Amidst the hustle and bustle of the city of Kathmandu, one can always want to escape into the lap of nature, The Kathmandu city is a concrete jungle and finding a natural hideaway is difficult to think. Only a few kilometers away from the center of the city lies a place peppered with natural resources, ‘Shivapuri National Park’. Just located to the North of the valley, Shivapuri National Park provides a temporary escape to the inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley. The sprawls of Langtang Himalayan Range can be seen after a short hike to the top of the National Park. Any nomad would want to get the view of the Kathmandu Valley from the top of a hill, which is possible by hiking a few steps into the jungles of Shivapuri National Park.
About Shivapuri National Park
The Shivapuri National Park is a conservation area and a wildlife reserve as well. Initially, in 2002, it covered an area of 144 square kilometers, but after being extended to Nagarjun Forest Reserve in 2009, it gained a total of 15 square kilometers. Most of the park parts lie in the Budhanilkantha area, and the rest of the part lies uphill of Balaju towards the road to Trishuli Bazar called Nagarjun Hill.
The National Park is a very popular tourist destination especially to the hikers and trekkers around the valley. The park is trekking route to Nagarkot, Gosaikunda, Helambu, and Langtang National Park too. The area is also home to hundreds of species of floras and faunas. The area consists of some historical as well as religious sites.
According to field study in between July 2003 to July 2004, the wild inhabitant of the Shivapuri National Park are Indian leopard, jungle cat, large Indian civet, golden jackal, wild boar, Himalayan black bear, yellow-throated marten, small Asian mongoose, Chinese pangolin, Indian Crested Porcupine, Himalayan pica, black-naped hare, Himalayan squirrel, fawn-colored mouse, brown-toothed shrew, and black rat. Wild species like Monocled Cobra, Himalayan keelback, olive Oriental slender snake, yellow-bellied worm-eating snake, variegated mountain lizard, many- keeled grass skink, Sikkim skink, black spined toad, long-legged cricket frog, and horned frog are also found in the western part of the National Park.
The vegetation consists of Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests in the lower and upper subtropical bioclimatic zone, and Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests in the lower temperate bioclimatic zone. There are species of wild Himalayan cherry, Engelhardia, and ring-cupped oak. On the northern side of the park, rhododendron can be seen flourishing along the trails.
Things to do around Shivapuri National Park
Shivapuri National Park is a popular tourist destination especially for mountain bike riders, hikers, and bird watchers. Inside the park, a tour to Nagi Gumba, a Tibetan monastery about 3 km from the main gate of Budhanilkantha can help a person relax after the uphill hike. The hike to Nagi Gumba provides an elegant view of the Kathmandu Valley. You can see many hikers delighted with the views, walking their way to another important holy site, Baghdwar.
Baghdwar is the origin of the Bagmati River and it takes about three hour’s steep climb to reach the site. The Nagi Gumba provides an alley to surpass the hike. Either you can hike south for three hours to reach the Kapan Monastery and Boudhanath, or you can go east and follow the foot trails to Mulkharka, which is the other end of the park and descend to Sundarijal. One has to make sure they carry all the necessary stuff required for the hike. They must take enough of water and food with them.
The park is very famous for the impeccable bird watching journey. Many photographers and bird watchers visit the park in order to catch the glimpse of the eight species of stork, egret, woodpecker, Black-headed shrike, six species of pheasant, 17 species of the cuckoo, and three species of crow. The best time for bird watching in the park is in between March and December.
The Shivapuri National Park is also a gateway to a famous tourist destination, Chisapani. From the other side of the park, Sundarijal the hiking route starts. There is a water pipeline along the hike uphill few kilometers. You can see a small dam uphill, which provides most of the water supply in the Kathmandu valley. Chisapani hike is a mostly uphill journey. You can enjoy sips of local tea, local dumplings, Daal, and Bhaat along the hike in the place called Mulkarkha.
The top of the Mulkarkha also provides a delightful view of the Gokarneshwor area. The locals are very friendly and they enjoy welcoming the guests in their small area. There are hundreds of stairs along the way with a magnificent view at the end of the hike. The hike lasts for around 4-5 hours. After Mulkarkha, the main hike to Chisapani starts. The vegetation changes along the hike, and you can see a lot of pine trees, rhododendron, and wild Himalayan Cherry. The mosses and ferns veil most of the hiking route. There is an Army camp inside the park. There is no settlement in the route to Chisapani except the Army Camp. The forest is very thick and if we are lucky, we can see the wild deer wandering in the forest.
Shivapuri National Park is an eminent site and is a combination of nature, peace, and wildlife. Since the place is near to the valley, a person can take a day off from the city and relax with the view of the Kathmandu valley and Langtang range. An inhabitant of the Kathmandu valley should at least once go on a hike to a place like this. Nature is still not dead in concretes of the valley. One can still get out of their comfort zone, grab their hiking gears and stroll along the sprawls of the park for a productive day-off with nature.