Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Nagarjun hill forest on 20Feb2015

Early in the morning, me and my dad left off in public vehicles to Balaju bypass where we would meet my cousin brother Akhilesh Manandhar. My dad has always been the source of inspiration to me for making me walk, walk and walk. Hence, accompanied by him and brother, we went for hiking into the Nagarjun forest sector of the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park. The Shivapuri and Nagarjun sectors of the National Park are not physically connected due to villages and a highway that runs through these patches, and moreover the Nagarjun forest was made part of the National Park later only much recently. There after we reached the main entrance gate, and paid the entrance fee of Rs. 56.5 each, we ascended for hiking through the trail. As soon as we enter the forest or in fact from the vicinity of the park itself, the sounds of the forests makes us feel so live and charming and brings adrenaline into our blood for the exciting hike.

Just in a short while, we were met after by a local man, who sells candles up in the monastery. He told us about rhododendron high up in the hills, and to hide them in your bags so that the army wouldn't find out about. We asked him along about any leopard sightings he has had, he was fast, he said yes he has had encounter quite often, but the big cat either runs or goes his own way. Being a regular person, he shortly paced and outran us. We kept on our own speed. As my brother and dad were climbing the stone-stairs paved along the trail, I was constantly trying to explore any signs of wildlife along the path we took upon. Shortly after, we thought of taking a shortcut way from outside the trail, as there we saw a small unused path aside of the main trail. Thinking that it would meet with the main trail later in the way, we went through it. It was quite steep-path, a natural path that would normally serve as a highly for any local wildlife specially mammals. As we went forward, we soon discovered that its taking us to a different direction from the main trail and we would have to cut through into the forests in order to meet to the main trail again. There was no point of returning as we had traveled long way, then as we were trying to find a way out, there I noticed some feathers lying on the ground. As I inspected, it seemed it was of a whole bird that must have been the prey of some animal. The feathers were all over lying concentrated in one region mostly, I felt it was a good sign of a presence of a mammalian predator. The color of the feather was dark black to blueish black, looked kind of shiny. I thought for a second, it should be a clouded leopard's kill. That was my mind's first thought as it is so much enthusiastic about clouded leopards. But most probably, it could be from other mammalian predators such as leopard cats, civets, martens, jackals, jungle cats, and who knows could also be that of a leopards. Anyways that was a nice breakfast or last night supper for some elusive wild predator of the jungle. Then we moved forward and then took an uphill turn through steeps to meet the main trail. And yes we were almost lost as we had been moving in a wrong direction through that out-trail. We met some army persons after we got into the trail and they asked us why we were coming out from there, and they showed us the hiking path to take again. And there we went again climbing the stone-paved stairs but now the man-made pavements were slowly mixing with the natural pavements of blocks of medium-sized stones to rocky and muddy hilly paths.

After walking for some time, we reached an open ground that much of looked like a view-point as we could see much of the kathmandu valley from there. As we were viewing down into the valley, Akhilesh detected a movement in a tree just about 300 m away down the hill, and pointed it to me. I too saw a glimpse of movements there but could not really figure out what it was as it vanished into the forest before we could sight it. But whatever it was, it definitely was not a human activity, the tree was tall and the ground it was standing was very steep. Most probably, it should have been some monkeys, if not at least other medium mammals. And from there as we looked above, our destination - the Jamacho gumba was still so high above the clouds. After resting in the terrain for some time, we headed uphill through the dense forests again. Again with the sounds of birds all around and the shades of trees along the paths made us not even realize that we had already reached the summit, it felt so short way as we had seen the monastery from the view point to be still so far. But we have reached the place now. Then we started to eat what we brought with us, saw the valley and took photographs from the view tower there. Then we lit candles in the stupa there and prayed. After sometime, we had to move on most probably the same way we came from. But we thought of going still ahead after we have come so far, why not going just another high-point we were seeing from there. My dad was insisting to go back, but we made him convince as we two had majority. So there was again another quite unused path, and we moved ahead, there were the flags of buddhists prayers lying along the way from the trees and branches. We reached the point and there was a old army barrack which had been destroyed my maoist during the decade long people's war. It was vacant and most probably been serving as a refuge to the wildlife of the area. After spending some time there, we headed back towards the end of our journey. We passed the stupa and downhill through the forest, there again with the feel of nature and live jungle all around us. As we kept on going down, I stopped at a point with an excitement in me. I saw a poop in the way, I got excited as it was looking pretty fresh, another indirect wildlife sign. My dad and brother were joking as I was inspecting so curiously into the scat, and then my turn I said that's of a leopard and the leopard might have just walked by here about an hour or less ago. But it was not of a carnivore indeed, must be of a primate, thats most probably monkey. Then we headed downwards and reached the open field again. We sat to eat some fruits that was left with us. After finishing it, we started moving quite faster this time, it was starting to get dark slowly, we had to move fast. Then reached pass the army post we had encountered on the way. And then finally the main entrance/exit gate after about half an hour walk from there.

This way, our journey came to an end. What a wonderful hike it was, into the jungles full of wildlife, birds, nature and above all the exciting feel of the real wilderness at its best. Due to weather conditions, we could not see the Himalayas, but we did got the feel of the wind from the mountains flowing through our veins throughout the journey. It was a very splendid moment I spent my day on. I pray this pristine natural heritages of this wonderful country be always preserved through generations and generations to come. May all the wildlife living in it could take the full enjoyment of the rich nature here for decades and centuries and we humans to live in harmony with all these beautiful creations of nature. I plan to make this exploration again and again in coming days to get the feel of wilderness away from the busy urban kathmandu life.

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