10 things to do in Changunarayan Village
Shortly after I got to Nepal someone invited me to do a home-stay in his village. Somehow I thought there would be something to do. He managed to convince me to commit to 3 nights. It was quiet, peaceful and grandma ground some coffee beans on an ancient grinding wheel for my morning coffee, so I guess it was memorable after all.
Changunarayan isn't like that. It is also the last stop on the bus route, but Changunarayan is only an hour bus ride, it's close enough to see Kathmandu on most days. My friend's village is an 8-hour bus ride and the bus only comes once a day. Buses come to Changunarayan every 30 minutes.
Whether you stay with one of the village families with a home-stay, one of the Nepali guest houses or Star View, depending on what level of comfort you like, here are 10 things to do in Changu:
1. Rent mountain bikes to ride for a day or two. There are biking trails all along the Valley Rim Route. The bikes are 800 NRs. per day each. Call 015141181 to reserve yours.
2. Take a temple tour for just 200 NRs. Call Anuj before you come to schedule a 3 hour tour with him. Changunarayan is a UNESCO site and this temple is the oldest Hindu temple still in use in Nepal. Don't rush out; sit and enjoy this sacred space.
3. Volunteer: Changu Farm House is always looking for organic farming help with their greenhouse and we need digital help, as well as help with our projects. Each Saturday we have a village clean-up day and tourists often stay over on Friday night for this activity. Depending on how many people are here, we can have quite a party.
4. Trek along one of our trails for a 1-2 day-trek. We have 5 warm-up trails for day treks. When you are finished in Changunarayan you can take one of the trails up to Nagarkot stay a night and then trek on up to Nama Buddha. Along the way you can visit the Kali Baba, an old guru who's seen just about every famous person to visit Nepal through the years. You'll also pass through the forest along the way.
5. Sit at the hilltop to watch the sunset over Kathmandu City. Many people enjoy sitting on the bench or under the Pipple/Boddi tree on the hilltop beyond the temple. You can also come to Star View Guest House to sit up on the rooftop to enjoy our views and breeze. We are located near the Pipple tree. Let us know you are one of our blog readers and we'll serve you and your party a cup of organic coffee or tea and cookies-complimentary. Enjoy our views and watch the dragon flies and falcons flying by.
7. Take woodcarving lessons to create your own mask. These lessons are also 700 Nrs. each and you'll get to take your work home with you. You can also call Kamal to schedule these lessons, as well.
8. Village shopping is often a better value than in Thamel for a couple reasons. Rent is incredibly expensive in Thamel, but many villagers in Changunarayan own their own homes outright because it's their family home. All along the steps of the temple, you'll find little shops with handicrafts, artwork, local restaurants and two museums.
Some of the handicrafts that are made here are:
Traditional Thangka paintings, Newar style oil paintings, felt products, handcarved wooden masks, paper products, knitted hats/gloves felt products and Newar style handmade clothing.
9. Visit our museums. You'll see one museum as you walk up the steps on your right and then you can ask for the open air museum that is really an ancient site where the king used to stay. That is just before you reach the temple. Changu Guest House can help you to locate it. Changunarayan has a unique, fascinating history, certainly an excellent reason to have a local guide show you around.
10. Check the calendar to see if we'll have a tourist-friendly festival while you're in Nepal. Unlike many cultures and religions, the Nepali do not usually mind if tourists join with just a few exceptions, which we hope you respect.
Bonus 11. I started out with 5 things to do and now I'm up past 10. Here's a bonus: If you like traditional music you can enjoy a lovely music night chanting to Hare Krishna with a local family.
As you can see, no trip to Nepal is complete until you spend some time in this lovely village. This is a UNESCO site, so there is a small charge of 300 Nrs. or about $3. You do not need pictures in order to get into our village each day. Just keep your ticket with you. It's good as long as your visa is, up to one year. It's also good for Nagargot, so you get both of these for the price of one.