Blog – Explore Himalaya Travel & Adventure

Tihar- the Festival of lights, flowers, music and fireworks

Tihar is the second biggest festival after Dashain for the Hindus of Nepal. The animal worshipping along with the worshipping of Gods is the unique feature about this festival. Tihar; also known as ‘Yama Panchak’ is celebrated as a festival of life and prosperity. This festival falls during October starting 21 days after the day of Vijaya Dasami of Dashain. According to Nepali Lunar calendar the festival is celebrated from Trayodashi of Kartik Krishna to Kartik Shukla Dwitiya every year. The festival also known as ‘Deepawali’ is celebrated for five long days.

During the festivals, every Hindu house in Nepal that is almost 90% is adorned with lights. Groups of young lads and lasses visit the houses in their neighborhood with cultural songs that are lyrically and musically composed for this particular festival. Kids enjoy with fireworks and the colorful flowers are stringed to a garland that has huge essence during Tihar.

Festivals of lights- tihar

Photo credits: ekantipur.com

Day 1- Kaag Tihar

This day Kaag-the crow is worshipped. Myths say crow was a messenger in the ancient times. Hence, to please the crow so that it crows with the good news, this beautiful black bird is fed with delicious food. In every house people offer food for the crows in a leaf of any kind of tree available in the neighborhood.

Festival that worships crow- Kag Tihar

Day 2- Kukur Tihar                                             

This day is dedicated to the messenger of Lord Yamaraj, Kukur-the dog. People worship dog by putting a red Tika on the forehead and garland around the neck. They offer delicious food and ‘selroti-a kind of bread made by rice flour and sugar’ to the dog expecting the protection of their house and wealth. Even the street dogs are treated respectfully on this day.

Worshipping dog- Festival in Nepal, Kukur Tihar

Day 3- Laxmi puja

This important day of Tihar is celebrated by worshipping the cow and Laxmi- the goddess of wealth. In the morning, the cow is worshipped. The cow is a holy animal for the Hindus and also the national animal of Nepal. Every religious rituals of Hindus are incomplete without the urine, dung and milk of the cow. The worshipping process includes putting tika on the forehead and garland around the neck of the cow. The door of every house is decorated in the morning. Houses are cleaned during the day as a preparation for Laxmi Puja. It is believed that Laxmi likes cleanliness. A path is created with the cow’s dung from the yard to the worshipping spot inside the house. The art of footprint is made with the hand on the path. The entire house is decorated by lighting oil lamps and candles. Different firecrackers are blown. This puja is conducted at the midnight for thanking the goddess for all the benefits she’s given. Onwards the evening, the groups of girls and women visit the houses singing Bhailo, which is only sung on this day. The song includes words that bless the person living in the houses with prosperity and health. They are cordially welcomed by the house owner and pleased by offering them money and delicious food.

Lightful path for the goddess of prosperity- Laxmi Puja in Nepal

Photo credits: imnepal.com

Day 4- Gobardhan Puja

The fourth day of Tihar is celebrated by worshipping the oxen and Gobardhan. Gobardhan is a mountain. Gobardhan Puja is done worshipping Gobardhan, which is made by the dung of the cow on a shape of mountain at the yard of the house. This day the groups of boys and men visit the houses in their neighborhood where they perform Deusi songs and dances. They too bless the host family with prosperity and health. They are given money, grains and delicious foods in return. This day is also celebrated as ‘Mha Puja’- (self worshipping) by the Newars, which marks the beginning of their new year Nepal Sambat.

Worshipping oxen- Festival in Nepal- Tihar

Day 5-Bhai Tika

The fifth and last day of Tihar is the most important day of this festival which is celebrated by sisters worshipping their brothers. There are several myths behind Bhai Tika. One of the popular myths is related with the lord of death- Yamaraj and his sister Yamuna.

Yamaraj once visited his sister Yamuna after a long time. In his welcome, Yamuna tried to do her best. She put tika in her brother’s head, garland around his neck and fed him with delicious food. They sat together, had a lot of conversation, and together they had sweets and other food. While departing, Yamaraj gave his sister a beautiful gift. Yamraj announced that any brother putting tika from their sister’s hand will not be dragged to death on that day. Since then, Bhai Tika is celebrated by sister’s thanking brother for the protecting her along with her prayer that extends the life of her brothers.

the closest intimacy between brothers and sisters- Bhaitika, a sacred celebration on final day of tihar

The worshipping process starts with sister applying oil to brother’s head and body. Thereafter the sister’s circumnavigates their brothers with oil and water from a special vessel “Karuwa” and Dubo-a kind of grass. On the entrance door of the house a ‘Bimiro-a kind of fruit’ is put, in the belief as an obstacle for the lord of death-Yamaraj. The sisters put five colors tika in brother’s forehead and garland of ‘Makhmali-a kind of flower that doesn’t wilt soon’ flower symbolizing the long life of her brother like the flowers. Sisters offer brothers with delicious foods. Brothers also put tika to their sisters and give gifts or money in return.

Those who do not have brothers or sisters visit Ranipokhari Temple this day, which is only opened on that day for the local people so that they could celebrate mass Bhai Tika.

Deusi-bhailo in Nepal

Share this postShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

32 Dead and 100 missing- Annapurna’s deadliest blizzard

The disastrous snowstorm and avalanche that hit the most popular trekking region in Nepal (Annapurna Region) on 14 October has already claimed the life of 32 trekkers that include Nepali trekking guides, locals and the foreign trekkers.

A huge team of Rescue Operators continues the Rescue operation in the Himalayan trekking routes of Central Nepal where more than 100 trekkers are out of contact.. The helicopters are repeatedly scouting the trekking trails from the Nepalese Skies and the team on the land has scoured the routes.

The officials have declared 32 dead including the three who were at Dhaulagiri Base Camp presumed dead. As the death toll is continuously rising, 100 trekkers are still out of contact. After the dreadful natural calamity, the most popular trekking region in Nepal has now been full of painful stories and the possibility of rising death toll is sadly high.

The Rescue Team have already rescued more than 50 trekkers and as the operation has been directly monitored by the Prime Minister of Nepal, the possibility of rescuing the missing trekkers seems to be high.

Share this postShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Manaslu Circuit Trek with Tsum Valley- Trekking very close to Tibet

Manaslu-Trek

Manaslu Circuit Trek is worth something to experience since it offers enough sight for the eye at an altitude of 5160m at Larkya La Pass. The phenomenal trek including few restricted areas offers an outstanding view of mountains such as Ganesh, Sringi, Himchuli and Manaslu itself. The region, neighboring to Tibet, gives an overview of Tibetan life and culture in the oldest form possible. The holy monasteries Mu Gompa and Rachen Gompa in Tsum Valley are  major attractions of this trek if it stretches little bit to Tsum Valley.  Tsum Valley Trek give you a close look to the nature at its rawest form.

Recently four New Zealanders- Adrian, Joan Philip, and Jenny trekked to Manaslu and Tsum Valley during their visit to Nepal. Here is what they have said about their trek.

We will remember the Nepalese people in Tsum valley, their hospitality, the smiles on their faces, and of course their cooking. We can’t express how glad we are at achieving the elevation above 5000m.

Explore Himalaya’s meeting and handling was efficient, friendly, pleasant and helpful. The hotels were great both in Kathmandu or Pokhara. Our guide Bharat was simply awesome. The staffs were cheerful and the porters Shiva, Shishir and Bipin were very helpful. The transportation was excellent and safe. The driver had very good attitude.

We recommend Explore Himalaya and their staffs to every traveler planning to travel to Nepal.

Share this postShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Everest Base Camp Trek- probably the biggest trekking adventure in the world

View of Everest and Ama Dablam range as seen from thhe trail to khumjung

Everest Base Camp Trek throws a challenge to get to an elevation of 5357m; which is every trekker’s dream. Everest Base Camp Trek is designed for those trek lovers who tend to explore Sherpa life and culture, unique alpine flora & faunas, and the Himalaya itself. The trek continues for 12days as you reach to the Base Camp from Lukla (2860m) through Namche Bazar; the Sherpa Capital, Tengboche-a village with sacred monastery adorned by magnificent Ama Dablam at its backdrop, and Gorakshep-the vantage point to sight Everest Base Camp all the way to its summit. Probably the biggest trekking adventure in the world, Everest Base Camp Trek also provides a majestic view of mountains such as Everest, Ama Dablam, Cho Oyu, Lhotse, and Nuptse.

Recently Ms. Penny Hopkins led her team of 18 trekkers to Everest Base Camp and experienced the highlights of Everest Base Camp Trek. Here is what she said about their trek.

The most memorable part of our trek was achieving the elevation at Everest Base Camp and Kalapatthar. The flight to Lukla was a completely new experience. Overall, the trek was fantastic

Explore Himalaya offered us a very good meeting and handling. The hotel was fine. Our guide Dayula was excellent who always had a smile on his face. The staffs were excellent. We had a comfortable transportation facility. Explore Himalaya treated us very well.

When things go wrong, it’s important to get the correct staff involved who see the big picture & who have the authority to make many decisions- Explore Himalaya’s staffs!! They’ve got it.

Share this postShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Hidden Valley Trek & Dhampus Peak Climbing- A trip Report based on conversation with Juerg Merz

Being at Hidden Valley, a flat area at 5200m without people surrounded by the 6000ers and 8000ers is absolutely like being on the moon. Hidden Valley is one of the most beautiful places in Nepal- Juerg Merz

Trekking to Hidden Valley-the most beautiful offbeat trekking destination in Nepal

The absolute isolation behind majestic Dhaulagiri, Hidden Valley is one of the most beautiful places in Nepal. Literally, the trekkers shed tears on seeing the first glimpse of Hidden Valley. There are two trails to reach the Hidden Valley. The trail that stretches from Marpha is a very tough and life-threatening trek, which is not recommended at all. The altitude rise on this trail is so rapid that even the experienced trekkers including guides may suffer altitude sickness lacking proper acclimatization.

The alternate trail to Hidden Valley Trek, which is also known as Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek begins at Beni 830m. Beni, a small mid-hill town tucked between Kali Gandaki River and Myagdi River lies in a Tropical Zone. As the trek begins trekkers’ experience, 3-4 climate zones until they reach the Hidden Valley. Every day, the views in the neighborhood change. The trek winds through terraced paddy fields to low alpine regions and alpine regions to high Himalayan region. French Col. 5445m is the highest point of the trek- the highland pass overlooking the Hidden Valley.

Astoundingly a strenuous trek, the Hidden Valley Trek demands sound physical condition and enduring ability to cope with the raw nature. There are no teahouses on the trail and hence the trek in the region is fully organized Trek. Accommodations are in the tented camps and the Sherpa cooks throughout the trek cook the food. The trek best suits to the trekkers craving to see something uniquely beautiful enduring every challenges of trek throughout Nepal’s one of the least frequented trekking trails.

Juerg Merz, our old client at Hidden Valley

Juerg Merz spellbind to see the Hidden Valley

Day 1 Fly/Drive to Pokhara and drive to Beni 82km

Day 1,we got to the trek starting point Beni. Driving all the way to Beni from Kathmandu is comfortably possible. It is 282km drive; smooth ride most of times and bumpy ride very rarely. If we prefer to skip the long drive, we can fly to Pokhara and then drive to Beni. However, the bumpy part of the drive cannot be skipped as the road section between Pokhara and Beni has it at some places. On arrival at Beni we checked in to our hotel. We enjoyed a little bit of modern amenities here in Beni as for the next 2 weeks we would be mingling with the rawest form of nature.

Trekking in Nepal crosses the highland villages that has centuries old civilization history

Trekking in Nepal crosses the highland villages that has centuries old civilization history

Day 2 Trek to Darbang 1110m

Today we began the trek to Hidden Valley but the first 2-3 hours of the journey, we covered it driving on a local bus. As the bus journey ended, we began the trek. The trek today was short and easy along the bank of Myagdi River. We cross pass diorama of terraced fields, small rural hamlets and almost three hours of introductory walk brought us to Darbang 1110m. Darbang is the last small town on the trail to Hidden Valley with very few modern amenities. We camped in a school playground for the overnight stay.

 Trekking in the dense tropical forests of NepalTrekking harder and getting deeper into No Man’s Land

Day 3 Trek to Muri 1800m Approx 7 hrs walk

The real trek began today. The Hidden Valley Trek today kicked off with an ascending climb over the ridge that brought us to wide hillsides of terraced fields. The open view of Myagdi Khola from the hillside was beautiful and we dropped down towards Myagdi Khola cross passing small villages like Phedi, Dharapani and Takum. The long descend brought us to a narrow footbridge over Dhara Khola- we crossed it. On the other side of the bridge, a steep uphill climb awaited us. Eventually, we climbed up and got to Muri, a traditional Magar village. The uphill climb to Muri catered us the views of several open valleys and the panorama of Dhaulagiri I (8167m) and the Gurja Himal (7193m). Overnight in a tent at Muri.

Day 4 Trek to Bagar 2080m. Walk approx 6 hours

After the breakfast, we resumed the trek. Today we had an effortful trekking day. The Hidden Valley Trek in Nepal today dropped down to Dhola Khola before ascending over a ridge to Gorban Dhara. The view from the pass was excellent- Mt. Ghustang 6465m rises majestically from valley head. Then we descended down to Myagdi River, crossed a bridge over it and began to climb up. Now our trek was along the trail that went up and down to Myagdi River for a couple of times. Traversing through beautiful gorges formed because of narrowed valleys our day’s trek ended at Bagar.

The most amazing shapes in nature

The most amazing structures in nature- few of them can be seen during Hidden Valley Trek to Nepal

Day 5 To Dobang 2520m. Walk approx 7 hours

Today we had a beautiful long day walk that most of the times traversed through the temperate forest. We trekked above Myagdi River and the steep stony trail brought up us to Simal Kharka. Traversing through Hot Springs and Single Hut, we arrived to Lipsaba. Beyond Lipsapa the walk along the temperate forest began. Here onwards, the leeches  were the main hurdle of the Hidden Valley Trek. Our trail to Dobang today, winded through the gorge with its many short uphill and downhill climbs. As the trek went closer towards Dhaulagiri, we now began to trek along the trails of low alpine region. Cross passing cascading waterfall, dense rhododendron forest and high pastures, we arrived to Dobang. Dobang in fact is a jungle camp- a beautiful opportunity to camp for the night in the middle of forest. Leeches still were troubling us.

One of the least frequented trekking trails in NepalEveryday the landscapes in neighborhood changes during Hidden Valley Trek

Day 6 Trek to Italian Base Camp 3660m

The trek today gained real altitude. Firstly, we crossed a bridge over Myagdi Khola and ascended up steeply towards the glacial moraines and barren terrains that originated from Dhaulagiri. Then, we descended down to cross the bridge over Chaur Ban Khola and began to trek through temperate forest. The descending trail to Chaur Ban Khola offered the excellent view of west wall of Mount Dhaulagiri- a genuine reward for every effort put on day’s trek. Today’s trail towards Hidden Valley winded through the rhododendron and conifer woodland and arrived above the tree line at Italian Base Camp. An open space for camping allowed us to dry our clothes and other trekking logistics. Moreover, the views of the southwest face of Dhaulagiri I looming above flanked by Mt. Manapati (6380m) to the south are exceptionally beautiful. The massive rock forts of Tsaurabong Peak (6395m) and the soaring peaks of Dhaulagiri II Dhaulagiri III and Dhaulagiri V occupy the western sky.

 

Rarest view during trekking in Nepal

Rarest view during trekking in Nepal- the remains of crashed helicopter

Day 7 Rest day at Italian Base Camp 3660m

 Today we had a day rest at Italian Base Camp before heading towards the elevated Dhaulagiri Base Camp the other day. Acclimatization while trekking to altitude above 5000m is essential. Therefore, we can dry our clothes and trekking logistics and explore around the Italian Base Camp for day’s activity.

 Day 8 Trek to Dhaulagiri Base Camp 4740m

Today as we began the trek, the trail gently climbed up to cross the glacial moraine. The trail today was relatively steeper at places during this part of Hidden Valley Trek. After a gradual ascend we arrived to Japanese Base Camp 3890m. The camp demonstrates least activities however; the views of Manapati, Dhaulagiri and Tsaurabang Peaks surrounding the camp were excellent. The trek demanded extra effort as we trekked across the glacier and continued hiking up towards a pass. Beyond the moraine the trail headed towards the origin of Myagdi Khola and then on to the Chonbarban Glacier. On taking a swift bend of the valley, Mt. Tukuche came into our sight, which was exceptionally wonderful to watch. Finally, we arrived to Dhaulagiri Base Camp. The camp spectacularly nestles at the end of the glacier. The views of Dhaulagiri I, II, III, V, Tukuche Peaks and the baronial icefall cascading from the north east Col of Dhaulagiri is great watch from Dhaulagiri Base Camp. Unlike the base camps of other mountains, we literally touched Mt. Dhaulagiri at its base which was so far one of the most incredible experiences of the Hidden Valley Trek. Overnight in a camp at Dhaulagiri Base Camp

Camping Trek in Nepal

Touching the lower part of gigantic Dhaulagiri- Camps at Dhaulagiri Base Camp

Day 9 Trek to Hidden Valley 5150m via French Pass 5360m

This was the most challenging day of the Hidden Valley Trek and at the same time the day, that catered the biggest reward of the trek. Initially, the trail led us the way out of glacier to the steeply ascending rocky scree to French Pass- the pass named after French reconnaissance expedition in the 1950s to Dhaulagiri. French Pass, a steep terrain demanded the rope climb for a section of almost 100m. Almost a half day of effort across drifting terrains brought us to the top of the French Pass 5360m. Our heads were leveled with mountains in every direction at this point. Mt. Sita Chuchura and Tukuche Peak West flank the pass, majestic Dhaulagiri I soars behind them, and Mukut Himal and Tashi Kang dominate the northern sky. Below the pass the Hidden Valley lies. The view of Hidden Valley from the pass is so perfect and beautiful that some trekkers shed tears to witness the isolated beauty. Now we began to descend towards the Hidden Valley. As we descend the landscape in the vicinity changed to extreme arid lands with snowy peaks. Overnight in a tent at Hidden Valley

Camping Trek in NepalCamping at the foothills of towering Himalayan Peaks- Nothing feels special than this

Day 10-11 Explore around Hidden Valley

 Hidden Valley is truly a hidden beauty. A day or 2 days of exploration around the valley was never too much. A valley encircled by Himalayan peaks in all direction is a paradise. We explored around the valley’s untouched regions. The valley also is an ideal home for elusive Blue sheep hence; we had several sightings of rare Himalayan species, Blue Sheep at Hidden Valley. We savored the alpine beauty that spilled over in every corner of the Hidden Valley.

Day 12-14 Climbing Dhampus Peak 6012m

On day 12, we trekked to the Dhampus Pass, which is an hour-long climb. Then we involved ourselves to achieve the goal of this trek- summit of Dhampus Peak. A small peak, which does not, demand much of technical expertise was an easy climb. While trekking so far in the middle of nowhere we had planned earlier to summit this beautiful peak. Hence, we had permits for climbing the peak and we climbed the peak successfully. The summit raised a noteworthy amount of money for the orphans living in one of the orphan homes in Kathmandu. After all traveling responsibly is the main motto for modern day travelers like us.

DHAMPUS-PEAK

The real adventure- a tortoise pace towards Dhampus Peak

Day 15 Trek to Yak Kharka via Dhampus Pass 5244m

From the top of the pass, the trail dropped down for quite a while against the loose scree amidst the vegetation. The trail down towards Yak Kharka from the peak of Dhampus Pass caters the magnificent frontal panorama of Nilgiri Range and downwards the wonderful Kali Gandaki Valley expands. At the end of the day we arrived at Yak Kharka and settled down in the camps for the overnight stay.

Day 16 Trek to Jomsom via Marpha

Today the trek dropped down throughout the day. The pleasant forests manifested that we have now entered the low alpine region and soon we entered the classic trail of Annapurna Circuit. At the end of the day, we arrived at Marpha, which is a major town of the Kali Gandaki Valley and for travelers, traders and pilgrims. The stone paved trails, the closely built terrace-like houses and the windy weather condition make Marpha a fascinating town. This is also a region of Apple Orchard in Nepal. After 2 weeks of exhausting trek it was a very good experience to enjoy the night in a warm tea house with the people other than our crew.

Dhampus Peak

Photo Courtesy: Juerg Merz (Switzerland)

Interested? Contact us at enquiry@explorehimalaya.com

Share this postShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Explore Himalaya participates PATA Travel Mart in Combodia

Explore Himalaya participated in PATA Travel Mart 2014. PATA organized the Travel Mart in Phnom Penh, Combodia from September 17 to September 19. Mr. Manoj Gurung, the company’s Executive Manager participated the Travel Mart that was held at Diamond Island Convention and Exihibition Center in Phnom Penh.

PATA, the organization dedicated to promote the tourism in Asia organized this mart to bring the global buyers and sellers of Asian Tourism Products at a common arena so that the Asian Tourism Products get higher exposure and promotion globally.

On 21st September, Mr. Gurung also attended the PATA Board Meeting on behalf of company President Mr. Suman Pandey who is also the Chairman of PATA Nepal Chapter.

A photo gallery

Share this postShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+