…A land of 100 hilllocks [Saya Thumkaa] – Sailung

…A land of 100 hilllocks [Saya Thumkaa] – Sailung

Exactly a year ago, my article, Trip to Kalinchowk, was published on ghumante. The trip to Shailung was already planned at that time because, after Kalinchowk, Shailung was our preferred destination in Dolakha for winter and snow.

According to the plan, four of us, collegemates of Kathmandu University, Dhulikhel geared up for the trip, right after the awaited snowfall of this winter.

We met up at 28 Kilo, Dhulikhel at 6 a.m. After breakfast, we caught a bus to Mudhe at 7. Because we didn’t book our tickets, we didn’t get any seats. Most probably because of the crowds of people flocking to Kalinchowk (major destination for snow fun these days). Anyways, we made it to Mude somehow. After getting there, we found out that there was direct transportation from KTM -Bhaise  (Sailung Gaupalika).

We reached Mude (72 kms from Dhulikhel) at 10 a.m. where we had our lunch. We waited for that very bus from Kathmandu for about 3 hours to go to Bhaise of Shailung Gaaunpalika. Finally, at 1’0 clock, the bus arrived and we headed our way to Shailung via Lamche-Aahal, Maga Deurali. Sailung is about 25 kms offroad from Mudhe but due to snowfall, the bus could go only 15 minutes ahead of Maga Deurali (Shailung is about 4.5 hrs hike away from here). At one point, our bus got stuck in the swampy road and we, the passengers worked together to get it out, by shoveling some dry soil and pulled the bus with a rope which was worth it. This small effort reduced our hiking time. 😀

Mude Bajaar, Sindhupalchowk ! We have to go right for Shailung and left for Charikot from here

Group photo session! Thanks to the stranger lady photographer. 😛

Shailungeswori Yaatayaat, our ride for the journey. Thanks to Guruji

Shoveling some dry soil on the muddy road after our bus got stuck in the swamp. All the hard work paid off at the end, go team work!

Our original plan was to get to Bhaise (the final bus stop during dry seasons). But the bus dropped us somewhere far nearer than our stop, Bhasie. I can’t recall the name of the place properly, Bothley probably. We immediately switched to Plan ‘B’ which was to hike all the way from there to Kholakharka. We gathered as much information as possible from commuters and locals. Responses varied from people to people, which put us in dilemma, whether we could make it to the top that day or not. Luckily, at Dhunge where we sat for our Khaja, we met this very helpful and co-operative young lad, Mr. Amit Tamang. He was heading toward his village (neighboring village to Kholakharka) with his two homies. We asked him for directions and the duration. To our relief, he assured us that we would make it and even promised to show us the way up to Shailung ( Kholakharka is 20 minutes downhill hike from Shailung).

View on the way

Hikers on the way.

FYI, “Plan A” was to get to Kholakharka via Bhaise, stay there overnight and hike to Shailung the next morning but due to the change of plans, we got to Shailung first via Dhunge, Kalapani and then to Kholakharka. There was no human settlement after Dhunge till  Shailung. However, people of Kalapani (just above Dhunge) migrate temporarily during winter.

Walking through the agricultural fields

Local aunt preparing Noodles with egg at Dhungey Bajaar for us.

As we walked up with Amit, we got to talking and sharing our stories. Amit was preparing for Second Lieutenant in Nepal Army. Coming from a military background family myself, I personally interacted with him more than anyone in our group. Just above Dhunge, we could see ongoing road construction projects which would connect Shailung to Dhunge (Dhunge is reachable via roads from Mudey too but there’s no public transportation). On our way uphill, we met some visitors returning from Sailung. We took a break at Bishauni and witnessed the majestic warmth of the setting sun. We stuffed ourselves with some Chocolates(Snickers and Bounty) and electrolyte water (Jiwan Jal) to get us going. (Pro Tip: Electrolyte water are a far better alternative to energy drinks during trek/hike). We were taking frequent breaks for photos and catching our breath. Amit kept alerting us about the long way we had yet to cover as it was already dawn. The trail was amidst the jungle and slippery narrow paths due to the snowfall. The dawn was slowly changing to darkness as we saw the fog hovering above the crystal white snow layers and we already started to feel the need of torchlight.

School children return home through the under construction motor roads at Dhunge Bajar. This road goes to Shailung.

Snowfall on the way.

Ascending from Dhunge Bajar with Mr. Ameet Tamang (First from the right)

After an hour of hike in the jungle with torch lights, we reached a small hill which was the beginning of Shailung Dada. I would like to express my sincere gratitude towards Amit who guided us all the way from Dhunge till now. Before parting ways, he showed us the correct direction to Shailung Top which would have been confusing otherwise. As we hiked up following Amit’s directions, it grew darker and paths became more and more confusing due to the snow all around the hillocks. Confused and thrilled by the darkness and the unknown, we tried to call to Chyangba Baje( owner of one of the homestays at Kholakharka, we’d already told him that we’d stay at his place the day before). Unfortunately, we couldn’t reach him. As the one who planned this trip, I was a little bit more concerned and anxious.

Into the woods and snow.

Due to the snow all around us, everywhere looked like a walking trail. One of my friends saw a narrow trail and we followed his way towards the path. I had doubts about the way, so, I asked my friend to look for footprints and there were none. It was clear that it wasn’t the right way. We stopped and searched for some hints. Luckily, we saw a small stairway and a rest stop close by, which gave us a ray of hope in that creepy darkness. At that point, we realized that these man-made structures can be really helpful sometimes and can lead us the right way. The sound of the waving prayers flag confirmed that we were just at the top. Now we had to descend via a long stairway downhill of which Chyangba Baje had mentioned earlier. (FYI: Prayers flag are generally placed by the Tamang/Sherpa/Buddhist people of Nepal). Moments later, we saw cemented stairs which made us happier than seeing our primary destination Shailung. We were afraid we wouldn’t make it to Kholakharka and seeing those stairs was so relieving. While we descended down, I called Chyangba Baje one more time. This time, he received the call though it wasn’t very clear. We heard faint sounds of dogs barking and someone lighting a torch at a distance. It was Mahila Dai, Chyangba Baje’s helper who had come to pick us up after we made the call.

Snow gathered on coniferous branches.

Tired as we were, we sat close to the Ageno(fire) and made ourselves warm with hot tea Chyangba Baje prepared for us. We wanted to have Dhido and Local Kukhura so much. We asked Baje to prepare some for us even though, he had already cooked rice for us. We had some chats with them about Shailung and its attractions. They told us that more than 100 local tourists had been there a day before. After having Dhido, we got into our warm beds which took some time to warm up. Chyangba Baje and Mahila Dai are good examples of Nepali culture of warmth and hospitality to the guests. We fell asleep listening to horses neighing and dogs barking.

Perks of village life. After going through the freezing cold, dark nights and slippery trails, we felt privileged and blessed when we sat beside the “Ageno” (fireplace), with a cup of tea.

FYI: Chyangba Baajey is one of the hoteliers among few homestays like Hotels in Kholakharka (nearest settlements from Sailung but lies in Ramechhap district) just 20 minutes below the Sailung Top.

By the way, did you notice our first-day trip? We started from Dhulikhel, Kavre all the way to Mudhe, Sindhupalchok to Sailung, Dolakha and stayed overnight at Kholakharka, Ramechhap. That’s 4 districts in a day 😀

Local kukhura (chicken), in the making.

Something delicious is getting cooked.

About our destination, Shailung( Border of Dolakha and Ramechhap):

Dumbstruck by the view.

Prayers flag at the top and himalayan ranges in the backdrop.

Sailung is a converging point of nature and religion, one more incentive of Dolakha. It is situated at an altitude of 3150m, southwest of Charikot at Saya Thumka hill. One trivial yet interesting fact about Sailung is that 20% of it lies in Ramechhap district. It is an important religious and potential tourism destination. With Sailungeshor Mahadev and hundred of pleasing green hills, this is an amazing adventure pilgrimage.

Sailung where nature and religion meet.

From this viewpoint, 80% of the Himalayan ranges in Nepal including Mt. Everest, Machhapuchhre, Ganesh Himal, Kathmandu Valley and Terai regions can be seen in a clear day. During winter, these hills are covered with snow for two months. Hundreds and thousands of devotees visit Sailung Dada on Janai Purnima, Balachaturdashi, and the Bara Barse Mela (carnival that occurs once in 12 years). It is also renowned as one of the places Gautam Buddha visited during his lifetime. Also, 13 colors of the sun can be seen in a day. The area is a famous as a Natural view tower and is rich in Tamang culture.
In a nutshell,  Sailung provides a fantastic panoramic view of the Himalaya. You can visit the place both in winter and summer seasons.
(cited from Wikimapia)

Just can’t get enough of this !

DAY 2:
We woke up the next morning at 5 and got fresh with the warm water Baje provided. After having breakfast and clearing our payment, we left for Shailung Top. The stairs which took us 15 minutes yesterday took more than 30 minutes while going uphill. We had checked for the time of sunrise(6:52 a.m.) that day in Sailung. We had estimated the time accordingly to reach the top and witness the sunrise. As we got to the top, the breeze was bone-chilling but after a moment, the warmth of Sunrise made us feel better and made it easier to click photos too. From the top, we could see a panoramic view of Himalayan ranges, manmade structures, a view tower under construction and resting points (Bishauni). The floating clouds were surreal and the snow-covered hillocks were out of this world. They are stuck in my head ever since. The astounding view of the fresh sun looked like everything was just beginning with a fresh start. The floating cloud lake was what we imagine the heaven to be like.

Sun on the horizon, ready to burst with splashing colors and rays of hope.

Chilly morning photosession at KholaKharka, Ramechhap.


Me and Ladies.

After taking in the sublime beauty of Shailung top, we descended the same way to Dhunge that we’d come up yesterday. At Dhunge, we had lunch at the hotel whose owner directed us the direct way to Mude from there. The road was recently constructed and it was all muddy due to the melting snow. It was easier but there was a long way still to go. I decided to cut some hiking sticks from the trees on the roadside. Despite the time constraint that we had, we enjoyed the hike. We could see the vegetation like Pines and other coniferous, Rhododendrons found in that altitude of around 2500-3000m.

A while later, we took a short break and asked a local Buwa about the way to Deurali. Fortunately, he showed us the shortcut to Maga Deurali which reduced our hiking distance. We made it up to Lamche-Aahal from Maga Deurali in 25 minutes and had some Sekuwa and Chowmein. It was already 1:30 pm. We had to reach Mudey by 3:30 pm in order to catch the last bus to Kathmandu (Dhulikhel on the way) which came from Charikot. From Lamche-Aahal to Mudey, it was 2 hours hike. We pushed ourselves to the limit to reach Mudey on time.

Under construction motor roads upto Shailung via Dhungey connecting top from Mude.

View of Maga Deurali Bajar while descending from Dhungey.

After an hours hike, we luckily got a lift from a mini truck which was going from Deurali to Mudey with some local people and farmers with their harvests. This ride got us to Mudey half an hour earlier. One thing I like about trek/hike is the things we get to experience, from rigorous walks to hitchhiking a truck and sitting in a cargo bed.

Thanks to Guruji the 10 minutes ride to Shailung.

P.S. A bus leaves from Maga- Deurali to Mudey at 12 P.M. but we missed it.
After buying some Churpi, we got into the bus to Dhulikhel without wasting any time. Unlike yesterday, we got seats today and reached Dhulikhel at 6 P.M.
DISCLAIMER: As we had to complete this trip in two days, we were in a rush which won’t be the case for everyone. So, I suggest gathering more information about the place and routes.
For anyone, who is planning to go to Shailung and stay at Kholakharka Chyangba Bajey’s place is highly recommended.

Chyangba Bajey’s Mobile Number: 9614878670

My Personal Experience:
Being a stickler for plans, it pisses me off when Plan A doesn’t work. But this trip taught me that there are other 25 alphabets and we should always be ready to switch to another one if one doesn’t work.
Also, if you want to be at serene places around Kathmandu Valley, away from the urban life, Shailung can be the best destination for you, non-commercialized and comparatively less crowded than Kalinchowk.
And lastly, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the local people, my friends who provided me information and pictures of the trip.
Thank you!

Random Shots from the trip:

Uff! Still a long way to go.

Flaunting Ghumante Tee at the top.

Bonus Information: Shailungeshori Mahadev.

We had been to Thulo Shailung for hiking and sightseeing perspectives. But we also heard a lot about Saano Sailung upon reaching there.  One of my close senior brothers, Mr. Dharmendra Ranjitkar has been to both Saano and Thulo Shailung via motorbike. And he had been there via Dholaalghat- Koshipaari routes to Saano Shailung and from there Dudhpokari to Dhungey.

I would like to thank him from the bottom of my heart for providing this bonus information. Both Sailungs are equally important religiously though Saano Shailung receives more devotees, in comparison. He also shares some of the pictures from his trip.

Thulo Shailung worship shrine. Pic, Dharmendra Ranjitkar

Idol at Saano Shailung. Pic Dharmendra Ranjitkar

Devotees worship at Saano Shailung. Pic, Dharmendra Ranjitkar

Lastly, I and my trip members would like to thank everyone for helping us in this trip, directly and indirectly. My sincerest gratitude goes to Mr. Karan Shakya (Admin of Travelling Nepal Tips)  for providing valuable information about Shailung and Chyangba Bajey’s phone number. I thank my brother Dharmendra Ranjitkar once again for the Bonus information section.

Thank you all. Your feedbacks will be highly appreciated. 😀