A day trip away from the chaos of Kathmandu

Kathmandu might indeed feel like a mystical city with its unique vibes, but it’s also a bustling city in the developing world which unfortunately means that it’s also very chaotic. I have my own childhood memories of the city being much greener and much less chaotic but the reality is different today.  Every time I am about to land in Kathmandu, I am disheartened at the window view of the city that looks like a million of concrete pieces jumbled randomly, with no green patches to be seen. All that to say that I was understandably desperate to get out of the city for some peace after nearly a week of feasting and visiting relatives.

Luckily for Kathmandu citizens, there are a variety of options for short day trips. Kathmandu is located in a valley surrounded by green hills on all sides, and lies at an altitude of 1400 meters. It just takes venturing a little further from Kathmandu to actually witness the natural beauty that Nepal is known for.

A Buddhist monastery complex near Kathmandu

This time the destination along with my family was a Buddhist monastery called Namobuddha, just 40 kms outside of Kathmandu. Reaching there is a bit tricky without a private vehicle with the roads clogged with traffic jams at the beginning and gradually getting dangerously narrow and snaky until Namobuddha.

Not too far from Kathmandu

I had my first dose of immense culture shock looking at just how crazy the road culture (or lack thereof) is.  I was holding on tight and counting on my sister’s driving skills as the noise of Kathmandu faded away and gave way to rolling green hills and villages.

Namobbudha monastery shines on a perfect autumn day

Namobuddha has a main monastery complex that has a stunning facade and colorful, intricate carvings in the interiors that are in line to the Tibetan style of Buddhist monasteries. We were lucky to be there during the afternoon prayers, which was surreal and beautiful.

Explosion of colors

The monks chanted prayers in Tibetan as the sound of traditional instruments filled the prayer hall. The worship hall was gorgeous with all of its grand walls covered in colorful, gorgeous art depicting various legends.

Smaller temples in the area

Besides the main complex, there are also smaller temples in the site, with most of them overlooking the gorgeous green valley below. One of such temples is built on the site that’s believed to be where Buddha as a prince fed his flesh to a hungry tigress and her cubs.

Prayer wheels in the monastery

We found it refreshing to just walk around, enjoy the panoramic views of the valley below and just enjoy the stunning architecture of the monastery.  When walking around, we discovered a trail that had walls clad with colorful prayer flags which made for some great photos.

Quite photogenic

Prayer flags are used extensively by the Buddhist community in Nepal and can be seen everywhere. The flags are primarily in five colors: blue, white, red, green and yellow, that represent sky, air, fire, water and Earth respectively. The flags contain Tibetan prayers and are believed to spread goodwill and positivity as they blow in the wind.

A zoomed photo of nearby dreamy farms

Namobuddha is not only for the religious, but it’s also a good place for enjoying the nature and culture of the area. There is a hiking trail that connects the nearby town of Dhulikhel to the area. While on the way down to parking, we stopped for lunch at a small cafe run by the local monks enjoying the stunning views. It had been several years since I had last visited, so it was great taking a break from Kathmandu at this beautiful place, enjoying the nature and the monasteries and reminiscing old memories.

Spotting one of my favorite flowers




32 thoughts on “A day trip away from the chaos of Kathmandu

  1. Glad your sister was able to get herself and you safely there, and back, Pooja. The landscape looks lovely, and the monastery and its views beautiful. I have seen prayer flags often, but was not aware of the significance of the colors. Thank you for your explanation. Knowing about the five elements they represent makes them more meaningful.

      1. There are plenty in the South of France and also in Italy. We used to have one in a big pot. When we moved up here, it died 😦

  2. If you didn’t say that this was just outside Kathmandu, I would’ve thought this was Bhutan, especially the second photo. Your description of how green Kathmandu was really is such a stark contrast with how it looks like today. I still liked it, but I can imagine if they kept those trees the city would certainly look more beautiful (with cleaner air too).

    1. You’re right, Bama. There were more flowers, more open lands and even rice was growing in some places of Kathmandu when I was growing up! And this was only two decades ago. Looking at your Bhutan blog posts remind me of what Kathmandu/Nepal could have been with all the emphasis on greenery and preserving of traditional culture and architecture.

      1. Kathmandu is a living example of what would happen if development goes unchecked. Hopefully one day someone will initiate a movement to bring back the trees and flowers to Kathmandu, like what the Parisians have been doing to their city in the past few years.

  3. It must feel so good to be back in your childhood home, Pooja. Development can be disconcerting and disquieting for one who loved the simplicity that one’s home town had to offer once. I can relate to the conflicting emotions you must experience every time you return. But that photo of the villages nestled within the valleys is beautiful and alluring. Hope you are soaking up the goodness of it. xx

      1. Oh yes. We have bougainvilleas everywhere here, Pooja. I don’t recall seeing them when I was there. They seem to be more of a tropical plants. But I guess the Southern part of Nepal is humid, isn’t it?

  4. Is that a rhodedendron in the final photo? Ah that brings back fond memories of the Kathmandu valley for me. I can’t imagine Kathmandu city as a concrete jungle. My memoirs are fine 1986 though…

  5. I love the top picture, Pooja. I love them all but the top one is very special I also love the bougainvillea picture because they are my favourite plants. I hate pruning them though because the thorns are so vindictive. We are here at home, cleaning the back guest room and bathroom, I just came here for two clean towels and saw your comment so I am having a ten minute break. Thanks for that, Pooja. Enjoy your weekend, Pooja. Our two rooms are fully booked this weekend so we will be busy. मलाई आशा छ कि तपाईं आफ्नो सप्ताहांत, पूजा को मजा लिनुहुन्छ

  6. Such a lovely escape from Kathmandu! Loved the autumn colours picture the most( very well framed). No matter how much I love Kathmandu, the dust got to me after a while and I escaped to Nagarkot. This seems a pretty good option as well 🙂 ❤ Hope to return to Nepal soon!

    1. Thank you Divsi! And sorry for getting back to you late. Kathmandu used to be a beautiful city, now it’s too polluted and chaotic. It makes one appreciate the hilly towns surrounding Kathmandu more xx I hope you go back to Nepal and publish some of the amazing photography on your blog! 😀 ❤

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