Chandragiri Hills: Just a cable ride away
Kathmandu valley is enclosed by enchanting hills and mountains, each holding a historical or religious significance. One of these is the Chandragiri hill that was once the gateway to the capital city and rises above Thankot at the edge of the valley. Lying at the south-west corner of the valley, the summit of Chandragiri hill is seven kilometers by road from Thankot and 2,551 meters above sea level. Thankot is about 6 kilometers from Kathmandu and only a 31 minute drive away. It takes a mere ten minutes for the cable car to complete the two and a half kilometer journey from near Godam to the top of the hill. People who prefer to drive will have to bear the seven kilometers of rough road to reach there. A more adventurous option for visitors is to hike all the way which takes about three hours.
While most people prefer to go by cable car to enjoy a non-strenuous journey above the lush green with panoramic views, many adventurers choose to hike through the forests. Of all the hiking trails around Kathmandu, Chandragiri Hiking trail is the steepest and takes you not only through the rich flora and fauna but also through the villages with diverse culture and religion. The duration of the hike varies depending on your starting point. If you choose to start from the Hattiban resort at 1650 meters, it’s a seven hour hike. While the customary route for the hike is Kathmandu-Matatirtha-Chandragiri-Thankot-Kathmandu, the duration of the hike is also extendable if you chose to camp along the way.
The Chandragiri hike is an alluring adventure but it’s not everyone's cup of tea. Many will prefer the easier way to the top and the ten minute ride both uphill and downhill could be the most memorable twenty minutes of their lives. The breathtaking view of the mountains and the valley beneath makes the ride a special treat. On a misty day you may get goose bumps as the cable car enters the mist and a little later you are out of it. This ride is like no other adventure as it carries you into a mysterious world inside a sea of white.
The Chandragiri hill now has the latest retreat as well as a religious destination. The temple of Bhaleshwara Mahadev is perched on the top overlooking the Kathmandu valley. The cool breeze hits you as soon as you get off the cable car. The snowy peaks of the Himalayas will take your breath away while down below is the enchanting valley of green rice fields and the ever expanding city. The panoramic view of Kathmandu Valley and mountain ranges from Annapurna to Everest is simply stunning. For the Nepali people this place also holds historical and religious significance. Myth suggests that Chandragiri Temple is home to one among millions of lord Shiva's incarnations, Bhaleshwar Mahadev. History books tell us that it was from the peak of Chandragiri hill that Prithvi Narayan Shah, King of Gorkha looked down at the beautiful valley then known as Nepal and was so captivated by it that he longed to conquer the three kingdoms.
Chandragiri is not just about temples and views but offers numerous forms of recreation. Chandragiri Pvt. Ltd operates the cable car and also owns the resort with recreation centers, restaurants and shops on the hilltop. The viewing tower at 2547 m above sea level has a 360 degree panoramic view of the mountain ranges. The tower also offers close views of surrounding villages and the rich vegetation around them.
Café Fountain is located at the base station, so you can enjoy food and drinks before you embark on the cable car. The café that serves breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner is located at a beautiful setting, close to the city yet far from the hustle and bustle. At the top of the hill, you will find a bar named "Bar @2520", conveniently on the landing site of the cable car. This is a place for a memorable drinking experience high above the valley. Obviously, prices at an eatery in such a location, is going to be a bit steep but one has little choice as carrying your own food is strictly prohibited. But you can find many small eateries on the way from Thankot to the cable car station if you want to go easy on your purse. Another fully furnished resort is also under construction near the top which promises to open soon. Chandragiri Hills Pvt. Ltd also plans to build amusement parks, organize paragliding and zip flying among other adventure sports.
Branded shops here that sell Chandragiri themed goodies are a bit expensive. The children's playground offers free entrance and the conference hall is well equipped for meetings and other functions. The place has been designed to be handicapped friendly, a rarity in Nepal. The paths and pavements are designed to allow the elderly to also walk around and get close to nature without too much effort.
A visit to Chandragiri is a must for all nature lovers and those who want to get away from the city and enjoy a bit of adventure. The popular hilltop is a great place for a day long excursion with family and friends. The experience is an unparalleled one especially for city dwellers looking for a break from the pollution and stress.