Lying just 32 kilometres from the city center, or a drive of just an hour, Nagarkot is a place where one can enjoy the pleasure of fresh air, savour the shades of pine trees, enjoy the sights of the Himalayan range, and experience local hospitality from the welcoming people.
By Poonam Gupta Shrestha- coordinator, CommunityHomestay.com
The capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, closely embraces series of scenic hills with breathtaking vantage points, surreal landscapes, hiking routes, and warm and friendly human settlements. One such hilly destination is Nagarkot. Lying just 32 kilometres from the city center, or a drive of just an hour, Nagarkot is a place where one can enjoy the pleasure of fresh air, savour the shades of pine trees, enjoy the sights of the Himalayan range, and experience local hospitality from the welcoming people. To put in a nutshell, Nagarkot is a quick hideout from the city crowd, dust, and pollution.
Nagarkot is one of the famous hill stations in Nepal. It is famously known for the natural hiking routes, mountain biking and short treks as well as widest views of the Himalayas — eight out of thirteen highest peaks of Nepal is visible from Nagarkot. However, the beauty of Nagarkot is not only confined to its natural excellence. Perhaps, all credit goes to this natural setting that influenced settlers of Nagarkot to craft and preserve their beautiful culture and tradition to this present days. It is an absolute privilege to live and dine with locals and to experience the ‘first-hand’ hospitality of the entire local community.
Nagarkot Community Homestay, one of the big family members of CommunityHomestay.Com, is a community oriented project, which aims to empower the local women, a harbour to perform traditional receptions, and an effort to spread the Nepali culture to the world by hosting foreign guests. Nagarkot Community Homestay involves 17 houses from a small locality named Bastola Gaun. After the 2015 earthquakes, 13 houses here were severely damaged. This means only four houses are in operation now. But the charm and enthusiasm of the people of Nagarkot Community Homestay seems to have no effect at all.
As part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of our company, Royal Mountain Travel, we paid a visit to Nagarkot Community Homestay in late August. We spent two nights, three days with our host family, and every moment spent with them is a moment of treasure.
We were welcomed by the community with a flower garland and tika. The warm smiles and friendly eyes of the local people settled us in more than comfort. In a few minutes, it felt like we are no more the guests. The place instantly became our hometown. Everybody, even people who are not a part of the community homestay, was so nice and friendly to us. After the warm welcome, we were offered a typical Nepali lunch. Even though we, Nepalis, have the similar lunch every day, perhaps, it was because of the love of our host community, the lunch couldn’t have tasted any better. We enjoyed till the last grain. Moreover, staying at someone’s house and being treated as a family member is a new and an amazing experience. It feels even better when we know that our stay is directly supporting the local community, especially for the development of women empowerment.
Nagarkot Community Homestay involves women’s participation in every major event of community homestay, something which is still forbidden in many communities of Nepal. This wise movement should be accepted and embraced all over the country. It not only develops the confidence in women but helps to develop the entire nation. It is a wonderful feeling to see confident and entrepreneur women in such rural village of Nagarkot.
After lunch, we chased some chickens in the field, played a little bit with baby goats, and enjoyed the silence of nature which is impossible in the modern cities that we live in. In the evening, when we were relaxing and chatting in the garden, two little cute girls dressed in Gunyo and Cholo (Nepali attire) appeared out of nowhere. Only then we realized that the community, to our surprise, had organized a culture and music program. The girls looked little shy in the beginning, but once they started dancing in Nepali songs, they looked like little pieces of heaven. Following the cute performance, the local women sang and danced in Nepali folk songs. The highlight of the show was a group dance in Balan Bhajan (songs with a religious theme). The performance was so enthusiastic that we just couldn’t stop joining in and copying their steps. It was a great time to be a part of centuries old culture. The most amazing thing was that the locals have preserved and continued their culture and traditions so well that the younger generation is highly influenced and has a good knowledge of their tradition, customs, and values. After the performance, we dined with our host family. On that point, we all agreed we should have come to this place a way long ago.
The next day began with a morning yoga class. Both indoor and outdoor classes can be arranged in the Nagarkot Community Homestay, but since it was raining, we opted for an indoor class. The present nature, environment, culture, and the yoga class was the exact missing thing to open our mind and let our body and soul relax in another dimension.
After the yoga class, we visited a nearby Hindu temple — Jalpadevi Temple. The location is amazing. Even though I had been to Nagarkot several times before, I didn’t know this lovely place exist. A unique feature of the temple, which we had never seen anywhere in Nepal, is the image of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva — the three holy gods in Hinduism worshipped for being the creator, protector, and destroyer/regenerator, respectively — merged in the single statue. This is a rare kind of statue, a rare catch of our lives, so far.
Since it had rained for all previous night, the sky on the day was immaculately clean, clear, and blue as a deep ocean. From the temple, below, we could see an expansive view of the beautiful Kathmandu valley. The next excursion was visiting the Mahadev Khola Jharna — a waterfall. Every next element in Nagarkot was adding surprises to our imagination. We had no idea if there was any waterfall in Nagarkot. Our host family requested if we knew swimming we could dive. We climbed the highest cliff and jumped in the pool made from the waterfall. We could all feel this very close connection to nature. It was like going back to the home where we all belong.
About the Author
Poonam is the coordinator of CommunityHomestay.com, an initiative of Royal Mountain Travel. It is a community-based homestay network that connects global travelers with real Nepalis for a genuine, local, travel experience in Nepal. It works to encourage women’s empowerment and help pre-serve and value their traditional skills and also help generate sustainable economic opportunities via responsible tourism. She can be reached at