Chitlang lies on the ancient route to Kathmandu valley. One can stand on this road and imagine how dozens of porters carried motor vehicles all the way to Kathmandu or how Prithivi Narayan Shah’s troops marched up this way to change the course of Nepal’s history. All visitors to the valley hiked up through Chitlang and crossed over the pass. It is said the Mallas, who escaped persecution, also took refuge here in the Chitlang valley.
If you have a day to spare, hike up to Chitlang (up and down actually), as once you cross the Chandragiri Pass, it’s down all the way. I’ve read a few accounts on the net posted by first time hikers who gave up half-way and returned home. They probably tried to walk all the way following the motor road. Big mistake. It takes way too long. On the other hand, going all the way up the short cut is too tiring as it’s an extremely steep climb. The solution is to go up the short cut initially and then, when you’re half-way up, take the motor road. A reward awaits you on the top with great views of the mountains.
The first leg of the journey involves a bus ride up to Godam, taking you beyond Thankot which, depending on your pace, cuts down your hike by 20 to 30 minutes. This little settlement is a little above Thankot and buses leave from the Old Bus Park near Tundikhel from early morning.
As you climb up the short cut, a tea shop next to a bend on the road high up provides great relief. After this, the only refreshment available is on the pass which is the highest point on the trek.
I take photographs from the top but clouds obscure most of the mountains. On a clear day, the views will be spectacular. The walk down taking the short-cut couldn’t be more fun; it goes through a light forest and is a direct route down the mountain, if I can call it that. But there’s a surprise awaiting at the bottom. You will think you’ve reached Chitlang, but the walk doesn’t end. It takes a full hour to walk the entire length of this settlement with houses spread far and wide.
You will do well to choose a ‘home stay’ for accommodation as there aren’t lodges here worth recommending. There are five functional home stays which are as diverse as they could be. However, there is a committee that oversees the functioning of these hotels, which means they tell you where to stay. They take it upon themselves to distribute guests equally.
Home stays give you a taste of the local lifestyle and their simple cuisine. It is delightful to spend a day or two living with a local family and getting to know how they live day to day. These families are diverse, some being Newars while others are Chettris and Thakuris. And the vegetables plucked freshly from the garden and cooked over wood-fire are so, so delicious.
The tour around the valley includes a visit to the Bhairavsthan, the seven waterspouts immediately below a light forest, the home stay where goat cheese is made (a popular destination for tourists), a makeshift Taleju temple next to a site where once a durbar is said to have stood and the Narayanhiti water spout where the Mallas are believed to have come down to bathe. A large white house that is today a lodge, earned its fame as the stopover for King Mahendra on his journeys through Chitlang. It is indeed beautiful. !
Information: The home stays offer a package of lodging and three meals for Rs. 1000/- or if you pay for meals separately, a room costs only Rs. 250/-. Nights are cold. You can catch a ride back to Thankot for as little as Rs. 150 to Rs.200.