The beauty of Mountaneous region is that; not too far away from the city, one can escape exploring its unique landscapes. Although born and raised in Kathmandu, the city has never failed to surprise me (especially it’s outskirts). We can say the same for the country in its entirety. No matter how much and how far one has traveled, there’s no place like home. In that sense—when familiarity breeds comfort, there is no room for boredom.
Route to Chitlang
We took the route of Thankot via Chandragiri (I.e before heading towards its gate follow the road on your right). If you are heading down from Chandragiri, turn left. A prior research and google map study comes in handy, but the latter is rather confusing (especially in the context of Nepal)—can’t fully rely on it. If that’s the case, follow the old school method (if confused, ask the locals at every turn).
Currently, the road laying process is at its initial stage. It’s a great route for hiking no doubt and two-wheelers can get on it too, but those gravels can be a pain. So make sure it’s a tubeless tire; which is more of common sense. However, what’s common sense for one isn’t so for the other …that’s another story altogether. Anyways, the road condition isn’t quite ready for a four-wheeler, but if you are in for some adventure, why not? Personally deadlier the road, better it quenches the thirst for the adventure right?…No?…Ok! But hey! Don’t take my word for it—the road isn’t all that bad for mild adventurers and adrenaline junkies, but not quite ready for comfort seekers.
Although the distance from Chandragiri to Chitlang is 14km (approx); the road condition can add to it, so plan accordingly. Expect a few twists and turns that lead to an edge giving an impression of a dead end, but the idea is to keep moving and you’ll find your way. 🙂
Despite the narrow lane, a gravel road spurting pebbles and clouds of dust, the inviting landscape makes it all worthwhile. Just about 2km from Chandragiri, if you stop to look back, one can have a presumable neck to neck view of its cable cars sliding up and down. Well, not sliding literally, but whatever…you get my point. 🙂 On a clear day, the mountains appear to crown the valley submerged in between. It’s moments like this when I really wish to have a professional camera, but even then it would do no justice to what meets the eye.
Although I’m no stranger to these hills and mountains. And seemingly they may offer nothing new to someone born and raised in Nepal. Nevertheless, they never fail to excite me, each time I come close. Simple things in life (travel in particular) gets me all energized which only adds to my childlike spirit. This enthusiasm can be easily misconstrued to put me in the false light—making me appear as someone who has never traveled. But like I always say “their thinking can never change my being.” Who are ‘they’ BTW? 🤔
Not too far away from the city, witnessing a different lifestyle amid its unique geography–our first stop was:
Chitlang Organic Village Resort
Based on its online reviews and popularity, one may easily plan their trip for a night stay—we had similar plans, but after reaching here we realized, it isn’t a good idea. This place might very well work for a group getaway, boy’s gathering, corporate retreat etc. For those seeking to enjoy the bonfire, followed by drinks, song-and-dance at night and no sleep or few hours to doze in the tent. However, I wouldn’t suggest the same for a couple or a family. I say so because the tent isn’t secure as one might expect. Also, for 10 tents and 2 cottage (each accommodating 6 people), the resort only has 2 small toilets and one wash basin.
Anyway, if you must stay, prior booking could help as they sell quickly especially during weekends and holidays. Also, there are few other resorts and homestay facilities in the area. However, if you are in early, a few hours is enough to explore the place and head towards the next destination (if you ask me).
What to try at Chitlang?
Try trout fish thali. We had the same for lunch and it was fresh and delicious. Also, they are known for alcohol and juice made from Naspati (Pears),. Although we couldn’t taste, as they were out of stock at that moment.
You may visit the nearby goat cheese factory (which is first of its kind in Nepal), owned by Mr. Ashok Kumar Singh Thakuri.
Mr. Thakuri takes immense pride in his work and I mean that in a good way. Passion for his work was evident in our conversation and more so in his success. He gave us a tour around the factory, which basically is a single-storey building. Apart from owning a cheese factory, he runs a homestay (next to his factory) and produces wine too. Currently, these goat cheese gets orders from 3-5 stars hotels and bakeries in Kathmandu. One of my favorite bakery (Hermann Helmers in Jhamsikhel) happened to be one of his clients.
Before entering his workplace, all visitors are advised to:
- Buy an entry ticket (a nominal fee for his time and briefing).
- Replace your footwear with a polybag (it’ll be provided)
- Change to a surgical-like gown and a cap (can wear it on top of your cloth and this too will be provided).
- Be respectful 🙂
Mr. Thakuri briefed us on the manufacturing process and attuned to the mood, an inquisitive child and a journalistic bug within me tried to make the most. I must admit, although I had no intention of a similar start-up, passion for his work was so contiguous that for a moment I was like—why not? And who knows, I might as well 😉
Mr. Thakuri seemed more than happy to share his knowledge, in fact, he was so pleased that he refused to accept the entry ticket from us later. His reason was, “it’s a pleasure to explain it to the people who show genuine interest.” Hmm…was the interest genuine or just a trick-of-the-trade of a journalist? 🤔 that too a good one. 😉 J
Even after the open house tour, our conversation did not end. Rather it got interesting; from which would like to share few insights:
Mr. Thakuri shared his experience working in Europe and his take on money-making; which he says isn’t as difficult as people think…he gave us an example of young boys and girls, if they intend, they can earn 25k NPR per month collecting wastes around the region like plastics etc. But the issue is, either that’s not enough or that’s not the kind of work one is looking for. But the point is, it sure pays with no minimum eligibility criteria.
Quote, unquote-ing what he said, “Work is work; there should be no shame attached to it. In fact, one should take pride in the work one does.” I’m with him on this coz I truly believe one’s intention, sheer passion, and honesty for the work is all that counts and money will follow. You know now, why I write—right? 🙂 But my problem is I am passionate about a lot of things and life in general, but again how is that a problem? (I wonder)…
From all that we’d discussed, I like how he thinks and was I delighted? Coz the best part about travel is the journey, people, stories, learning, exploring etc…etc… Seriously, there is so much one can learn from the other, all you’ve got to do is be open and listen. Also, the most heart-warming remark of them all was when he shared, that his riches are the fact that he gets to be with his family, make a decent living out of something he likes doing, has a privilege to stay in his country, provide service and employment to his people, while enjoying the home cooked food. True that!
He seemed happy to be busy and useful, but a little disappointed by himself for not being able to produce to match the quantity of its demand. In particular, the matured (hard, yellow-ish) goat cheese. At the time of our visit he had one matured cheese (that too reserved for his family), but later..idk…he just offered half of it to us. I couldn’t wait to taste it, so we had it on our way back. It was fresh and gooey (I thank god for whatever got him to change his mind in the last moment) 😋 Speaking of cheese 🧀… I am lactose intolerant and my love affair with cheese is like: ‘l love you more & I must have you because I was told that I can’t.’ 😶🤫🥰
As for the wine, currently, he is in a process of registering it in order to export them in big quantity. We tasted two different flavors: plum and ground apple (Yacón). I liked the ground apple better. Since a sip seemed to be a tease, we brought a couple of them home.
Before wine tasting, it is advisable to visit the other two attractions:
Old Durbar (currently a local school). Honestly, there isn’t much to explore here (just it’s exterior).
If you follow the pasture, right next to old Durbar and opposite Mr. Thakuri’s homestay—it leads you towards Saat-Dhara (Seven Water Taps). It’s only 10 minutes walk via jungle, but make sure to carry an empty bottle for a refill.
That brings us to the end of our trip to Chitlang, after which we headed toward Kulekhani. Post on this, soon to follow. Until then, Happy Living! 🙂