Visit to Ghandruk, Nepal

- By Yukta Gurung

After having seen the beautiful pictures, photos and videos of the most renowned Ghandruk Village (1940m) and hearing how visitors from all over the world view it as a paradise,  we finally decided to go there on 4 April 2018 during our visit to Nepal. At around 8am, after a good breakfast prepared by my sister Rupa, my wife Seema, son Sudin and two nieces Asmita, Oshin and myself took a taxi from our home in Ram Bazaar, Pokhara to Hari Chowk Bagar. Unfortunately, when we reached Mahendra Pool area, it started to rain heavily which nearly forced us to cancel our trip but after reassurance from Prakash bhai our jeep owner/driver from whom we had reserved for Rs 4000, that the roads are  in  good conditions as he had driven to Ghandruk the day before, we started our journey in the heavy rains. After nearly an hour’s ride on the Baglung Highway, we reached Nayapool by which time the rain had stopped. So a quick tea break, crossed Birethanti Bridge where we saw the road on the left leading to Ghorepani Poon Hill with  many tourists walking along the roads  but we had chosen the easier way out!

We climbed up the winding road and reached Kimchey after two and half hours journey from Pokhara and then started our short trek of one and half hours up the hill with our backpacks. Buses and jeeps still go further up but we preferred to walk from Kimchey as we were here to walk but rather than following the motor road, we chose the old trekking path which was more challenging and fun. Sudin and her mom were always ahead of our group waiting for us three to catch up with them which we could never do so at the pace of my two nieces!  After a lovely walk up the hill on the rugged paths, we came to the Ghandruk Bus Stand where a bus departs every hour to Baglung Bus Park for just Rs 250 reaching Pokhara in around three and half hours.

Then came the steep climb of perfectly placed stone steps which took us around 30 minutes and were extremely happy to see around seventy of our local tourists (Nepalese) consisting of young high school children, their teachers and others and similar numbers returning from Ghandruk most of who had come from Chitwan area.  We knew we had reached Ghandruk when we saw the Welcome to Ghandruk Gate. There are many hotels/lodges in the front face of Ghandruk Village starting from basic to luxurious ones and although Prakash bhai had recommend Gurung Cottage,  we found Old Village Inn to suit our needs as it was a new hotel owned by Mr. Amrit Gurung, whom we later learned was the brother of Mithu Gurung of Basingstoke. We quickly unpacked, freshened up and had our lunch of daal, bhaat with the local chicken which was indeed very tasty.

After a late lunch, we started our venture of Ghandruk Village visiting the old village which is such a beautiful charming site comprising of the old village houses, footpaths, firewood, animals etc which you would find in any villages in the hills. There are two old Gurung Museums and a third new Gurung Museum built by another Amrit Gurung in his new house. Personally three museums in Ghandruk is one too many. There is also a lovely Gumba and a school . We returned to our hotel as it was getting cold and the skies were also gradually opening up after the morning rain. We went to the large balcony and were very lucky to see the majestic Annupurna South, Himchuli and of course the Fishtail Mountain (Machhapuchhre). There were 4 ladies from Taiwan and 2 gentleman from Spain along with their guides plus a few of our countrymen staying at this hotel. As we already had a late lunch, we just had light dinner and I tried the local Tinpani Kodoko Rakshi  at Rs100 a glass and whether locally brewed or not, it tasted wonderful. The food was very delicious and as commodities need to be brought from Pokhara, naturally the cost is very high. A typical Nepalese Daal Bhaat with chicken curry costing Rs600, mineral water at Rs70 a litre, 2 pieces of plain toast Rs100  but worth every penny. The short trek and good food (together with  Kodoko Rakshi for me) helped us to get a very good night sleep.

The view we saw next morning was breathtaking with the sun’s golden rays covering the glorious white snow peaked mountains , rhododendrons in the surrounding hills with the chirping of the birds in the background. This was the moment we understood why Ghandruk is a paradise. We could see many visitors in other hotel balconies admiring, taking photos and selfies. The hotel showers was very hot followed by  a lovely breakfast to wash down with hot coffee.  There is a small bakery at Kimchey run by a Gurung lady and her daughter and we met the mother in the old village who said that they could not bake enough bread to meet the demands of all the hotels of Ghandruk. We then said goodbye to Amrit Gurung and his team and started our decent down the hill which was a lot easier and quicker too compared to the uphill. As there weren’t any jeeps at the Bus Stop, we decided to take a bus back to Pokhara and since we had an hour’s time before the bus departed, Seema and Sudin decided to trek to Kimchey rather than wait while we three waited  in the bus. After leaving Kimchey, the bus got very crowded  with the local people until we reached Nayapool where majority of them dropped off. We reached Baglung Bus Park in around three and half hours and took a taxi home.

Well, Ghandruk will no doubt be a popular destination for the Nepalese not just because of its trade name and scenic beauty but mainly with easy road access from Pokhara as one does not have to walk 5-6 hours anymore. Roads being built to these famous trekking routes including to Ghorepani region is definitely good for the development and economy of the area but sadly not for the tourists  who would treasure more memorable experiences on the old trekking paths through the natural beauty of our countryside rather than the motor roads. We enjoyed our short trek and this experience has made us more aware of how beautiful and lovely  our country truly is and intend to do more trekking in the future visits too.

How to get to Ghandruk?

The easiest is to reserve a jeep from Hari Chowk Bagar which takes you right near the school and then 15 minutes uphill or to Ghandruk Bus Stand ( 3 hours) and walk uphill for 30-50minutes (Rs4000-5000).

Or get into a waiting jeep in queue for Rs 600 to Ghandruk which leaves once all 8-9 seats are full.

Reserve a taxi to Nayapul and then trek for 5-6 hours (Rs 1500-2000).

Cheapest deal is a bus ride from Baglung Bus Park which leaves every hour and takes 4 hours to Ghandruk Bus Stand and walk uphill 30-50 minutes (Rs250).

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