With smiles welcoming you to the neighborhood that make you feel warm and cozy; Dhulikhel is yet a small town located 32 km away from Kathmandu. Located within such periphery of the city, it holds its presence with colorful festivals and traditions.
From the morning sunshine to the sunset, the Himalayas smile with the essence of colors and tradition. Dhulikhel may look like a traditional village but has more to its richness and practice. Famous for short treks, Dhulikhel professes rich presence of the Newari culture which can be seen in the daily livelihood of the locals.
Surrounded by lush green mountains, Dhulikhel proves to be a hidden paradise where travelers can enjoy and rejuvenate. Hiking the trails from the forests to Temples and Monasteries is yet an exciting as well adventurous experience which is never enough.
A nature lovers ideal dream, there are hiking routes namely Kali Devisthan and Namo Buddha which are famous for its scenic views. Also from the hill tops there are unrestricted views of half of the Himalayan range of Nepal and the sprawling town below. There are several resorts and lodges that make the most of these qualities of Dhulikhel and lure customers in with lucrative deals for relaxing get-aways. There is plenty to choose from to suit every budget and needs.
In ancient times, Dhulikhel was known as Shrikhandapur. It was an important overnight stop for traders on the sale trade route between Tibet and Kathmandu as food and water was easy to come by here. Several Buddhist stupas still stand today alongside ancient Hindu temples reflective of its lost Tibetan connections. Dhulikhel started growing in size with the wave of emigrating Newars from Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur looking for business opportunities. Even today, the descendants of these early settlers dominate the town’s census of 12000(last estimate).
The Old Town: The medieval town centre of Dhulikhel is located in the southern end of the modern town. It is less than ¼ kilometres in radius and is the hub of religious fervor in Dhulikhel. Its cobbled streets are lined with traditional Newari houses with tiled roofs and carved window frames. Old men gather in patis seeking conversation as women in Hakupatasi tend to their chillies and wheat drying in the heat in sukuls. This walk through the Old Town is an intimate affair and makes you feel like you have travelled back in time.
Narayan Temple + Harisiddhi Temple: Temples are located in the centre of the Old Town and most frequented by locals. The Narayan temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and a big celebration is held in August. No animal sacrifices are made in this temple, so it is visited by more people. Just behind is the Harisiddhi temple that is specially worshipped by five Newari families of the area. It is believed that this temple is the daughter of the Harisiddhi temple in Satdobato, Lalitpur. The famed Newari craftsmanship is evident in the peaks and lapels of the temples.
Bhagwati Temple: A 10 minute walk south from the Narayan Temple, will take you to the border of the Old Town where the Bhagwati Temple is located. It is on an elevated ground which makes for great views of the rolling hills above the rooftops of the old houses. The Bhagwati temple is where locals come to make balis in return for fulfilled wishes.
Gokureshwor Mahadev: About a kilometre from the bus-stop in the main bazaar is the obscure Gokureshwor Mahadev. It is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and big puja and celebrations are held here in Shivaratri and Bol-Bum in July. This site is undergoing massive restoration under the local municipality and already has public toilets and a rest stop.
Kali Devisthan: Kali Devisthan is a popular picnic-spot and hiking trail for nature lovers. Devisthan is a temple dedicated to Goddess Kali built on top of a hill, accessed via a climb-up up the famous 1000 steps. A dirt track also leads to the top, though it is not advisable for two-wheelers to take it on. The uphill journey is inexpressibly beautiful and serene not to mention quite tough, with rhododendron blooms in season, lush green trees and rolling hills. There are rest-stops along the way and about 5 mins from the top is Shanti-Ban, a 32 ft statue of Buddha who overlooks on the valley below. A recent addition is a viewing tower under construction at the temple, from where far-reaching views of the valley can be enjoyed.
Dhulikhel is 26 kms from Kathmandu, an easy 2 hours drive away and only 6 kms from the bustling city of Banepa. Get started with the Old Town at the heart of the city. With its quaint village like appeal and ancient Newari architecture, it is a great start to your trip to this charming town. There are several temples within this area, like the Narayan Temple, Harisiddhi Temple, Bhagwati Temple etc that make for a good viewing. Head down east towards the main Saraswati Bazaar for light refreshments and continue ahead on your way to Gokureshwor Mahadev. You will pass what is locally known as the Adda- for it is where all the government offices are located-that was once the main trade route between India and Tibet during the olden days. Gokureshwor Mahadev is in a peaceful spot, tucked away in a quiet corner in the fringes of the town. Head on back towards the city and a 10 minutes’ walk will see you at the entrance to Kali Devisthan on your left. A climb of a 1000 steps that will take you to the top of the highest hill in Dhulikhel that looms over the town. You could drive up the dusty road that cuts through the stairs at certain points to cut your journey short to a mere 15 minutes bumpy ride if you so wish. And for all your troubles, you will be rewarded with an uninterrupted 360 degrees view of the surrounding hills and mountains on the northern horizon. You could choose to spend a day here exploring the town or make it a weekend getaway, with overnight stay at one of the resorts and an early wakeup call to see the sunrise.
Getting to & Around:
Local buses to Dhulikhel are available from Ratnapark and Koteshwor in Kathmandu. The full fare from Ratnapark to Dhulikhel is Rs.70 and from Koteshwor is Rs.50 and the journey takes roughly 2 hrs on bus. The earliest bus is at 6 and the last bus leaves the terminal at 7. The old Dhulikhel bus park and the new bus-park are only a few meters apart, though the new bus-park gives easier access to the main bazaar and Kali-Devisthan. The core town of Dhulikhel is no more than half a kilometre in radius, so you can get from one point to the other by foot. The attractions like Gokureshwor and Kali Devisthan are a bit further away and more difficult to get to for people without private modes of transportation. A taxi reserve for the day from Kathmandu will cost between Rs 2500-3000.
Trek from Nagarkot to the valley of Dhulikhel through terraced slopes, local villages that stretches of to the bordering jungles teeming with wildlife. It takes a good part of 5 hours to complete this hike. An alternate option for trekking is the Namo Buddha Trek which is a 3 hour trek from the town that overlaps with the Kali Devisthan route.
A few things to take note of are that the route to Devisthan and Namo Buddha is very quiet and isolated on most days apart from Saturdays. There have been no reported incidents so far but it is better to err in the side of caution. Go with friends or with a guide who knows the way and if you expect a quiet hike then stay away on Saturdays when large groups arrive for picnics. The calm and peace of the picturesque hills is a bit marred by loud Bollywood songs reverberating in the air. If taking the public transport to Dhulikhel, it is worth noting that you may not be able to explore all that the town has to offer in a day. Some attractions like the Gokureshwor Mahadev and Kali Devisthan are at a bit of a distance from the town centre and there are no taxis or other local transport in service within the municipality.