Saturday, May 8, 2010

Biking to Sundarijal

So up until now I have been somewhat hesitant to engage in any kind of movement around the city in any format other than foot, that I was in control of anyway. Taxis are fine, because I'm not driving, and the driving does seem a bit crazy. Last night, with the expectation that the strike would still be going on, I had rented a bike to go out to Sundarijal and do some hiking out that way. With the strike now called off I would get my first taste of biking in Kathmandu traffic. Admittedly this was a Saturday morning, which is the lowest traffic time of the week, so it was a good day to try it out. The route we were taking brought us out past Boudhanath and up to the valley rim. Below is a map highlighting the route from Boudha to Sundarijal.

The ride was surprisingly easy and the mountain bikes handle the roads with varying degrees of pavement very well, making for a comfortable ride. Once we turned north off the main road, the traffic died down substantially. In the more rural areas they were laying out grass on the road so the cars and bikes would ride over separate stuff I think, my knowledge of agriculture is embarrassingly poor. 

After less than an hour ride we arrived at Sundarijal the gateway to Shivapuri National Park, the source of the Bagmati River and also most of the drinking water for Kathmanudu. We locked up the bikes and headed up some concrete steps and then onto the trail leading up to the top of the valley ridge. If you are doing the Helumbu trek, like I did in 2004, this would be where you'd start with Chisopani being your destination for the first night. 


 This is a really pleasant area to walk around, there are numerous waterfalls to see and a few caves and shrines in the area. We saw plenty of birds and butterflies as well, and you hike through a couple of small farming villages with the normal array of goats, buffalo, chickens , etc.

The nice thing about hiking in the spring is that all the baby animals you get to see, baby goats bouding along the rocks or little puppies. all are too cute.

You can't see the details in this picture. but you could clearly see the better part of the valley from the top of the ridge. You could easily make out the stupa at Boudha and the nearby Hyatt hotel. 

Off a side trail down by the river, just before you cross the dam. you can go down to a small cave like shrine with these carven lingam, I would guess by the trident that it has something to do with Shiva. I don't pretend to understand Hinduism.

On the way back there was a bit more traffic, but I managed to make it home in one piece. While passing a bus I did come around the front of it and swerve to avoid hitting a small cow that was just standing in the road. I got a good laugh out of many places do you weave in and out of traffic and have to dodge large farm animals? Anyway it was a good time, and I'll definetly be keeping my eyes open for a cheap mountain bike now.

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