Category Archives: Nepal

Nepal

Kagbeni_017 Kagbeni  -  Nepal Nepal  Nepal Mustang Kagbeni Himalayas

Kagbeni – Nepal

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Village of Kagbeni, Mustang, Nepal

Lat/Lng: 28.8696315 , 83.570964

First is getting there.  The planes that take you to the closest airstrip in the town of Jomsom,  are little 10 seater prop planes that feel very very small compared to the VERY VERY large mountains you are flying through.  Thankfully, they come equipped with a very very skilled pilot!  The trip is extremely windy; a white knuckle that is not for the faint of heart.  Our plane could not fly straight most of the flight; it was sort of blown up the valley  in a diagonal position.   Sort of like a Labrador who’s hind legs are faster then their front, and they run with their body a quarter turn from true.  Now make that dog a plane and put yourself inside with the smell of gasoline and the ground way below, the wind screaming in your ears and the mountains looming all around … I have a vision burned in my mind of our pilot, a large Nepalese man in a crisp white shirt, smart blue jacket and aviator shades, arms ram-rod straight, hands clamped, eyes forward, rock solid … his stoicism gave me confidence in our survival.

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We made it, though everyone agreed it was one of the more touchy jumps they had made.

Once back on lovely mother earth, we were driven a bumpy 10km  to our final destination; the medieval village ofl Kagbeni.  If you have a bit more time and the weather is pleasant  you can make the same trek by foot or horse.

Kagbeni lies on the banks at the confluence of Kali Gandaki and Jhong Rivers.  At  2,800m (9,186 ft.) of altitude;  you find yourself sitting on the Annapurna Circuit  and the gateway to Upper Mustang.  This part of the world has the ability to make you feel very very small.  You feel yourself very alone, among these giants of the world.

The town played a very significant role during “Salt Trade” era that flourished between Tibet and Nepal and today is a collection of mud brick houses, temples and rural life.  You are close to the edge of the world here; any you can feel it in the high thin air and desolate river beds.

We stayed  at the Red House Lodge.   It was December and it was freezing; (not really a smart time to go).  With no heater in the rooms,  the only warm spot was the glass enclosed dining area on the rooftop during the day, which warmed with the only available heater and the smashing sunlight.  Fortunately,  the ever present chai tea is available any time and  is served in a thermos!

The  Red Lodge houses a Chapel  with beautiful wall printings and a idol of Maitreya and a very impressive Mandala.  It is as lovely a place as is to found.  You are well beyond mod-cons up here.  This fact sinks in when you realize that everything you see was hand carried over  the same trek that was arduous by plane and car.

Your stay in Kagbeni will be personal to you.  It is incredibly photogenic, so let’s let the pictures to the rest of the talking.

~abv

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Kag Chode Thupten Samphel Ling translates as “Monastery of the place to stop and develop concentration on teachings of lord Buddha”.  Founded  in 1429 by scholar Tenpai Gyaltsen of the Shakya Pa sect, the altar of monastery displays bronze icons of Sakyamuni Buddha flanked by his disciples Sariputra and Maudgalanya and other divinities.  It is wonderful to see the Thankas, holy canon, frescoes, and woodwork in this remotest of locations.  There is an entrance fee to enter the monastery.

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Dwarikas-Hotel_003 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

Dwarika’s Hotel – Kathmandu, Nepal

Dwarikas-Hotel_004 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

Dwarika’s Hotel

(977-1) 447 9488
Batisputali Batisputali
Kathmandu, Nepal

  ww.dwarikas.com

Kathmandu, Nepal, Chaos.  There is an oasis, a few hundred square meters has been set apart from smoke and noise and pollution and poverty.  Where man-made beauty still reigns and the gardens sprawl.  Where birds can rest free and you can get an idea of what could be.

In 1934 the great Bihar earthquake -magnitude 8.1- destroyed a large portion of the buildings and houses in Kathmandu, and it has never quite recovered.  In the decades following, most locals oped for reconstruction in a more ‘modern’ concrete style.  The traditional  architecture was thought a reflection of poverty, and the intricately hand-carved door frames and windows were seen insomuch as their ability to burn.  This great purge would have seen the entire architectural heritage of this Himalayan city go up in smoke, had it not been for Dwarika Das Shrestha and his family.

Dwarikas-Hotel_034 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

During the late 1950’s Dwarika Das Shrestha acquired the land where the majestic Dwarika’s Hotel lays today, and commenced the construction of his family home. Integrating the ancient hand-carved windows, columns, frames that he had been acquiring and collecting.  Thus starting the preservation of Nawari craft-work – the Newa are the indigenous people of Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley – and more importantly Nepal’s cultural heritage as a whole.

In 1964 Dwarika Das Shrestha (DDS), in order to fund his growing collection of traditional Newari wood carvings, added a rental apartment to his growing estate.  In the following years DDS, realizing that the technique as well as the objects themselves were becoming extinct, he hired three of the few remaining Master Newari wood carvers.  To ensure that this intricate craft would not be lost to time, he also created an apprenticeship, to confirm this important knowledge was passed on to new generations.  This heritage workshop extended beyond the woodworking, into the other ancient crafts of Nepal such as terracotta sculpture and brick-works.

Dwarikas-Hotel_056 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

To sponsor his growing crafts passion and workshop, DDS started renting rooms at his ever expanding compound. Adding new buildings with the new and restored pieces now coming out of the workshop.  As an hotel, it grew slowly, organically and it had not yet reached its peak when DDS passed away in 1992.  His wife and daughter continued the development based on his original concept sketches. Today the Dwarika’s Hotel is still managed by the family.

Dwarikas-Hotel_055 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

 

 

 

 

There are three different restaurants situated in the hotel: Mako: featuring Japanese cuisine. Toran: with a little of everything from Nepali bbq to sandwiches and pastas, set as a perfect outdoor lunch in the hotel’s courtyard.  And Krishnarpan, probably the best restaurant in the country and an experience untoward itself.  We recommend leaving a stay at Dwarika’s and this finest of meals for the end of your trip, ensuring you leave full of contentedness and hope.

The multi-course dinner at the Krishnarpan Restaurant begins when the traditionally adorned server brings that evenings menu, individually addressed with your name, printed on hand made paper.

First to arrive was a Samaya Bajee, an assortment of hors d’oeuvres which are usually served during religious ceremonies; representing good luck and prosperity.  Included are tender lentil patties, puffed rice, toasted soy beans, stewed tomato and salad.  After so many weeks of Dal Bat, the change is welcome and heart-warming.  Just being in the ambiance, one can feel great things ahead.

Then was Chatamari, a Nepali rice crepe filled with vegetables along with vegetable Momos (traditional Himalayan dumplings) accompanied by a sweet-spicy mango chutney.   At this time was also the serving of the traditional alcoholic Rakshi poured from a copper decanter.  While this millet based alcohol is integral to Nepalese religion and tradition, it is not enjoyable, except as a test of your inner strength; which might be what it is used for in ceremony!

Dwarikas-Hotel_020 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool   Krishnarpan Restaurant

The courses kept manifesting and would need an entirely separate article to do them justice

– Gundruk Ko Jhol – a curry made from fermented mustard leaf broth with soybeans; accompanied with Sada Bhuja, steamed Himalayan rice; and Dal Jhaneko, spiced red lentils.
– Aloo Tareko,
a signature Newari Dish of fried potatoes and peppercorn
– Tarul Ra Lasun Ko Tarkari, stir fried yam with spring garlic chives
– Saag Jhaneko, sauteed spiced spinach
– Pharsee Ko Tarkari, pumpkin curry
– Golbheda Ko Achar, stued tomatoes
Lapsee Ko Achaar, plum pickles

After all of these dishes, you are in a state of near bliss, contemplating gastronomic enlightenment when arrives the mind-bending Panchamrit: a mixture of five nectars used in Hindu worship, milk, sugar, yogurt, ghee, and honey.

Dwarika Das Shresth legacy to Nepal is unequaled; and he is one of the world’s great men. Thanks to his passion for preserving Nepal’s cultural heritage, the government and other entities started restoring semi-forgotten sites along the Kathmandu valley.  Had it not been for his steadfast belief and desire to see his country regain its former glory, we would not even have know what the world had lost.

Dwarikas-Hotel_003 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

Dwarikas-Hotel_001 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

Dwarikas-Hotel_007 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

Dwarikas-Hotel_009 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

Dwarikas-Hotel_060 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

Dwarikas-Hotel_046 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

Dwarikas-Hotel_042 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

Dwarikas-Hotel_039 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

Dwarikas-Hotel_036 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

Dwarikas-Hotel_030 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

Dwarikas-Hotel_028 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

Dwarikas-Hotel_058 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

Dwarikas-Hotel_031 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

Dwarikas-Hotel_035 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool

Dwarikas-Hotel_022 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool   Krishnarpan Restaurant
Dwarikas-Hotel_021 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool   Krishnarpan Restaurant Samaya Bajee
Dwarikas-Hotel_024 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool   Krishnarpan Restaurant Panchamrit
Dwarikas-Hotel_019 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool   Krishnarpan Restaurant
Dwarikas-Hotel_015 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool   Toran Restaurant
Dwarikas-Hotel_016 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool   Toran Restaurant

Dwarikas-Hotel_059 Dwarika's Hotel  -  Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Nepal  Vegetarian Nepal Nawari Kathmandu Hotel Culture Cool