Sheetal Sharma It was my second week at Deerwalk. Few days ago, I was telling my friends how much I wanted to visit Ghandruk, which I heard, is one of the most beautiful villages in Nepal. Getting an invitation for a hike to the very same place was a pleasant surprise to me. In a crisp morning, we began our journey in a group of twelve. Laughter filled the van, as everyone was getting their share of being the subject of jokes. Our van suddenly came to a halt. Nimesh, sitting at the front seat told us to take out the camera. We leaned forward to look at a snake crossing the road. It spread its head flat when another van abruptly stopped close to it. For the first time, I liked seeing a snake in front of me. The highway was very familiar to me. My birthplace, Khairenitar in Tanahun district, was at a very short distance from the route. Our team kept reminding me to inform my grandparents that we were coming. I couldn’t tell if they were serious, and I even dialed the phone, but it was switched off. We reached Pokhara, and we parked by the lakeside. The rumors of strike around the valley nearly disturbed our plans, but gladly it was just a rumor. Treating ourselves to the traditional Thakali meal, we headed towards the road that led to Baglung. This edge of Pokhara was relatively new to me. When we passed through suikhet, I silently thought of residing there someday. The straight street in the middle of paddy fields surrounded by hills, I saw it as the most suitable place to live in; it was an incredibly beautiful place. I had heard about Lumle being an amazing place, it indeed was. We got down at Nayapul. We crossed all sorts of bridges, the ones made up of woods, renovated with stones; and delicate suspension bridges and a polished truss bridge. Our guesses, negated by the direction shown by residents, left us wondering till the end; apparently the newest bridge was the real "Nayapul". I have three stress-busters in nature – clouds, mountains and water. All of them were surrounding me as I kept walking. I bonded with the team in no time. Though being the newest one in the team, I didn’t feel left out at all. If anyone had captured, one of the best clickable moments, it would be Rupesh carrying Kanchan on his shoulders across the river. We had thought we were late to start walking, but it turned out to be the perfect timing. We didn’t have to face the sun, which eased our journey remarkably. A silvery shape emerged beneath the clouds. It was the perfect peak of Machhapuchhre. This must be one of the things that made Ghandruk so special.
A silvery shape emerged beneath the clouds. It was the perfect peak of Machhapuchhre. This must be one of the things that made Ghandruk so special.
It lies in the direction that faces the famous fish-tailed shape of the mountain. As we went forward, the magnificent view got gradually closer. It was getting dark, we were unaware how long it would take. In the midway, a young villager joined us in the dark, steep odyssey. She was very courteous and followed our pace, giving us the right directions, till she reached her home which was quite a long distance. Then a confusing junction stopped us in our track. Up ahead some small lights were flickering, and we assumed them to be our friends’ torches. As we got closer, we could see the shape of several horses. For a moment, I wondered if their eyes were shining in the dark. When we reached there, we could see a bunch of kids wearing headbands adorned with torch lights, standing alongside mules, most of them white. At this moment, I felt like being in the middle of a fairytale. Alongside the mules were parked jeeps. That was the furthest the jeeps would take the travelers. Then the rest of the journey would be on foot for everyone. We joined our friends, waiting for us few steps ahead. We walked through Landruk, Ghandruk-1, and finally reached our destination, Ghandruk-2. It was too dark to see anything, but just the feeling of being there was serene. We had reached there earlier than expected according to our other friends and the residents whom we met the next day. After some tea, dinner, cards, and gossips, I fell asleep, in a village I had wanted to see for so long. I woke up at four in the morning, only to find my legs in severe pain. It was very disappointing, as I didn’t really feel tired the previous night. That led me to rest again, and I missed the sunrise; which I’ll regret till I go there again. When I finally got out of the room, the Annapurna range was before me in the largest size I’d ever seen. Everyone was busy guessing the mountains, Dhawalagiri, Annapurna, and Himchuli, as Machhapuchhre was too obvious by its impeccable shape. I joined the group too, thinking I knew better as I had seen the mountains countless times, and sketched them even more. But I got confused. The direction I was looking at them at the moment, gave an entirely different view from what I used to see. But wherever they faced, it seemed like they were putting their best sides forward. They were always pretty, intriguing, calm and rigid. There is so much we can learn from their stance. As decided, we started climbing down early. Perhaps, we missed the real village while doing so. We inhaled every details that had gone unnoticed last night. We saw mules with bells below their chins, tied to their colorful headbands, walking uphill. They were loaded with cements and rods that were used to build the hotels from where we were returning. I couldn’t decide whether to like the fact that they preserved traditional means of transportation, or to feel pity for the mules, as the loads must have been too heavy for them. In my heart, I felt the latter. Another thing I found strange was Ghandruk didn’t have a road to the top of the hill, though being a very popular and developed village. It left me questioning if it was done on purpose to encourage hikers and trekkers; but I felt it would be better left to choice, and construct roads for the transportation of goods as such. Our feet only got the job done till we reached the jeep stop. The sun was scorching already and everyone was feeling tired. We decided to take the vehicle, which was again, a different experience. Two residents were with us in the back seat and they told us about the village, the way to Ghodepani and Annapurna base camp, and the “Nayapul” in question. We met Ram waiting for us at the stop downhill. After a cup of tea and breakfast, we set off to pay a visit to the beauty of Pokhara. Bindhyabasini temple came first in our list. Ishwor, who hadn’t eaten his breakfast, freed himself from the fasting after bowing down to the Goddess. Then we had a delicious meal by the lakeside. Our next destination was Peace pagoda. The white, peaceful monument of Buddha gave us a peaceful feeling at the very first sight. From there I could see my maternal village, Mattikhan, atop another beautiful hill across Pokhara. I felt guilty for not visiting my grandmother while being this close. I looked down from the Stupa. Fewa lake was in all its glory. I’ve hardly seen it reflecting the mountains, as they are often hidden beneath the clouds. People were trying to locate Barahi temple, which was hidden behind a large tree. The first time I saw this sight some years ago, I was completely surprised to see Barahi temple so close to the bank, as I, like many other people, expected it to be in the middle of the lake. The lake seemed a lot larger than I thought it was. While returning, we stopped by the David falls. I was glad we did, it was at its best appearance too. As the monsoon had just been over, it was flooding with milky white water, which was in much more quantity than usual. The water was knocking on the rocks and it almost felt like a rainfall when we stood close to the falls. It was already late and there was no more time to lose. I passed Khairenitar, promising to myself, to be there and Mattikhan very soon. We allowed Malekhu to serve its famous fish for dinner and then came back to Kathmandu. It was exactly 12am when I entered my room. In a while, I found myself surrounded by mountains and waterfalls. This time, in my dreams.