someone to share my disappointment. I stayed warm in the restaurant while the group went down to Gosaikunda Lake. I was learning some Sherpa words with a local Sherpa and in another moment I heard a loud scream.
Everyone was pulled towards the lake to see what happened. To my surprise it was our very own NichalS taking the holy bath. What an idea to relieve the pain in the freezing cold water.
We started to descend after staying at Gosaikunda for few hours. While returning, the sun could break into the thick mist for few minutes and we got chance to take some photographs – nice dessert after a bad meal. After that, now it was our turn to fly down hill with our full speed.
In the end of the day, most of us arrived at Chandanbari. VishnuK, Bhuwan and Shrawan stayed at Cholangpati. We didn’t know that Rudra dai and Lekhnath stayed in a hotel next to us till tomorrow morning. The Dunying man (Tungna – a local musical instrument) and the Hotel owner entertained us with their folk songs and dance. Eight of us sandwich sleeping in just four beds has a different story there.
The return – the drama
Chandanbari to Kathmandu
Roar of local people woke me up and I found myself in a strange place but it didn’t take long time for me to realize that I was in the wooden cottage of Chandan bari hotel. Some amiable voices erupted outside the room and my stray mind shifted its gear toward that eruption. It was a cold morning and I longed for the warmth of sunshine to greet me through the window pane. I waited long cuddling blanket and fixing my lonesome gaze at the window. Then I woke up finally to proceed my morning duties.
While I was brushing my teeth all of a sudden I heard someone’s voice calling my name and to my surprise it was non other than Rudra dai, waving his hand and asking me about rest team mates. Few moments later, I was prepared with my bag packed and ready for march pass to the destination.
It’s 17th of August 2008, a day of returning back to town for all of us. It was already 7AM in the morning by the time the group of hikers had assembled and started their journey from Chandanbari. The destination was our hometown (KTM). The climb down to reach our destination was a very difficult one and the roadway did not make it any easier and we all were very red and huffing and puffing the whole way down. Evidently, it pleased everyone else to have this novel experience as their most memorable incident.
We had started walking down the steep hills. Rudra dai and Leknath were all time leaders to complete the journey first which had definitely encourage us to walk even faster. After 2 hours or more, we reached Deurali (the mid way junction from Chandan bari to Dhunche). We took few minutes break and everyone had dispersed to prepare themselves for a light breakfast and little bit of rest. Where as in other part, few of them were busy clicking the pictures and capturing the beautiful scenery of nature and rest are busy posing themselves in horse riding pose. After taking pretty long break we headed for Dhunche, the whole way was a small trail surrounded by a dense jungle, and the trail was pretty slippery adjusting us to walk little slowly to prevent from slippage. On the way nobody talked so much as the breathing making them uncomfortable. Dhilung and Nischal were trying to capture the beauties of nature and the lively scenery of mankind near the Trishuli river.
After huffing and puffing we finally reached to Dhunche at around 11:30 AM where we had our lunch in one of the Thakali restaurants. When we reached there, Rudra dai and Lekhnath (the all time leaders) were already there at around 10:30 AM and had their lunch also. Then slowly Hitesh Dai and Ganesh joined us and after some time Bhuwan dai and Vishnu dai also reached. We all had lunch over there and again got ready to pack the bags to move ahead. Before we started our journey again, we took group photo which Dhilung had wished from whole journey. Then we booked one public conveyance to drop us till Ramche. So we left Dhunche at around 2 PM and reached Ramche at around 2:50 PM. Then we started walking for few more miles as there were no means of transportation due to land slide. After a few miles walk we reached to Kalikasthan where we got to catch another conveyance to reach till next destination. Since the public conveyances were not booked already so there were no place to rest inside, that’s why most of us has to adjust themselves in the roof of local bus. In the mid way to Trishuli, there were some conflict between the bus driver and the passenger residing in it regarding the bus fare, so we had to leave the bus on the middle of road and had to walk again with all the pain in legs.
Finally, we land up to our own conveyance. Everyone took a long breath with all the relief and smile on faces. Thanks to Bhuwan Dai, Vishnu Dai, and Nischal to get the D2’s Micro van on our way. Everyone was so delighted and we headed towards Trishuli.
At around 10 PM in the night we reached Trishuli where we took a short dinner break. After that Bhuwan Dai were recharged and he turned out to be a quite entertainer and was the life of our journey there. We also had a game of antakshari and the other team put on their creativity cap and sang some instant songs and Bhuwan dai, made it more interesting with all his self originated lyrics and tune of any song he sang.
But by the time we were playing Antaksari Ram dai’s mind got distracted and he drive the van to other direction which no one has realized earlier. As soon as we realized we have already cross half an hour way to the jungle directiting towards Nuwakot Durbar rather than heading towards Trishuli. Then a local drunk guy had helped us to figure out the way. Thanks to him.
In the middle of antakshari, Rudra dai interrupted by cracking some jokes. Ganesh Thapa added few more jokes and made every one of us laugh a lot. Later on Rudra dai regaled us with some very interesting games where everyone had to share about their favorite thing, most dislike thing, first penny that we have earned etc. Then again we started playing Antakshari, and after some time the micro van became silent as most of us were in deep sleep.
After we reached Kakani, we could see Kathmandu in all its glory at night. Kathmandu looked like an extension of the starry night sky and we kept looking at it. It is true that many things can be hidden under the cover of darkness and from where we were we could not see the pollution in the city.
There was a wonderful expression in everyone’s face. Jogged back to those beautiful moments of past 3days and was happy but the reality that we all survive seemed so surreal. I guess no matter how hard I tried I would never be able to give shapes to those joys into words to portray the exact feelings.
We were especially glad about our hike because we had a beautiful river and were surrounded by lovely green hills from everywhere. Needless to tell, I have treasured so many beautiful memories of those countless hiking I have been in the past. Still I do remember vividly how I have bugged my little head supervising everything and walked extra miles to make those events success.
Recalling those days, now I feel, I really was different character on the landscape. Anyway, good days are gone for good. Since it was the first time, we were heading towards Gosaikunda, everything was interesting and a novel experience
Recollections of Eyasha
Hiking in Gosaikund was a new experience. I had never been hiked for 3 days in a row but this was good start. We started our journey on Thursday afternoon. The night we stayed in Trisuli. In the morning we reserved a bus that took us about 15km from Dhunche. We walked 6-7 km (2 hrs) and rode the bus for rest 8 km to reach Dhunche. The bus left us at Dhunche where we had lunch and started walking. We walked for 1.5 hrs when it started to rain. We stayed in a small hut, snack shop hoping the rain would stop or at least sparse. It didn’t, so we walked on. We got to Deurali where we stopped for 15 minutes. Then we started up again. When we reached Dhimsa, night was upon us. Everyone considered staying in Dhimsa but some of us started and that caused the others to follow us. It took about 1 hour to get to Chandan Bari. We spent the night there. Next morning we started four of us at 5:00 AM including me. We walked on, after walking for an hour I had altitude sickness. I felt like vomiting. I came down and decided to go up again. We reached a village, Cholangpati where army doctors checked my BP and said it was slightly low and no problem for hiking. They gave me a medicine which I supposed to take if I felt like vomiting. We walked again for about 2/3 hours and made it to the Buddha temple through Lauri Binayak but felt me bad again. Then I took medicine and felt enough to go up. After that, it took around 1.5 hrs to reach Gosaikund. This is great place full of natural beauty and peace. I thought that day was very successful day for me in life. I washed my face in the lake with very cold water. People were taking bath there which was almost impossible for me. We took rest for 45 minutes and started come down.
After continuous walking for 1.5 hours again, stopped for about 15 minutes at Lauri Binayak and had tea where we met our group. Then we started down again, we had plan to comeback Chandanbari on same day but people often said that we couldn’t make it. Ignoring their warning, we walked on and in the late evening we arrived at Chandanbari. Next morning, we started journey again at 6:45AM again in hope of reaching Kathmandu in Sunday evening. We reached Deurali in an hour and had breakfast there. After that, it took around 2-2.5 hours to reach Dhunche. There was a temporary bus strike due to minor accident in same morning. We heard that the driver saved approximately 200 peoples’ life due to steering failure in the bus. The passengers didn’t get hurt but jerked due to suddenly bus stopped. However, the driver was beaten up which caused bus strike. It was kind of shock to me how people deal such incidents in our country. To escape from Dhunche, we reserved a jeep and left at around 2:00PM after a lunch. The jeep left us at landscape and walked for around 45 minutes. After that we caught a bus which drove us to another landscape. This landscape was really scary where stones were descending continuously from uphill. Anyway we survived from there and passed all disaster parts of road. The place we reached is Ramche where buses were open for Trishuli and Kathmandu. We got a bus to Trishuli, few of us of our group stayed inside the bus others were on top of bus above hood. The driver was going nicely and slowly until there was disagreement about bus fare between some of passengers and conductor. The issue was not resolved and the driver suddenly tried to get back bus to unknown destination. The passengers shouted and everyone got off. This was another bus incident in same route. We left bus, started walking again on road and asked Ram Dai (D2 driver) to pick us at some possible places. After few hours walking, we met D2 van reached Kathmandu after midnight.
This hike was really different than other that I had with D2. I hadn’t walked in height and night before, this was first time. Overall the hike was successful and thanks to D2 and all hikers Dai, Didi for providing this opportunity to me.