After much contemplation, and discussions we decided to visit the tiny mountain country Nepal. Actually I was not well from last few days, which was putting our decision of the visit in doldrums. But after seeing the children making hundred faces, after hearing deep sighs of my mother and my husband’s raised eyebrows for a long time, my thought of resting for couple of more days evaporated into thin air. I decided to attack the culprits Mr. Cough and Mrs. Cold out of my system with vengeful energy. I took steam till I was drenched with perspiration, took bitter medicines with jubilant face. I went on war footing to drive away the unwanted guest out of my long nose and puffy throat. My family gave me many usual and unusual, queer medicines, which came out from which dadiji batuva god only knows. But I had to take to keep their heart, hence with a heavy heart I took one sip or one dose each of everything that they almost made me push down my throat. Like numerous varieties of kadhas, variety of masalas which people suggested me to put inside the boiling water for inhalation. Next day morning, while drinking a variety of morning concoctions like milk, tea, lauki juice which all were drinking in somber silence, guessing all the time about my health and wondering about the fate of their trip, if it is secure or in jeopardy. I pricked the big bubble of speculation by delicately clearing my throat and with generous seriousness. I told everybody that I was quite well and ready to experience Nepal with my clear nose and taste Nepal fare with relish. At this point I heard a loud shrieking noise which made my tea cup drop on my lap, then there was more excitement, the children started running helter skelter, husband and Mamma started looking for some medicine everywhere but not everywhere, so I limped quietly to my room applied the ointment and came out of my room fiercely to find out the origin of the noise, when two pairs of little arms hugged me and said sorry about the episode and told me actually it was a whelp of happiness on the prospect of the vacation.
So, with many ensuing circus shows we made our way to the car. Loaded the car with our baggage. The children made tearful bye, byes to the two furry babies and boarded the Safari, for the Nepalian Safari. By the time we started from our home, it was 11.30 in the morning. The initial one hour we spent in deciding over who will sit where. After about making pradakshana of the car for two three times, hubby called us for a halt and the children then scrambled inside the car to take their seats quietly. After about 10 minutes after our journey started, a hand tapped my shoulder from behind, I looked back to find out a yummylicious ambavadi making my way. Though I took the ambavadi first in my hand, I asked mamma what all things has she brought with her. My mom has a caliber to carry the whole kitchen with her on a journey. She had managed to save endless number of things from last two months to carry on this trip, so in short she had a pitara of goodies which she had kept near her feet and was like a magician taking it out after every few minutes and providing it to the children primarily and to me and my husband secondarily. Since our plan to go to Nepal had taken place in a very hasty manner we had not taken lunch at home, so at 12.30 pm we stopped at a Dhaba to take Lunch. Right from our first lunch at the Dhaba till our last dinner which we took at the same Dhaba on Patna highway, we were formed into two groups with me on both sides. My mom and my elder son Armaan was one group and my husband and my younger son was the second group. I was the neutral nation Switzerland and would help both the groups in their plea for help. The first group was vegetarian and a finicky eater and the second group was non-vegetarian and sumptuous eater. I since both, helped both. After the lunch party we started moving towards Raxual which was our ultimate aim for that day. Raxaul is the last town of India on the Nepal border. It is approximately 200 km from Patna, since we started from Nalanda it would be around 260 km. At 12 pm since we were on Patna highway, if we calculate our time from their, we had thought, in about next 5-6 hours we would be in Raxaul, so if possible we will enter Nepal on that day itself. But after leaving Patna behind, we realized that to our horror there are no roads just pit holes, craters or dig outs. After about 5 minutes, I realized that our car is giving us the feel of sitting in a boat. It was really a bumpy ride which was not getting over so far, after a couple of hours I started having a feel , as if I am at rough sea’s and instead of splashes of water, was experiencing kilos and kilos of sand in our car-boat, even after keeping the windows tightly rolled up. Due to the constant rolling and pitching, the young travelers of rough sea had to take numerous leaks. My elder one sometimes get motion sickness and I was fearing that debacle, as, then he gets very irritated and enters the devils cave and fumes and furrows, then nobody can touch him. But to my good fortune nothing happened to him and when I jokingly patted him and congratulated him later that he didn’t face any problem this time, he looked at me the way one would look at a fool, as if what am I talking, as if nothing has happened to him ever. Bouncing on a rough road for about six hours, their came some patches of good or ok category roads, but by the time we felt like enjoying the soothing feel of the road, it would transform into a rough sea and again we weary travelers would roll and pitch and minor accidents like bumps on forehead would also ensue. At one point I felt like Neil Armstrong, as our car-boat defied gravity and took us across a ravine like pit. After crossing quite a many towns and railway crossings we ultimately reached Raxual. It also had a railway crossing which we managed to cross after about 45 minutes. To me Raxaul looked like a town, which has not come out of a sleep, which it started taking in 60’s or 70’s. It still has that retro seedy look. Since it was very late by the time we reached Raxual, there was no question of going ahead. We asked around for a decent enough Lodge to spend the night. Most of the people took the name of Kaveri lodge, so we thought that must be the best lodge around. We started looking for Kaveri Lodge. We did find the Lodge after moving round, up and down on the same street for two three times. Then we asked someone about the Lodge, when the guy looked at us as if we were blind and said so, ”Dikhta nahi kya.” When we looked up at the board, the board was half hidden by a cloth which had fallen over it from a window above the board. The entrance was half a door wide and the walls at the side were spit colored, so doing a tight rope walk and screaming at Arnav at his slightest maneuvers we went upstairs, to our rooms. To everyone’s surprise, upstairs it was though retro it was quite clean. The children and grandma went to one room and me and hubby went to another. As soon as he touched his back to the bed he started snoring, but to my dismay I just couldn’t sleep as from somewhere mosquitoes had entered the room and they were having a round of Kushti with me and most of the rounds they were winning. So ultimately I roused my sleep drenched husband and took him to the children and nani room. There a single mosquito was not present. After an adventurous day the sleep fairy took me in her arms.
Next day we started early in the morning. But before we started a small drama unfurled itself. The lodge keeper told my husband that he would give my husband the Nepali rupee, so with great excitement, my husband gave him some money to exchange. But to me and my husband’s horror, the guy vanished for quite a sometime and didn’t come back soon . We had almost started thinking of many negative ideas when he came back jauntily and gave us the exchange of 1 is to 6. That is 1 Indian rupee equals 1.6 Nepali rupee. So we once again started our journey. After experiencing road blocks with long lines, shabby lodge, as we are Indians we soon started expecting long wait at the border, but it so happened that it did not at all took long, instead we finished our work in approximately 15 minutes. So, very enthusiastically we started our further journey, with songs and games and plans of shopping and sight- seeing. But as it is said man proposes and god disposes. We must have traveled for about 90 km when we saw some cars in front of us. As we were under the impression that Nepal is at a high elevation we thought maybe the roads ahead must be very narrow hence such jam must have taken place. We were still very cool. Thinking we will be on our way soon. This way 15 minutes passed, still there was no sign of us inching ahead. I and my husband decided to walk ahead and find out what was the matter. On talking to some buswala and truckwalas we came to know that the jam is immense due to road construction work and it will really take a long time to get free from here. I was crestfallen, dumbstruck and didn’t know what to do. My husband consoled me that now there was no way out and we have to go by this road itself. So, ultimately we went back to our car and gave this bad news to everybody in the car, i.e. my mother, kids . We somehow kept jumping the line and managed to reach the place where the road work was going on. For about an hour we had to wait for the work to stop. At 5.30 pm the work stopped and the traffic police started leaving the traffic in a systematic way. Thanks to Nepal traffic police that the vehicles started moving ahead otherwise if we would have been in Bihar there would have been utter chaos due to such a long jam. The next 100 km were smooth. My husband drives very well; he brought us to Kathmandu in about two and half hours. After reaching the city, we had to look for our hotel a bit, but soon we got it. The hotel Taleju is little bit inside but is a very beautiful hotel. Due to night time we couldn’t see Kathmandu at all. On reaching the hotel, though we didn’t get anything to eat, but we were very comfortable and nobody complained much as naniji pitara is never empty and my mother took out Parathas and chutney which we relished with tea.
The next day , we got up early in the morning as we were vociferously hungry and ate also in the similar fashion. After a sumptuous breakfast, our gang proceeded for sight-seeing of Kathmandu.
We hired a taxi and started off to see the beautiful Kathmandu. Kathmandu is like any metro city. People of this city looked quite disciplined. The traffic was neat. People were fashionable and beautiful and also looked happy. While talking with the taxi driver I came to know that they were going to have soon elections, that is why construction of roads on massive scale was going on.
I asked about the influence of India on this country. Pa,t I got the answer that, yes Bollywood is very famous in Nepal, and of course they also being Hindu the people continuously visit our country, that was very visible at the border. The Bihari and the Nepali were going to and fro as if there is no border. The taxi driver told me that Nepal being a small state relies heavily on the neighboring big daddies. So, the leaders keep on oscillating between India and China. Sometimes they would call China very friendly and sometimes India. So, he said it all depended on the political parties.
The first place which we went to was the Narayanhity Royal palace where the Royal family lived till 2001. When we came to know about the assassination story of king Birendra and his queen Aishwarya and his family on 1st June 2001, we really felt bad. It was really cruel of Prince Dipendra to commit such a massacre over a love affair which his family did not approved of, if that is what really happened.
The palace is beautiful and since it is of modern era one could understand how the King and his family lived. They have maintained it well and looks like a very huge modern villa. It was magnificent, but not as opulent and almost unimaginable as the palaces of medieval or Mughal era. We enjoyed every moment spent in the palace but missed the snaps as they do not allow to take snaps in the palace. It took us more than an hour to see the whole palace. Numerous photographs have been put up in the corridors and some rooms as well, of the various state heads who have visited the palace.
Our next stoppage was at the Pashupatinath temple which is part of the Jyotirlings and there are many stories related to the temple. The more famous of them is, the Kathmandu valley was ones a lake and Shiva has emptied it. Again at the temple complex we could take the photos but not inside. Inside as well it is very beautiful. The Abhishek on the Pindi takes place from the mouth of a Nandi. The name I felt is apt- Pashupatinath- God of all creatures, animals. The temple complex itself is huge and beautiful. River Bagmati, which is regarded as a holy river is flowing in the midst of the complex. On one ghat is the temple and on the other side funeral rites take place.
Ones you come out of the temple, you would find yourself in a bazaar. Both the sides of the road are lined with so many overflowing stalls selling goods right from puja sahitya till gem stones and ornaments, but one should be careful while buying stuff over here, as we do not know the authenticity of the goods.
After the temple visit we went to Bhaktapur, which is an amazing place. The complete Bhaktapur complex, which is a city was ruled by the Malla dynasty kings in 14-15 century B.C. In Bhaktapur we come to know the medieval history of Nepal. The cobbled roads of Bakhtapur let you lose yourself in its lanes and by lanes. Till 2015 it was one of the best preserved ancient places of a country. But then the massive earthquake took place and so many beautiful structures of Bhaktapur collapsed. This area suffered the most in comparison to other parts of Nepal. Bhaktapur has 4 squares dotted with art and craft shops, beautiful temples and monuments.
The Durbar square is the best one with the golden gate, tantric Devi mandir, Prati Pashupatinath mandir, 55 window palace and all. Bhaktapur is a place where you can just stroll around, sip the Himalayan tea and sit around, take photographs and enjoy.
Then we took a very late lunch on one of the terrace hotels of Bhaktapur. The bird eye view of Bakhtapur was splendid with Gorkhali thali with rice, daal, one green sabji, cauliflower sabji, dahi, achar, topping up with sweet yogurt, something like Maharashtrian shrikhand stirring our taste buds. It was sumptuous.