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Tearing through to the Terai

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A number of roads now pick their way through the hills south of Kathmandu. The so-called Kanti Highway (though it’s no such thing) heads south from Patan down the Bagmati Valley via Tika Bhairab to Thingana, where it turns west for Hetauda (though it will one day carry on due south to Nijgadh, making a new “fast track” route to the Terai).

The more useful routes are the two that break off the Dakshinkali Road – though both are still only paved in parts, and can become temporarily impassable during the monsoon. For now, they’re traversed by large, roof-racked “Tata Sumo” jeeps, which wait at the Balkhu junction, on the Ring Road where it crosses the Bagmati River, ready to depart as soon as they’re full of passengers. The 65km Dakshinkali route, known as the Madan Bhandari Highway, is more reliable and paved for longer sections (buses usually make it to Sisneri, 1hr from Dakshinkali). The higher, slightly shorter Pharping route can be quicker, and has the advantage of crossing the picturesque Kulekhani Reservoir dam. Both roads meet just below the Kulekhani Reservoir then descend via the picturesque bazaar town of Bhimphedi to join the Tribhuwan Rajpath at Bhainse, 11km north of Hetauda, in the Terai. By either route, the journey costs around Rs350 per head and takes three to four hours, and the traffic is light enough to make mountain biking an attractive option.

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