Eveready battery.  All of course was carried by small armies of porters by time-honoured method in ‘dokos’, the traditional all-purpose cone-shaped baskets.

So Bandipur grew and fine houses rose as statements to prosperity in the red brick and timber-framed style of their forefathers and mentors back in Bhaktapur. Then the British quitting India, the closure of Tibet, the new roads now using the valleys below sounded a death knell and Bandipur withered, to only recently revive to welcome the inquisitive traveller. 

Bandipur’s hostelry best known and most closely associated with its revival is The Old Inn.  It is located in the heart of the old bazaar and it oozes a sense of a busy past, its four stories of atmospheric living quarters using old beams and plaster work to great effect. And there are bonuses aplenty; one such is the delicious food grown locally, another, from The Old Inn’s terrace, is the northerly view towards the snows of the Himalaya from whence, once upon a time, came the cornucopia of exotics from Tibet.

We depart mid-afternoon towards Pokhara, then turn North towards the mountains and to the lake at Begnas. We are paddled across its still waters to the lovely Begnas Lake Resort which has fine views of the Annapurna range notably Machhupuchare, the famous Fishtail Mountain. This is a perfect place to understand and appreciate the reputation that the Annapurnas have for their beauty, their tranquillity and the even tenor of their ways.  Here are the clusters of cottages, the closely integrated farms, terraced fields and busy workers, the womenfolk in bright colours, and above are the sunny meadows and uplands with the bastion of the snow-clad giants as a backdrop. (BLD)

DAY 6 - Begnas Lake – Pokhara  (O/N Fishtail Lodge).  Morning at leisure.  Various lake and mountain-view strolls.  Afternoon departure for Pokhara.  (BL)
This morning select your own level of (in)activity! There are delightful walks with stunning vistas but there are also some equally great views from the hotel’s verandas. After lunch we have the short drive to Pokhara, to the celebrated Fishtail Lodge on the island in Phewa Lake with those panoramas that the guidebooks and postcards rightly find irresistible.

Popular tourist haunts are inclined to have restaurants with ambiance and Pokhara is one of these – a nice selection, and time and space tonight to dine however you choose.

DAY 7 - Pokhara  (O/N Fishtail Lodge)
Individual Choice 1:  A day trip for close-ups of the mountains (and an optional small trek even closer), with picnic lunch.  

Individual Choice 2:  Full day at leisure at Fishtail Lodge and along Pokhara’s lakeside with its numerous ‘handicraft emporia’.   (B)

DAY 8 - Pokhara – Kathmandu  (O/N International Guest House).  Fly Pokhara to Kathmandu.  Walking tour of Kathmandu’s old bazaars, Hanuman Dhoka and Durbar Square. 
The High Himal are just outside the port windows of our small aircraft as we fly to a city too laid-back to bother being best; it’s just Kathmandu, a spicy masala of its mixed reputations. The gems of its heritage now contrast with its all too typical Asian big city melee and manic traffic.
So walk or take rickshaws. The labyrinth of backstreets and alleys leading from one bazaar or chowk to another and another are pure theatre, with just a nod to shambolic technology - the mobile phone excepted of course which is often held to the most improbable ear - and with photographers amongst us challenged by every image and by every imaginable obstacle.

We thus emerge into the pulsating Durbar Square – if indeed so many-sided and so colourful a circus can be called a square – and to Hanuman Dokha, the royal palace for 200 years. (B)

DAY 9 - Kathmandu  (O/N International Guest House).  Day Tour of Boudhanath,
Pashupatinath, Swaymbhunath,  Evening 'Farewell Dinner'.
Optional early morning Everest Mountain Flight. 
Perhaps we’ve saved the best ‘til last. Here they are – the famous landmarks . . . The extra-ordinary presence or ‘karma’ of the ‘Great Stupa’ at Boudhanath, the place of pilgrimage for all Tibetans who first arrived here over the high Himalayan passes. . . .  The holy site of Hindu’s Lord Pashupati (Lord Shiva), drawing pilgrims and sadhus and yogis from near and far.   It is Nepal’s most revered Hindu shrine and, not least, a location of choice for sacred cremations. . . .and, on a commanding hill, Swaymbhunath, significant to both religions, where Buddha is identified as an incarnation of Vishnu, where monkeys slide down brass banisters and where prayer wheels generate continuous petitions.

We gather for a farewell dinner. What impressions have been formed, what discoveries have been made? Travel is as much about questions as it is about answers. (BD)

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