Q&A: A&K Resident Tour Director Pawan Tuladhar on Returning to Nepal Now
In the wake of devastation, A&K paves the way for a safe return to a remarkable nation on the rebound
You may never see the Nepalese more welcoming than now. A country dependent on tourist dollars for its livelihood, Nepal suffered a tremendous blow last spring when earthquakes shook the region, devastating communities and resulting in an instant decline in tourism. Today, the people of Nepal are focused on healing and returning to life as usual — and drawing visitors back is a key part of that.
A&K talked to Pawan Tuladhar, a long-time resident of Kathmandu, for his take on why you should visit Nepal with A&K now.
Q. On A&K journeys to Nepal, we have typically spent a good deal of time exploring Kathmandu. How badly was the city hit?
A. I would only say that about one percent of the city of Kathmandu suffered damage. If you were to look across Kathmandu, you may find that only one in 100 houses is down. No exaggerating. This is because most of the damage happened outside of Kathmandu valley.
Nepal pictured in early June, six weeks after the April 25, 2015 earthquake
Local teens in Kathmandu
Q. Kathmandu is an incredibly sacred and historic place. What sites can guests still experience there?
A. Swayambhunath, which has now survived two earthquakes, Durbar Square and that special temple where the Living Goddess may appear. We also take guests inside of the home of a Nepalese couple, who provide a cooking demonstration with favorite local ingredients. Foods like rice, lentils and Nepalese curry.
Patan Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the ancient Malla kings once resided
The stairs to Swayambhunath Temple
Q. Do you have a favorite place to visit in Nepal?
A. We do something that only A&K can arrange when we spend time at the Kopan Nunnery. It is the largest monastery in Nepal, and also one of the only ones with English-speaking monks. It makes the experience very special for our guests. They get to meet with a monk who gives an introduction to Buddhism, they do a meditation and then they get to ask questions. It’s a very unique experience.
Q. On A&K Luxury Small Group Journeys to Nepal, guests often get to travel to other regions in the Himalayas. In your opinion, what are the highlights beyond Nepal?
A. I love Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, which we visit on Bhutan & Nepal: Heart of the Himalaya. It dates back to the seventh century and is not only iconic, but one of the most sacred places in Bhutan. It’s built way up on top at almost 11,000 feet — not so easy to get to but a beautiful hike. That’s not by accident. Monasteries have traditionally been built in remote areas on purpose because a true pilgrimage requires hardships. So the more the hardship, the greater the spiritual merit, and reaching the cliff-side Tiger’s Nest is great. You can feel the energy there. www.ipadr.xyz On the new India & Nepal: The Taj Mahal, Mt. Everest and a Ganges River Cruise, our guests can take a flight-seeing tour of Mount Everest. You fly up to 25,000 feet for views of Everest, looking at all the scenery. It’s just an incredible experience.
Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan