By Sahara Mishra
No wonder the Corona Pandemic has an intersectional effect all over the nation. Being a guide as well as an avid mountain lover and not being able to explore and trek as I used to, I have felt this whole year as having invisible chains on my feet. It seemed to have the pandemic is getting over but silently alarmed for its second phase with drastic increment in the COVID positive cases with new variants in the neighboring country having the open borders. Trekking, exploring, or even hanging out in these situations in my family is like going against their guidance and decisions these days.
So I had been stuck in my house, learning this and that and doing Tiktoks; though I’m not good at acting or dancing or even popular ones. I had planned for the Gosaikunda a year back before the pandemic; trying to make the Kyangin-Gosaikunda circuit in March but couldn’t make it from MulKharka due to waist-high snows. There was news of two of the locals dying on the Lauribina Pass when there was no fence like there are today, and the Nepalese Army had prohibited anyone to go the Gosaikunda afterward in such snow. It is said that if you say you would visit the holy ground, it is like you have ‘vowed’ with God and you must fulfill it. Things barely go as planned and perhaps it might be when all the planets or the stars come together to bless you or you are born lucky. In my case, both things do not count.
Like is said in the fairy tales, it was like one fine morning. A friend of mine rung me around 8:30 AM and said ‘Oye! Jaam hidd Gosaikunda.’- (‘Oi! Let’s go to the Gosaikunda’). She is a friend whom I had met on guide license training conducted by Nepal Mountain Academy (NMA). I became so excited and talked with my mom. There was no response from my mom so I took it positively and at 11:00 AM we both girls went to Balaju and booked our ticket to Dhunche.
Everything happened suddenly. Only after I got back home excitedly for the trek, I was heavily scolded by my mother, brother, and father. I was asked to stay in quarantine after the trek. I have my Fuwa (fupu), my refuge. So I called her up and briefed her on the situation. Everything arranged but later that evening my friend’s brother rang me. I had never talked to him before but requiring to talk to him brought fright in me. However, I am kind of ‘Gufadi’ (chatty) so I ended up the call with Daju in 3 minutes making him impressed. The other day, I left my home (Godawari) at 5 AM to catch the bus at 6:10 AM at Kalanki. My friend had already reached there since she had to come from Kritipur. We had reached quite earlier which bought us time to have our petite breakfast before our departure.
We had not planned where we would stay or how long we would walk. We just had a screenshot of the map but had talked with friends who had been to the Gosaikunda before. I know this is kind of crazy for just two girls to trek like this but seriously, we both feel Himalayan belts are way safer for females. I wish this feeling proves true all the time for all the people. Sabi (my friend) and I, reached Dhunche at around 1 PM. We started our trek at around 1:30 PM from Dhunche where you would see this map to Gosaikunda. In a private vehicle, you would reach 1 hour to 1 and half hour earlier and the vehicle access is up to Sapche.
It was a very nice walk till Ghatte Khola, walking alongside the river. It took us 40 minutes to reach GhatteKhola. I enjoyed walking alongside that clear river and talking about the Melamchi water coming in Kathmandu. There are a handful number of hotels in Ghattekhola. If you arrive late in Dhunche, then you can opt to stay at Ghattekhola. From that point onwards, it’s just the uphill. It is always sweaty and tiring to walk uphill but strangely for my friends, she likes walking uphill and can walk fast as village men, kind of ‘Shawty got some superpower’. We met many people from national ministries on our way. Some were climbing up as our fellows and some were descending after their successful trek. We never missed hydrating ourselves and fill our bellies with some fruitcakes or fruits. Walking uphill requires energy and since you are climbing high, slow and steady is the mantra to adapt to altitude. Never hurry! We had seen several pilgrims and trekkers on our way back, as it was the time for Holi and people got a holiday, getting nauseous and lacking appetite climbing up. We suggested everyone drink a lot of water and eat something on the way to make up for the bit easier walk.
Though it was written 2 hours to reach Deurali from GhatteKhola, it took us 1 hour 45 minute to reach Deurali walking past beautiful forest areas. We had information that there is only one hotel at Deurali and is quite expensive to the quality of services they provide. We already had decided that we would not be staying at Deurali but further up. In the middle of these two places, there is one hotel as well. I could not catch the name of the place well but this hotel can be a place to have a cup of coffee or petite lunch. When I was in the UK, my friends joked with me telling only Nepalese to have ‘Short Cut’ or ‘Long Cut’ for ways but are either a long way or a short way for them. So there are shortcuts to the main trails going further up from this hotel point. Take the long cut as it is easier to walk than the short cut but it’s your preference. There are no markings but the footways. However, both the ways take you to the same destination,’ Deurali.
Deurali in Nepali means Pass that stands on the top of a hill connecting one side of the hill to another. We did not rest at Deurali and continued our walk uphill. We did not even have walked 100 meters and we met my ‘Maol ko dai’ (maternal uncle’s son) descending from Gosaikunda who works at Napi Bivag, Dhunche (Department of Survey). He asked about our plans and upon hearing them he suggested us to stay at Chandanbari if we could make it on that day and not to stay Gosaikunda itself on a later day for it is quite expensive and will be difficult to sleep and eat due to altitude and cold. We heard him but we would eventually be doing what the situation would suggest. So after talking for a bit, we marched our way and reached Dhimsa at around 5:30ish in the evening. Initially, we had thought to stay at Dhimsa but since we met the same folks (seniors by the way as they were the officials from the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Office) marching towards Chandanbari, we two girls also decided to march towards Chandanbari. Most of the friends and even Daju had talked about Chandanbari as the place for accommodation and having companions even if it gets darker, we decided to make our destination for the day to be Chandanbari.
We reached Chandanbari when it got dark at around 6:45 PM. Chandanbari has quite a few hotels that you can choose from and most are nice. Chandanbari is the only place having this number of the hotel on this route. My friends had suggested going to Hotel Yak and Nak for the lady over there treats very well and accommodation is nice as well. We went to the same hotel and the charge was only NRs 1200 for the accommodation and food for two. We had a double bed with an attached bathroom. The room was comfortable. The dining had an inner heating system that we find in most of the trekking trails and had lots of plants. I loved being there. There were a group of people who had descended the same day from the Gosaikunda. They were around 9 people and had come up from far Mahendranagar; quite a far place and quite a height for them. They shared their experience and suggested us the same thing as had my Daju. We had not planned the days for this trek and were quite flexible for the counts of days. We initially wanted to stay a night at Gosaikunda but hearing and seeing them, we made a twist. We decided to stay at Lauribina for the next day. Not just Gosaikunda but SuryaKunda was also in our plan. We had a very good plate of DaalBhat and returned to our room to talk about the time of our departure for the next day. We decided to depart at 5:30 AM but don’t know how it became 5:50ish when we started walking ahead from Chandanbari.
The view in the morning was amazing. The walk had made us turn our head back to see the golden mountains at some point of the walk. Walking amidst the long big Coniferous trees with their good fragrance made our morning very amazing. We were talking about ourselves and things around us which had made us feel the walk to be shorter. The next point after Chandanbari is Cholangpati. The way is not steep uphill till this point and is just as a perfect warm-up for what next to come. It took us exactly 2 hours to reach Cholangpati. It has 2-3 hotels. You can have a cup of tea coffee before the next destination Lauribina which is nose straight uphill, meaning steep up. We did not stop at Cholangpati and continued our walk. On the way, we found a perfect stop near to a “Pati” (resting point) along the way to snap some of our pictures. Capturing ourselves with the mountains and blue sky in the frame, we continued our walk to Lauribina. It was difficult carrying the backpacks and walking that steep uphill making us pause many times. Though we paused, it never was more than a minute or two. We reached Lauribina in about 1 hour and a half walk from Cholangpati.
It was about 9ish when we reached Lauribina and only one hotel was open, the first one after we walk that steep,’ Hotel Mount Rest’. There were only two little sisters in the hotel managing everything of the hotel. We talked with them for a while and had our Dal Bhat. Food is expensive here and onward as we can imagine the hardships to get the food there. It is a true blessing that we have food and a place to stay when nothing is around. We left our backpacks in the hotel informing them that we would stay there if we reach Suryakunda and is late. It was around 10 AM when we left the hotel and started marching towards Gosaikunda. It took us around 45 minutes to reach Buddha Temple. The way to the Buddha temple is also nose straight walk. Glad that we had no backpack as heavy as earlier but food and water. Buddha Temple provided a very scenic view and from there the way to Kyangin Gompa, Thulo Syabru, Mulkharka, and Cholagpati is seen. It felt nostalgic to see that trail reminding me of the time when I went to Kyangin Gompa and coming up to Mulkharka for the Gosaikunda. I suggest you wear warm clothes and a warm hat to cover your head as the wind blows strongly from Lauribina onwards that can trigger a headache.
Further from this point is called as ‘Lauribina Pass’. As the word itself suggest, Lauri means stick and Bina means without. The pass is not steep as earlier but is somehow steep and makes you feel very tired. Thanks to the Nepal Army who have fenced all the passes from Buddha Temple onwards to protect the lives of the people ensuring less likelihood of the mishaps that had happened in the past. It is the perk of a trek to meet with people and talk with them while enjoying the scenic beauty and in addition to it, this is the holy ground. Till we teach the holy lake, en route the pass, we encountered Saraswati Kunda, a small greenish-blue lake, and Bhairab Kunda, a bigger one near to Gosaikunda. Bhairab Kunda is the most beautiful lake to me but underrated because of the holy value of the Gosaikunda. There are 17 lakes in and around Gosaikunda including Gosaikunda itself. This ground is amazing and captivating. We spent almost 1 hour and 30 minutes in Gosaikunda lake taking pictures, enjoying the view, and dipping ourselves in the lake. We did not go to Suryakunda as I got bleeding from my nose and my fingernails started turning blue, we descended back. We also had heard that Suryakunda was frozen and the way up was full of snow too! Going down is always easy. We had our petite lunch at the same hotel where we had left our backpacks and then headed to Chandanbari.
We reached Chandandari around 5:30 in the evening and stayed at the same hotel. We could not believe we made it to the Gosaikunda in just 2 days and returning home on the third. We then celebrated the evening with the Sukuti (dried meat) and Tongba (a local drink). We could not take our dinner as we were full and hence donated to other people. I had a sound sleep but my friend is an early bird so I could not sleep from 5 AM. We made ourselves ready and went to dining for our breakfast at around 6 AM but the hotel was so full that we decided to move and have it on the hotel downwards. We left the hotel at around 6:30 AM and reached Ghatte Khola at around 8:45 AM. We had food along with us so we did not stop at any places before Ghatte Khola where we had our tea. We called the bus counter to book our ticket as well.
Around 9:50 AM we reached to Dhunche Bus Counter. We got the 11 AM bus ticket to Kathmandu. Thus, we had our breakfast, Thukpa for me and Dal Bhat for her at Dhunche. I reckon the Thukpa there. I thought the meat was finished in my bowl but it was coming. I can’t remember when I had such a good thukpa with such a quantity of meat in it. The bus arrived on time but stopped for almost an hour for having some misunderstanding with the police officer. Having all the misunderstandings cleared and apologies, the bus moved. However, on the way, the driver got the call informing the Prithivi Highway, the main road, had a heavy traffic jam since the morning and would be easy if taken the PasangLhamu Highway (Way from KakaniRanipauwa). Indeed it was a wise choice from the driver and we reached Kathmandu around 6 PM. This is the story of my trek and I still cannot believe, it was done in such a small count of the day.
My Trek Itinerary
Day 1: Kathmandu (1400m) –Dhunche (1920m)-Chandanbari/ Sing Gompa (3300m)
Day 2: Chandanbari/ Sing Gompa (3300m) – Gosaikunda (4380m)- Chandanbari/ Sing Gompa (3300m)
Day 3: Chandanbari/ Sing Gompa (3300m)-Dhunche (1920m)- Kathmandu (Via PasangLhamu Highway)
Bus fare: NRs 525 (ktm-Dhunche one way)
NP Entry Fee: NRs 100 per person/ Nepali
Accommodation and Food: Per person and package based/ differs.