Kathmandu – Nepalgunj – Simikot – Hilsa
I am sure you must have read about my preparation and a short read on the detailed itinerary and visit to Kathmandu as the starting point of my Kailash Mansarovar trip. After Kathmandu, the next destination was Nepalgunj and we were supposed to stay there for a night as everything was on schedule. Kailash Journeys has two departures one is from Kathmandu and another one is from Nepalgunj, which is close to Lucknow at a distance of 200 km. I left my major luggage in Kathmandu and left for Nepalgunj.
Days in Nepalgunj
26th May, 2018
It was an hour-long flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj. Time was around 3:30 pm and the moment I stepped out of flight, the climate changes hit me. Kathmandu was little pleasant and Nepalgunj was burning hot. I could imagine a plot from old mythological TV series, where one of the character was showering fire on the evils and all the evils were burn to death. I know it is a stupid thought but, someone told me that its very natural to imagine such plots on such trips, so there is nothing wrong about it. This was at the lowest altitude (150 mt) in our entire journey.
Ramesh and Laxman from travel agency arrived at the airport to pick us and transfer to the hotel. Rupa, Mauli and I shared the same big room. We were exhausted and wanted to get cool down so I immediately switched on AC. We rested for an hour got fresh and stepped out for dinner. All the members of our group were asked to gather in a separate hall in the hotel. It was like a networking session which really helped. Till now, we were strangers and now we were teammates and friends for the next 10 days. Ramesh was waiting for everyone to gather so that he can make an announcement. I was very excited to know what is he going to announce but, that excitement converted into worry. He told our group visa is still under process and trip will be delayed by 4-5 days and till then we can’t cross the China border.
All of us booked in advance to stay overnight at Mansarovar lake to experience the auspicious full moon night. But because of this delay, we were going to miss the full moon night. I was a little sad as others and started realizing that why only a few people are lucky to complete this trip. It is not the trip that everyone can go on. Many quit, many get broken but, it’s all about how tall you stand determined with strong will power to achieve your goals. And trust me I was hell bend to complete this journey at any cost. Many people thought that they have to stretch for 4-5 days more, additional cost, office leaves, worrying wife, boss’s emails, targets, etc. But, my positive mind started telling me that 4-5 more days to explore Nepal. This was never part of your plan. And this is something additional (with cost as the agency had managed out stay for extra days at the same cost). I discussed this with Rupa and she got positive too. I was a different person now ie a positive, energetic and excited girl. I decided to go Lucknow directly from Nepalgunj as it was just 200KM away after returning back from Mansarovar. I asked Ramesh to get my luggage from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, which he did. That could save a day of travel.
27th May, 2018
After taking breakfast, we had nothing do and I mean it. After too much excitement on the previous day in Nepalgunj, we decided to explore the place. We asked reception guys, they said there is Shaktipeeth named Bageshwari temple at walking distance. Also, he suggested going for a movie where Bollywood is played. And we took their advice seriously and went to both places.
The temple is in the main city and you need to take token to enter in garbh-grah (sanctorum). Goddess Sati’s tongue is believed to have fallen at this place. There are four entrances to it and priest will close all doors before performing pooja. He removes old cloth and then you can see the fallen tongue and then covers it with a new piece of cloth.
After visiting temples, we came to hotel, had lunch and went for movie. Seriously? For the girl like me, who thinks going for movie is time waste had enough time there to watch the show 🙂 PCM and RP Yadav also joined us in our movie adventure in Nepal. We watched Bioscopewala movie. Overall we had a good time spent that day.
It was around 8.30 pm when we were having our dinner. Ramesh came to us and gave option either to stay in Nepalgunj or to fly Simikot which is a very small hill station and with poor facilities. Many of us preferred to stay because of accommodation problem but some opted to fly Simikot, just to acclimatize body with the altitude, and I was one of them. I chose to fly mainly because of temperature, I can handle cold but not heat. Next morning,
almost 50% our group was ready to fly after breakfast.
Days in Simikot
28th May 2018
Simikot it is. We arrived in Simikot (2910 mt) by small 16 seater mountain aircraft. I have heard stories about turbulence in small mountain aircraft but, never thought of experiencing so soon. My heart was in my mouth when the aircraft was in air. But, when I saw the view from the window, all the fear vanished. Since then, I was continuously gazing out of the window, wherein I could see mountains and river streams. I love mountains more than anything else. I am so fascinated with mountains that I will marry a guy whose name is Kailash, Rocky, Girish, Shailesh, etc. Just kidding :). It was 45 mins of flying time and excitement of visiting a new place kept on increasing. Finally, we landed in Simikot and trust me, it was very beautiful. First of all, it was cold and secondly, we were in the lap of Himalayas. It was the perfect place to be in. Combination of cold climate and Himalaya is the best one. I didn’t care about the facilities and was enjoying the views of Himalaya. Simikot is a very small place and our hotel was hardly at 5 mins of walk from airport. The airport has flights coming from Nepalgunj and helicopters flying for Hilsa.
Rupa, Mauli and I were having time of our life and we were gang by now. And in Simikot trip, we got comfortable with a lovely couple, Jyothi and Sudhakar, who were from Vizag. We decided to share a common room and Sudhakar was in an adjacent room to us. Within a few days we had to start our biggest trek, so we decided to go for a small warm-up hike in nearby mountains. We went to a temple remotely located at a hike of only 2 km. I started my journey alone and now I made four new friends by now. Every time we used to make fun of each other, cracking stupid jokes and laugh endlessly. Our all-time target was Mauli, who is London based NRI but dil se desi (local by heart).
29th May 2018
After breakfast, as usual we had nothing to do. Rupa and I were just walking around when I saw an army camp on the top of a hill. We both looked at each other with a broad smile. We both had the same thought of going on another short trek. We got ready to leave for the trek to army base and saw an old Malaysian guy in his early 50ies walking toward us. He was Dato ji. He asked if he can join us for trek and we agreed and now there was one more addition to our gang. Now we have six-member gang to conquer Kailash trek. We trekked to top and I felt like to breathe the pure air as much as I can. After spending some time on top, we came down to our base (hotel) where we met a friend of Sudhakar, who had been to Kailash before. His experience was valuable to us and we started taking tips from him. He explained the difficulties about taking dip in Mansarovar lake and how challenging it’s going to be on 2nd day of the trek. Also, he advised us to hire a porter and that tip was a life saver for all of us.
We also met few others at the airport, who were coming from Kailash. Many of them told that taking dip in lake is prohibited by Chinese govt now and news is live on TV. Also, the weather is not clear so everyone has to come back after 1st day of trek. A lot of negative news started coming in and this was the first time I actually felt sad. But again, my positive side of the brain started working and the good news was that I will get some more time to recover from my tail bone injury which could have helped me in later stage of the journey.
I remember it was full moon night which we were supposed to spend at Mansarovar. But nevertheless, Siddharth and his family beautifully organized Satya Narayan katha in the evening. Moreover, he was translating to English for the people who could not get Hindi. That was some talent, hats off to him. After the Katha session, we had our dinner and crashed on the bed.
Simikot-Hilsa by Helicopter
30th May 2018
We had our breakfast and again we had nothing to do, so we were just sitting and chatting. After some time, we saw Sagar from the tour agency asked people from our group who wants to go Hilsa and who wants to stay back in Simikot. He told us that Hilsa is a cold desert place with full of dust. Most of us decided to move ahead and explore a new place instead of staying back. Immediately we went to our room and packed bags and left to fly in the helicopter. Yes! it was my first helicopter ride and I was pretty excited.
Hilsa trip by chopper was the most dangerous adventure of my life I have done ever. It was roller coaster ride. More ups and downs cutting air between the mountains. But somehow, we made it safely. I really salute to the pilots who fly these choppers and aircraft in such extreme conditions of air pressure. It required some serious skills. Now we were in Hilsa, and trust me I have a lot of interesting experiences here to share. So please stay tuned for my next article on my experience in Hilsa. How we got stuck and survived in no man’s land between two countries (Nepal and China), How did we spent that time, how did we go through the border and many more. Stay connected.