Jumla, An Underrated Beauty in Western Nepal
A remote district in the Karnali zone of mid-western Nepal, Jumla is usually the starting point for treks to Rara Lake in Mugu and Shey-Phoksundo Lake in Dolpa district. Unknown to many, Jumla is another corner of heaven on earth. Travellers will surely be amazed by the picturesque landscapes, rich wildlife and fascinating people and culture.
Jumla is a district about 830 km from Kathmandu. Its headquarters, Jumla Khalanga, lies in a high altitude valley (2480 m). From the town center, the surrounding mountains form a scenic backdrop. You can climb the surrounding hills to enjoy panoramic views of interlocking hills and mountains.
The Danphe and Patmara mountains form a commanding wall in the north. One has to cross the Danphe pass (3550 m) when doing the Rara trek. The ascent to Danphe and Patmara is quite challenging, especially during the rainy season, because of steep and slippery trails, and zillions of leeches. Nonetheless, it’s an exhilarating experience and once you reach the top, magnificent scenery is the reward.
Below the Danphe pass, Chere Chaur is a rolling plateau of grassland. The views here are also remarkable, and it’s possible to visit a Hindu temple that sits at the top of a hill, or enjoy a cup of tea at the only hotel (or tea house) here.
On a hike to Basi Malika temple, situated around 3300 m, you can see the rich high-altitude flora and fauna, and find a peaceful place to relax and meditate. Along the trails, various plants used in traditional healing systems–such as ayurveda–grow wild. While climbing the mountain, if you are lucky like we were, you will enjoy the sight of vultures looking for food.
After a walk of 6-8 hours on the eastern side of Jumla Khalanga, you will reach another beautiful valley called Gothichaur. The vast, lush meadows, grazing cattle and horses, meandering river and gushing streams, and the coniferous forests on the nearby mountains will make you feel like you are in a film set.
Another interesting thing about Jumla is that the culture and traditions are preserved very well. Sinja Valley, a western belt of Jumla, is the origin of the Khas language, from which Nepali originates. So if you want to experience cultural immersion in Nepal, this is definitely one of the best places to do so.
Jumla is also popular for its produce. From July to August, it becomes a paradise of orchards teeming with varieties of apples. Moreover, according to some sources, Jumla is the highest place that cultivates rice.
During winter, snow makes the town look utterly mesmerizing. However, it is usually not advisable to trek during this time. June to October is the best time to visit Jumla, due to its ambient weather and greenery.
You can reach Jumla by plane, bus or jeep. An overland trip from Kathmandu to Jumla, though long at 30+ hours, is a must for adventure-seekers.
Article by Fely II Manaois Pradhan.
Top image: US Embassy Kathmandu/Flickr.