31 December 2019
General
Nepal
135
nepal, lumbini, pokhara, kathmandu
0

The first stop of the second half of our India/Nepal tour was to Lumbini, Nepal. Lumbini is the accepted birthplace of the Buddha and has become a pilgrimage site for Buddhists and tourists alike. Surprisingly, Lumbini has only become an important attraction since it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Considering what we would assume to be an important religious site, Lumbini was surprisingly absent of many tourists or even pilgrims. Of course not having to navigate around crowds of people is always welcomed.

Local people taking a break on their visit to Lumbini.
Local people taking a break on their visit to Lumbini.

The main attraction of Lumbini is the The Pillar of Ashoka and The Mayadevi Temple. The temple was built on top of the site where the Buddha was born and the pillar marks the location Emperor Ashoka visited in the 3rd century BC.

The Pillar of Ashoka with the Mayadevi Temple in the background.
The Pillar of Ashoka with the Mayadevi Temple in the background.

After a short visit to Lumbini we were back on the bus headed towards Chitwan National Park. This provided us the opportunity to see the country side of rural Nepal. Many colorful houses sat along the road often with children running out to wave at us as we drove by. 

Colorful house on the road to Chitwan National Park.
Colorful house on the road to Chitwan National Park.
A couple of local kids playing and amused at us passing by.
A couple of local kids playing and amused at us passing by.

Chitwan National Park is a preserve for wildlife, most notably rhinos are protected there. In the park you can go on a mini-safari where local rangers will drive you in jeeps to locations known to have active wildlife. 

Rhinos in Chitwan National Park
Rhinos in Chitwan National Park

On the way back from our Jeep safari we came across a crowd of locals excited by a large snake that had been caught. A large constrictor snake was caught because it was considered a danger to the community. The locals were nice enough to drag it out to the outskirts of the village without killing it. They were also quite pleased to show it off to us before they dragged it off.

Our safari ranger feeding the snake an egg.
Our safari ranger feeding the snake an egg.

After our visit to Chitwan National Park we set out for the city of Pokhara. We again had an excellent ride through the countryside where we made a brief stop at a suspension bridge built across a good sized gorge. The bridge served a small community on the other side of the gorge by has also become a roadside attraction for tourists.

Out for a walk on a suspension bridge built across a good sized gorge.
Out for a walk on a suspension bridge built across a good sized gorge.

Homemade swings made out of bamboo was another common site along our route.

Kids playing on a homemade swing.
Kids playing on a homemade swing.

We finally arrived in Pokhara and settled in. Pokhara turned out to be a decent sized city and a nice little tourist trap on a lake. It's considered to be the tourist capital for people coming to Nepal seeking adventure. It's located in the middle of the country and provides good access to the mountains for anyone looking to climb the Himalayas. Teams of serious climbers from all over the world were a common site around town. The lakeside featured a thriving tourist/backpacker district with lots of hostels, hotels, restaurants and shops.

Overlooking Pokhara
Overlooking Pokhara
The World Peace Pagoda Overlooking Pokhara
The World Peace Pagoda Overlooking Pokhara

After Pokhara, we headed out for our last stop of the tour, Kathmandu. Kathmandu, is of course the capital of Nepal and is as busy of a capital city as you would expect. In between all the hustle and bustle are some very interesting places to visit. Our fist site was the famous Swayambhunath Stupa.

Swayambhunath Stupa
Swayambhunath Stupa
A monkey checking out the tourists.
A monkey checking out the tourists.

Patan Durbar Square is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must see for any visit to Kathmandu. It's main attraction is an ancient royal palace where the Malla Kings of Lalitpur lived. Damage from the 2015 earthquake was still very visible however reconstruction efforts are well underway.

Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square
Man in Kathmandu
Man in Kathmandu
Always keep up with the
Always keep up with the
Many buildings were damaged by the 2015 earthquake.
Many buildings were damaged by the 2015 earthquake.

Like most well traveled cities there was an active backpacker district in Kathmandu. It featured the usual assortment of restaurants, cafes, tour companies, hostels and bars.  

Backpacker district in Kathmandu.
Backpacker district in Kathmandu.

Local activity wasn't hard to find in Kathmandu. You only had to walk a block from the backpacker district to find locals carrying about their daily business. Colorful fresh produce always makes for a charming stop. 

Fresh produce for sale on the streets of Kathmandu.
Fresh produce for sale on the streets of Kathmandu.

Our last little adventure was to take a sightseeing flight of Mt. Everest. This was a short 45 minute flight from the Kathmandu airport to fly in front of Mt Everest and back. It was a little pricey and I was reluctant to do it but in the end it was well worth it. We were treated to an excellent view of Everest and the surrounding Himalayas. We also were each allowed to visit the cockpit and get a head on view of Everest as we approached. In the end it was $200 well spent. 

Turboprop plane to take us to Mt Everest
Turboprop plane to take us to Mt Everest
View of Mt Everest from the plane.
View of Mt Everest from the plane.