A journey into the Himalayan country of Nepal and the one town, Gorkha, where the country can trace its origin back to. The cradle of courage hidden away in the folds of the mighty mountains, a visit to Gorkha is like taking a journey back to a magical time.
My work gives me the unique opportunity to travel to different places and learn about people, places and cultures. One of my recent journeys found me in Nepal, one of the best-known tourist destinations in the world.
Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of the modern state of Nepal, was also the first King of the Gorkha Kingdom. He founded the Kingdom of Nepal in 1768 and the state continued till 2008. And the town of Gorkha is where it all began.
Gorkha is one of the oldest towns in the country that lies 140 kilometres from Kathmandu, present day capital of Nepal. It takes around 4 hours to travel this distance but the town, settled in the lap of the mountains, is truly worth a visit.
The crowning jewel of the town, Gorkha Palace, is situated at the top of a hill. It makes for a wonderful 40-50 minutes walk from Gorkha Bazar and a great opportunity to soak in the natural scenic beauty. For those zipping through the town, cars are allowed close to the palace although there will still be a 5 minutes trek uphill to the palace. It is among the few survivors of the tragic 2015 Nepal Earthquake; a reminder of the strength of the people and a representation of the rich history of the nation.
From the entrance, you have to make your way up 100 steps to the base of the remains of the palace, to stand at the top of the hill for a commanding view of everything below.
Towards the west of the palace lies the famous Gorakhkali Temple which suffered a lot of damages during the Nepal Earthquake. Please check whether you are allowed to go there or not at the entrance. I had visited the palace after the 2015 earthquake and was not allowed to explore much because of the damaged walls.
Even if you do not get total access to explore the palace, nature serves as the most wonderful companion. From the steps, you can enjoy the beautiful view of Manaslu (the 8th highest mountain peak of the world), Dhaulagiri and Ganesh mountain peaks clad in snow.
The steps serve as a great sunset viewing point. Check with the locals on the correct time to watch the sunset before you visit the palace.
Another highlight in the Palace is the Gorakhnath Cave, situated 10 metres down the southern side. Every year, on the day of Baishakh Purnima (usually falls in the month of April), a fair is organised at this place which brightens up the hill.
Looking back while returning to the town, the palace – now a shiny red spot on the hill – seemed to be watching over me. To get the most out of your visit to Gorkha, wake up early in the morning to gaze out of a window to witness a surreal image of how the town and all the mountains seem to be floating in the clouds.
All the deep valleys are filled with white clouds. However, this magical view is reserved for early birds alone. The sun is soon up in the sky and its warmth causes all the clouds to float away. Once witnessed, this magical image tends to linger on in the mind.
Since you are awake, you might want to head out for a morning walk towards the downstream. Walk right till the end of the lower flat top of the hill on which the town is settled. You will feel that you are in a creek in the land of white clouds.
By the time you start returning to your hotel, the clouds also start moving up, egged on by the morning sunlight.
Nature is at its purest at Gorkha and it is essential that we keep it that way. Please avoid carrying plastic bags or littering around town. All travellers fancy a clean place to visit and we need to help each other by keeping it that way.
Accommodation is limited in Gorkha town with a couple of decent eating joints. You will enjoy every moment in this town as long as you respect the hospitality you are offered. Gorkha does not have luxuries known to city-breds and only basic service standards and accommodation options are available.
Gorkha town does not have a currency exchange counter, so make sure you get your money exchanged to Nepali Taka at Kathmandu or any major city of Nepal. Indians are lucky in this regard as the Indian Rupee is widely accepted in Nepal.
Best to keep converted cash at hand for your visit to Gorkha as debit/credit cards are not accepted in most places.
– Text and photographs are by Sheikh Khairul Rahaman