NITK to Nepal: Go international while you're in college!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 Rahul Das 0 Comments



This post originally appeared on the 2015 edition of Shoreline, NITK's annual magazine.

My bungee jump at The Last Resort, Nepal
My bungee jump at The Last Resort, Nepal

Goa for Engi?

Too clichéd, wasn't it?

That’s when we came up with something else…



THE TRIP


My friends and I had always discussed the idea of backpacking abroad while we were still together at NITK.

After receiving our internship stipends and securing jobs in the 7th semester, carrying this out during our final Engi break only seemed logical to us!

The bungee jump, the aftermath of the murder, the unforgettable Himalayan trek, the people we came across and of course, that we did all this together made my decision to set out to Nepal without doubt among the best I've ever made.

I write this in the hope that it spurs you to travel abroad while you're still in college and that you’ll find it useful if you wish to visit Nepal.


View atop Poon Hill, Nepal
View atop Poon Hill, Nepal


ITINERARY FOLLOWED


Day 1 - Thu, Oct 9 2014: Departure from NITK; Mangalore – Agra train at 19:45

Day 2 – Fri, Oct 10: On the train

Day 3 - Sat, Oct 11: Arrival at Agra at 10:30; Taj Mahal; Tundla – Gorakhpur train at 18:00

Day 4 - Sun, Oct 12: Arrival at Gorakhpur at 08:30; 3 hour bus ride from Gorakhpur to Sonauli at 09:00; Crossing the border; Bus from Sonauli to Pokhara at 13:00; Arrival at Pokhara at 20:00

Day 5 - Mon, Oct 13: Pokhara sights

Day 6 – Tue, Oct 14: Pokhara sights; Overnight bus to Kathmandu at 20:00

Day 7 – Wed, Oct 15: Arrival at Kathmandu at 05:00; Tour of Kathmandu

Day 8 – Thu, Oct 16: Bungee jump at The Last Resort

Day 9 – Fri, Oct 17: Mini bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara at 14:00; Arrival at Pokhara at 20:00

Day 10 – Sat, Oct 18: Bus from Pokhara to Nayapul; Starting the 3-day Himalayan trek; Trek from Nayapul to Ghandruk)

Day 11 – Sun, Oct 19: Trek from Ghandruk to Ghorepani

Day 12 – Mon, Oct 20: Sunrise at Poon Hill; Descent; End of 3-day trek; Bus from Nayapul to Pokhara; Overnight Sonauli bus at 20:00

Day 13 – Tue, Oct 21: Arrival at Sonauli at 06:00; Lumbini; Crossing the border; Gorakhpur – Delhi overnight train

Day 14 – Wed, Oct 22: Delhi

Day 15 – Thu, Oct 23 2014: Delhi – Mangalore flight; Back to NITK



THE JOURNEY




Taj Mahal


The Taj Mahal

39 hours on our first train and the 6 of us alighted at Agra. Two hours later, we were standing in front of the Taj, transfixed by the massiveness of the mausoleum.


Hire a guide and you’ll appreciate the place better. Our guide did tell us about the widely held assumption of Shah Jahan cutting his workers’ hands being a myth. He also showed us the Hindu carvings on the white marble and I was intrigued on seeing what exactly had led to the Tejo Mahalaya debate.

Do try out the sweets that are sold outside the perimeter of the monument when you visit it.

After the camel ride that followed our visit, we got onto a bus to Tundla and then boarded the train to Gorakhpur.


Gorakhpur


More about the town and the murder when I talk about our return from Nepal.

We arrived at the station at 08:45 and boarded the bus that would take us to the Indian side of the border town Sonauli.


Nepal at last!


Crossing the border
Crossing the border

We thought of ourselves as the first group of NITKians backpacking to a different country during the middle of the semester and were therefore thrilled while we crossed the border! We adjusted our watches to stay in sync with the new time zone and boarded the 13:00 bus to Pokhara that was incidentally, the last for the day. We crammed ourselves in it, sat with a few soldiers on the last row and sang with them in Nepali until we finally arrived at Pokhara.


Pokhara


Visit places by day, experience nightlife once the sun goes down - This was the formula we stuck to during the 9 days we spent in Nepal. For obvious reasons, let’s just stick to what we did during the day in this article!

The waitress we met at breakfast on our first morning in Nepal was kind enough to chalk out a complete guide to visit Pokhara and we spent the next 2 days visiting Fewa lake, Devis falls, Gupteshwar Caves, Mahendrapool, K.I. Singh bridge and Sarangkot.


Glacial water flowing under K.I. Singh bridge
Glacial water flowing under K.I. Singh bridge


Tragedy struck on our second day in Nepal when an avalanche, a result of the Hudhud, led to the death of 43 trekkers. Disturbed, we thought it’d be better to leave Pokhara for a few days and return once things got better. We boarded the overnight bus to Kathmandu that night.


Kathmandu


Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square

The sleepless journey to Kathmandu was without doubt the worst bus ride we had ever been on. Nevertheless, we didn't let fatigue dampen our spirits and went on a city tour 2 hours after our arrival at the capital. We visited the stupa at Boudhanath, the sleeping Vishnu at Budhanilkantha, Swoyambhunath Buddhist monastery, Kathmandu Durbar Square and Pashupathinath, the temple PM Modi had visited two months prior to our trip. We found the blend of Hindu and Buddhist architectural styles and the temple’s connection with the Udupi Brahmins from Karnataka to be especially engrossing.



Bungee Jump at The Last Resort


Bungee Jump at The Last Resort


You see the raging river 160m below you knowing that even the tiniest of glitches would render that the last thing you would ever see. Your brain freezes and you can barely hear the instructor coaxing you into taking the jump. The adrenaline rushing through you then takes over very briefly, forcing you into making that leap and then, you dive into nothingness…

6 hours before that moment of insanity, our journey from Kathmandu towards the Tibetan border had just begun. We were on our way to the world’s 10th highest bungee jumping pad, situated at a height equivalent to that of a 50 storeyed building!


A short trek that we had during the journey
A short trek that we had during our journey to the resort

We were the only South Asians on the bus and soon struck conversations with the others on it. We came across a Korean entrepreneur, a Canadian freelancer, a pastor from Hong Kong, social workers working in Africa and solo women backpackers from countries like Norway and Israel. I was delighted when I listened to how these women had hiked across different countries for months altogether and saddened when they explained why they weren't going to visit India. Embarrassing, don’t you think? A woman’s right to dignity is something that each of us needs to take very seriously in India.

Coming to the jump, I could go into the details of every emotion that I had when I did it but I guess it’d be better for you to see what it is like for yourself.

[Video]

video


Back to Pokhara


8 whole days of challenging our limits and our bodies finally ended in our giving in on Day 9. Exhausted, we could only wake up in time for the afternoon mini bus to Pokhara.



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