As well-known and popular as Nepal and the Kathmandu Valley are, there are still small places that, while insignificant to the ordinary traveler, are gems to people like us. For those searching for somewhere different, Nuwakot and Kakani are not to be missed.
Nuwakot, with architecture that makes it seem like you’ve gone back to the 1700’s, was an unfortunate victim of the 2015 earthquake. Many homes and temples were destroyed but, thanks to local efforts, they are slowly being rebuilt.
The village, just southeast of Trisuli Bazaar, has a very traditional feel with cobbled streets, small houses and quaint shop-fronts; it is not frequented by many foreign travellers, which adds to its timeless charm.
Getting to Nuwakot
To reach Nuwakot you can take one of three direct buses that depart daily from Kathmandu at 9am, 11am and 1pm (NRs 190, 4 hours). Alternatively, you can take any bus bound for Trisuli Bazaar, get off at the highway town of Bidur and hike 7km uphill to the village. As it’s all by road, if you’re lucky, someone might offer you a lift but, as the road is very quiet, don’t bank on it!
Sights in Nuwakot
At the village centre lies Nuwakot’s very own Durbar Square. The most striking monument is the Saat Tale Durbar, a seven-storey fortress built in 1762.
In the same courtyard you’ll find the Ranga Mahal, which served as an entertainment hall, and the Garad Ghar directly opposite. The Taleju Temple is Durbar Square’s most striking though access is highly restricted, even to Hindus, so don’t expect to be able to peek inside!
Nearby, the Bhairab Temple is unmistakable with its golden roof. Said to be one of Nepal’s oldest temples, it is used for animal sacrifices during the Sinduri Jatra festival. The temple lies in the middle of two traditionally built pilgrim rest houses.
Taking a slow walk around the Old Town is a pleasure in itself, soaking up the local way of life whilst admiring the simple houses. There are, however, plenty of easy walks that take you outside the village.
There is a Viewpoint Tower at the Kalika Temple; friendly locals will point you in the right direction. Slightly further away is the Malika Temple. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find it but apparently earthquake damage was extensive.
Accommodation and Eating Options
There are a small number of accommodation options in Nuwakot. The most popular and well-known is Famous Farm, apparently with very nice rooms and an organic restaurant. But it does come with quite a price tag!
Other options include a big but old and worn hotel as you enter the village; it has an attached restaurant with a menu, however whether they can do everything that is listed is questionable!
There are also some other smaller guesthouses. Just up the road, we found one such place that was newly built; it had clean spacious rooms and rates were very reasonable. The dal bhat was pretty good too!
It’s advisable to eat at your lodgings as local food options are very limited in Nuwakot. Due to the lack of availability, we had to settle for vegetarian chowmein at breakfast on the morning of our departure!
It’s a good idea to spend at least two nights in Nuwakot to allow one full day to explore the village and its surrounding area. The peace and quiet is something to be appreciated as well!
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Set atop a ridge at 2073m, you’ll find it quieter and more peaceful in Kakani than in Nagarkot or Dhulikhel . The village can be reached by bus or motorcycle in around 1.5 hours; the turn-off for Kakani lies on the road between Kathmandu and Trisuli Bazaar. A bus in either direction can drop you at the junction for around NRs 70 then it’s a steep and windy 4km to reach your final destination!
Looking for another weekend getaway in the valley? Check out Nagarkot and Dhulikhel: Top Tips and a Hiking Guide!
Sights in Kakani
The main draw-card in Kakani is the mountain views that are best observed in the morning or evening. You can see a large stretch of the Himalayan range, especially if you are at a good vantage point. It’s best to ask locals or at your accommodation for their recommendations; be prepared for an early alarm call though!
As you wander around Kakani village you’ll see small traditional houses, as well as a hilltop Shiva Temple with amazing views at sunset. There is also a small but beautifully kept Memorial Garden within the village that is nice to walk around.
For another great vantage point, visit the Buddhist Stupa sitting proudly atop a hill overlooking the village. Being there at sunset is ideal but be careful walking back on the downhill track in the twilight; it’s uneven and unlit. A neighbouring hillock offers stunning mountain views, especially clear at dawn and dusk.
Surrounding the village are sweeping views of countryside, coupled with peace, quiet and tranquility. The daily life of the villagers is plain to see, working in the fields, making a meal or doing laundry outside their homes. It is certainly a breath of fresh air and makes a delightful change of scene from the dirt and noise of the capital.
Accommodation and Eating Options
Unfortunately, even though Kakani has a main attraction that both domestic and foreign travellers come to see, decent accommodation and eating options are hard to find. We stayed in a rather non-descript guesthouse; the room wasn’t too bad given that we were paying a small price.
We didn’t book anywhere in advance, checking out a few places on arrival. Doing this can be a bit time consuming; however, if you arrive with plenty of the day left, you can usually find something acceptable enough and the price is often negotiable.
Alas, eating options in Kakani are also few and far between. There are a couple of small local places where tea, chowmein and the staple (dal bhat) are usually available. It is simple but tasty food that is reasonably priced. Outside of the main tourist centres, finding anything other than these two dishes is a rarity. Momos are also popular, as well as the occasional batch of samosas!
Independent road trips around the Kathmandu Valley are a joy, as long as the journey doesn’t take too long. It is possible to hike between some places or you can do half and half, as you like. Hitching is another option in these parts; locals know how difficult transport can be and they are usually friendly and willing to help.
There is so much to see and do around the valley; the options are almost endless! If you’re planning to embark on this kind of road trip, do yourself a favour and only take a small backpack for a few days. It’ll be less weight to carry should you end up hiking and what’s more it’ll be much easier when getting in and out of buses or on and off bikes!
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Looking for more off-beat ideas in the valley? Check out our post: Top 11 Off-the-Beaten-Track Day Trips in the Kathmandu Valley!