Nepal being a country full of diverse landscapes and countless cultures, has more to offer than just Pokhara and Chitwan. Despite living in a country full of wonders, it is easy to get lost in the mainstream travel destinations. So this new year why not opt for the road less travelled and visit some of the lesser known travel destinations of Nepal and see what more the country has to offer.
Two years after the earthquake, one of the worst hit villages has been making an effort to move on and rebuild their lives. The Gurung village of Laprak situated at 2200 meters may have seen some bad times, but it still carries great beauty and the peoples hospitality. You can visit the village to experience authentic Gurung culture and food. The Laprak village has a great view of the Annapurna Range including Mt Manaslu, Himal Chuli and Boudha Himal. It is a great place to trek to if you are short on time since it only takes about three days to trek from Gorkha to Laprak.
Located in the hills at the edge of Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, the Pathibhara Temple is much revered by those that are spiritual. Pathibhara is a goddess worshipped mainly by the Limbu and Rai communities but the temple is also visited by other Buddhist and Hindus. The Goddess is believed to be powerful and fulfill the wishes of those who visit her temple and make offerings. It takes a day long hike to reach to the temple from Taplejung Bazaar that can be reached in a vehicle from Birtamode or take a longer trekking route from Dharan passing through Dhankuta, Hile, Sindha and Basantapur. Since the temple lies in the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, the trek route offers the natural beauty of flora and fauna where you can spot numerous species of birds and rhododendrons.
Who doesn’t like to explore a cave in the wild? Add to that a lore that dates back thousands of years and you have yourself a destination worth visiting at least once. The Halesi Mahadev Temple is situated in Khotang district that takes a 24 hour long journey from Kathmandu. Although the travel may be exhausting, the temple is worth the trouble as you get to explore one of the most mysterious and lore heavy temples of Nepal. The cave is believed to be where the Hindu God Shiva fought the demon Bhasmasur. It is also believed that the Buddhist spiritual teacher, Guru Padmasambhav meditated in this cave thousands of years ago. The cave that is 62 feet underground is filled with idols of both Hindu and Buddhist gods as well as prayer flags. This place, filled with natural beauty is a wonder of nature that will entice any traveler who visits here.
Located in the Far East of the country with the luscious green fields filled with tea plantations is Ilam. Although this place has great weather and scenery, it is often overlooked as a travel destination. You can visit the Ilam Bazaar by passing through tea plantations and view the tea plucking during season. One can also get the vibes of Darjeeling in this region as most of the tea collected here is exported across the border to actually make Darjeeling tea!
Located in the far western region of Nepal, Khaptad National Park is a place rarely visited by travelers since it is quite far from the capital. However, the place is a breath of fresh air with miles of grasslands dotted with bright flowers and wild horses. Khaptad is also known for its religious importance where Khaptad Baba lived in seclusion for fifty years. The place offers serene beauty everywhere you turn and is definitely one of the most remote places in Nepal to visit.
An enchanted place that looks like it came straight out of a fairytale. Panch Pokhari meaning Five Lakes is indeed a hill covered with five beautiful lakes in Sindupalchowk. It is the 9th highest wetland in the world surrounded by panoramic view of the nearby mountains. Panch Pokhari is a place that rarely receives travelers except on Janai Purnima when people visit the temple situated here. Although reaching Sindupalchowk only takes a few hours from Kathmandu, reaching Panch Pokhari does require a short trek as it is situated on top of a hill.
Located South to the border of Nepal and India in the village of Sakhada lays the temple of Chinnamasta Bhagwati, also known as the Goddess with the severed head. As the legend goes, an idol of the goddess was recovered while digging the site for construction. But the idol’s head was already severed when it was found so the temple was built in devotion to Chinnamasta. The temple sees a lot of Nepali and Indian devotees especially during Dashain. The place is also famous for other temples like Shambhunath and Kankalini. Lying next to the Nepal-India border, it is also a great place to observed Terai’s cultural and ethnical diversities.
Situated 20 kilometers North of Pokhara, Lwang village is a peaceful settlement that lays on the alternative trekking route to Mardi Himal. Protected under the Annapurna Conservation Area Project, Lwang is a picturesque village that flourishes in organic tea farming. The village is reachable through a 2 hour ride on a local jeep from Hemja. You can visit for a day or spend a couple of days basking in the tranquil environment away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Homestays are quite well managed and you can also visit the tea farms or go for canyoning in the waterfalls.
The Gokyo valley lies to the West of Khumbu region. This short trek begins from Namche Bazaar and requires only three days to reach the valley. The valley is well known for its crystal clear water that flow from the largest glaciers of the world and the panoramic view of four of the tallest mountains including Mt. Everest. Visitors can also trek up to Gokyo Ri or Gokyo peak within a day.
One of the largest bird habitations in Nepal, Koshi Tappu is definitely a must go for all travel enthusiasts. The Wildlife Resort is home to hundreds of birds and animals native to Nepal. The place is famous for bird watching where 493 species of bird have been spotted. Other habitants include the Gangetic Dolphin that can be spotted from the Koshi Barrage Bridge. Chitwan may be famous for one horned rhinos but if you wish to explore more of Nepal’s diverse wildlife, this is the place to be.
One of the best examples of heritage conservation, Nuwakot is considered one of the richest in terms of culture. This place is known for its historical importance signified by the Saat Talle Durbar or the Seven Storied Durbar that served as a fort during the unification of Nepal by Prithvi Narayan Shah in the 18th century. The Trishuli River that passes through Nuwakot district provides hydropower for two Hydropower stations but close to the Trishuli River also lies the old Trishuli bazaar that makes you feel like you’ve travelled back in time. Nuwakot offers resorts built in cultural architecture and it is a great place to bask in heritage and hospitality.
Widely known as the Dhaka capital of Nepal, Palpa can be visited on a detour en route to Pokhara. With its numerous shops selling clothes made of Dhaka, colorful, hand loomed cloths that originated in this district, this place is a great shopping destination to shop for rich, cultural clothes especially the Dhaka Topi and Dhaka ko khasto. You can also visit the Ranighat Palace at the banks of the Kali Gandaki River or go for a short hike up to the windy Shrinagar Hill and view the Dhawalagiri, Tukuche, Nilgiri, Annapurana,Himchuli peaks in close view. The ancient city of Tansen is also a great place to spend the day wandering around and admiring the temples and architecture.