A comprehensive trek in the Annapurna range
A comprehensive trek in the Annapurna range
From the colours and magic of Kathmandu's markets to the serenity of Himalayan trails, this 10-day adventure offers an intriguing blend of well-paced excursions. The rugged foothills of the Annapurna Range will reward those willing to break a sweat with stunning views of mountain vistas.
A stunning overland Tibetan journey from Lhasa to Kathmandu with a visit to Everest Base Camp
This century-old red house at the end of ‘Seven Bends’ is part of a Belgian-run chain of travellers’ cafes that is part restaurant, part lounge bar, and part hostel. The food is mostly European, with some specifically Belgian touches, and the excellent brunch menu stretches to French toast, crêpes and Greek omelettes.
A popular activity from Kathmandu is to take an early morning scenic mountain flight along the spine of the Himalaya for close-up views of Mt Everest and other peaks from a distance of just 5 nautical miles. All major airlines offer the hour-long flights and each passenger on the six- to 30-seat turbo props is guaranteed a window seat.
You’ll find Bhanchha Ghar in a traditional three-storey Newari house in Kamaladi, just east of Durbar Marg, next to a Ganesh Temple. There is an upstairs loft bar where you can stretch out on handmade carpets and cushions for a drink, snacks and the obligatory cultural show (try to arrive before 7pm).
If, after having travelled all the way to Nepal, you actually fancy some Nepali food (!), this upstairs restaurant is a modern place popular with local Thamel workers on their lunch break. Most opt for the daal bhaat (rice, curry and lentil soup) but there’s also a range of Thakali snacks such as bandel (wild boar) and aa lang kho, a dried meat, cheese and radish soup.
On your left as you leave the main square along Makhan Tole is the Great Bell, elevated atop a white building erected by Rana Bahadur Shah 9son of Prithvi Narayan Shah) in 1797.
A Japanese restaurant that is full of Japanese travellers is almost always a good sign. Dishes include udon noodles, cold soba noodles, rice bowls, bento boxes and gyoza dumplings (the Japanese version of a momo) but most people opt for one of the set meals, which come with salad, miso soup and pickles.
Halfway between Chhetrapati and Durbar Sq, the Nara Devi Temple is dedicated to Kali, Shiva’s destructive consort. It’s also known as the Seto (White) Kali Temple. It is said that Kali’s powers protected the temple from the 1934 earthquake, which destroyed so many other temples in the valley.
The history of the octagonal Krishna Temple is well documented. It was built in 1648–49 by Pratap Malla, perhaps as a response to rival Siddhinarsingh’s magnificent Krishna Temple in Patan. Inside there are images of Krishna and two goddesses, which, according to a Sanskrit inscription, are modelled on the king and his two wives.
Immediately across from Bhimsen Temple is the sunken Manga Hiti, one of the water conduits with which Patan is liberally endowed. The tank contains a cruciform-shaped pool and three wonderfully carved dhara (water spouts) in the shape of makara (mythical crocodile-elephants).
South of Mul Chowk is the smaller Sundari Chowk, arranged around a superbly carved sunken water tank known as the Tusha Hiti . Unfortunately, the courtyard is closed to the public, but swing by the gateway to view the gilded metal window over the entrance, which is flanked by windows of carved ivory.
Next door to Pilgrims, this reliable and pleasant open-air spot is the place for serious breakfast devotees (huevos rancheros included), with the option of half or full portions. The Mexican and Indian tandoori dishes (dinner only) are excellent and the comfort food spreads to good burgers, nachos and even chilli fries.
The Newari deity Bhimsen is said to watch over traders and artisans, so it’s quite appropriate that the ground floor of this well-kept temple should be devoted to shop stalls. An image of Bhimsen used to be carried to Lhasa in Tibet every 12 years to protect those vital trade routes, until the route was closed by the flight of the Dalai Lama in 1959.
Nepal’s only zoo is in the southwestern part of Patan by the Jawalakhel roundabout. The animals live in better conditions than you might expect and there are always crowds of local kids being wowed by such exotic creatures as elephants, tigers, leopards, hyenas, gaur, deer, blue bulls, gharials, giant tortoises, langur monkeys and some very noisy hippos.