By Ballav Dahal
Dhulikhel, the headquarters of the Kavrepalanchowk district, is one of the main tourist spots in Nepal. Situated at an elevation of 1,550 metres above sea level, Dhulikhel attracts a large number of foreign as well as domestic visitors annually as the destination is still free from urban hustle and bustle.
Dhulikhel lies along the two major highways– BP Highway and Arniko Highway. The BP Highway connects the city with Sindhuli and the plains of Tarai, while the Arniko Highway links Kathmandu to the Tibetan border town of Kodari. The town is located just 30-km southeast of Kathmandu and 74-km southwest of Kodari. With good road linking the capital city of Kathmandu with Dhulikhel, it is very easy to visit this green and almost pollution-free destination.
The Newars, Brahmins, Chhetris, Tamangs and Dalits are the main communities living in the cultural city of Dhulikhel, which is a complete destination.
With the construction of a motorable road in 1965, Dhulikhel got a face-lift and developed as a tourist destination for Tibet trippers as well as foreign travelers. Since the mid-1960s, the town has been a place to stay overnight while going to Tibet and coming back to Kathmandu.
Over the past several centuries, Dhulikhel has been a vital trading centre on the ancient commercial route linking Nepal to Tibet in China. The people of Nepal used to visit Tibet to bring home salt and gold, while the Tibetans would come to Kathmandu to buy rice, chilies and other consumer goods.
With the number of visitors increasing, more tourist hotels and resorts have been established in Dhulikhel. Accommodation facilities ranging from budget class to luxury hotels are available in the city. At present, there are around 30 tourist hotels in the town and its nearby areas.
As most of the hotels offer all the conference facilities, many local, national and international-level seminars and meetings take place in Dhulikhel. There are three three-star hotels in the city. Dwarika’s Himalayan Shangri-La Village Resort is being upgraded into a five-star resort.
Since hygienic food is available at reasonable prices at various hotels and restaurants, the fun makers and pilgrims visit the city. It is interesting to note that the hotels do not have to face any seasonality constraint because of the booming conference tourism. Thus, Dhulikhel has become a year-round destination.
The climate of this city is wonderful. Visitors can get a unique experience by exploring various villages and scenic spots.
One can have a breathtaking view of the mountains, lush green forests and surrounding rural settlements from Dhulikhel. Over 20 Himalayan peaks, including Mt Annapurna (8,091 m), Mt Ganesh Himal (7,429 m), Mt Langtang (7,234 m), Mt Phuribichyachu (6,637 m), Mt Gaurishanker (7,134 m), Mt Lhotse (8,516 m) and several others can be seen from various parts of the city. The historic town is home to beautiful old houses and temples.
Because of the expansion of the community forests in and around Dhulikhel, bird watching and forest walk are additional attractions.
The stone staircase with 1,000 steps and a tall statue of the Lord Buddha in the ever green Shanti Ban near the Dhulikhel lures many tourists. The Kali Temple located atop Devisthan hill is another tourist attraction. A view tower is under construction. Visitors to Dhulikhel can extend their trips to Panauti and Balthali areas as well.
Adventure seekers can enjoy short treks to several places like Nagarkot and Namo Bauddha. They can explore thrilling rafting on the Sunkoshi and the Bhotekoshi rivers. They can also visit the Tibetan border to have hot spring bath.
The temple of Palanchok Bhagawati is on the Palanchowk hillock where there is the idol of Goddess Bhagawati with 18 arms. The temple is just half an hour drive from Dhulikhel.
The 8th-century Changunarayan Temple is another place to visit from Dhilikhel. The oldest temple in the Kathmandu Valley is only half an hour drive.
Interested tourists can extend their trips to Charikot and Jiri, which are other beautiful tourist spots located in the Dolakha district. In a three-hour drive, tourists can reach Charikot from Dhulikhel, while it takes about four hours to get in Jiri.
Apart from scenic beauty and cultural diversity, Dhulikhel has now become a health and education tourist destination because of the Kathmandu University (KU) and the Dhulikhel Hospital. The drinking water facility available in this city is probably the best in the country.
After the expansion of the road linking Kathmandu with Bhaktapur, the number of domestic tourists visiting Dhulikhel has been increasing significantly. The construction of a Fun Park and the monument of Lord Shiva near Sanga Bhanjyang has also helped in increasing of the movement of tourists. All the tour operators have included Dhulikhel in their itinerary as an important tourist attraction.
Local tourism entrepreneurs as well as concerned government bodies have remained effortful in the development of Dhulikhel. Bel Prasad Shrestha, who is a pioneer hotelier of Dhulikhel, deserves due credit for the overall development of Dhulikhel. Shrestha, Managing Director of Hotel Himalayan Horizon, and former Mayor of the Dhulikhel Municipality, has made a lot of contributions to the refurbishment of this city.