Home Features Kathmandu valley: Sanga, Dhulikhel, Panauti and Nagarkot

Kathmandu valley: Sanga, Dhulikhel, Panauti and Nagarkot


A colleague of mine had told me that the Kathmandu valley was perfect for a fortnight break, rather deciding to visit several areas demanding long hours on the road. With a more leisurely appraisal of an area of particular merit, we would see much more of the way people live. And so it turned out.

We followed his piece of advice, bought plane tickets and booked a hotel room in Kathmandu as a base for exploring the surrounding towns throughout the Unesco Heritage site that constitutes the Kathmandu Valley. If you are planning a visit to the Kathmandu region, our experiences and tips will definitely be of help.


The town of Sanga, about twelve miles east of Kathmandu, boasts one of the world tallest Shiva statues. We were fortunate that the day of our visit happened to be a Shivaist religious festival. As a result, the road that led to the temple was packed with pilgrims and street vendors. The men were mostly dressed in white kurtas while women wore coloured saris or salwar kameez. The statue is built on the top of the hill but you have to descend long flights of steps, pay your respect to the various small altars that are built on the way down and then go up again. Many benches are scattered on the way up to provide people a place to rest

Click on images to enlarge and to view a slideshow


Literally, “place where tigers play”, Dhulikhel is a pleasant city some twenty miles east of Kathmandu. We met absolutely no tourist despite its proximity to the popular areas. It is a good base for hillwalking in the Himalayan foothills. The old city is an intriguing medieval area, although some of the buildings have collapsed following the devastating earthquake in 2015.

Life progresses at a slow pace on the main square where families gather, cook and play music behind a small temple. Dhulikhel was an entertaining half-day stop that left us time to make images of people and chat with them


Panauti is one of the earliest medieval towns in Nepal and is home to the country’s oldest temple. In ancient times the settlement developed along the salt-trade route between Tibet and India. Today, apart from the temple, the old part of the city has disappeared. Although we did not spend a long time in the town we were lucky to arrive in the middle of a religious festival. We seem to have a knack for this. The women’s clothes were again an explosion of colours


From Nagarkot, if you are lucky, you can view part of the Himalayan range, including Everest. The sky was clear when we left Kathmandu but when we arrived at Nagarkot, the Himalayas were shrouded in the clouds. You could catch a glimpse of the peaks only when the clouds cleared up for a few minutes.

Fortunately, Saturday is the Nepalese weekend so we discovered a large field where women were entertaining themselves by dancing while the men were tending the barbecue or playing cards. On the way back to Kathmandu via Chandu Narayan, we stopped at a roadside farm where we met some of the farmers; it was a welcome break from the winding road and the ever-intrusive potholes

Approaching Kathmandu, we still had a few opportunities to take shots either from the car or during brief stops. Thanks to the poor state of the roads, you rarely reach 15 mph, so it’s fairly easy to stop whenever the fancy takes you.

I had packed my recently acquired Ricoh GR2 for the trip to Nepal. Most photography sites seem to honour the GR family as the ultimate street cameras. I always find these comments rather limiting because the GR is a pretty able camera that is very versatile, not just for what many imagine is “street photography” but as a very compact camera well suited to travel.

It is good for architectural images, landscapes, environmental portraits and of course street shots. The crop mode allows you to keep a distance when needed and not push your camera into to people’s noses. It is stealthy enough not to frighten people and just looks like a point-and-shoot camera but is packed with a 16MP APS-C sensor and a really sharp 18.3 mm f/2.8 lens (28 mm full frame equivalent).

Throughout the fortnight break, I shot using the positive film simulation with apertures varying between f/5.6 and f/8 in most cases. One problem with this camera, though, is that it tends to attract dust. I tend to dust-proof mine with Sellotape on the lens hood, combined with a UV filter to protect the lens. Otherwise, the sensor would have been spoiled within a day, thanks to the retractable lens and its propensity to trap dust.

Read more from Jean Perenet

Read more on Nepal


  1. Great photos, Jean. The red colours really catch the eye. While the culture might seem strange to European eyes, the last photo of the young boys on the horse drawn cart is universal and shows the exuberance of youth perfectly. It is a photo to be really proud of. I would love to have taken that one myself. A lovely series.


  2. Thanks William for your kind comment. I first had mixed feeling about the slight red colour cast of some images that were a bit difficult to postprocess but I definitely associate the part of Nepal we visited with red. The ricoh was a discreet and responsive tool despite all the weather proofing I did on the camera and lenshood. The horse drawn cart was shot from the car while we were overtaking them and was glad I came out well.
    Enjoy the Irish summer

  3. You take me to places I shall never now get to, Jean. Such beautiful people “captured” in marvellous detail with ……. (camera this time?) Thank you.

    • Thanks John for the kind comment. Camera is still the same, Ricoh GR2 the exact replica of the original GR I had for 6 years with slightly better imaging and wifi. Don’t fancy to invest in the latest iteration aka Ricoh GR3 despite stabiliztion and 24MP. I just stick to the older model as I could set up the camera blindfolded.
      Enjoy the summer

  4. Such a wonderful trip, and photos. The peopl seem very relaxed . I love the second to last photo, seems like you in a balcony doorway or window, and the banner tips remind me of Movie JAWS coming down on lunch. Thank you for continuing Mac readers education and stay well.

  5. By the time I was there no digitals were still developed. So I keep a few rolls of Kathmandu and the long walk at the valley. Including watching the Himalayas from I think Nagarkot. No tiger seen though the guide suggested there they were. Your colorful photographs make remember all that. Thanks

    • Thanks George for your kind comment. I guess Kathmandu has changed a lot since you were there. We did not go to Chitwan national park where you can see rhinos and tigers. Maybe next time if we go back there one day. Enjoy summer

  6. Thank you Jean, for sharing your experience.
    I’ve been to Kathmandu three times, but always on the way to somewhere else. Your travels and images show me what I’ve missed by not slowing down and exploring the nearby region. The villages seem to be keeping the Nepalese character more than the ever changing, developing Kathmandu.

    • Thank you Wayne for your kind comment. The Kathmandu valley is really worth exploring. It does not take many miles to be out off the Kathmandu traffic.

        • Hello again Jean. The virus outbreak here in Australia is mainly confined to one city (Melbourne). Very strict containment procedures now in place, and these will hopefully prove successful.
          Other small instances of virus elsewhere, just as in most countries worldwide. But these seem to be controlled.
          So, ok here north of Sydney. But ever vigilant.

  7. I have not been to Nepal yet, Jean, but your photos capture the breadth of human life – work, play, prayer and festivities very well. Thank you for this.

  8. Thanks Farhiz for your kind comment. Nepal is certainly nearer to your home than mine and worth visiting once covid restrictions and monsoon rains are over.

  9. Thanks Jean for this very entertaining article and colourful photos. I was struck by your comment on the dust getting onto the sensor when the lens retracts. It’s the same issue on my X1 and I assume your X2. Watching YouTube videos on walking in the Himalayas I was surprised (in my ignorance)
    how dusty the trails are. If I ever manage a trip there I’ll bear that in mind.

  10. Thanks Kevin for the kind comment. I have no dust issue on the GR2 as I “dust proofed” it. On the X2 I have 2 or 3 specks of dust on the sensor + some strange blur at one place. Don’t know if it’s in the lens or on the sensor. However it’s easy to fix the problem in post but I have to admit it’s a bit irritating.

  11. Another trip, another epic collection of images from the GR2 Jean. This is so wonderfully colourful and an amazing looking place to visit.

    I loved the goats shot, as they look so cheeky standing there, clearly up to mischief.

    Thank you for sharing with us.


  12. Thanks Dave for the kind comment. The goat shot was a funny one as they were licking some flowers and rice grain some of the pilgrims had put on the small altars of this tiny temple. It was amazing to see how rural life mixed with religious beliefs. unfortunately the goats who were living along the butcher shop near the hotel we were staying at won’t have the same fate.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.