“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” – Moorish proverb
Before I begin, I wanna tell you that, this is my first attempt into blogging, let alone a travelogue. But the basic reason for this post is simple, A lot of posts by lot of “unknown people” helped me in through my numerous journeys. So its time, I return the favour to the netizens. So, here it goes…
This is about my trip to explore a few places in Nepal. If you are a travel enthusiast, you would’ve considered visiting Nepal. If not, I’d urge you to think about it. If you are an Indian citizen, then, going to Nepal is as easy as going to any state in India. My journey begins from Kanpur. With me are Ashwin and Vijin, two travel maniacs like me.
Everything obeys the Murphy’s law, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. The 1st thing that went wrong was getting a ticket from Kanpur to Gorakhpur. Guess what, even after standing in Q for nearly 4 hours, we still couldn’t get a tatkal ticket, thanks to the “exceptional” typing speed of the gentleman at the counter. But luck was on our side, as we managed to get a 3rd AC ticket from Lucknow to Gorakhpur. And so the journey begins…
October 20th, 2012
First job was to get a bus to Lucknow and we ended up waiting for nearly 2 hours for the Volvo (They are damn cheap compared to Kerala), not to mention the high speed lunch with our eyes glued to the watch, since we over estimated the punctuality of Indians. The 4 hour wait in Lucknow was shared between a mall and the “you-know-how” railway station waiting room. We arrived early morning in Gorakhpur and freshened up in the “not-so-bad” railway waiting room. Now it was time to head to Sonauli, the Indo-Nepal border. You might see a number of jeeps calling out to you, but I’d recommend a govt bus or train to Nautanwa. Thanks to a passerby, we found ourselves in a 4 hour passenger train ride to Nautanwa and a Rs.10 savari took us to the border.
The most striking feature about the border is that, it doesn’t look like an international border, the border between 2 countries!! If you are an Indian citizen, all you have to do is walk across the border, and smile at the security guards. Trust me, not a single soul is gonna ask for an ID card. Do visit the tourism office in Nepal (The building to your right immediately after the Nepal Gate) and get all the maps and pamphlets available. You’d be surprised to see the hospitality of the tourism guy. (Or may be we just got lucky)
Congrats! You are in Nepal. Better get your currency converted from any of the money changers you see. No Commission!! 1000 INR will give you 1600 NR. If you have an SBI card, you’ll find SBI ATMS both in Kathmandu and Pokhara and will dispatch NR with no commission. You can even give Indian currency in any shop in Nepal. Just for trivia, If you buy something in Nepal for NR 45 and pay INR 100, guess what, there is a good news and a bad news. The good news is that the shopkeeper return you Rs.115. But, the bad news is, its Nepali currency.
So, once you have your wallet full, its time to experience Nepal. If you have time to spare, ie atleast 4 hours before 5 pm, do visit Lumbini. But before that, do figure out a way to get to Kathmandu. We booked overnight bus tickets from Sonauli. (Consider the worst bus you can ever imagine).
Just 3km from Sonauli is Bhairawa from where you can get a local bus to take you to Lumbini – The birth place of Lord Buddha. Its just a 25km ride and will take close to an hour. Once in Lumbini, you have a lot to see, ranging from Maya Devi Temple (The exact birth location of Lord Buddha) to numerous Monasteries built by over a dozen countries in their traditional architecture. If you are not interested in walking, do hire a rickshaw. We were good as dead by the time we covered half the places with our heavy backpacks. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see them all as they closed at 5 pm. But it is a must see place as far as I’m concerned. The serene and calm atmosphere of Lumbini will surely entice you.
Back in Bhairawa, I took myself a Nepal sim card (NCell). It was a simple procedure and all i had to do was produce an Indian ID card (Now that’s really cool!!). And don’t be alarmed, if they ask your grandfather’s name as well. The Night bus took us to Kathmandu, which is about 300km from Bhairawa. Let me warn you, this is not the kind of a journey you’d wanna embark, if you are a girl or you have a girl with you. We were so delighted to get ourselves a seat in the last row of a bus which was devoid of a shock absorber. And to make matters worse, a Hindi dubbed Telugu action movie was being played at very high volume (A nice lullaby to put you to sleep). Nevertheless it worked, as we were so tired after the tyrst with Lumbini.
For interested travellers, I can offer a plan B and a plan C depending on the weight of your wallet. You can take a flight to Kathmandu from Bhairawa (Hardly 45 mins, I suppose) or you can hire yourself a cab to take you through the beautiful valleys, ups and downs, and twists and turns on the road to Kathmandu.
Next stop, Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal…