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Old 3rd May 2017, 14:28   #1
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Default Nepal: Driving expedition through the trekking trail

The converging road stud reflector glittering at night admires me. It reminds me of the mathematical theorem, two parallel lines converge and meet at infinity and I constantly thrive towards that infinity trip by trip.

If you have gone through my Bhutan trip (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ss-bhutan.html (In a Mahindra Bolero to the Land of Happiness - Bhutan!)), you would have probably read that the plan to visit Nepal was done that time. However, as my parents joined me on that trip I changed the plan from Nepal to Bhutan. Fortunately we are still alive as on the 8th day of Bhutan trip while driving from Paro to Phuntsholing, the major earthquake struck on Nepal. Now when I planned for Nepal again I searched for information about Jomsom side from many resources but to my dismay there were no clear idea about the places and terrains. Even after the earthquake, I did not get any road trip details about the Mustang valley and Muktinath.

It can be termed as a foreign trip but believe me I felt it like home away from home. This trip required much of a preparation from the prospect of both us as well as the vehicle. There are several videos on Youtube portraying the road condition of the places.

People may avoid the trip to Nepal thinking that it may be costly and taking a two-wheel drive SUV can pose constrains at some places. On the contrary the fact is that all you need is confidence and a bit of madness to hit this land.

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Some teasers....

To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 3rd May 2017 at 14:47. Reason: font correction
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Old 3rd May 2017, 15:22   #2
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Default re: Nepal: Driving expedition through the trekking trail

Quote:
Originally Posted by PointZero View Post
People may avoid the trip to Nepal thinking that it may be costly and taking a two-wheel drive SUV can pose constrains at some places. On the contrary the fact is that all you need is confidence and a bit of madness to hit this land.
Wow a travelogue on Lower Mustang Valley.

I have been thinking of doing the Lower Mustang and Manang cicuit since last 3-4 years. But as you said, there is seriously a lack of proper information about the place over the web. I started researching but gave up and the plan never took off.

Recently I had an interaction with a biker who did Lower Mustang, he showed me some amazing videos and pics from his trip. The itch to ride all the way to Lower Mustang is at an all-time high now.

Thanks for the teaser. I'll be glued to this thread.
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Old 3rd May 2017, 16:12   #3
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Default re: Nepal: Driving expedition through the trekking trail

Something hot brewing up in the cold Mustang . The teasers are amazing and waiting for more. Time and again T-BHP is proving that it is an encyclopedia for anything and everything which is even remotely connected to wheels. This log is going to give loads of details about the Lower Mustang just like the log by //M gave lots of insights about Iceland.

I have been collecting lots of information about places around the world from Team BHP. This has been my one stop shop. The lack of time and finances is hampering my plans though. Hope to tick the boxes one by one.
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Old 3rd May 2017, 22:38   #4
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Default re: Nepal: Driving expedition through the trekking trail

Permit Procedures:

Before going through the day-by-day trip details let me list all the permit details, so that people can get a clear idea about the required permit without going through 1000 of lines of the travelogue compiled with 100+ pictures.

1. Entry and Exit Permit: For Indian there is no such formal immigration in any of the borders. We went to immigration centre to confirm that and they assured that if any permit is required for a particular place that can be done on the go. So there is no need to take any permit or immigration stamp on your Indian passport. Even if you do not have a passport just carry your Voter ID card to enter Nepal. For vehicle road-tax to be paid to Nepal RTO. Tax for Indian Private car is 300/- INR per day or 400/- NC per day. Tax token is very important throughout your stay in Nepal. Take one or two days extra tax for your vehicle, extension of road tax is very complicated. There was no English form at the RTO office, so you have to fill the form in Hindi. Time: 30 Min.

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Entry permit for Vehicle

2. TIMS permit and Annapurna Permit: TIMS and Annapurna permit can be done from Pokhara TIMS office. For that, you need to wait till 10:00 AM as the office opens at 10:00 AM, not sure about holidays. Combined permit for TIMS and Annapurna is 800/- NC per head. I took the permit on the go.
2.1 TIMS Permit: At Tatopani we took the TIMS entry permit to reach Jomsom. Cost Ė 600/- NC per head.Two copy of colour passport size picture is required for the permit. Time 10-15 Min. No special permit required for vehicle.

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TIMS Permit
2.2 Annapurna Permit: Once you reached Jomsom you have to take another permit for Mustang valley and Muktinath visit. For upper mustang you may required another special permit which I am not aware of but for Lower Mustang and Muktinath this is the last permit. The permit office is situated at Jomsom itself. Similar procedure as TIMS permit. Two copy passport picture and 400/- NC per head. No special permit for vehicle. Time: 15 Min.

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Annapurna Permit
3. Other than official permits you will get people asking different charges as parking charge everywhere which is donation for the development of that locality.

To be continued ...
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Old 4th May 2017, 00:03   #5
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Default re: Nepal: Driving expedition through the trekking trail

Day 1 (Kolkata -> Durgapur - >Gaya -> Patna ->Mujaffarpur):
There are many ways to enter Nepal, the nearest one is from Raxaul side. I chose to drive through Bihar so night drive was out of question. As the target was not so much I did not set any alarm to wake up in early morning rather had a deep and lazy sleep, left the city on 7:00 AM, and slowly and steadily reached Muzaffarpur for the day. In between nothing special to mention and noting the road conditions I would say that it is a less tedious one and is similar to any drive through the city.

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Route Map for Day 1

Day 2 (Mujaffarpur ->Raxaual ->Birgunj - >Bharatpur ->Pokhara):
As per the plans, we had to finish off with the permit part because once again we were in an immigration office on Sunday. Last time in Bhutan it was not an issue but I was not sure if things will be that smooth in Nepal also. Before we could see the Gateway of Nepal at the last railway crossing in Raxaul, we waited for near about an hour.

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While waiting for border crossing​

To confirm the Indian nationality they just asked for the passport to have a look at. For the vehicle we had to pay the road tax. Now the astonishing thing for me was that at the office of Nepali Custom Authorities the form was available only in Hindi. A local was keen enough to fill it for me. The Challan in Nepal is 400/- NR or 300/- INR per day so I paid it for 8 days. It was known to me that only INR denominations of 100 and below are accepted in Nepal but currency is not an issue any more as I paid 500 notes for my tax and it was easily accepted.



Raxaul Birgunj India Nepal Border (HD View Available)​


It was almost noon and we have not eaten any meal. After crossing the border area, we took a lunch break. The owner of the restaurant helped me with the queries relating to road to Pokhara and hotel availability there. Beyond 100 kms of the drive the movement of the traffic was sluggish as the fully loaded trucks were unable to drive uphill. Commercial buses also posed constrains by not giving pass to the passenger cars. I donít know why they could not bear people overtaking them. Dust and heat made the journey more unbearable and tiring.

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River full of stone .. On the way from Birgunj to Bharatpur

At 6:30 PM we were at Pokhara and were asking for the way to the Lake Side. A bike came parallel to my car and asked me if we were looking for any hotel. The person took us to his hotel, which was likeable as the parking was visible from my room.

My chat with the hotel owner had put me in dilemma of to go or not to go to Jomsom. He said I will not be able to drive to Jomsom because the roads are not good and without a 4WD car it is not possible to reach Jomsom. Now I had to think of plan B for the next day but then I cannot take a call without having a look on it.

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Route Map for Day 2

To be continued ...
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Old 4th May 2017, 00:12   #6
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Default re: Nepal: Driving expedition through the trekking trail

Day 3(Pokhara - >Beni ->Tatopani - >Lete ->Jomsom):

Before Jomsom, Pokhara Lake had to be explored, I have seen the pictures of Pokhara Lake at the foot of Annapurna. The reflection of the mountain on the blue crystal clear water will leave a mark on your mind. The place in actual was crowded and the view I was taking about can be seen from quite an elevation. Still whatever I have seen was also pleasant.

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Some random snaps at Pokhara Lake

To be continued ...
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Old 4th May 2017, 00:35   #7
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Default re: Nepal: Driving expedition through the trekking trail

Day 3 continued ...

While coming back to the hotel I wished to do a car wash and there was one just within our vicinity. Here I met Mr Bharat Timilsina the owner of the garage. It is necessary to mention about this person, as he was the only one who gave me the confidence that I can go to Muktinath in my car. He believes in self-dependency and so he is striving hard to establish his own business of tourism there. He provides all services of adventure touring in Nepal. Mr. Bharat drives a Bolero 4x4 pickup and is an adventure tourist too. He assured us that till Beni the road is very smooth, and after Beni the rest 90 Km is the problem. If the weather permits then the requirement of 4x4 is only for 5% of road, which can be done in a RWD with little effort. If weather does not permit then complete 90 KM roads will be a 4x4 terrain and any time it can be blocked for 2-3 days. Along with that, he also provided us some important information of the terrain and list of do’s and don’ts. He made calls to some of his contacts to make sure about the condition of road for the day and permit details. Not only that he also give us confidence that in case of any emergency or breakdown he will help us with his best endeavour.

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leaning time

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Mr. Bharat and his Bolero Pickup

Around 10 AM we were on the roads towards Jomsom. Just after crossing the city of Pokhara the onset of Annapurna seemed to beckon us. Till Beni the roads were smooth as known but here one more surprise was waiting, during the police checking I realised that I have left my license in the Muzaffarpur hotel. The police officer checked all document along with the photocopy of license; he fined me 500/- NC for loss of license and said to show that everywhere else in this trip.

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Just after few KM from Pokhara towards Beni


Pokhara To Beni Nepal(HDview requested)

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Fined for lost of DL

Beyond Beni the terrible stretch started. Dust and potholes swung us to and fro like a pendulum. Somehow, after lots of struggle we reached Tatopani by around 4:00 P.M. and dragged ourselves to Jomsom after completing TIMS permit procedure. It was already dusk and just few kilometers from Jomsom, while crossing Kali Gandaki River I suddenly realized that the water level is increasing on the way. Without any delay I push the back gear to get out from the river bed and lost the way.


Beni To Tatopani Part 1 (HD view requested)


Beni To Tatopani Part 2 (HD view requested)


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Kali Gandaki River after Tatopani


Tatopani to Jomsom Part 1 (HD view requested)


Tatopani to Jomsom Part 2 (HD view requested)


Tatopani to Jomsom Part 3 (HD view requested)


Tatopani to Jomsom Part 4 (HD view requested)


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Just 1.5 KM before Jomsom when we lost the way ​

Map was showing us we were in the right path but at the middle of the river, got confused for couple of minutes and finally after going 200 meters back found a small board showing the direction of Jomsom, which was just 1.5 KM away. It was chilling cold at Jomsom and finding a hotel here is not a tedious task. At dinner table, we met a person who arranges trips to Mukhtinath from Jomsom and was keen enough to draft one for us. He explained us that crossing the rivers on the way will not be possible on a 2-wheel drive SUV. I did not react much to his words because I had being facing such opposition from all people here. Only thing on my mind was that I have to start early in the morning so that I can turn back to Tatopani the same day to take the maximum advantage of sunny weather.

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At dinner time - Jomsom

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Route map for day 03.

To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 4th May 2017 at 20:20.
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Old 4th May 2017, 15:58   #8
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Default re: Nepal: Driving expedition through the trekking trail

Day 4 (Jomsom ->Kagbeni ->Muktinath ->Jomsom ->Tatopani):

Last night when we entered Jomsom we saw that the place is surrounded by snow covered mountain and at night it was glittering like silver. We had a walk last night to enjoy the chilling cold outside but nothing much was visible other than the silver peaks therefore, it was the time to explore and capture some view through the lens.

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Jomsom

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Way to Kagbeni

Before the start, we had to pay for the permit and only then could go beyond. Just beyond the entrance gate, the place was an ultimate experience of the cold desert terrain.


Jomsom To Kagbeni Part 1 (HD view requested)

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My car location while crossing river


Jomsom To Kagbeni Part 2 (HD view requested)


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My car location while crossing river

Everywhere I feel so lucky because I always find someone who is willing to guide me and accompany me. I followed the sweeper car while crossing the river at two instances because I could not believe that crossing the river is the only way to go. Here also while I was stuck at a branch road, an army soldier driven Scorpio asked us to follow them to Muktinath via Kagbeni. Standing on the riverbed, I was bewildered by the appearance of the brown abyss and I stood parallel to these chasms. All around me the encroachment of the mountains shaded the sunrays. Children enjoyed playing football on this flat and dry pebbled field. Kagbeni is regarded auspicious because the burnt bone immersion is done here for the eternal peace of the deceased soul.

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Random snap on the way from Jomsom to Kagbeni

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Another river crossing area to reach Kagbeni.. Need to take left..

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Way to Kagbeni

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Few random snaps of Kagbeni

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View of Kagbeni from Muktinath Road.

To be continued ...
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Old 4th May 2017, 17:43   #9
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Day 4 continued ...

The splashes of the flowing Kali Gandaki River seemed to purify and enthralled the place with bliss. There is a small temple, which facilitates with the rituals of bone immersion. Beyond Kagbeni we thought of exploring some unknown areas nearby, but the fellow friends said that if you have been to Kagbeni , you have to pay homage at Muktinath. As an obedient disciple, I followed the Scorpio to Muktinath.


Kagbeni to Muktinath (HD view requested)

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Some random snaps on the way from Kagbeni to Muktinath

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Route Map for day 04 part 1

To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 4th May 2017 at 23:22.
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Old 4th May 2017, 18:29   #10
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Day 4 continued ...

On the way back I took the short cut shown the army friend while going and again after dipping the tyres in the river reached Jomsom. Initially we planned to stay another night at Jomsom, but while we were returning from Muktinath, thin snowfall was witnessed at many places. So thinking about the road conditions and the story of being blocked we planned to cover the return road as much as possible on the same day. We moved back to Tatopani for the day.

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Some random snaps from Muktinath



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Nepal: Driving expedition through the trekking trail-tkd_2435.jpgSome Random Snaps while returning from Muktinath to Jomsom.

To be continued ...
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Old 4th May 2017, 18:43   #11
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Day 4 continued ...

There are so many places for night halt between Beni to Jomsom but the choices are less. In different places, you may get one or two hotels to stay. It was 4:00 PM when we reached Tatopani and decide to spend the night in a hotel beside the river. The place was very splendid and famous for hot spring though I was not very much interested in the hot spring, rather in such a beautiful and silent place I enjoyed the afternoon and evening beside the river. The place is so serene that you can hear the babbling sound of the river flowing from anywhere nearby. From every window of the room the wide mountain range and the river was visible.

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bye bye Jomsom

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Mustang Valley entry check point

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Some random snaps from Jomsom to Tatopani

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Reached Jomsom 4:30 PM

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Some local homes at Tatopani

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View from our hotel at Tatopani


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Sunset from our hotel at Tatopani

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Route map - Day 04 - part 2

To be continued ...
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Old 4th May 2017, 18:51   #12
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Day 5 (Tatopani - >Beni ->Pokhara ->Bandipur ->Gorkha):

I have already written the trip was successful because of weather support. Next day we had the contingence that we were lucky that we left Jomsom last day. The weather deteriorated last night and made some places difficult to transverse due to heavy rainfall. Therefore, we have to travel another 35 kilometers of most risky zone and then we could find tar road from Beni. We kept our figures crosses for the weather support and for another 4 hours drove without any break to reach Beni by 10:00 AM. Being on the roads at Beni felt like an escape from captivity.

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On the way from Tatopani to Beni

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Reached Beni .. just after hitting the tar road.


Tatopani to Beni (HD view requested)​

To be continued ...

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Old 4th May 2017, 20:31   #13
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Day 5 continued ...

From Beni we directly drove to Pokhara and visited same washing centre to clean our car. Mr. Bharat Timilsina was delighted to hear that I made it to Muktinath. Again, Just after the car was over, heavy rainfall started for one and half hour. I Felt pity for my as the car because it got dirty again but felt lucky as we had just escaped from the most difficult terrain which was tough for me to drive in muddy situation.

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Looking shiny after a wash


After cleaning the car, we had no plan for the day so we had two options either we could spend the day at Pokhara itself or we could explore Bandipur and Gorkha side. Spending couple of hours roaming around the lake and other places in Pokhara finally decided to move towards Bandipur.


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Few more pictures of Pokhara before starting for Bandipur


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Way to bandipur. Will try to upload some mobile snaps of Bandipur later.

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Checked in to a hotel at Ghorkha

I did not take any such picture of Bandipur. Just reaching there, I found it to be very small hill station like Lolegaon (Small village at North Bengal) with minimal options for hotels. Talking to some local people, we came to know that Gorkha is a very good place to stay and the road is safe till 10-11 PM for drive. So we moved towards Gorkha. Near about 8:00 PM we checked in to a hotel.

Nepal: Driving expedition through the trekking trail-route_map_day_05.jpg
Route map for day 05.

To be continued ...
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Old 4th May 2017, 20:44   #14
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Default re: Nepal: Driving expedition through the trekking trail

Day 6 (Gorkha->Kathmandu):

Early morning we drove to the Gorkha palace which was the residence of the first King of Nepal. It was initially called Prithibhinarayan after King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who was born in Gorkha and united and founded modern Nepal.

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Some random pics of Gorkha Palace.

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Retuning from Gorkha Palace.



Way to Gorkha Palace from City​


To be continued ...
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Old 4th May 2017, 20:56   #15
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Day 6 continued ...

From Gorkha it was time to hit the capital of the country. Kathmandu is known for Casinos and night life so I had a long to do list for Kathmandu. At the ingression of Kathmandu I was got frustrated of the ill managed traffic. Trucks were allowed to move within the city during the peak hours of the day. People having grievances with the management of Kolkata traffic must check out the traffic management here. People do not go roundabout at the traffic circles here. There are no signboards to help a newbie find his destination. Somehow, we met a biker hunting for customers for a hotel who guided us to a hotel where we finally checked in after a storm of bargaining.

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On the way to Kathmandu

For the day we paid visit to Pashupathinath temple and then walked along the lanes nearby and enjoyed some nightlife of Kathmandu.


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Some random snaps of Pashupathinath Temple out side. Photography is restricted inside main temple area.

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Dinner with Nepali Thakali Thali..

Nepal: Driving expedition through the trekking trail-route_map_day_06.jpg

Route map for day 6.

To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 4th May 2017 at 23:16.
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