Discovering Helambu

Though my five-year stint as a travel writer took me to different parts of the country, I never had an opportunity to travel to Helambu. But the beautiful region famed for its apple (alas no longer) and the ever hospitable Hyolmo people always drew my fascination. Though I was brought up in Kathmandu, I used to visit my maternal uncles in Ichowk VDC -- a day’s walk from Helambu – in Sindhpalchowk district in mid-December when schools closed for winter holidays. Then I didn’t know anything about Helambu. I’d been dreaming of visiting the place ever since I discovered the joys of travelling during my late teens, but it didn’t materialize – sometime I couldn’t arrange leave from my job, sometime my friends couldn’t. But opportunity came calling last month. Through a friend, I came to know that a group of tourism journalists are organizing a familiarization trip to Helambu to promote tourism attractions in the region. I somehow managed to squeeze in the team and on a fine sunny morning in June, we were off to Helambu. Helambu is popular among trekkers for its scenery and favorable climate. Located about 72 kilometers northeast of Kathmandu, it extends from north of Taramarang and borders with Raswua district near the Gosainkunda Lake. The region is home to beautiful Tamang, Sherpa and Hyolmo settlements perched on elevated land on the either sides of the Melamchi River. It is famed for ancient monasteries, age-old culture and tradition of Hyolmo people and stunning mountain views. On both sides of the valley, mountains rise, soaring into the sky. The area is home to beautiful pine forest in lower areas, alpine vegetation in the upper areas, snow-fed rivers, swift streams and abundant greenery. There are two ways to reach the Helambu region – the first is via Langtang region. Most of the foreign trekkers begin their Langtang trek from Dhunche, Gosaikunda, Tharepati and return via Melamchi Pul bazaar after visiting Helambu. The second option is to start trek from Chisapani near Sundarijal through Patibhanjyang, Kutumsang and Helambu via Melamchi Gaon. But because of time and budgetary constraints, we couldn’t explore either of the two routes. Instead, we embarked on a less popular route which takes us to the Helambu region on the second day itself. We boarded a 4WD Land Cruiser from Gaushala at around 12 noon and started our journey with the target of reaching Timbu – a small village at the banks of the Melamchi River – by six in the evening. We were 11 aboard – nine journalists associated with different media; a representative from Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and his son. Narayan Bhandari of News 24 television, a seasoned traveler himself, was our guide as he had already been to the region a couple of times. After negotiating with the Valley traffic for about 10 minutes, our journey gained pace after we entered the Araniko Highway through a newly built six-lane road. After an hour or so, we made a brief stop at a tea shop a little below Dhulikhel where a glass of homemade lassi helped us beat the summer heat. We left Arniko Highway at a point called Zero Kilo and headed toward Melamchi Pul. A journey of little less than an hour on a newly blacktopped road took us to Melamchi Pul – the major trading hub for people in north-western part of Sindhupalchowk district. Melamchi Bazaar, which gets its name from the Melamchi River, is a small market similar to market places in other hilly districts. It is situated near the confluence of the Indrawati and Melamchi

just above Kakani. some of our friends. We enjoyed our breakfast here and rested for a while. we started journey on our SUV. We could hear mountain birds chirping throughout the hike. After having tea at Timbu. Here. As the blacktopped road ended at Melamchi itself. The night went uneventful except for the heavy downpour almost throughout the night.rivers. The lunch was awesome and so was our host. Doring and Melamchi Gaon. We passed a micro hydel project at Phatung. a school and a few shops. Gyalthum. With around 80 houses. President Dr Ram Baran Yadav had inaugurated the monastery after its renovation. After booking rooms and ordering dinner at the famed Hotel Tarke Ghyang that is in business since 1970s. but it was not the case this time. we enjoyed village walk for a while. The monastery was built about five hundred years ago. But the project is no longer in operation. After a hike of nearly two hours. A hike of about three hours took us to Kakani – a small pass with a newly built monastery. The monastery can be reached after a walk of about an hour from the Tarke Ghyang Monastery. We were thirsty. We had no option but to start hiking. Though our plan was to trek all the way to Tarke Ghyang via Kakani. But we had to return the SUV after just 15 minutes because heavy rains throughout the night had destroyed the road. It got a facelift about a couple of months ago. locals informed suggested us to take our vehicle to Tarkeghyang through the newly built graveled road. They say the fun begins when the road ends. We were into complete wilderness. as our initial plan was to hike to Tarke Ghyang. We started the hike to Tarke Ghyang at around 12 noon. Hiking was easy as the trail was not that steep and the occasional drizzles only added to our fun. . We could see number of small settlements dotting the hills across the river. There are three routes to explore the Helambu region from Timbu – Kakani and Tarke Ghyang. The Helambu region begins from Timbu. The trek passed through dense forests and the walk was pleasing. we had no option but to enjoy the bumpy ride on a graveled road. The village gets its name from Tarke Ghyang monastery – the largest monastery in Helambu region. The road passed through beautiful villages of Terse. We followed the graveled track to avoid getting lost. The view on the other side of the rivers was quite amazing. There around 200 houses in the bazaar along either sides of the road. Chiri Ghyang – the oldest monastery in Helambu – is the other attraction in Tarke Ghyang. When we reached the place. Shera. but there no source of water to quench our thirst. Beautiful waterfalls were cascading through dense forests into the Melamchi River. the monastery is a religious as well as social institution for Hyolmo people. We selected one of the lodges and ordered typical Nepali Dal-Bhat as dinner for us. we didn’t meet anyone for about a couple of hours. Talamarang. Built around 300 years ago. Tarke Ghyang is the largest village in the Helambu region. We reached Tarke Ghyang at around 4 pm after an easy hike of about an hour. we came across a small village with a primary school and five or six houses. Locals from nearby villages gather in the monastery premises during religious and social occasions. Timbu is a small Sherpa village with about ten houses – two of which are lodges. and Nurbu Gaon and Sermathang. we had fried fresh water fish and beaten rice as lunch and strolled around the market place. who were ahead of us. had already requested a Sherpa man to prepare boiled potato for lunch. But it didn’t worry us much. Chanaute and Kiul before reaching Timbu at around five in the evening.

The most important benefit of this trek is that the area is less crowded as compared to Annapurna and the Everest regions. this trek offers an insight into the unique culture and lifestyle of the Hyolmo people. ranging between 800 meters and 3600 meters offering less climbing as well as warmer temperatures. Besides. It is one of the beautiful Sherpa villages in the Helambu region. The trek to another beautiful village in the Helambu region – Sermathang – begins from Tarkeghyang.The view of Melamchi Gaon across the Melamchi River looks stunning. . Trek to Helambu is comparatively easier due to the fact that the elevations are lower. But we couldn’t visit this beautiful village because of time constraints. Trekkers on the Langtang trek descend to enter the Helambu region via this beautiful village.

f¯n fff  n – ¾ ¾ °f¯  €¯   . f¯n 9    ¯f© f °–   € ½ ½  ° °  ¾ ° ½f € ° ½fn ¾n  . f¯n   ¾°   °°– J    f f  °° ©°f¾¾f¾¾nf  €€  °¯ f f ½ ¾ °f €¯- ½f@¾¯ f %-@ %f° ¾¾° -fff° f° f€- ¾  ¾° f¾ f¾° f  ¯¾ € f¾ – f¾ f f f  °  –°fn½ €¯ ¾ € ° –f°– If f€€n€ f ¯° ¾ ©° –f° ½fn f€   °   f°–f–f°   ¾ f° f € f°¾  ¯f f  €¾½ff f¾½f     f –f¾¾€¯ ¯f f¾¾ ½ ¾ f ¾¯¯  f J  €°–fff½°nf   f°  f f . f¯n . f¯n    ¾ f ¾¯f ¯f  ¾¯f  ¯f  ½fn ¾ °    ¾n¾  ¾¾f  ° f   n°€ °n  €   ° ff f°  .¾  €¯ f¾ff f f°   °° f°  ¾f   ©°     f– € fn°–@¯  f¾¯ff– f  f°¾€ . f¯n9 ©° €  ¾¾f°f°°f°  fn½½ f   ¾  .

 ¾ @  f° ¾ ¾°  ffff°–  ¾ ¾€ f    f € € ¾ f €¾f°  f °n f¾°nf° ¾ f°  ¯f ½fn  @ ¾f €° –°¾ ° f  ° ¾  f¾° nf¾ ¾¯ ¾  fn½½ f  ° f. f¯n¾ €  f °½°  °©  ¯½ °f–f  f @ f  ½f¾¾  – f€ f– ¾ € @ ¾  @ff¯ff°–  f¯   f  .

f¯n    J  n  ¾  °¯  € ¾¯f ¾  ¯ °¾ °–   ¾ fn¾¾         € f    ¾  ¾  ff°  f ¾¯f ½f¾¾  f °   ¯°f¾  f¾nf° f€ ¾½¾ J  °©   f€f¾  f°  ¾ €f  J ¾f   @f f°–ff° °° J €  –f  fnf – °– ¾ @  ½f¾¾ – °¾ € ¾¾f°  ff¾½ f¾°– J ½f¾¾ f¯n ½© n f 9f°–  ©¾ f   ff°     ½© n ¾ ° °–  ° ½ f°  J     ° n¯½    ° ¾¾    °#¯ f°° €f fn½ €¾ J   ¾    °¾n € f    °n  ¾  €  f   € ° f  ¾    nf¯  fn¾¾ f ¾¯f f–   f ½¯f¾nf° € ¾¾ ¾ J °  fn  ½fn ¾¯ €€ ° ¾   f f  €¾ f f f   ¾ f ½f¯f°½ ½f   ½f€°n @ °nf¾f ¾¯  f°  ¾ f¾  ¾  J   fn  @f  f°– f f°   ½¯ f€  f° f¾   € f  f°   €  °– ¯¾ f°   °– °°  f   €f¯    @f  f°– f ¾ ° ¾° ¾¾ ¾°n  ¾   °© f– f€f  J f°   ¾ ¾  @f  f°– ¾   f– ¾f–  °   f¯   –°  @  f–  – ¾¾ °f¯ €¯@f f°–¯°f¾   f– ¾¯°f¾ ° f¯  –°  f°  f¾ f–    ¯°f¾  ¾ f  –¾ f¾   f¾ ¾nf °¾° € ¯ ½ ½  nf¾ €¯ ° f  f– ¾–f ° ¯°f¾ ½ ¯¾ ¾ °– –¾f° ¾nfnnf¾°¾ .f°f  f°   €   fn°–@¯ ff° € °   °°– @¯ ¾f¾¯f ½ff– f  °¾ ¾  €nf  – ¾ J ¾  n ° €  – ¾f°   ½nf- ½ff ff¾ °°  €¾ @ °– °°  °€ n ½€  f °½f¯¾– °–  @   f¯   –° –°¾ €¯ @¯   @   f     ¾  ½     f¯   –° €¯ @¯   ff° f°  @f  f°–  °– f°  . f¯n f°  f°  -  f° f°   ¯ff°–  @–½f°f¾ f f@f f°–fff° nf¾°€¯ ¾–– ¾ ¾f   n @f –f°–– °  –f  f € f°– ff@¯   ¾f  ©° °DI   f  ° DIf€ ©¾¯° ¾ nf¾  ff°¾–  °–f  ¾  f J f °½° ¾f°–    °#¾¯n f¾  °f ½f° f¾     @f  f°–   °– f¾ f¾ f¾   f f¾ ° f ¾ ½ f°    nnf¾°f  ¾°f €° J n  f¯°f°  ¾n½°––   @  °  ¾ €  ¾f¾ f¯f°–  f€f €f¾  nf¾nf °–– °¾  € ¾¾ °   .

°f¾  @ ¯°f¾ f¾ f € °    f¾f– –f€fn €f fn½ €¯°¾f– 9 ¾ °f¯ ff°f ff °f–f   ¯°f¾ f€ ¾ °f°  .f°–   ¾ ¯°f¾ ° f¯  ¾  ffn°°@f f°– @ ¯°f¾ nf°  fn f€ f f€f f°€¯ @f f°–.

f¯nf°fn¾¾ .@  €. f¯n ¾¾°°°– ¾° €  f€ ½f f– ¾°  f¯  –° @  ¾° f°–f°–  ¾n °  °   f¯  –°f ¾ f€f–   n °#¾¾ f€f–  nf¾ €¯ n°¾f°¾ @   f°  f€f– °  f¯  –°  ¯ff°–  –°¾€¯@f –f°–  @  f¯ ¾n¯½ff  f¾    €fnf   f°¾f   f°–°–  ° ¯  ¾f° ¯  ¾€€ °– ¾¾n¯ °–f¾ f¾f¯  ¯½ f ¾ @ ¯¾¯½f° ° €€¾ ¾f f f¾ ¾¾n f¾n¯½f °°f½°ff°    ¾ –°¾  ¾ ¾ ¾ €€ ¾f°°¾–° ° n f° € ¾ € ¯½ ½      .

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful