1. A journey into Tibet – At Kathmandu

posted in: Uncategorized | 15
July 2012
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Arriving in Kathmandu
The flight from Bengaluru to Kathmandu was a smooth affair.
New Delhi was the stopover point where I had to cross immigration. The
officials don’t bother much if you are heading to Nepal. All you need to have
is either a Passport or voter Id (And none of the other documents will be
accepted). And I was surprised to see the Delhi – Kathmandu flight filled with
Kailash pilgrims with few of them chanting “Om Namah Sivaya”. And even more
surprise awaited me when most of them started having beer (Allowed as it is an
International flight). I think I should stop being amused about such stuffs!!
The journey from Delhi to Kathmandu took about 1 hour 20
minutes.  Coming from T3 terminal of New
Delhi, Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International airport looks extremely small. But
what I liked was the traditional touch in the airport. That was something
missing in huge T3.
The immigration was done in a jiffy. Indians are treated
with respect!! They just see the ID card and let you in. No suspicious looks or
questions!! I started liking Nepal!!!!
Thamel area in Kathmandu
Delay in plans
Out of the airport, I was greeted by the representative of
the travel agency. Very soon, I was on the streets of Kathmandu. The drive was
bumpy thanks to the bad road conditions in Kathmandu city. And it is dusty and
polluted. If you are coming from Bengaluru, it is Home feeling as similar
situation is present back in our city!!  
It was here I first came to know about delay in entering
Tibet. The permits and Visa required have not yet arrived. Obviously, I did not
like it.
Let me digress a bit here to explain about the process here.
Though Tibet is in China, having a Chinese visa does not give you the rights to
enter Tibet. First a permit from Chinese Embassy mentioning the places that you
will visit in Tibet is required. That is only issued to a group and not for
single person. For Kailash Manasa Sarovar, China has allowed two travel
agencies in Tibet to conduct this trip. The travel agents from Nepal tie with
these Tibetan counterparts to conduct the yatra. So, first travel agents get
the list of people and submit to Chinese Embassy for permits. Once the permits
are issued, Visa process starts. And there are restrictions on the number of
people who can enter each day.
Hotel I stayed
.
Back to the story. The hotel where stay was arranged was
called Thamel which bears the same name as the area. It was good as it was at
the center of tourist place. I was told that I would be shifted to a better
hotel next day. In fact I found this hotel itself good for me!!
The hotel was mostly filled with Kailash yatris. And most of
them had arrived few days before me and were still waiting for permits. I was
lucky, I thought. My trip is only postponed by couple of days while there were
people waiting indefinitely for the permits. Few people who could not afford
the wait had returned back. That was bad. People were blaming Chinese
authorities, travel agents, Guru Poornima etc.
Here I was joined by few yatris. A large group would be
joining on next day.
Sightseeing
Kathmandu sightseeing was part of the package. The first
place we visited was Pashupatinath Temple, one of the most important Shiva
Temples.
One is not allowed to take the camera inside. Photography is
allowed only outside the Temple.
It was less crowded and hence we could peacefully walk in
the Temple complex and see the deity and surrounding areas.
The Temple has pagoda style of architecture with copper
roofs. It has four doors in each direction which provides the view of the
deity. A huge bronze Nandi is at the entrance of one of the door.
Outside the Temple were some steps that led to a place where
one can get a good view of the Temple.
Pigeons were abundant outside the Temple complex.
We then moved to Jal Narayan situated at the other end of
Kathmandu. We had to reach the base of the hills situated at the end of
Kathmandu valley. It is a simple Temple with Lord Vishnu sleeping on a bed of
snakes.
 
We then visited Swayambhunath situated on top of a hill. One
can climb about 350 steps to reach to the top or use the road built almost to
the top of the hill.
It is a major Buddhist site with a stupa surrounded by
several Temples.
Also, one can get great views of Kathmandu valley.
Narayanhity
Palace museum was not in the itinerary. But I visited it during one of the free
days. It was originally the Palace of Nepal King. After monarchy was disbanded,
King was ordered to vacate the place. Later it was converted to museum. The
museum gives an idea on the lifestyle of Nepal Kings. This was the place where
2001 Nepal Royal Massacre tool place. The building where the tragedy occurred
has been demolished but the remains are still seen.
Few points:
– Indian Rupee is widely accepted in Nepal. The current exchange rate is 1.6 Nepal Rupee for each INR. Note that 500 and 1000 rupee denominations are not accepted.
– Narayanity Palace Museum only accepts Nepal currency.
– Indians just need either a passport or voter ID card to enter Nepal.

15 Responses

  1. Vivek

    makes for a nice read GJ and I like those personalized watermark/signature on the pics!

    cant wait for part 2&3, when we will get to manasa sarovar ?!?! 😉

  2. Aravind GJ

    Chetana,
    Thanks!! Yes… one of the few places where INR has value!!

    Anuradha,
    Thanks for your comments…. sooner the better!!!!

    Vivek,
    Nice to see you back…. It's a long way to Manasa Sarovar!!

    Niranjan, Vineeta,
    Thanks!!

    Abhijeet,
    Thanks. will post ASAP.

  3. Srikanth Manjunath

    Nepal where our annavru had a lovely time as James bond in operation diamond rocket..

    Nice narration..great photos…on the waiting list for your next posts Arvind

  4. Unknown

    Aravind, I need to plan my trip too… did you choose a travel agent for this trip or planned evrything by yourself ??

    I'm confused where to start

  5. Aravind GJ

    Unknown,
    The only way to go is via travel agency. I went though Satyam tours and travels from Nepal.

    There are also several agencies in Indian cities who link up with Nepal travel agents.

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