Maghe Sankranti is a Nepalese festival observed on the first of Maghin the Bikram Samwat Nepali calendar (about 14 January). On this day, the sun is believed to leave its southernmost position and begin its northward journey, similar to summer solstice. The best bit of this festival, like so many other Nepalese festivals are the wonderful foods. This time sesame laddo, chaku (a very Goan type tasting jaggery halwa), sweet potatoes and yams. During Maghe Sankranti, the mother of each household wishes good health to all family members.
Mina, my work colleague is very accustomed to my penchant for sweets and invited me to her home to celebrate Maghe Sankranti with her family and the bonus (as if it could get any better), was a road trip to Daman, in the Makwanpur district, which is a noted tourist attraction with splendid view of the Himalayas and snow if we were lucky.
So the day kicked off with me cycling, the furthermost distance that I have ventured to, Mina’s house in the North side of the city. I was met with warm greetings from her family including Prajna, her 2 and a half year old daughter. Chores in the household were still underway and Mina jokingly pointed out how gender inclusive her home is, as her husband Pradeep was hand washing clothes on the roof terrace. Whilst I got to bask in the sunshine, play with Prajna and feast on the festival sweets. This was followed by daal bhat, with a delicious mutton dish.
Mina’s sister and husband then arrived and following a quick pack, we set off on the 77Km journey to Daman. An eventful three hour journey through windy roads caused lots of travel sickness from the children….that’s where those plastic bags do come in handy. In and out, no sooner had Prajwan vomited, she scoffed on Pringles and oranges, then threw up again and so it continued.
We finally arrived at the Everest Panorama Resort, just in time for splendid sunset views from their viewing tower. Over 400km of Himalayan range, encompassing 8 of the world’s 10 highest mountains, from Dhaulagiri in the West to Everest in the East (excuse the sniffing/snorting on the link)
More eating, drinking and mad dancing in between courses, to the children’s (and my – those who know how much I like dancing) great delight. For the first time, I dragged people away from the dance floor by 10pm, as I wanted to make sure we got up for sunrise views, We finally retired to our chalet rooms and the best electric blanket heated bed that I have experienced.
I was the only one in our group to wake up at 5:45am to wondrous views and my first ever of Everest (I think).
We were not lucky enough to have snow but the hotel staff told us that there were the clearest views in days, indeed blue skies and picture postcard views.
Breakfast, lots of posing for out of this world background photographs, playing in childrens play ground, table tennis and then a brisk walk to the Mandhir (local temple set at a high peak). Where I have discovered that I am definitely not a trekker and give up half way, nevertheless enjoying the views (especially) at the strategically located resting stations.
Lunch, check out and set off home. Thankfully Sudeep, a doctor dropped by at the local pharmacy and the family were supplied with travel sickness tablets which made the journey a lot easier with less out into the now depleted plastic bags. We played I spy; sang and slept through the journey home…oh all the conversation (yippee my Nepali Language is getting better) was just like my family conversation about food and eating. I’m home!!!.
The adventure continued with my dusk cycle ride home from Mina’s house.
A great trip and my 2016 resolution of seeing more of this beautiful country is underway.