• Column: Harsh Man Rai EP-12

Why Nepal should top your list of places to go to in search of adventure

As someone who likes to find adventure on two wheels I like to think that whenever I mount up for a ride, I am heading to the unknown, throwing caution to the winds and heroically following a primaeval urge to wander the wilderness. But that is hardly the case for me and many of you who syncopate to the same drumbeat of adventure that I do, revelling in the explosion of dust, dirt and finding inexplicable joy in the growl of our tyres whirring over corrugated roads. We use Google Maps, internet research and what not to plan. We know what we are getting into and what to expect. Then there are those that wing it and take it as it comes. I have not done this kind of adventure for a while, throwing the dice and just doing it. My mother often spoke about the beauty of Gurez, the meadows of the Kishenganga valley framing the graceful peak of Habba Khatoon named after the eponymous peasant-queen-poetess. Perhaps my restless heart will point me and my motorcycle there to see if the grandeur that she was so moved by 50 years ago still exists. And if it does, the shared memory will forever be a part of her that never dies.

I write this month’s column from Kathmandu, an enticing city – despite the urban sprawl stealthily creeping up the mountains – with its mix of history, culture and the friendliest people in the world. It is a messy mash-up of three city-states from the golden age of Newar civilization. But for every chaotic traffic intersection or hipster cafes, there are a myriad of brick-lined courtyards and monuments to explore. Modern Kathmandu offers ramen and risotto with as much felicity as it does momo and tarkari, but the allure of the valley of temples is unchanged. Sitting in the upstairs terrace of Honacha, a third-generation-run restaurant in Patan Durbar that I go to for my fill of Newari food–sapoo mhicha, a treat of tripe and marrow, soybean salad, lentil cakes, spicy grilled meat called chhwela, I see travellers are returning to Nepal. Unlike the ganja-loving travellers of yore who were in search of nirvana, these ones are here to seek adventure – rugged trekkers, cyclists, those on the Buddhist trail and their ilk.

Are you an adventure seeker and traveller? If yes, Nepal should be on top of your bucket list. Adventures range from average to extreme and cover all – land, water and air. I will be here again next month, leading a group of newbies along the Kali Gandaki gorge and prowling the trails of Lower Mustang on motorcycles. I will perhaps stay back and ride the Solukhumbu region of Western Nepal as far as I can go. I will bask in the warm sun below Sagarmatha listening to the echoes of Hillary and Tenzing’s footsteps reverberating in these mountains. I will leave the map in the saddlebags, turn off the GPS and phone and see what I might find.

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