Take A Break: Nepal

16
5 min read
Recently, I headed to Kathmandu to interview two very impressive Nepali women: Sahana Bajracharya and Jyoti Upadhyay. Sahana is a media professional & social activist who hosts her own  TV show broadcasting to over 500,000 globally (go girl!). Entrepreneur and anthropologist, Jyoti grew up abroad and has since returned to Nepal to establish Kaligarh, a jewellery cooperative which promotes the work of Himalayan artisans, helping to revive fading artistic traditions.
My Once In A Lifetime Experience

I was lucky enough to share Sahana’s daily ritual – a very early morning walk through Durbar Square in downtown Kathmandu.  Surrounded by the unfamiliar sounds, smells and dusty air of Kathmandu’s morning hustle bustle, she led me through hidden doors, in and out of secret alley ways, past street-side commercial negotiations, around imposing temples, pagodas & palaces, and pointed out where monuments had stood before the 2015 earthquake. The sun was still soft and the streets were buzzing with the positive energy you only get when the day is new. Everywhere I looked there was industrious activity: locals selling fruit, preparing street food, chatting, praying, reading papers, begging, cycling. It was a special moment in time, which I will never forget. I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story.

Play

A wander around the markets in Tamel, Kathmandu’s tourist district, is a must. If you’re after a cashmere souvenir Tara Oriental sells high-end scarves and blankets. It produces for international design houses, so the prices can be high. For a slightly less expensive option head to GC Handmade. Run by an Italian, it offers beautiful handspun cashmere and yak wool scarves and throws which are normally exported to Europe.

Teyang is an upcoming local designer creating clean, elegant shapes – great for office wear and weddings 9804704843.
Baber Mahal Revisited is a complex of independent shops, restaurants and an art gallery, set in the converted stables of a former Rana palace. It’s a good place to buy gifts, antiques and art. Kobold WatchesMarina Paper boutiquePipalbot are three beautiful interiors stores. Jyoti highly recommends their wool and silk rugs and I bought up big at the Marina Paper boutique.
Get In Mah Belly

Find a local rooftop cafe to take in the sights, smells and sounds of the busy, dusty streets below. Then, order Momos: little dumplings of joyful deliciousness. I ate lots of them. Lots. I would go back to Nepal JUST for the Momos. For great eggs and coffee, get a cab to the tranquil courtyard of Chez Caroline.

There is a Farmers Market held at Le Sherpa on Saturday mornings, 9am-midday. You will find the best local produce, including locally made French, Italian and Welsh cheese. A great excuse to get working on your night cheese.

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com
The Nepalese Momo – see how many you can eat in one sitting.
Snooze

I stayed at a great little traditional guest-house called Dalai La Boutique Hotel in Tamel. I loved it because I could walk straight out of the door and into the bustling market streets. For opulence, stay at the new family-run Baber Mahal Vilas in the government district. If you’re keen to steer clear of typical tourist haunts, stay at Dwarika’s Hotel. It has been run since 1981 by 80-year-old widow, Ambica Shrestha with the purpose of preserving the unique architecture and art of Nepal.

Or, head out to the countryside and stay at Dwarika’s Resort in Dhulikhel, a 45 minute drive from Kathmandu. Set on a hillside, we woke up each morning to breathtaking views of the snow-capped Himalaya. It’s perfect for a girly getaway or romantic honeymoon. I spent a few days there with friends who flew in from Dubai for a catch-up, relax & recharge. I’d wager (at least after our stay) that it has the most Instagrammed infinity pool on earth. Read all about this oasis of calm in my next post.

Tip: apply for visa before you arrive. Bring a few passports photos and cash to save time queuing on arrival.

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com
Sahana takes me on a journey through her home town.

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com
Indrapur Temple, Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com
Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Elissa explores Kathmandu, Nepal with local inspiring women & uncovers all the best experiences in the capital for your next trip irislillian.com

Got questions about travelling to Nepal or what to do while you’re there? Feel free to comment below and I’d be more than happy to point you in the right direction.

All photos  were taken and are owned by Elissa. If you would like to re-publish them please email your request to hello@irislillian.com.

16 Comments
  1. Colette says

    The photos are quite beautiful IL. The colours are so rich and vibrant. Your camera shots offer us a glimpse of life and the people who live in Kathmandu. Thanks for the journey

    1. Elissa says

      Hi Colette, you’re very welcome! I’m so glad the atmosphere of the morning was translated though the photos. Have you ever travelled to Nepal or around Asia?

  2. Heraa says

    The Pictures shown in the blog spoke to me and made me want to visit Nepal. I have always wanted to go and visit Nepal. After watching the pictures I am definitely adding it to my bucket list 🙂

    1. Elissa says

      Wonderful! I am so glad the photos took your there Heraa. What else is on your Bucket List? I’d love some suggestions for Asia. Safe travels xx

  3. Philip says

    Hey thanks for the visa tip. What size of passport photos do they require? I’ve had issues in other countries they said it was the wrong size.

    1. Elissa says

      Hi Philip, I’m not certain of the size I’m sorry. I don’t recall it being overly prescriptive though. Enjoy your trip!

  4. Melinda says

    Love these photos. The second one of the old lady and the lady sitting in front of the bricks are my fave. They both look like they have interesting stories to tell.

    1. Elissa says

      Hi Melinda, they certainly do. The bricks were debris from the earthquake in 2015. People just seemed to be getting on with life despite this horrific event. A testament to the Nepalis. Have you travelled to Nepal?

  5. Loudy says

    I always wanted to visit Nepal. But I always have something that stops me . Your post is intersting

    1. Elissa says

      Hi Loudy, what do you think it is that stops you? I’m intrigued!

  6. Christine says

    I have been seeing so many people going to Nepal lately. It really is a beautiful place and I would love to visit one day. Love all your portraits and photos!

    1. Elissa says

      Yes! I highly recommend it. Not necessarily for the hiking – that is wonderful – but for urban tourism also. There are so many monuments and historic buildings, shopping and everyday life to take in in Kathmandu and the surrounding cities in the valley. Thank you for your kind words too xx

  7. Gokul Raj says

    Nepal is a wonderful country. Being an Indian it is quite easy for me to reach there. Will plan a trip soon.

    1. Elissa says

      I’m so glad to hear that you will be visiting Nepal soon Gokul. I have never visited India but I can’t wait to soon. Where would you recommend I see first? Safe travels!

  8. Nicki says

    Has anyone ever told you that you take exquisite photos? Every time I read one of your blogs your photos just inspire me to be in that place. Thanks for sharing them.

    1. Elissa says

      Oh wow, thank you Nicki. That’s really kind of you to say. I’m so glad you were inspired to go to Nepal – it’s a wondrous place. Where are you heading next? xx

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