Hiking to Phulchowki
After interning at Nature Trail for three months already, Bishnu finally invited me to the day hike he promised me – we are going to Phulchowki!
Though I didn’t have much sleep and felt an upcoming cold, I was excited for the hike. Mostly due to my new role as photographer for this trek, with the company’s camera. It had been a while since I held a proper camera in my hand… and this one was pretty big! I spend the evening before the hike making myself familiar with the camera and all its buttons and functions.
All settings on auto and the batteries charged, we started the early morning with picking up our guests: A lovely group of Japanese! A few of them have been living in Nepal for a while, and Bishnu and I were deeply impressed by their Nepali skills. To reach Godavari, which is the starting point of the trek, we took a 30 min ride in one of Nature Trail’s comfortable Toyota HiAce vans.
Godavari looks like a really nice place from the window: While the hills slowly come closer, we pass by small stupas and temples on the streets. “So, you know there are short cuts to the top, they are much shorter. And we can see the Tigers!” Bishnu says while giving us more information about the trip. “Tigers? Shortcuts?”, we ask sceptically. “Yes yes much shorter, much faster. You don’t want to see Tiger?” We take the Tigers as a joke, but everyone stays sceptical about the shortcuts.
Then, we arrive at a place that looks like a little market, offering breakfast, tea and last minute snacks. The tea is a great refreshment and we feel ready to hit the trail! Now, the shortcuts they were talking about become clear: Instead of the winding serpentine road that goes up all the way to the temple at the top, there are small hidden and very steep paths that go straight up. We are all standing in a circle, looking at each other… Until Bishnu shouts “shortcut jum jum”, which means “let’s go!”, so we follow him into the woods and on the steep path. Luckily we stop and wait for everyone every time we hit the main road again, which gives us some time to breathe and Bishnu some time to explain us about the area.
“Many people use the shortcuts here?” one of the Japanese asks. “Yes of course, no one want to be slow right”, Bishnu answers. I used the stops to take pictures of the group, and to wander a little away from them to capture the beautiful forest that’s surrounding us. I’m admiring the varieties of trees and bushes that contribute to a colorful scenery. Moreover, as we come closer to the top, I spot more flowers along the way, most of them purple, some red and some white.
After taking shortcut after shortcut between the main road, we suddenly come across a sign that says “Avoid shortcuts as much as possible, if you are not sure about the shortcut, there is danger for your life.” Shocked, we turn around to Bishnu “Are you SURE about the shortcuts???”. Luckily he assured us that there’s nothing to worry about!
Phulchowki Mai Temple
After around 3 hours of walking we reached the gate that marks the entrance to the army camp that protects the radio and television towers that are situated here. The army guards look sightly intimidating, but let us pass without a word. From here, we can already see the prayer flags, and after a few more steps we have finally made it: The Phulchowki Mai Temple is right in front of us!
Hundreds of prayer flags are suddenly surrounding us, some new, and many of them already bleached out from constant sun exposure. The three buddhas, the bells the stupa and all the colors create a really spiritual, peaceful atmosphere up here. The surrounding landscape is vast, however, due to the dust we can only imagine the Langtang Range that is rising in front of us. However, the rewarding feeling of making it to the top of a mountain has always been something special to me, and I take a few moments to enjoy it.
While everyone is admiring the temple and the view, Bishnu starts to set up for lunch: He brought bread, tuna, cheese and many vegetables and fruits in his backpack. He, Karma and I start to cut the cucumber, carrots, tomatoes and onions into slices and prepare the picnic area. Then, everyone is invited to come and make their own sandwiches for lunch and serve themselves on our little buffet. We are all hungry and so we eat, in a quiet atmosphere, sitting on the grass and rocks, enjoying the peacefulness of nature, as in contrast to the busy city. Luckily we had already finished lunch when the crowds came.
A large group of Nepali, mostly women with children, arrives, taking over the place. They brought bags will with all kinds of stuff, including food but also flowers and small jewelry items most of which is prepared on a plate that is then brought into the temple and offered there. We watch this event for a while, until we decide to pack up and make our way back down.
As descending generally goes easier and faster, we decide to skip the shortcuts for now and instead walk on the main road, which is also better for our joints and especially the knees. Now that we are not focused entirely on the way and the view is not blocked by trees, we can actually enjoy the scenery much better. The villages on the foot of the hill and the surrounding hills make a beautiful landscape, so we use this opportunity to take a lot of pictures. It takes us around 3 hours to go back down and reach the van which is already waiting for us. When we get in, I can see the exhaustion on everyone’s face and know it was a great day.
For me personally, half of the fun that day was taking pictures with the camera. So, the next monday at the office was very exciting for me to see the pictures I have taken and sort out the good ones. This day was surely a memorable experience for me, in many ways. A big dhanyabad to Bishnu for taking me on this trip!
Sabrina, Nature Trail Intern
Photos – hiking to Phulchowki
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