Why you need to avoid KTM!
It’s has been 2 days since we reached Nepal and on our 3rd day, we decided to head to Patan to visit Durbar Square. I guess we spent an entire day loitering around the beautiful place admiring every single piece of art there. And finally, as the sun started to set, we headed back to our hotel in Kathmandu, in the busy streets of Thamel.
On our way back to the hotel in Kathmandu, my heart kept on whispering to my head…If only we could have stayed for some more time but then we could not afford to do that as we were in a schedule. At that moment we were just hoping and wishing if we could come back to this place at least once before we head back to India.
Little did we know that our wishes would come true and within a few days, we came back to Patan. This time we were staying there for 3 nights. That morning we packed our bags with excitement and anxiously waited for our cab. In no time the cab arrived and Sailesh our host was waiting for us outside the gate. A tall dark guy with a hair bun and a nose ring which was so beautiful than most nose rings I had ever seen. I even asked him where he bought it from coz I was so fascinated with it and wanted to buy one for myself too. It was a short 15 minutes drive across the narrow, busy lanes of Patan.
We reached in no time, still trying to figure out how the whole city fits in such a small place! Cosy Nepal – a service apartment building with many rooms, run by a French couple who have been living in Nepal for a couple of years now.
A warm welcome by the team as we exchanged greetings and finally Sailesh escorted us to our room through a lean, winding staircase. As the room door opened Sailesh said: “feel at home”! And that’s exactly how we felt during our stay at this beautiful property for the next 3 days.
Our Stay in Patan
The entire building was actually an old traditional Newari house that had been delicately and cleverly renovated by Camille (our host) and her husband Nicco. They have converted the entire space into a service apartment which they lovingly call, Cosy Nepal. Some people might mistake this place as a studio apartment and some may even say that these are like a typical boutique hotel in Kathmandu but that’s not the case here. Cosy Nepal helps in renovating old historical and ancient houses which they then turn into serviced apartments. And this is done in partnership with the owners who then make revenue out of it.
We were also told that this was just one of the buildings out of the many that they have renovated. As we closely looked into our apartment roof and its walls, we realized how the team has taken great pain to restore almost every piece of the old building – be it architecture, furniture, wooden pillars, and even the interiors. It was truly a cozy place as the name suggests, and it was going to be our home for 3 days.
We sat down with Camille as she told us how they started Cosy Nepal and introduced us to her brilliant team members over lunch. A Nepalese woman sat on the floor in the kitchen, preparing food for the team and a flavorsome aroma filled the entire building. Walking down we caught a glimpse and were curious to know what was cooking. I think Camille saw that and invited us over for lunch! What a warm gesture that was…I mean we just checked in and we were served some authentic local Nepali cuisine. And that’s how our memorable experience at Cosy Nepal started.
One good part about Cosy Nepal is that all their apartments are located just meters away from each other. And in case you want to take a tour of all the apartments you can actually do so without traveling a lot. We chose to stay at the one which is in Patan and from our stay to the Patan Darbar Square, it was hardly 250 meters. This was just perfect for us. Before we forget- from our apartment window we could easily get a view of the Patan or Lalitpur Darbar Square too.
Moreover, the entire Patan area is known for its vibrant, busy streets, the Patan Darbar Square which is very famous for its artistic heritage, the Newari houses and their architecture. Not to forget that one of the major attractions of Patan is also for the presence of their Kumari or the living goddess. And don’t forget to explore Patan for shopping. You will find clothes, shoes, luggage, and jewelry for really low prices!
Experiences @ Cosy Nepal
Patan, also known as Lalitpur, is the largest city of Nepal after Kathmandu and Pokhara. There are so many exciting things to do there and you can never get bored. Right from shopping, to the numerous street restaurants, this place had it all. Our stay here was definitely one of the best in Nepal. No similar hotel in Kathmandu came even close to the experience we got here. Camille introduced us to Prakash, one of her friends and the owner of Dhakhwa House who had invited us for dinner that night. Dhakhwa house is another renovated apartment that is also serving as a service apartment by Cosy Nepal. Little did we know that we are going in for some real heavy food that night or else we would have never stuffed ourselves with the yummy momos being sold right below the apartment.
That night for dinner we had some amazing food all cooked by Prakash and his beautiful wife. A wide variety of starters followed by the main course compromising of chicken, paneer, many different kinds of vegetables and also the local alcohol called Aale poured from a pure silver kettle into a tiny little silver bowl. I think the drink tasted more like vodka but it had a stronger burning sensation once it went down my throat which is good enough to kill someone who has never tasted alcohol before. Haha just kidding!
It is definitely a must-try when you visit Dakhwa House! What we loved most about this experience was getting an opportunity to interact with the Nepalese in their own space. We were humbled by their hospitality and how much pride they took in serving us their colorful, delicious cuisine!
The next two days we simply lazed around our apartment cooking breakfast and even dinner at times. Camille and her team have definitely done a brilliant job when it comes to the arrangements you are provided with while staying at an apartment. We had a perfect set up kitchen with everything you would need to cook your meals. Or satiate your coffee pangs at night! They had stocked up on fruits, cakes, spices, eggs, beverages – the list goes on and on. These little things are what good, memorable experiences are made up of!
Frankly, we didn’t even have to step out of the door to buy anything except for some bread and noodles which we cooked for dinner. Lunch was usually outside as we never got bored of visiting the same streets of Patan again and again and eating authentic Nepali Thakali thalis at the local joints. The Nepali thakali thali is a wholesome meal consisting of rice, cooked couple of veggies, lentils, chicken, and curd. It’s better to have these as you get to experience many dishes in one go!
The Secret Galli Tour
On the last day of our stay in Cosy Nepal, Camille and Prakash from Dhakhwa house organized a fantastic walking tour for us across the streets of Patan. This they call “the secret Galli tour.” It was a half-day tour during which Prakash took us inside some remote gallis (narrow streets) and communities of Patan which we would have otherwise never been able to discover. He showed us the places which had been destroyed in the 2015 earthquake and also some places which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Our day tour ended with a lot of anxiety and awe as Prakash took us to the living goddess of Patan and got us blessed by her. Well, the living goddess was a surprise element because it was something we had always read about. We had to plans of meeting her but I guess it was fated. We were so overwhelmed and so full of gratitude towards our hosts for making this happen.
For our last day of stay in Patan, we wanted to go all out! We booked Cosy Nepal’s Imperial Duplex and as the name suggests it is as grand as it sounds! From the outside, you won’t get a clue about what’s waiting for you inside. A normal Nepali house with a facade that blends into the neighborhood. But once you are inside, you feel like a Newari elite, in on the most exquisitely done interiors you will find in this region! I guess I will let the pics speak for themselves!
During our travels, we have come across many people who get homesick mainly because they miss their kind of food. I guess sometimes, we go through this phase especially when we travel for months together. Our trip to Nepal was for one entire month but it never felt like we were away from home.
And how could we! The people, their welcome attitude, the food and the experiences we got from Cosy Nepal made us feel right at home. That’s how homely our place Cosy Nepal was. And that’s why we recommend you not to book a hotel in Kathmandu. Instead, give a try to Patan and to Cosy Nepal. It’s not just a place to stay – but a place where you can truly experience Nepal.
How to reach Patan
From Kathmandu, Patan is just 5-10 kilometers away and the journey hardly takes 20 minutes by a two-wheeler. This is the best way to explore the 3 cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan.
By bus: There are many buses going to Patan from Kathmandu City. The easiest and most central bus leaves from Ratna Park bus stop. Simply show up at the park and head to any of the buses and start asking for where the Patan or Lalitpur bus is. It takes about 30 minutes depending on traffic. The bus will drop you outside the main gate where you can get a return later.
By taxi: Taking a taxi to Patan is very easy from anywhere in Kathmandu city, but you need to bargain hard because the cabs don’t run on any meters and there are no fixed rates. Make sure all your luggage is with you all throughout. For a 5 kilometer journey, they charge about 200 NPR.
Best time to visit Kathmandu/Patan
We spend a month in Nepal during July and though we had a good trip, it did get hot during the day. The best time to visit Kathmandu/Patan would be from October to April when the sun is now beating down on you! During these months, the place remains dry and suitable for exploration and trekking. The temperature in October ranges from 26 degrees Celsius to 14 degrees Celsius, and as December approaches, it drops to the range of 20 degrees Celsius to 4 degrees Celsius.
Kathmandu is also best visited in March and April as the temperature steadily rises and spring steps in! During this season, you will find the greenery at its peak and because of the clear weather, you can see the snow-clad Himalayas from places like Nagarkot!