Hiking Theme: Revisiting The Monument of Love
Hiking Route: Tansen height to Rani Mahal
Date: 27-28, December 2008
Participants: Sanjeet Baidya, Amit Adhikari, Ravi Sharma, Ashsish Tuladhar, Awanish Ranjan, Binod Raj Pathak, Sudeep Ghimire, Reena Joshi, Kamal Silwal, Kapil Pandey, Jasmine Bajracharya, Rina Maharjan, Bhanu Chalise, Deepak Maharjan, Lekhnath Bushal, Basanta Thapa, Binod Gyawali, Bidha Rimal
Photos: Ravi, Bhanu, Ashish, Rina, Amit
Report: Amit, Jasmine, Lekhnath
Caption: Ravi, Amit
Creative Support: DijupT/PallaviS/DhilungK
The default answer to the question of writing an essay on the favorite place was “Palpa” during my school days. I could fill the pages of my exercise book with the praises and historical values of the place. And on this hike, my essay extolling the vitality and elegance of Palpa was proved not to be false. It is a real place to be in one’s life span.
It was as if a dream come true for me as I was included in the hiking team. On the Saturday morning (27th Dec), we headed our journey to Palpa. The van was carrying more members than its capacity but we were all busy on our funny talks and gossips. After 8 hours of hectic and continuous drive from Bishalnagar, we reached Tansen Bazaar “Pearl of Palpa”. We dined in one of the famous restaurants in Tansen and planned for the awaited morning. We longed to roam the Tansen Bazar, but we opted to have a rest so that we could store energy for the next day’s trip, our destination to the renowned RaniMahal “The Taj Mahal of Nepal”.
Next morning, with high spirit and beautiful picture of Ranimahal in our mind, we initiated our hike at around 7 am in the morning from “Batase Dada ” with a steep descent to the valley of ‘BarandiKhola’. We had only the packets of biscuits and bottles of water to satisfy our hunger. It was not easy walking along the narrow pebble trail. Moreover, the path was slippery and wet with fog which made it assiduous. We descended down the Palpali red soil with photo sessions amidst the graceful and elegant sites of the springs, waterfall and mountains.
The elegance of nature, the perfection of mountain ranges, the magnificence of the scenery, the fabulous waterfall simply made us spellbound. And we could not resist ourselves clicking the cameras, even from our mobile sets.
It was more than two and half hours we hit the road, the Ranighat palace was still a distant mirage and we were beginning to get a wee bit despondent. We inquired the villagers as how farther the palace is and they answered it to be around an hour. With hope to see the palace soon we climbed down quickly for an hour, but the palace was still out of sight. Then we interpreted that the villagers are rather skeptical of distances and time in the hills. We were egging each other to reach the destination and boosting the energy with various jokes and experiences of previous hikes.
As we climbed a ridge and rounded a bend in the trail, the Ranighat palace came into view. The panoramic view of the complex was stunning. However, the location was remote and idyllic by the bask of the majestic Kali Gandaki. Nevertheless, we were so delighted and content to be there. Far far away from the cacophony of urban civilizations, the natural heritage was so soothing.
We wondered how people could have transported the construction materials to such remote place and also felt something eerie about an outstanding building located in that distant area. Despite the beauty of the building it was not preserved and the interior were covered with foul languages and were in ruin. The palace could be conserved and renovated. Such a magnificent monument and no one to admire it.
Since we did not have enough time, we have to make our way back to those twists and turns and steep ascent we left the lovely but lonely palace after some photo sessions. To our surprise, we found a family dwelling beside the palace to serve the visitors like us. We had a cup of tea and a special kind of pickle( potato mixed with curd and some fried fenugreek) there which made us relaxed and relieved from those assiduous walks. Then we made our trip back to the steep ascents and it was mid day and the sun was now high up in the sky. It was much tougher to climb the steep and slippery hills than to run down. The heat of the sun made us lackadaisical and we shambled along the lanes, finally we straggled back to Srinagar Danda where our van waited us. We descended and ascended for about 8 hours making more that 15kms long path.
After then, we made our way back to Kathmandu after having meals and a really quick shopping Dhaka, which is the specialty of Palpa.
The eloquent symbol of the eternal love of the governor to his beloved queen was to be seen to be believed.
Yet another exciting part of the hike was that on the way back to Kathmandu at night, we celebrated (one of our friends), Amit’s Birthday inside our office van at midnight. The celebration was a pleasant surprise to all.
Ultimately, at about 4 am, we reached our homes safe and sound.
Day 1, Dec 27
I was at the office premises at nearly 6:45 and I did not have to wait long for the departure. We already has a vacant seat in the van so we decided to add other highly interested members to company the stand by members. Finally, our team grew to 19 members including Ram. We had to wait him at Kalanki for half an hour.
We left Kathmandu at about 8:00 A.M. After a short drive we had breakfast at Naubise. We all were talking about the length of the trip as usual. Some even said we would reach Palpa at 2 some 4 and so on, accompanying this talk was the songs from our scratched CD’s and barely one of the song could be played well and repeated all over the road. Finally, we stopped at Kitchen Cafe of Narayanghad to have lunch. This was the first place that I enjoyed in my trip. After lunch we went to Narayani river and relaxed for sometime.We reached Butwal at about 3:30 P.M. There was “AUDHYOGIC MELA” at Butwal. It was nearly 5:30 when we reached Tansen. We could not go anywhere that day because it was already dark hence we decided to stay at Shrinagar hotel and had dinner at Nanglo Tansen.
Day 2, Dec 28
All were ready to move at 6 A.M. Since the owner of the hotel had not got up yet, we had to wait. At 6:30 A.M., we started moving down from Batase danda.. I could name all the trees found there. It was so exciting to see such a familiar hilly area. We could see different birds particularly wild parrots. We could find different wild fruits like “Myal”, “Amile”, so on.
It was after a 1 and half an hour of walk before we reached Awal, midway to our destination. Then the wide road along the side of small stream started. We met one friend living nearby Rani Mahal. He said that the road was the same even during his childhood days and added that the only reconstruction/renovation was in case of land slide. Moving down the stream and moving along the stream and sometimes enjoying the sight of the small streams on the hill side, climbing up the streams for photo session, we moved down. After an hour’s walk from Awal we reached Hatti Dhunga. A large elephant shaped stone that lay on the road side was called Hatti Dhunga and the place was named after it. We found traces of red Tikas that indicated that people worshipped the stone.
After half an hour from Hatti Dhunga we reached Rani Ghat. Rani Mahal was located on the bottom of the hill. From each point of the Mahal we could view the scenery of the valley around. By crossing the suspension bridge we could reach Syanja district.After a while, we moved down to the river bank to play with the stones and river where we had a light breakfast. The “achar” made from curd reminded me of my childhood days.
We were already late since we moved down very slowly. I decided to reach first on the van and reserve a seat for myself. While climbing up we were pretty quick and had reached the top in just 2 hours time. After nearly an hour, we gathered and had lunch at the Nanglo again. Some of us bought the Palpali Dhaka products for our near and dear ones. It was already 5:30 P.M when we started our journey back to Kathmandu. We reached Kathmandu at about 2 A.M on Monday.
In total, it was one of the best hikes that I have participated in.
The Saturday morning 28th December, enthusiast hikers of D2 reached the premises by 7 am in time to heading towards Palpa. The trend of being in time is applicable to most of the hikers, a team of eighteen people. A cool and chilling rainy night inspired some of the hikers to divert the interest towards Daman at Naubise for tea break a breakfast, but the pressure of team led them to continue with ultimate destination Palpa.
Driving in a speed of 80km/hr we reached Narayanghat in no time, and wait for lunch with some photographs. After an hour again the journey continues with full stomach and happy faces forgetting the pain of hunger. Gaidakot, Pragatinagar, Kawaswoti, Chormara, Dumkibash, Bardaghat, Butawal, Kerabari, Bartung are some of the town on the way to Palpa.
We reached palpa by 6pm in evening with a hurry to find appropriate hotel to stretch our body in deep sleep. We arranged our night stay to Srinagar hotel. At 1515 metres, the hilltop park and forests of Shreenagar abound in scenic and natural beauty and offer breathtaking views of giant snowcapped mountains – Dhaulagiri, the four Annapurnas, Nilgiri, Tukuche, Mansulu, Ganesh Himal and the famed twin fishtail peaks of Machhapuchhre. To the south, the view extends from the stunning Madi valley and the sweep of the Tinau River valley to a wall of green mountains and gorges and out onto the wide expanse of the Tarai plains.
Shreenagar Hill is a forest of pine trees and open green parkland. Made up of viewpoints and picnic spots, camping facilities as well as meditation spots and statues of Buddha, the park is one of the most picturesque spots in Western Nepal.
Brief about Palpa, Tansen:
Before Nepal was united, Tansen was the capital of the Palpa kingdom ruled by the Sen Dynasty. The history of Tansen dates back to the 16th century. Prithvi Narayan Shah, who united Nepal, mother was from the Sen Family. For years the Gorkha and Palpa kingdoms were in alliance and combined them took control of western Nepal. Palpa became parted of the Kathmandu kingdom and Tansen became the administrative city for the area.
Most of the people in Tansen are Newars who mainly migrated in the 19th century when trade opportunities opened up here. Most of the people in the surrounding area are Magars and there are also Chhetris and Bahuns.
The Ranimahal palace is a spectacular site. It was built in 1892 AD/1949 BS by Commander-in-Chief and Governor Khadka Shamsher in memory of his beloved Queen Tej Kumari. The complex including a huge main building surrounded by layered gardens, stone walls and a small shrine, set on a massive rock bed at the bank of the rushing Kali Gandaki river.
Ranighat is also a popular short trek. The trail runs along the Bharangdi Khola river featuring a scenic gorge, mountain brooks, steep forested hills and the rock side of Baikuntha Pahad and Hatti Dhunga, the elephant rock. There is tea, cold and local drinks, food and water to be found along the way.
Early 5am in the morning, enthusiast hikers get up from the bed and called everyone. By 6 am everyone got ready but the local suggested wrong way to Ranighat and delayed our valuable 1 hour. A steep downhill, sleepy path is the only possible available route. Small stream and dark jungles added more excitement, even increased crossing big waterfalls on the way. Life on the edge, a thrilling experience of height, a typical hilly route and friendly locals suggesting the distance and time, thanks to all to give scenic view of Ranighat.
Its afternoon, heading towards top, a tired leg and confident motive are the only alternative. It’s paining a leg, the body and all the muscles still the ultimate destination was far away. More than four hour of uphill and the peak were reached. Then continue with a journey in a vehicle towards Kathmandu. On the way at 12 mid night suddenly the van stopped, A wish was heard, “Happy Birthday Amit”. Cake was cut in the highway and celebrated birthday in a remembering way. Long exciting hike came to an end after reaching Kathmandu at night 3 am. Thanks to all those participants for making the hike remembering.