Kishore Maharjan, former CEO of Sunrise Bank Limited and Civil Bank is a travel enthusiast. He says travelling has always been a crucial part of his profession. Tamish Giri of New Business Age caught up with Maharjan, who is the owner of Lalitpur Patriots cricket team and the chairman of Progressive Finance to note down his adventurous trip to Manang.
Most Memorable Trip
I have travelled a lot both inside Nepal and abroad, talking about the journeys abroad I have mostly been to destinations where millions of people normally go. The destinations within Nepal are more special and amongst them, my journey to Manang Gaun has been the most memorable trip so far. I travelled there two years ago and I recall it as an unforgettable trip. I had heard about Manang from childhood, people often told me about it as a district situated across the Himalayas. I was fascinated to see the Annapurna Range from the North side in Manang whereas people normally view the range from the southern part.
Trip for a Cause
The trip was organised by Imagine Nepal, a travel and tourism-based company, with the aim to promote and discover new aspects of tourism in Nepal. Altogether, 40 Sports Utility Vehicles along with some motorbikes had embarked on a journey to discover Manang. It was a sizeable group, and the road was dangerous, filled with treacherous terrain. I don’t think I would go for a solo drive there. It was Imagine Nepal’s vision that compelled me to be a part of the trip.
Manang Gaun is situated at an elevation of almost 3600 metres above sea level. Near the top, the maximum portion of the road is composed of rough terrain, which is covered with blasted stiff rocks, mud and gravel. The road is only six feet wide. There is hardly any margin for error; a single mistake can lead to a life-threatening accident. One of my friends during our second-day break at Chame told me he wasn’t driving back to Kathmandu, he said he feared the gigantic waterfall and its water mass at the side of the road and also of the vertical landing of the water to Marshyangdi river. Some of my friends returned to Kathmandu by a chopper, leaving their vehicle in Manang, they were petrified and afraid to drive back to Kathmandu. The road is dangerous and can even turn treacherous on a bad day.
Most Memorable Part of the Trip
We started our journey from Kathmandu on 18 November and we stopped for a night stay at Besisahar in Lamjung. Coincidently, it was my birthday on the day, which I was unaware of until the evening when the others surprised me with an impromptu party. It was my wife’s idea, and she pretended as if she had forgotten too, I was not aware of her planning. She was well prepared and had even carried a huge cake all the way from Kathmandu to surprise me. I guess we were about 120 or more individuals on the trip, and they all joined me for my birthday party. This was the best birthday surprise and the most memorable part of the trip.
This trip differed greatly from my other journeys. I felt like I was holding six lives on the steering wheel of my car (mine, my wife’s and four other friends travelling in my car) during the entire drive. Since there was no margin for error, I had to be very careful and drive safely. This made the journey thrilling for me because I had not been through such a driving experience in my life earlier. I had driven to Muktinath, Jomsom and Lo Manthang earlier; the roads there are dangerous as well but are wider than Manang. The chance for mishaps is higher on the road to Manang compared to others.
The people in Manang and even in Besisahar and Chame were very hospitable. Since we were travelling in a big group, people in Manang knew of our arrival and warmly welcomed us. They welcomed us with flowers and ‘khada’ garlands on our arrival. In the evening, they even hosted a cultural show to entertain us by performing their traditional dances and their musical instruments. We even enjoyed the traditional horseracing and archery of the locals. It was fantastic to be there. The locals offered us with the best they had and it was fun being there. We loved the people.
Ideal Time to Visit Manang
We travelled there in November and it was quite cold then. Since the road up to Manang is dangerous and filled with rough terrain, travelling in the monsoon can be very difficult and is best to be avoided. Furthermore, it is very cold up there because of its location, so making a trip in the winter is not ideal either. The months of February, March, April, September, October, November and December are suitable to drive to Manang.
Prerequisites to Travel
Primarily you must pre-check your vehicle before starting your trip and carry essential spare parts along. Secondly, Manang is a cold location so carrying proper sets of warm clothes is essential. Additionally carrying a torchlight can be crucial and you must decide your diet and drinking plans carefully. Last but not the least you should not forget to carry a camera because you do not want to regret missing the chance of taking a snap of the mesmerising views.
Suggestion for Travel Enthusiasts
I am actually a spontaneous traveller; I don’t plan. Some of my trips are decided instantly. My friends have a habit of planning their trip in advance, which I would discourage. Planning a month earlier is more than adequate. My suggestion will be to focus more on learning about the destination prior to making the journey.