Sunrise over SarangkotBy Dr. Jan L. Beaderstadt
sarangkot hill, pokhara, nepal
“it’s just a 10 minute walk up to the tower,” says my guide Bharart Sunar as we started out in the dark, ascending to the top of Sarangkot Hill. This is popular place near Pokhara for many reasons, but today we are going to watch the sunrise over the Annapurna Mountains here in the Himalayas. Last night, we left our Himalayan Front Hotel, a beautiful four-star hotel that stands part-way up the hill. Calling Sarangkot a hill is a Nepali term for a mountain that is not covered with snow. Sarangkot Hill is a long, narrow ridge that rises to an elevation of 1600 meters, standing nearly 800 meters above the city of Pokhara and Phewa Lake. Its close proximity to Pokhara has made this a popular place for para-gliding, zip-lining, trekking and, of course, watching sunrises and sunsets. It’s December and the early morning chill can be felt through my jacket. The local committee has built concrete steps to the summit, which does make it easier to reach in the darkness of the morning. We had left our hotel at 5:45 am to catch a sunrise at 6:45 am. The night before Bharart and I went to one lookout point by the village of Sarangkot to observe a sunset over the mountains. The skies were not cooperative, the clouds hiding the high peaks for much of the time.
Weather conditions are always fickle in the Himalayas. Their massive sizes create its own weather systems that often hide these magnificent massifs behind ever swirling clouds. These clouds will often part for just a second, giving you a strip-tease look at what lies beneath these wisps of white. We ended up drinking tea made with milk and ginger while cursing our bad luck. Today, we can see plenty of stars above us. “It’s going to be a good sunrise,” notes Bharart as we climb upwards.The climb is not all that easy for me. While the steps are there, I am walking with a cane, awaiting surgery on my left foot in the very near future. I wanted to see this sunset from this vantage point. So it’s a slow climb as Bharart shines a torchlight ahead into the darkness. Our hotel, the Himalayan Front is a brand new resort, just opened on 17 January of 2016. The legendary alpine skier from Japan, Yurchiro Miura had been present to dedicate this new hotel, which is operated by the Kathmandu Guest House group. Miura made his mark in history by skiing down Mt. Everest in 1970. While Himalayan Front Hotel it is classified as a four star hotel; it offers the finest view of the Annapurna’s. Every room faces the mountains. Below is a large swimming pool, but it’s empty as this is December in the Himalayas. I have a balcony room where I can sit in the sunshine, enjoying a perfect view of Mt. Machhapuchhre, rising 6,993 meters directly in front of me.
I had returned disappointed with the sunset, taking my consolation at the Summit Restaurant where I enjoyed a unique salad of yak cheese and potatoes which was a delight. My spirits starting picking up as I talked to the wait staff while waiting for my dinner. They soon brought me a dinner of pork chops, served in a mushroom and red wine sauce that perfectly complimented the meat. They have a great chef who produces some great meals, including some outstanding desserts.