Beyond the urban milieu
of the three ancient cities of the Kathmandu Valley, there
is a wealth of culture and nature waiting to the discovered.
Ensconced amidst the lush greenery are magnificent monuments
that are specimens of artistic workmanship. The villages and
small towns dotting the landscape provide charming glimpses
of rural life. The Kathmandu Valley is not very big (about
20 by 25 km), and an explorer can combine a number of
locations in a leisurely day trip. Given below are some
destinations to make your day:
About 12 km southeast of downtown Kathmandu, a medieval
village drones on in blissful oblivion like it has for
centuries. Far removed from the urban bustle, Dhapakhel (Dhapakhyo)
invites all those who seek peace and quiet and a fascinating
scenery to go with it. Besides being a pristine nature
sanctuary, the village is a popular pilgrimage spot as well.
Its religious significance comes from Nagdaha, meaning
serpent pond, which is situated here. This sacred pond
attracts many devotees, especially during the festival of
Nag Panchami (August 16). On this day, pilgrims throng the
site to worship the divine serpents which dwell in the pond.
The holy serpents are revered as protectors of the Valley
and as rain-givers.
As far as scenery is concerned, there are few places in the
Valley that come even close. You could get lost in the lush
greenery all around; and the snow-covered Himalaya
levitating in the skyline behind the Mahabharat hills makes
for an enchanting sight. There are few tourists here (or
local visitors for that matter) because of its total
The road to Dhapakhel branches off from the Ring Road at Sat
Dobato. From here it is a pleasant countryside drive with
rice fields to the left and right. You meet farmers toiling
in their fields and children grazing animals on the meadows.
So, if you are looking for a real getaway, hire a car or
grab a mountain bike and head for one of Kathmandus best
Ichangu Narayan is situated to the west of Kathmandu behind
the Swayambhu stupa. It is one of the four main shrines of
the Hindu deity Narayan that stand at the four corners of
the Valley and protect its inhabitants. Hidden in the hills
at a distance of about 11 km from downtown Kathmandu, the
village of Ichangu offers a bit of religion, a bit of
history and a lot of hiking.
To get there, follow the dirt road across the Ring Road from
the Swayambhu bus stop. After passing a limestone quarry,
the road turns into a trail leading you through scattered
villages. Ichangu is reached after an exhilarating one-hour
The temple of Ichangu Narayan (meaning Narayan of the west)
is a two-roofed pagoda that dates to the fifth century. The
shrine attracts many pilgrims, especially on the full moon
day of August 26. This is "visit the Narayans day" when
devotees make pilgrimages to all the four Narayan temples in
the Valley. Even if you cannot make it on this special
occasion, you should visit Ichangu to experience a part of
Kathmandu that few tourists get to see.