Chitlang had been in my mind for some time. I had heard of the goat cheese that melts in the mouth, the exciting four hours hike from Thankot and some mystery which every place to where I haven't visited for me bears. However, we were not equipped with enough information to reach there despite the fact that it was close to Kathmandu. Only later we realized that every place is led by crossroads and how much important it is to be able to chat with locals amicably. This would be a hike where we would ask women, children and men at every crossroads as to which road led to Chitlang.
A dirt road did lead us to Chitlang. It was just 26.4 km from Kathmandu. We did not use vehicles to get there. We preferred to walk like we always do when we decide to hike. The dirt road and the walking trail intersect at different turns. The walking trail is slightly uncomfortable at times but nothing like which cannot be treaded.
After two and half a hour's uphill walk, we found a tea shop. There was one before that too but we did not spend much time there because it appeared right at the start of the hike. But the one at Bhanjyang (pass) was situated at a place where the three of us had started to think about food. We quickly ordered tea and some energy rich potato, 'chana' (gram) and the most famous buff 'choila'. They were spicy but tasted just good.
From Bhanjyang we could see the destination we had in mind. It was a comfortable walk downhill. We took rest and some photos. I followed the moving clouds making different patterns, sometimes blocking the sun, while at other times letting the sun rays penetrate through them, one of my favorite pastimes on a hike like these. We were in no hurry. We would make it to Chitlang in time.
We reached the goat cheese factory and the owner, a man of few words, thought we deserved to have goat cheese when we asked if he had any. The cheese actually melted in my mouth. It was worth all the talk in Kathmandu. We were looking for a place to spend the night. In the meantime Pravinata's brother-in-law Major Bhumi Prasad Pokharel returned her call and told us to join him in Chanban army camp. We walked another two and a half hours from Chitlang to reach there.
We were treated at the camp with courtesy and civility.
In the evening when all the army officers of the Officer Mess were seated in the entertainment room we talked about different issues. The few that drew my attention were the issues of growing number of Christians within Nepali society versus the essence of Hinduism, the myth of democratization of army, Nepal state as the motivational factor for army and its integrity and the acceptance of the army to work as an organ of the government. At the Officer Mess we were shown all the hospitality that we could receive.
In the morning after having pancakes for breakfast we left for Kulekhani. We had decided and were determined to walk till Kulekhani. But this particular walk was troubling me in my mind which I had shared with Pabitra and Pravinata but there were no options before us. There were no vehicles plying on the road. We had to walk the dirt road. I normally believe where there is road, take the vehicle and where the motor road ends, tread the trail.
After walking for some time we found the perfect view of Indrasarovar. Some force beyond us compelled us to sit there and admire it. Down below there were ducks basking in the sun without motion, sitting as still as they could be. We could spot one or two in the lake playfully swimming around.
As we were admiring the spectacular view, there was a honking from behind. The driver of the bus happened to be Pabitra's one of the brightest students. He offered us a lift and we boarded the bus without any fuss. Later on we were glad we took that bus. However, we did miss Markhu, a place which is worth a visit if any wanderer is looking for a place to go by the lakeside.
We reached Kalanki in Makwanpur and decided to eat something before going to Kulekhani Dam. The water at Kulekhani is pristine and the view of the lake from the dam is worth it. An Australian couple whom we met at a tea shop at Kalanki thought Indrasarovar at Kulekhani is better experience than Fewa at Pokhara. We had taken permission to sit and admire Indrasarovar. Soon it was time for us to leave. We had to catch the last bus coming to Kathmandu at 2:30pm. It took us 3 hours to reach Pharping. We stayed the night at Pabitra's place as there was uncertainty in our mind as to the vehicular movements in Kathmandu due to SAARC meetings.