For those with limited time and a desire to experience the basics of trekking our day trip to Nagarkot fits the bill perfectly. Situated 32 kilometers from Kathmandu, an hour’s drive brings us to the town’s lofty perch and its glorious outlook towards the mighty Himalayas and the imposing massifs of Ganesh Himal, Langtang Himal, Dorje Lakpa, and Gaurishankar, as well as the numerous villages scattered across the broad Kathmandu valley. Formerly an ancient fortress strategically built to overlook the various approaches to the valley, in later times it became a favored summer retreat for the royal family, then morphed again into a renowned hill station.
We begin the journey by heading downhill along a ridgeline that offers us a scenic outlook across the valley to Sankhu and the historic town of Bhaktapur, and then make our way by a number of Hindu temples to a rest stop where we pause for lunch and a relaxing opportunity to observe local life. After the break the trail picks up again and takes us through a wide stretch of pine forest that occasionally opens to reveal fleeting glimpses of the Himalayas before we finally arrive Changu Narayan.
UNESCO-listed as a world heritage site of major significance to Hindus, Changu Narayan’s temple complex and its glorious Licchavi sculptures are a testament to the stunning artistic ability of the Newar period in Nepal, the intricately carved and lavishly decorated structure a work of art in its own right that complements the extraordinary and famous statuary. Of note is the figure of Vishnu Vikrantha, the six-armed God, as well as the lion-headed statue of Vishnu Narasimha. With a history dating back well over 1,000 years and a level of artistry amongst the finest in all of Asia, Changu Narayan truly is one of the crown jewels of Nepal’s cultural heritage.
Altogether the excursion will take approximately four to five hours depending on your walking pace, and once our visit to Changu Narayan is concluded we’ll drive back to Kathmandu.