From Barahabise to Charikot—In Gauri Shankar Territory

Gauri Shankar Himal (7,134 m). Image: flickr/randomix

West of the popular Rolwaling and Khumbu trekking regions, and east of Kathmandu, is where begins one of the newer trekking areas of Nepal. The trek begins at Barahabise and ends at Charikot of Dolakaha district on the southern slope of the Gauri Shanker Himal (7,134 m). A five to six days’ trek, this is an ideal outing for those with a longish holiday on hand. What’s more, it’s easy to reach; you drive northeast from Kathmandu on the Arniko Highway to reach Barahabise (around two-and-a-half hours). It’s a busy little roadside town that’s pretty much modernized.

The trail goes east along the Sun Koshi river watershed up to the Tama Koshi river valley. The first day, you hike from Barahabise to Karthali along a trail that is pretty easy in the beginning. It eventually changes character and becomes more of a regular dusty hiking trail with no shade for miles. The village of Karthali is located between two ridges and has a comfortable lodge run by Eco-Himal with dormitory-type accommodations. The scenery from here is lovely—far below is the Sun Koshi river flowing tranquilly, and mountain ranges as far as the eye can see. The next day, you trek to the village of Dolangsa, a village inhabited by Sherpas, at a height of some 2,500 meters. Houses are built all over the hillsides. The lodge here is located near the village monastery at quite a height above the village proper.

The route now continues to Bigu, and this is a section that is pretty rigorous as you have to climb up to the Tingsing La pass (3,300 m) along a narrow trail cut into the rock face. From here, you’ll get a good view of the Gauri Shanker peak in the east. Provided the weather favors you, and there’s no clouds, you’ll also be able to see Chhoba Bhamare to the west and Pigpherago and Numbur Himal to the west. The descent from the pass is a leisurely stroll, more or less, along a trail that winds its way languidly down the hillside. You’ll come across a couple of chalets on the way adorned with carved windows, the kind you see in Kathmandu, but on a much simpler scale. The trail then becomes a sharp climb up the hillside along another dusty sun-drenched path before reaching Bigu.

At Bigu, you can get a good night’s rest at the Bigu Lodge near to the Bigu Gompa, also known as Tashi Gompa. It’s a 75-year-old nunnery of the Kargyupa sect that you must visit because of its many fascinating statues of the multi-headed, many-armed Avalokiteshwara, as well as rows of finely crafted chortens. From Bigu, the route continues to Loting through Laduk along a trail that goes right down to the river below. After a restful night at Loting, you carry on to Sinagti. The trail is a steadily descending one and you get to cross a long suspension bridge across a stream before arriving at Solung Khola. The trail continues along the river’s left bank and finally reaches the small settlement of Singati. From here, you can take a bus to Charikot, the district headquarters of Dolakaha district. It’s a pretty rough ride, it’s best to be forewarned, but Charikot being a modern town and you’ll get good rest on arriving there. From Charikot, you take another bus to Kathmandu.

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