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.
Generally, 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.
The next morning, you’re surely raring to start walking after having had a good night’s sleep. The hike goes steadily uphill to Kami Kharka (2,845 m). The landscape is, lovely, and the air, exhilaratingly cool. Camp for the night here, and come dawn, you’re again off; this time, Pauwa Bas (3,000 m) being your objective for the day. All that hiking uphill for the last couple of days should have certainly st
rengthened your muscles by now, and you deserve a night to rest and rejuvenate. The fifth day of your trek, you’ll be hiking to a place c
alled Hile Bhanjyang which is at 3,400 meters above sea level. It’s already quite an achievement, isn’t it, to have climbed more than 2000 meters? The following day, passing Tangu, you’ll reach Nasim Pati (3,700 m), the last halt before reaching your ultimate destination, that is, Panch Pokhari. The view from Nasim Pati is wonderful, with amazing vistas of rolling hills and high mountains all around. There’s a rest house here, where you
hunker down for the night, and perhaps thank your stars on choosing this new trekking area in Nepal for a novel experience.
The next morning, you’ll be hiking along some difficult mountain ridges. After around two hours, you’ll come across a board welcoming you to Panch Pokhari. Shortly, the five sacred ponds come into view, and it’s a sight that you’ll not forget easily. ‘Serene’ is the first word that will come to mind at the sight of the clear blue ponds surrounded by verdant hills. Being a popular destination for visitors, both domestic and international, you’ll find some rest houses around the site, as well a temple. A dip in one of the ponds is naturally called for; it will not only refresh your tired body, but it may well cleanse your soul. From the top of the hill, you’ll be treated to a splendid view of the Jugal Himal, Rolwaling, Kanchenjunga and Makalu ranges. Jugal Himal, e
specially, will appear to be very close indeed. You’ll naturally be spending the night here, and the spiritual environment will definitely give you a very peaceful night of restful sleep.
But, as they say, all good things must come to an end
; so, the next morning you’ll be trekking back, albeit reluctantly. It’s all downhill now and so is pretty easy going. The first day takes you back to Nasim Pati (night halt), and then the following day to Dukang (2,100 m, night halt again). Day nine finds you on the way to Dhap (1,200 m), and then by the end of day ten, you will be reaching Melamchi Pul (800 m), and then Melamchi bazaar, from where you drive back to Kathmandu. That completes the classic Panch Pokhari Path trek.
There’s another way to reach Panch Pokhari that some adventurers in a hurry might wish to take. It will take about four-five days only, but then, one must keep in mind that the longer trek allows you to experience so much more of both the cultural and ecological aspects, justifying this trek as a Nepal cultural trek. Anyway, if time is short, you can take a bus up to Melamchi going through Sankhu. Be forewarned that the road is quite rough and you’ll be in for one hell of a bumpy ride! You’ll be arriving at Melamchi in about three hours, having survived the ordeal of one heck of a rough journey. Sometimes, especially during festival season, the bus might take you to Mane Kharka, and even to Bhotang, stopping for lunch at Tipni, about one-and-a-half-hour from Melamchi. The sight of yellow mustard fields all around will certainly be an enthralling sight, as will the mountains surrounding them. At Bhotang, about one hour from Mane Kharka, you get to spend the night at a guest house where you can look forward to nutritious local fare.
The next day, you start walking to Tangu. On the way, you’ll come across a beautiful stream as well as a frothing waterfall, as you start climbing a long and steep row of stairs. After that, the trail continues going steadily uphill through dense vegetation. It’s quite an exhausting climb, what with the stairs and all, and you’ll be glad to bed down for the night on reaching Tangu. Hope you had a nice sleep, and plenty of rest, because the next day’s hike is challenging, to say the least. Up, up, and up. However, the scenery is magnificent and that should provide some relief. Five hours of steady walking will bring you to Nasim Pati. It will make sense to camp here, because it’s no fun walking in the dark on mountain ridges, which you’ll be doing to reach Panch Pokhari. So, the next day, refreshed, you carry on to your destination, the five sacred ponds. On your way back, after having your fill of the beautiful sight, you return to Nasim Pati. The next day, you hike to Bhotang, a full day’s walk, and spend the night there. The next morning you carry on walking to Melmchi some four hours away, from where you catch a bus back to Kathmandu. Thus ends your experience of a new trekking area in Nepal, the Panchj Pokhari Path.