THE CYCLING CULTURE IN NEPAL IS GROWING. MORE AND MORE CITY DWELLERS ARE OPTING FOR THIS EXHILARATING SPORT AS A HEALTHY HOBBY. CYCLING ENTHUSIASTS HAVE EVEN CREATED GROUPS AND TOURS FOR BEGINNERS AND AMATEURS, GUIDING THEM AND FUELLING THEIR ENTHUSIASM FOR CYCLING. IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A WAY TO BREAK AWAY FROM THE MONOTONY OF YOUR ROUTINE, TAKING TO THE CYCLING TRAILS AROUND THE CITY MIGHT BE A REFRESHING WAY TO REJUVENATE YOURSELF AND EXPLORE YOUR SURROUNDINGS.
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF PLACES AROUND THE CITY FROM WHERE YOU CAN RENT ALL KINDS OF BIKES TO SUIT YOUR NEEDS (RENTALS MIGHT COST AROUND USD 10 PER DAY). JOINING AN ORGANISED CYCLING TOUR IS ALSO A GOOD WAY TO JOIN OTHERS WITH THE SAME INTEREST AND EXPLORE THE CITY WITHOUT THE FEAR OF GETTING LOST.
1. THAMEL – MUDKHU – TINPIPLE – TOKHA – THAMEL
This trail takes you to the northern part of Kathmandu, along the Trishuli Highway and the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park. From Thamel, take the road that leads to Balaju Chowk (roundabout) and from there, head left towards Machha Pokhari and then join the Trishuli Highway from Balaju Bypass. Mudkhu is some six kilometres away from Bypass. You ride past the Nagarjun Forest Reserve, which is a part of the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, on your way to Mudkhu. You will also come across several security checkpoints along the way. Mudkhu is a destination frequented by hikers and mountain bikers and offers beautiful views of the natural surroundings. Recharge yourself over a nice cup of tea and snacks in Mudkhu. Stick to the road that goes to Kakani from Mudkhu to reach Tinpiple. The trail goes slightly downhill here but nothing challenging. But because the condition of roads is ever changing here, it might be offroad or unpaved. Tinpiple is almost five kilometres away from Mudkhu. After crossing a checkpoint, you will get to a peepal tree where you can also find a signpost for Tinpiple. It’s a good idea to catch your breath here and get something to drink if you wish. You can always strike up a conversation with the locals
to tell you more about the place and the route you’ll be taking.
Follow the narrow road from Tinpiple to Tokha.The trail to Tokha is mostly off-road and will take you through the fields. There will be slight changes in elevation from time to time but then again nothing that you won’t be able to conquer. After almost an hour of cycling, you will get to Tokha, which is known to be the hottest part of the Kathmandu Valley. Tokha is also famous for making Chaku, a Nepali treat similar to molasses.
You can grab a bite and even do some sightseeing when you’re at it.
From Tokha, take the road to get back to RingRoad, and then back to Thamel.
2. THAMEL – KIRTIPUR – CHOBAR – BUNGAMATI – KHOKANA – THAMEL
This trail almost covers 30 to 40 kilometres and takes you from Kathmandu to the surrounding villages and valleys. From Thamel, the route to Kirtipur is shortest via the Kalimati-Balkhu route. Start early because mornings are fresh and better for cycling in these otherwise busy roads. Mornings also get pretty interesting along this route as Kalimati is one of the main vegetable centres in the city and is quite busy early in the morning. If you’re on your own and are in doubt, always stop and ask for directions. Upon reaching the Ring Road, take a left from Balkhu Chowk and as long as you stay on this road, there should no problems finding the way to Kirtipur. After a while, you’ll eventually see the entrance of Tribhuvan University on your right, which is also the gateway to Kirtipur. There are no confusing roads at this point, so getting to Kirtipur is easy. It is also one of the oldest Newari settlements in Kathmandu and is highly regarded as a place of great cultural importance. Take your time to explore the town area. One of the oldest temples of Baag Bhairav, a revered deity of Kirtipur, is also situated here. Whenever you’re ready, take the way out from Panga to get to Chobar, which is almost a 30-minute ride. The trail to Chobar from Kirtipur is through the fields almost all the way. Chobar village is famous for the gorge which was believed to be the outlet cut open by Maha Manjushree to drain the lake that Kathmandu once was.
As you get to the bridge on the way, cross it and take the first right from there. The trail gets more exciting from here onwards. It’s a single track, so be careful or if you do not feel confident enough, you can simply walk your bicycle until you reach a comfortable part of the trail. Walking or cycling through the green fields is peaceful, which is why this trail is popular among many cycling enthusiasts. You might even come across pretty ladies clad in haku patasi, traditional Newari attire for women, walking from surrounding villages on their way to the fields or back home. This single track leads you to Sikali chour, one of the famous temples of Khokana. This Khokana trail is famous among bikers as the Marijuana Loop simply because of the wild growing marijuana weeds along the track. The Sikali ground is a good place to take a breather while taking in the generous views of the valley alongside the quietly flowing Bagmati River. You can wander around in Khokana if you wish and then steadily make your way to the village of Bungamati, less than 15 minutes away from here. Bungamati is another ancient village of Newars and is famous for its handicrafts and woodworks. It is also home to the Kumari of Bungamati, one of the living goddesses of Nepal.E
From Bungamati, you can take the main road to get to Ring Road and then back to Thamel.
3. THAMEL – CHAPAGAUN – SANTANESHWOR – HARISIDDHI – GODAWARI – THAMEL
From Thamel, take any road that you’re comfortable with to get on the road towards Patan Durbar Square, Magal bazar, in Lalitpur. Ride past this ancient town through Mangal Bazar and join the Ring Road to Satdobato, and take the road to Sunakothi. If you have any difficulty finding the way, ask anyone for the way to Bajra Barahi temple, one of the four famous Barahi temples in Nepal. It will easily take an hour or so to get to the temple. Take a break and if you’re hungry, get something to eat here. The ride only grows more thrilling from here onwards.
From the temple’s entrance gate, take the back road to get to some stairs that might make for a mini downhill experience. Before you decide to try the actual thing, tighten your helmet straps and prepare to zoom down the stairs! There will be onlookers cheering you on. The stairs lead to a single track trail through the fields. If it gets too difficult, it’s okay to take your time and walk your bicycle through the fields while taking in the view before you. If the weather is on your side, you might even be able to see the mountains from there. Ask anyone for directions to Santaneshwor Mahadev. The temple is situated on top of a hill. It is believed that women who worship Lord Shiva in this temple will never be infertile. The hill itself offers an uninterrupted panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley and beautiful snow-capped mountain ranges on any clear day. Continue your trip towards Harisiddhi, which is famous for its authentic Newari eateries and local alcoholic beverages, raksi and chhyang. If you have the time, do take a moment to look around or start cycling towards Godawari, home to the national botanical garden of Nepal. The garden is situated at the foot of the Phulchowki hill. Ride to the nearest temple here. Along the way, there are two huge ponds with five stone spouts which were believed to have been formed when a drop of Amrita, the elixir of immortal life, fell on these grounds, during the churning of the ocean of milk as mentioned in Hindu mythology. If you feel like beating the fatigue the natural way, you are even allowed to take a dip in these holy waters. From Godawari, it’s a two hours’ ride back to Thamel.