Gorkha Nepal: Sweeping Views, Lethal Chickens

Leading to Gorkha, the ribbon of tarmac from Kathmandu hugged river valleys and etched itself into gorge walls. After the turn-off at Abu Khaireni the valley was left behind and expansive views across the green, precipitous landscape opened up.

Gorkha's main street was lined with the typical mix of new and aging concrete buildings leading up to the bus station; nothing that salubrious or traditional. On prising myself free of the shared taxi, I set about finding somewhere to stay. Not that I had much say in the matter, of the slim selection in the Lonely Planet, only one had rooms free.

Things were looking promising; I found a guest house a short walk to the bus stand and close to a good restaurant. But now that I’m thinking about it, everywhere was a short walk! The room was clean, had a (cold) shower, and no views. Dropped my bags, went to reception, did the obligatory signing in. Got attacked by a chicken; nothing untoward here.

While ensconced in broken English discussion with my Nepalese host, a feather felon lurked. Then attacked. With a flash of wings and fearsome clucking, the guard hen swopped. Frozen with a mix bemusement and amusement I watched on as a bundle of flapping chaos charged at my legs, applied liberal pecking then got called to heel by the guest house owner! This was different. I left laughing in search of dinner.

The next morning, I was more cautious after my poultry run-in. I had come here to see Gorkha Durbar. Half palace, half temple, reached by an incalculable number of steps and straddling a ridge high above town, it occupies a demanding position with both its outlook and its spiritual and cultural significance. King Prithvi Narayan Shah was born here 1723, who is credited with starting the process of unifying a fragment Nepal. The complex holds his old Palace, Dhuni Pati, with its intricately carved wood window details and roof struts. Unfortunately non-Hindus aren’t allowed to enter, but externally the building’s craftsmanship is on view for all to see.

After climbing the 1500 steps, I entered through the West Gate where shoes must be left. Once through, the ornate and delicate detailing of Kalia Mandir vies for attention; carved serpents and creatures unknown decorate timber structure in a visual fairytale of woodworking. The courtyard in front of the temple is an area of sacrifice in honour of the Goddess Kali. Many an animal has meet their fate here, fortunately, none the day I was there.

With its compact, tight stone and brick terraces and commanding ridge-top position, the views are sweeping and spectacular. After a few hours of exploring, watching the daily throng of people move in and around the courtyards and areas of worship, thirst and hunger set in and off I went down the innumerable steps to town with jaded, sore legs.

I left Gorkha behind on the local bus to Dumre. Slowly weaving its way to valley floor below, vocal horn announcing each sharp corner, my bus clattered and bumped me closer to my next destination; the majestic Bandipur.

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