Panch Pokhari Path – A New Nepal Trek

 The Panch Pokhari (Five Ponds) Path is a new trekking area in Nepal. Panch Pokhari (4,100 m) is located northeast of Kathmandu at the base of the Jugal Himal. The period from March to May is the best time for trek to Panch Pokhari. This place has cultural, religious, and ecological importance. An important festival, the Janai Purnima festival, is held here every year in August, when Brahmin castes come here for the ritual changing of the sacred thread (janai) they wear around their bodies. Thus, the five ponds (Panch Pokhari) are regarded as sacred ponds. Situated as they are at the base of the Jugal Himal, the ecology is pretty diverse and of considerable interest. The trek takes you through Sherpa and Tamang villages, so it’s something of a Nepal cultural trek, as well.

PanchPokhariGenerally, it’s a 10-day trek, the starting point being Chautara (1,200 m) to the northeast of, and about a five-hour drive by bus from, Kathmandu. To make it clearer, you’ll be going towards the Tibetan border. The region you’ll be trekking through is rich in scenery, second to none other trekking routes of Nepal. You’ll start experiencing a different kind of lifestyle immediately, that of the Sherpas and Tamangs, thus the Panch Pokhari trek is often said to be a Nepal cultural trek. After a night halt at Chautara, the next morning, you trek to Phusre (2,045 m), where you spend another night, and imbibe more of the local culture. Continue reading

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On the Kangchenjunga Trail

Tent

Most visitors on a Nepal tour limit their stay to Kathmandu and Pokhara. However, there’s a lot of adventure in other parts of the country, too. East Nepal may be a bit far from the capital, but it has some amazing culture that sets it apart, and yes, it has Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak at 8.586 meters. The Kangchenjunga trek would be the ideal way to experience all this.

It takes part, on the most part, within the environs of the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area (KCA, est.1997) in Tapeljung district, which spreads out over about 2,035 square kilometers. Plenty of space, but it’s pretty sparsely inhabited; with Sherpas, Limbus, and Rais being in the majority their distinct culture and lifestyle could add to the charms of your Nepal tour.. Compared to the popular Everest and Annapurna regions, which tens of thousands of tourists visit every year, even a thousand going to KCA is a big deal, which means that you get to be an explorer. Besides Kangchenjunga, you’ll also see 10 other mountains that are more than 7,000 m tall. Wildlife includes red panda, grey wolf, snow leopard, blue sheep, musk deer, and Himalayan black bear, along with a variety of birds. The flora is diverse and includes some 20 species of rhododendrons.

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Ten reasons to visit Tansen, Nepal

 

 

The name ‘Tansen’ has its origin in the Magar language, understanding “northern settlement.”

Palpa is one of the 75 districts of Nepal located in the western region of Nepal. Lying on the lap of the Shreenagar Hills at an altitude of around 1300 m, Tansen is an ancient hill town and the administrative headquarter of Papla district.  ‘Palpa’ and ‘Tansen’ are synonymously referred as ‘Tansen ‘, only. The name ‘Tansen’ has its origin in the Magar language, understanding “northern settlement.” Despite its scenic beauties, historical monuments, artistic houses made of old red brick Newari, round the year pleasant weather and moderate climate,Tansen is less featured in the tourists map of Nepal than the neighboring tourists destinations of Nepal: Pokhara and Lumbini. There are several reasons to visit Tansen. The list may be many but 10 are provided below.

 

White Lake - morning mist in winter settled over Madi Valley and Parvas area

White Lake – morning mist in winter settled over Madi Valley and Parvas area

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Money and Mountains, How Mountain Tourism is Enhancing Lives

EverestHere are some facts about the mountaineering side of Nepal tourism that are real eye openers. A total of 48 mountain climbing expeditions came to Nepal in 1979 and the total royalty earned from them was Rs. 577,000. In 2001, 112 mountain climbing expeditions arrived, from whom the government earned royalties of Rs. 127 million, an increase of over 220% over 1979. Continue reading

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Mountain Guides of Nepal

everest guides

Mountain Guide guiding climbers to cross the crevasse in Everest.

Trekking in Nepal is not the only thing adventurous tourists come here for. Many are here for mountain climbing as well since Nepal is certainly the most preferred destination in the world for mountain climbing activities, Continue reading

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Yoga in the land of Buddha

Yoga classes and retreats in nepal

Yoga is about the union of a person’s consciousness and the universal consciousness

Sounds pretty esoteric, doesn’t it? Well, what can you expect of an art with a 3000-year-old history behind it? Going into details is quite a task, so let’s summarize and say that yoga has passed through the following five broad stages through the passage of time: Vedic Yoga, Pre-classical Yoga, Classical Yoga, Post-classical Yoga, and Modern Yoga. Vedic Yoga is according to what’s written in the ancient Vedic Vedas; Classical Yoga is based on Patanjali’s ‘Yoga Sutras’ (200 BC-AD 200), which mentions four systems, that is, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga, and Bhakthi Yoga; Pre-classical Yoga (500 BC) is based on the teachings of Bhagavad Gita, the oldest yoga scripture, which describes yoga in terms of bhakti (loving devotion), jnana (knowledge or contemplation), and karma (selfless actions). Post-classical and Modern Yoga come after that and include newer yogic practices that not only revitalize, but are also claimed to lengthen life. One such practice is Hatha Yoga, which facilitates concentration and meditation through asanas and pranayama, thus preparing the practitioner for achieving samadhi.

Well, so much for a condensed history of yoga. Now, let’s see what’s in store for you in Kathmandu Valley as far as yoga is concerned, especially in Boudha in Kathmandu, where the Boudhanath Stupa is located, and Namobuddha, a sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site about 38 km from the capital. A few words about the two: Boudhanath is a world heritage site and said to the largest Buddhist stupa in the world, while Namobuddha is the place where a prince named Mahasattva fed a starving tigress and her cubs with his own flesh; the ultimate act of selfless sacrifice. These two places are certainly interesting sites to meditate in and to practice yoga.

yoga classes and retreats in nepalThere are quite a few yoga centers all over the valley, and in Boudha, there’s one within the premises of the Boudhanath Stupa itself known as the Boudha Inn Meditation Center (Retreat Center) situated at the western face of the stupa.  Here’s what one visitor had to say about his experience there: “There is no doubt Buddha Inn Mediation Center is the best yoga center I have ever visited…Learning meditation and yoga with Abhit (the instructor) has changed my life forever. Through meditation, he has taught me the importance of physical, intellectual, and spiritual balance in my life, while continually challenging and motivating me. But, most importantly, he has taught me to live with compassion for myself and for others…His compassion and sense of humor create a relaxed and enjoyable environment in which to learn.” It is a popular meditation and yoga center and its daily routine goes like this—7-8 a.m.: Regular Yoga; 8-9 a.m.: Regular Meditation; 10-11 a.m.: Reiki Healing; 2-3 p.m.: Meditation.

Another yoga center near the Boudhanatah Stupa premises is the Pure Vision Healing Center/Sorig Tibetan Medical Center. Community yoga classes are conducted regularly by its resident teacher, Amber, who is a Yoga Alliance certified Hatha Yoga instructor with long experience in Ashtanga, Iyengar, and traditional Hatha Yoga styles. Classes take place in a ‘relaxed yet challenging environment’ and the focus is on integration of breath, movement, and meditation. Classes are held from Monday to Friday along the following schedule—5:45 to 6:30 a.m.: Silent Calm Abiding Meditation; 6:30 to 8:00 a.m.: Hatha Yoga Flow Open level; 8:00 to 9:00 a.m.: Open for quiet practice.

In Namobuddha, there is a resort by the same name, that is, Namobuddha Resort, which has its own organic vegetable and dairy farm. The resort is a great place to spend some time in and practice the art of yoga, classes of which are organized on a regular basis by Pranamaya Yoga Studio which has its main studio in Kantipath of Kathmandu and branches in Boudha and Patan as well. A three-day yoga retreat costs US$275 per person on twin sharing basis and covers: transportation from its studio at 1905 Kantipath (5 minutes from Thamel) to retreat location and back; accommodation on twin sharing basis; all vegetarian meals, tea, and water; use of yoga mats and yoga props; diary and pen, and so on. The minimum number of participants has to be at least four while the maximum is sixteen. The studio teaches different kinds of yogic practices. A typical program, (for example, A weekend retreat of Ashtanga yoga with Ellen in the hills of Nepal) goes like this:

  • Departure from Pranamaya Studio Thamel at 7 a.m., pick up Boudha students near Pashupatinath. Drive to Namo Buddha Resort and introduction.
  • Saturday mid morning session: Ashtanga Yoga Practice
  • Saturday afternoon session: Yoga and movement workshop
  • Saturday evening session: Deep relaxation & meditation
  • Sunday morning: Ashtanga Yoga practice
  • Sunday afternoon: Meditation session
  • Departure from Namo Buddha Resort at 5.30 p.m.

 

The organizers state, “This weekend will give an introduction to classic Ashtanga Yoga system exploring its basic movement patterns and their physical and mental implications. Diving into the natural rhythms of body and mind we will re-discover the joy of moving and the simple satisfaction of stillness.” (pranamaya.yoga.com)

yoga classes and retreats in nepalSounds like something worth spending some time doing doesn’t it? The instructors too have impressive credentials. For instance, here’s the profile of one of the main instructors, Ellen Johannesen. A Norwegian, she started practicing Ashtanga in 1994 and has studied with teachers worldwide. She was authorized from KPJYI, Mysore, by Sharath Rangaswamy in 2006, and has completed 2-year teacher training with John Scott. She founded the first Ashtanga yoga studio in Norway, Ashtanga Yoga Oslo. She trained as a Tibetan translator at Rangjung Yeshe Insitute, Kathmandu, where she is currently continuing her studies.

So, you certainly are in safe hands and you can rest assured that you’ll be surely going through an experience that will probably result in a fresh and new outlook on life in general, and your own lifestyle, in particular. Whatever the case may be, take some time out when in Nepal to learn some yoga so that you take back more than just wonderful souvenirs and a lot of pictures.

Image © Pranamaya Yoga Studio

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The Quest to Conquer Everest, “The Third Pole”

Mount Everest

Mount Everest. Image: flickr/Volvatella

1853 was the year when it all began. A young officer in the British Colonial Army, Sir Francis Younghusband, was reportedly the first man to make plans to ascend the highest mountain on earth, Mount Everest. His travails in the subcontinent, especially in India, Nepal, and Tibet, had given him good knowledge of the region. Continue reading

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Spicy Nepal

Spices

Photo: flickr/Clyde Robinson

The discovery of pepper in Calicut of Kerala, India, in addition to other spices, by European adventurers led to bitter rivalry between the powerful states of Portugal and Spain during the 15th and 16th centuries to gain control of the world’s spice trade. Continue reading

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