12 hours hike to Dahachowk and Kalu Pandey Park, Kathmandu

Dahachowk Hike Kathmandu Nepal

Dahachowk is one of the shortest and sweet hiking trail in Kathmandu. Along with its majestic natural beauty, it holds great cultural, religious and historical values. You can either hike or ride to this hill station in Kathmandu.

Facts of Dahachowk Hiking Trail

Distance:  

Sitapaila to Dahachowk: 9.4 KM

Dahachowk to Makalu Petrol Pump: 8.8 KM

Total: 18.2 KM

Elevation: 845m

Time:  8-12 hrs.

Difficulty:   Moderate

Dahachowk Hiking Route

Sitapaila (Salesberry) – Times International School – Shree Banglamukhi Mai Temple – Green Village Homes – Drigung Kagyud Rinchen Palri Monastery – Switzerland Park – Dahachowk – Kalu Pandey Memorial – Manakamana Temple – Bodhi Vihar – Tinkanya Mandir – Puran Pati – Chandragiri 1 Ward Office – Srijana Chowk  – Yajus Bakrey – Naikap Football Ground – Learning Realm International School via Melissa Marga – Makalu Petrol Pump or Kalanki 

Dahachowk Google Map route

Attractions of Dahachowk Hiking Trail

  1. Indradaha (Indra is the king of Gods and Daha means Pond in Nepali) is also called Yankee Daha (यङ्किदह)
  2. Manakamana Temple (Originally at Gorkha): It is believed that the temple was built by King Prithivi Narayan Shah to attain the power to defeat the rulers of Kathmandu Valley along with Parsa of Nuwakot, Dhading and Gorkha
  3. The Grave of Kaji Kalu Pandey: Kaji Kalu Pandey died (1757 A.D.) during the unification of Nepal and wished to be buried at Dahachowk from where Gorkha can be viewed (Hometown of Kaji Kalu Pandey). So, it holds a great historic value for Nepali People.
  4. Panoramic view of Kathmandu Valley, Nuwakot, Kirtipur.
  5. At the top, plateau looks like green carpet because of the lush green grasses
  6. Various species of birds like Kalij (Pheasant), Lampuchhre, Cuckoo, etc. and animals like spotted deer and monkeys can be seen in the forest trail.
  7. Culturally and Historically Rich Hilltop villages

Demographics 

Dahachowk has a mixed settlement of Tamangs, Magars, Brahmins and Chhetris

Best Time to Visit/Hike

June to August: Blooming Orchids

March to April: The whole forest is decorated by the blooming Rhododendrons (Laligurans, National Flower of Nepal)

October to November: Spectacular Mountain Views (Langtang, Ganesh, Manaslu and Annapurna)

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Myths related to Dahachowk and nearby places

It is believed that during Satya Yuga (the era of truth), the King or Heaven, Indra descended upon the pond with an elephant in a gold necklace and took a bath there. Hence. It is believed that one can get rid of any diseases by taking a bath in the pond.

And in fact, the bathing fair is held every year at Indradaha on Bhadra Shukla Purnima (Full Moon day in the month of Bhadra)

Bhutey Odar (Ghost Cave): 

According to ancient legends, in ancient times, it was customary for the locals to bring all the utensils needed to do some work in the house of the ghost cave and return it after the work was done. In the last few days, the local elders have said that they have stopped giving utensils due to their unwillingness to return the utensils, lack of sanitation and so on.

Janti Odar:

According to popular legend, in ancient times, a local resident’s house was flooded with water for his daughter’s wedding, so the people were taken to the cave and fed. After that, all the stones of the Janti Odar fell down and died, so the place like the cave is called Janti Odar.

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Our Experiences

With the excitement of hiking through the forest and enjoying the view of Kathmandu valley from the top of Dahachowk hill, we woke up at around 6 in the morning and started our journey from Raniban, Dhungedhara. 

On the way we met with 2 other members and bought some snacks like Instant Noodles and Fried Beans (mix of Corn, Soybean, Peanuts, ChickPeas, etc.).

And then we went to the chowk to catch a bus to Sitapaila.

As we wanted to take a longer route, we planned to start from Sitapaila and End at Makalu petrol pump, Kalanki.

So we reached Sitapaila at around 7:15.

Is it the way to Dahachowk?

And in the chowk, we asked the fruit seller about the way to Dahachowk. But they seemed surprised and told us that it was not the right way to go there. And suggested we take a route from Kalanki.

But, as planned we continued our journey following the google map.

The route was new to all of us, so we asked locals whenever we got confused.

First we asked for directions to Times School and later to Baglamukhi Temple.

Since this route was not a conventional one to go to Dahachowk, everyone seemed surprised but we’re feeling adventurous and a bit frightened as well.

From Sitapaila we were walking over a gravelled road, muddy a bit due to rain. And it’s already been a couple of hours of walking.

Rice Fields = Shortcuts

At a point we felt like we’re moving away from the hill we’re supposed to go.

So, we asked a local and she told us that we had crossed the point where we had to turn left.

But instead of turning back, we started looking for shortcuts. In front of us was a paddy field and based on our rough calculation we could reach the correct path through it, instead of a road (which was longer).

So, we started walking from there and soon we reached the gate of Green Village Homes. And it confirmed the correct way to Dahachowk.

After crossing the colony, we reached a pitched (black topped) road and started walking up the hills.

On the way we also asked locals about the possible foot trails. As we were looking for adventure on our hike, we wanted foot trails via forests, not the vehicle roads.

And as they showed us the way, we started looking for shortcuts and following the path whenever we could.

Will insects eat us?

But people barely used those trails these days, so the paths were not maintained and looked fearful (lots of mosquitoes).

As we walked up the trail, we started to hear the chirping of beautiful birds, smell the beautiful flowers and breathe fresh air. 

Without vehicles, the trail was so peaceful and beautiful.

Enjoying Wil Dahachowk Hiking Trail
Enjoying Dahachowk Hiking Trail, Kathmandu, Nepal

After crossing a section of adventurous trail, we reached a village. There we filled our water bottles on a tap.

The water was cold and sweet. And a villager told us that the water comes from the top of the hill and doesn’t dry in any season.

After drinking water and filling our water bottles, we continued our journey. Now we met the roads again.

Fancy Breakfast on Hike

And as we’re hungry, we started looking for a place to have some breakfast.

And after walking for some time, we found a small place where we could get local snacks like fried chickpeas, fried potatoes, omelette and tea.

So, we ordered some and waited. While waiting, we talked with the shop owner and he told us that the place (village) was called Kankali Mandir. 

And anyone can reach the place within hours from Kalanki on foot or on any vehicle.

In around 20 mins our breakfast was ready. First we ate some boiled eggs and juice and then chickpeas.

A friend had also brought some brownbreads and salad from home. So we asked auntie to make omelettes for us and made our own sandwich, which looked really awesome, like in some fancy place.

And all of that cost us around Rs. 370 (for 4 people). 

After having breakfast and talking with locals, we thanked them and continued our journey fully energized.

Now it was around 9:30 A.M. and the sun was shining bright.

In a bright sunny light we continued our walk over the pitched road. It was easier to walk but hot.

The most beautiful places of Dahachowk Hike

After walking for some time we were welcomed with a Pine Forest. There we rested for a while and took pictures of different poses. We stayed there for almost half an hour and then continued our hike.

After a while, we reached the gate of Drigung Kagyud Rinchen Palri Monastery. Which seemed really nice inside. But unfortunately we couldn’t go inside. It was closed after COVID outbreak.

Monastery on the way to Dahachowk
Drigung Kagyud Palri Monastery, Kathmandu, Nepal

It was for the second time, I personally couldn’t visit the monastery.

Last, it was in 2013 when we’re at Dahachowk for the High School Picnic program. At that time as well, we’re late while returning and couldn’t go in there.

And with the hope of getting in the next time, we took photos in front of the gate and continued our walk.

The Illegal Climb

On the way, we saw a view tower with its gate closed. But we’re so curious to see the top view of the whole valley from the top.

So we decided to climb over the face and climbed to the top (Not recommended) and later scolded by a man for trespassing.

But the 270 degree view from the top and the adventure of climbing the tower was worth the scold.

After enjoying the view for some time, we came down and continued our hike. 

Ahead of us we found 2 ways and on asking with locals, we found out that the road on the left goes to Dahachowk and the right one takes to Bindabasini Temple.

Since the hike in this route could be our first and last, we decided to visit Bindabasini Temple as well.

So, we took the right road and started walking up the hill. It was really steeper than our previous walks but the path was pitched. And the forest was also full of Rhododendron (Laligurans) trees. We imagined that it would look really awesome when the red flowers bloomed in March and April and continued our walk.

The chirping of birds, fresh and cold air and the cloudy weather was energizing us to walk. And with the school friends, any travel becomes really awesome.

Finally, after almost half an hour of steep climb, we reached Bindabasini Temple on the top of the hill.

But unfortunately, we couldn’t go inside the temple as it was being renovated.

We took a couple of pictures there and started walking down the same path.

Bindabasini Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal

Are you Tourists?

On the way down, we saw a beautiful green lush ground. So we decided to go that way and take some shots there as well. 

After taking a few shots there, we came back down to the road which would take us to Dahachowk.

As we were walking on the road towards Dahachowk a couple of guys on bikes thought we’re tourists and asked their friends.

He might have thought that because, either only foreigners hiked on that route (mostly Nepalese on Bikes or other vehicles) or we all were carrying cameras and he felt like we’re tourists.

Anyway, we continued our walk and took as many foot trails as we could. Since the traditionals foot trails were safer and adventurous to walk rather than on the road.

This is not the one I remember

After some time, we reached near Switzerland Park. At first I didn’t recognize it as it was open lush ground but now it was surrounded by walls and multiple small Picnic Spots (a structure built with steel pole and roof) were built inside it.

And it was also closed due to COVID pandemic, so we decided to climb the wall and go inside (not recommended).

I was really disappointed with the current development. We rested for a while there, had our snacks and continued our hike to Dahachowk.

Now, the top view of Kathmandu Valley was really beautiful from that point. The view of Chandragiri Hills, Kalanki, Thankot, Kirtipur, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, etc. was mesmerizing.

With the hope of getting a better view, we continued our hike.

Traditional Water Tap

Now again, we took a shortcut foot trail. It was really steeper. But on the way we found an old spring water from where people used to get drinking water. And we met some brothers who were washing clothes there.

So, we also went there, drank some cold fresh water and filled our bottles and rested for a while. Then continued to climb up as directed by those brothers.

Now, we reached the eastern side of Dahachowk. There we found a tea shop, so we ordered milk tea and rested there for a while.

After having tea, we decided to move towards the graveyard of Kalu Pandey and Manakamana temple.

So called Development

On the way we saw lots of hotels and resorts being constructed. And the place was totally different from what I remembered back in 2013.

Now, to see the better view, you have to check into one of the resorts and the natural beauty of the place has disappeared.

Anyway, we went to the graveyard of Kalu Pandey which seemed quite big back in 2013. But now in front of big hotels and resorts it looked so small.

There we studied some history about the unification of Nepal and Kalu Pandey’s Contribution to it.

And then we went towards Manakamana Temple.

After roaming around the memorial of Kalu Pandey and Manakamana temple, we started looking for a place to have lunch since it was already 2:00 P.M.

No Luck to have lunch at the best place 

So,we started to search for a place which I saw on the google map. It was a farm where they could prepare food for us and serve. Following the google map, we finally found the place and went there.

But unfortunately, the place had stopped serving food. They had to let go of their kitchen staff after COVID lockdown.

Now with a sad and hungry face we had to look for another place to have lunch. We started coming back and asked one of the local places (bhatti) if they had any food or could cook us some.

Dal Bhat Power nearly Kills

But the answer was negative, so we came further back and found a resort, Kuhiro Dada Agro and Rest House.

First we asked, whether they could cook us Daal Bhaat or not as we were starving. After they said they would cook for us, we entered the place and rested for a while.

By then we had lost every bit of energy we had.

While waiting for the food, some of us even slept for a while.

The place was really magical, the weather would change within minutes. As we were raining, it’s shining bright. But in a moment it was covered with fog in no time.

And then we realized why it’s name was Kuhiro Dada. In Nepali, Kuhiro means “Fog” and Dada means “Hill”.

Finally, after waiting for almost an hour, our food was ready and reserved at around 3:00 P.M. For our lunch we had Daal, Bhaat, Achaar, Saag, Chicken, etc.

And as we’re starving, we ate so much that we had to rest another hour there.

Our stomach felt like it could burst out anytime.

And after resting an hour there, we decided to hike down slowly.

Dal Bhat on Dahachwok Hike
Dal Bhat is Love

Changing Route to Home from Dahachowk

Instead of taking the same route to Kalanki, we decided to take another route to Naikap. So we started walking down the graveled road.

On the way, we found a very beautiful green hill with a magnificent view of the valley. So we stayed another half an hour there.

Then continued walking down the hills, following the foot trails. Here the houses seemed traditional and unchanged like the other side of the Dahachowk – Kalanki road.

It was really beautiful.

As we climbed down, we started asking for a shortcut to reach the highway (Kalanki-Thankot).

Soon, it even started drizzling. Now, instead of walking on the roads, which would take longer, we started taking shortcuts via paddy fields (like in the morning).

Finally, at around 6:00, we reached Naikap Highway. 

From there we took a local bus to Dhungedhara and finally home.

When we reached home it was almost 7:00 P.M.

Expectation vs Reality

Visiting Dahachowk was my second time. I first visited there back in 2013 when I was in high school (12th Grade). We went there for a college picnic.

During that time, the road was just graveled but the natural beauty of the place was magical. Very few houses on the way, the hill was completely filled with dense forest and the top (which is now called switzerland park) had plain, green and lush meadow (grassland).

And the places around Dahachowk and Manakamana Temple were mostly farmlands or grasslands where cows and goats grazed. Very few locals resided in that place.

But the natural beauty of the place, greenery and a peaceful hill station with a 360 degree view of the mountains and the hills was really amazing and is still in my memory.

Reality

And with the same expectations to see plain grasslands, forests and the views,  we planned for this hike.

But it was quite the opposite. Now, the plain grasslands (Switzerland Park) was converted into paid Picnic spots which had many small hut-like structures built with iron poles and Steel roof (Jasta Pata). Original natural green grassland was destroyed.

Similarly lots of hotels and resorts were built on the way and at the top. At the top where there used to be grassland and farm fields were also filled with hotels and resorts. 

And the historic monument of Kaji Kalu Pandey was hidden among the buildings. The place which was once open, rich in natural beauty and relaxing is now crowded with the buildings.

And if you really want to see the view from the top, then you will have to visit the tallest resorts of that area, else it’s difficult.

Development or Destruction?

Yes the places need development and I support that. 

But at what cost?

I was really happy to see the pitch (metallic) road to the top from Kalanki.

But I was really disappointed by the destruction of natural beauty. It felt like the historical and religious values were being deleted by the commercialization.

My opinion is  just that, it would be better if the development was by preserving it’s natural beauty and protecting the historic and religious values as well. 

Else the place will be some other hill station in Nepal.

Conclusion

Thus, in conclusion I’d like to say that the place Dahachowk is beautiful, holds historic and religious values, and is near Kathmandu.

And if you’re looking for a new or less known hill station in Kathmandu, then this is for you.

The place is best for someone who loves to ride in the hills and stay the time at the top enjoying the aerial view of the Kathmandu valley and surrounding mountains and hills.

This Dahachowk hike will be the best for the ones who have just started to enjoy hiking or looking for a short and easy hike. Food and water is easily available along the way.

But it may not be that interesting to hardcore hikers who loves to dwell in the forests and enjoy the adventures. Since the trail is mostly vehicle road.

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