Located in the south-west of the capital city Kathmandu, Chandragiri Hill is one of Nepal's most loved day-trip destinations. Locals, expats and tourists alike visit this place for an exhilarating experience and some lovely memories are made in the wake. The main destination of Chandragiri Hill is the mountaintop, from where spectacular views of the great Himalayan mountain ranges can be seen. The crisp cold weather would envelop you, as only the snow-covered crests of numerous mountain massifs raise their head above the cloudy mist and the green valley of Kathmandu lies at the bottom, looking beautiful and glorious.
History and Folklore
If the view of Kathmandu mesmerises you from here, you would not be the only person in history. Far more important people have had their share of bewilderment, although mixed with sorrow and regrets. Folklore says that when King Ranajit Malla had to leave his kingdom after being defeated by the Gorkhas, he had wept at the Chandragiri hilltop looking down at his beloved empire one last time. When Prithvi Narayan Shah unified the country and made it one big Kingdom of Nepal, he used Chandragiri Hill to be one of the four trade passes. Traders during the olden times would cross Chandragiri and continue further south to head towards the Indian plain.
Chandragiri Hill Cable Car Ride
The old trade routes are replaced now with the Tribhuvan Highway, and Chandragiri hilltop is a major tourist attraction, with an excellent combination of natural beauty and cultural significance. However, the destination is not all that matters. The journey to the summit itself is utmost rewarding. The best way to reach the top of Chandragiri Hill is via the cable car. Unless you have vertigo or an intense fear of heights, the cable car ride up the mountain is a hidden gem of experience in Nepal. The cars and the mechanisms are very sturdy and reliable-looking, so that is not something you need to worry about.
The cable car journey does not take longer than 10 minutes. It starts from the foot of the mountain near Thankot and goes uphill for around 2.5 kilometres. At the top, you will be at 2500 metres above the sea level. As you go up, the brilliant landscapes will slowly unveil themselves, one scenery at a time. The highest peaks around, which were previously not fully visible from the foothills, now stand tall and proud right in front of your eyes.
Ticket prices: One way- Nepalese: NPR 415 SAARC Nationals: INR 415 Chinese Nationals: USD 9 Others: USD 13
Two way- Nepalese: NPR 700 SAARC Nationals: INR 700 Chinese Nationals: USD 15 Others: USD 22
There is a 25% discount option for students, local residents, expats and senior citizens but only upon producing a valid ID in each case. Differently abled people get a 50% discount and entry for children is free of cost.
The Spectacular View from Hilltop
The entire stretch of these mountains ranges is the first thing you will see once you land on the hilltop of Chandragiri Hill. For a better glimpse, go into the view tower and set your eyes to the binoculars.
From the west, there is first the mighty Annapurna Circuit, then only a gap away Nepal's favourite Manaslu Himal. Towards the north, the magnificent Ganesh Himal spreads its peaks, and on the east, Langtang Himal Range extends to Gaurishankar Himal in a long stretch. If you are in luck with a clear sky and have a good eye, you might sight the peak of Mount Everest in the distant.
Bhaleshwor Mahadev Temple
To fulfil the cultural diversity of the place, the Bhaleshwar Mahadev Temple stands at the Chandragiri Hill with a sort of warm, antique vibe. The place has a connection with tales from Hindu mythology - one of the more famous ones. It is said that when Shiva's consort Sati took her life jumping into the fire in protest of her father insulting Shiva, the God of Destruction carried her corpse all around the world in grief, and the forehead part of the goddess had fallen right here atop Chandragiri Hill.
The temple features two levels in the typical pagoda-influenced Nepalese architecture, wooden grid windows and wall carvings of different gods and goddesses. At the porch of the temple, Shiva's loyal servant and companion Nandi Bull sits in a pose as usual. Beyond that, the Shivalinga rests all in glory.
King Prithvi Narayan Shah's Statue
Outside the temple, you can find a towering statue of King Prithvi Narayan Shah standing against the white mountain peaks in the distance. In a manner which is very poetic, legend says that Prithvi Narayan Shah took the first glance of Kathmandu valley from Chandragiri Hill as well before conquering, just like the last Malla king did before having to leave it behind.
He had then meditated on the hilltop and got blessings of Bhaleshwar Mahadev for his devotion, which gave him the immense power and resolve to go on and annex the Valley of Kathmandu. The statue stands with a sword in hand and garland around the neck.
Once the temple visit and mountain watching are done, next stop should be one of the cafes or food stalls in and around the place. A fun addition is the beer garden, where you can sit and relish your drink with an unparalleled view of the greatest mountains in the world.
How to Reach Chandragiri Hill
The foothill of Chandragiri Hills, where the ticket counter for the cable car and refreshment facilities are present, is located in Thankot. It is a town around an hour's drive away from the capital Kathmandu. So, you can either take a bus from Kalanki, which is midway between the two places and an important bus stop, in which case you will have to walk the short distance from Thankot to the cable car station. Or you can hire a car straight from Kathmandu itself and drive till the starting point - the choice is yours. Try to make one trip at least via the cable cars as the trip is quite a thrilling yet safe one.