Escaping southern India is a must when the scorching heat of 35C+ returns. Those who can usually go north – way up north to the foothills of the Himalayas – the west Asian “roof of the world”. Lucky that I, too, had my escape closer to the skies a week ago.
My adventure took me with friends all the way to Nepal and to Pokhara Valley, about 200 km northwest of Kathmandu, the capital. Machapuchare or Machhapuchhre (माछापुछ्रे) also known locally as the “Fish Tail” is one of the highest peaks of the famous Annapurna range of the Himalayas.
The Annapurna Circuit is popular among trekkers as we discovered. Kind of nice to know
though that this particular peak at 6,993 meters is off limits to climbers. The locals rever “Machhu” as sacred to the god Shiva, hence not open for climbing. In this day & age, it’s good to know that not every mountain is open to the business of scaling!
A different species these hard-headed sports nuts. Meeting them in the guest houses is unavoidable. Some unabashedly showing their frost bites and telling tall-sounding tales of backbreaking climbs high up in the frozen Annapurna range. Perhaps I was just envious; yet, part of me kept hoping that they had also managed to see the spectacular scenery they presumably came to experience – walking as close to the heavens than anyone would ever get to do in this lifetime. Yeah, surely a different species these serious trekkers if you asked me. Enjoying hiking in the foothills to take in the dramatic and totally awesome beauty was as good as it got for me.
The peak season of trekking and seeing the Himalayas is in October and November. In late March, it’s best to view the snowy peaks at 6 a.m. or shortly after the sunrise. The mist and haziness cover the upper ranges for the rest of the day.
If you’re heading that way, stop by the New Tourist Guest House at Lakeside in Gaurighat area of Pokhara, the town. A modest family run small hotel managed by a totally lovely Nepali family. A home away from home! Simply decorated with clean affordable rooms, fresh white bed linen and hot water all day, terraces and a garden to sit and gab with other travelers – a friendly oasis like no other! And down the lane from the guest house are hole-in-the-wall small eateries to sample local and international cuisine.
Other hikes I took were outside of Pokhara town area, around the small villages…the locals are the best guides to places off the beaten track. Glad I had the chance to explore the amazing beauty of the foothills: see a deeply carved river gorge that fills with madly rushing water once the much needed monsoon rains arrive and looked into the hidden nooks at the lower elevations. Felt like walking in God’s country.