The newly explored off-the-beaten trail in eastern Nepal comprises of natural beauty, rich bio-diversity, Kirati-Rai civilization, culture, lifestyles, and wide-ranging landscape view of Himalayan, mid-hill and Terai regions.
The area is largely inhabited by Kirati- Rai communities for centuries, adjoining are Brahman, Chhetri, Newars, Magars and Dalit settlements. According to an expert, Mundum is a verbal scripture of Kirati people that elucidate rituals, lifestyles and traditions. Since ancient time these hills (Temke, Mehrung, Maiyung, Salpa Pokhari) were pilgrimage pathways used by Mundumi (Kirati guru) to reach the sacred Silichung hill.
The trail meets Arun Valley trek at Salpa Bhanjyhang, the footsteps of the first Everest explorers. Few guidebooks have mentioned that HW Tillman had walked from Hile to Lukla through Arun valley in 1950. It takes you through the lush green landscape of the mid-hill region, with steep climbs and strenuous path particularly upon reaching Siluchung hill.
We drove a 12 hour long jeep journey from Kathmandu along Sindhuli - Khurkot along mid-hill road. We visited Halesi Temple en-route, a common pilgrimage center of Hindus, Buddhists and Kiratis. The devotees were busy in meditation and worshipping activities. In one and half hours drive, we reached Diktel Bazaar, the headquarters of Khotang district. Early next morning, we ascended for 1.5 hour to reach the hilltop of Rupakot (2526m). We saw a wide range of snow-clad mountains like Dudhkunda, Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, etc from the hilltop.
This hilltop is a popular picnic spot and place of worship during festive seasons. The touristic potential of this hilltop is awaiting infrastructure development and promotional activities. After lunch we drove to Chakhewa Pass (2300 m), 42 km eastward along the mid-hill highway. The border between Bhojpur and Khotang district is the starting point for Mundum Trek. There are local lodges available at Chakhewa.
The next morning, we set off on our hike to Tempke Hill. The hill is famous for its religious importance and also a popular tourist destination among the local people. During our hike up to Temke, we were greeted by the dazzling sunrise. The gradual ascending hike of two and half hour towards south from Chakhewa is rewarding. It is a steady uphill hike through the lush rhododendron forest. Temke Hilltop is situated at 3010m from the sea level and is commonly shared by Bhojpur and Khotang district.
When we reached the hilltop, it was a windy morning. Our friends Pabi Hang, Shyam, Mohan and Ensu had already reached the summit. When we finally reached, Amrit ji and Pawan ji started capturing images while Ensu was astounded on witnessing panoramic view of Himalayas view. He exclaimed that he had never seen such a wide Himalayan range during the 19 years, working as a guide and climber. The hilltop provides excellent panoramic 180 0 view of Himalayan ranges from Manaslu, Dorje Lakpa, Numbur, Karyalung, Gaurishankar, Kwangde, Choyu, Kusum Kangaroo, Thamserku, Khangtega, Kyasar, Mera Peak, Nuptse, Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Chamlang (Dhurbe hatti himal), Makalu to Kanchenjunga in the east.
There are Mahadev Temple and Jogi Cave nearby and its surrounding is a breathtaking place to stroll around. It's a wonderful hilltop trip, one will regret if missed!
The steady and gentle trek from Chakhewa Bhanjyang (2300m) northward, follows a long ridge-walk. The highlands have been a livestock grazing area of local people for centuries. The vast pastureland is rich in wildlife and vegetation.
Ramesh Rai, a researcher said more than 12 species of rhododendrons bloom during spring season. There are several ponds along the ridges which are main sources of water for the wild animals and livestock. A moderate 5-6 hours of trek along the ridges reaches Dhotre Deurali (2752m).
There are few herders' home where Nepali food and basic homestay facility is available.
The trail continues the next day with similar altitude level passing through pastureland of sub- tropical, temperate and sub-alpine forests. Uninterrupted flat ridge-walk, breathtaking Himalayan ranges throughout the trek along the forested land with mid-hill landscapes view far and wide keeps journey interesting.
An easy 4-5 hour gentle hike reaches Haans Pokhari (Duck Pond, 2962m). Maiyung Danda (3333m) lies to north-east standing tall at a few hour climb - a viewpoint worth climbing.
The dense forest has a variety of flora like rhododendron, oak , orchid, chinquapin, juniper and medicinal plants, etc. Walking through open ridges with clear blue sky, the amazing landscape views are a lifetime experience. The area is peaceful and quiet and simply an unbelievable journey in no man's land. Just a few hours below the ridges lies the scattered Rai settlement while the upper area is covered with meadow and forest richly inhabited by wild animals like wild boar, thar, barking deer, red panda and birds like peasants, wild duck , partridges and others.
There are several Chautara (resting place) built by Kirati ancestors at every couple of hours walks. Then trail heads north, after few ups and downs path reaches Saatdobate (3122m). The lunch can be taken nearby Saatdobate and Hyakule as source of water are easily available around. While trekking along the ridges, one will encounter shepherds' huts at a distance of every few hours.
The steep climb from Lauri Danda to Rawa Dhap (3426m) takes about 2 -3 hours, where few goths (cowsheds) are available. The herders usually built shelters close by water sources which was a great help for us to set up camp.
The next day it was a gentle trek of 5-6 hours. We came across chhorten , prayer flags, and Choutara. One will reach Salpa Bhanjyang (3348m) a pass that adjoins with Arun Valley trek.
Salpa Pokhari (3500m), a sacred pond is just 500m north from the pass where hundreds of devotees gather to pay homage to fulfill their wishes.
The trail returns the same way from Salpa Bhanjyang towards Rawadhap, Hyakule, Saatdobate, Maiyung, finally descending to Pakhuwa Bhanjyang then Suntale to Bhojpur Bazaar. Alternatively, the route of Arun Valley trek can be followed. It takes 10-12 days to complete the trail.
When I shared my journey, an assistant professor Chiranjibi Bhandari from the department of CPDS, TU opined that trekkers from the world will experience unique culture, hospitality and natural beauty of eastern Nepal. He also expressed his interest to visit the place soon for both research and trekking purpose.
Day1: Kathmandu – Diktel, 1650m (appx 265 km by Jeep)
Day2: Diktel – Chakhewa, 2300m (appx 42km jeep/bus)
Day3: Chakhewa- Dhotre Deurali, 2752m
Side Trip: Temke Hill 3010m ( Side trip hike 2-3 hr)
Day4: Dhotre Deurali – Saatdobate, 3122m
Day5: Raba Dhap- Salpa Bhanjyang, 3348m
Day6: Saatdobate-Rawa Dhap, 3426m
Day7: Salpa Bhanjyang (Kulpankha)- Silichung, 4153m
Day8: Salpa Bhajyang- Rest day
Day9: Salpa Bhanjyang- Hyakule, 2972m
Day10: Hyakule – Haanspokhari, 2962m
Day11: Haanspokhari – Bhojpur, 1600m
Day12: Explore and sightseeing Bhojpur and Taksar ( rest day)
Day13: Bhojpur- Kathmandu (by bus /Air)
The highest point of Bhojpur district, also a common pilgrimage center for Buddhist, Hindus and Kirati. It shares a common border with Solukhumbu, Bhojpur, Khotang ,and Sankhuwasabha. It takes about 3-4 hours steep climb to reach the top from Salpa Bhanjyang. It provides excellent sunrise and sunset views.
The hilltop offers close-up stunning views of Dorje Lakpa, Numbur, Karyalung, Gaurishankar, Shishapangma , Kwangde, Choyu, Kusum Kangaroo, Thamsekrku, Khangtega, Kyasar, Mera Peak, Nuptse, Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Chamlang (Dhurbe hatti himal), Makalu to Kanchenjunga in the east. The ridge has great religious importance for Kirati people. It is the final summit where Mundumi receives final blessing from their gurus.
Khukuri, the national weapon of Nepal is known as a symbol of bravery, strength and pride among Nepalis and Gurkha Armies abroad. These edged-knives were widely used for hand-to-hand combat in First and Second World Wars. Some commonly known Khukuris are Angkhola Khukuri, Bhojpure Khukuri, Chainpure Khukuri, Chitlange Khukuri, Chirwa Chiruwa Khukuri, Dhankute Khukuri, Ganjawla Khukuri, Panawala Khukuri, Sirupate Khukuri etc.
Bhojpure Khukuri is renowned for its speed and sharpness in Nepal and abroad. Skilled craftsman prepared this magical knife by continually heating pure iron, smelting, hammering then finally shaping it into the legendary Khukuri. Other souvenirs from Bhojpur includes Chhurpi, Rudraksha beads, Karuwa, Khajuri and cardamom.
Mundum trekking trail is a newly explored trail in eastern Nepal. It is an easy ridge-walk, which passes along several ridges of Tempke, Chakhewa, Dhotre deurali, Maiyung, Satdobate, Raba Dhap and Salpa bhanjyang.
The trail is suitable for all age-groups, and promoted as an all season trekking destination. Experience the wide ranges of Himalayan views from Mt. Everest to Mt. Kanchenjunga, and long stretches of snow-clad mountains in the north, while passing through the rhododendron and himalayan bamboo forests. There are ponds, meadows, rivers and streams. It is an easy and excellent trek with altitudes ranging from 2000m to 4000m for 8-10 days. Fascinating panoramic Himalayas, landscapes mid-hill views, Kirati – Rai people with their rich culture and lifestyles along with indigenous cuisine are major highlights of the trail. The trail was recently explored by Temke Salpa Silichung Tourism Promotion Center with support from Nepal Tourism Board and TAAN. In addition Tempke Maiyung Rural Municipality , Bhojpur Municipality and Diktel Rupakot Majhuwagadhi Municipality extended assistance during exploration. A team of tourism expert from Concept Nepal cooperated the exploration program.
Best time to visit: All year round
Level of Trek: Easy /Medium/Strenuous
Type of accommodations: Local lodges/Homestay/Camping
Foods and beverage: Rice, lentil soup, seasonal vegetable and raksi/tongba (Dal- Bhat and local food)
Clothing and equipment: Light trousers for summer and warm for winter, t-shirts, trekking
boots, pair of shocks, Jackets, raincoat for summer. Camping tent, sleeping bags, food supplies, medicine kit etc.
1) Kathmandu - Khurkot - Halesi - Diktel - Chakhewa ( Jeep/Bus appx 313 km)
2) Kathmandu - Sindhuli –Bardibas-Dharan-Hile-Bhojpur (Bus appx 452 km)
3) Kathmandu- Bhojpur (By Air 30 min)