It was surprisingly bright and sunny on a monsoon morning when I set out for Thankot. I caught the micro bus at Sahid Gate as that’s what pulled up first and the twenty-rupee ride dropped me to Thankot at 9:00 am. Would have been better to start earlier as the sun was glaring down on me, but it was too late for that.

After the Thankot checkpoint, you get off just as the road bends and starts going a little uphill. There is a building with “Prakash Cable” written on its side; this is my landmark. From here I took the concrete road right, going downhill. There are a few tea shops here. Walking through the rice fields you notice some large brick kilns and after crossing a small bridge, the climb begins up towards Dahachok. This whole hillside is in fact known as Dahachok. You can follow the motor road for a while and then take the dirt road on the right. There are two choices here, as one goes right towards the tower and the other left; but the one going right leads to an unused path that’s difficult to traverse. Go left, bypassing the temple on top. Soon you’ll be climbing up stone steps and reach a small shrine by 9:30. The steps lead all the way to the Dahachowk’s Manakamana Temple, but avoid going all the way and take a detour after the tea shop at the bend on the motor road. Five minutes from here turn left and head towards the light forest you can see in the distance towards Bhanjyang.

It’s a nice path leading to the forest and gets even better when you’re walking through the trees. Once you reach the clearing, climb up towards the grassy knoll. This large stretch of grass is ideal for rest and refreshments.

On a clear day, the Himalayas are visible towards the north and the nearest is the Ganesh massif, which is known for precious stones in its vicinity. Walk straight up past the cactus trees and at the top you’ll find some eateries. You’ll encounter a few houses on the way. The local eateries serve tea, snacks as well as beer.

Walking through the pine trees above, you get some shade and you also arrive at the Manakamana Temple which belongs to the Magar community that predominates here. The temple is rather plain but has a fascinating view of the valley below. A little further towards the communications tower you’ll find a historic monument: the grave of Prithivi Narayan Shah’s famous general, Kalu Pandey, who died in Kirtipur but lies buried here. It is a beautiful monument with a fence around it and what a location at the top of the hill! A five-minute descent from here and you find yourself standing at another historic place: Indra Daha. Local folks will tell you that this was built during the Malla era to supply drinking water. There are steps leading down towards the road to Ramkot.

As you’re walking down, soon you will notice dozens of statues looking down from above. These were built as a memorial for those who perished in the plane crash here some years ago. From here on you can follow any road going down (including short cuts, but careful, these can be slippery). Avoid the road that goes right around the forest on the right, as this would add a lot of travel time and may not be safe; it’s a lonely stretch.

Ramkot is lush green and is a long valley that stretches all the way to Bhimdhunga. Once down in Ramkot, and if hungry, head for the center of the settlement and look for Bhaichung Café; ask for directions. A small concrete galli near the two chaityas leads straight to this eatery. Egg Bara is good, but ask him not to put too much mutton soup. Coffee is passable, curries are okay but chicken curry (once the bird flu scare is over) is cheap and tasty. If you still want to walk, carry on, but the local bus will take you quickly down to the
Ring Road. !

A jacket for winter, raincoat, umbrella for rain or sun, sun screen if you don’t want to get sunburnt, shades and a first- aid kit. Snacks, drinks and water are essential; packed lunch optional.
March-April or October-November