At Mount Mahabharat

At Mount Mahabharat

Best retreat center in Nepal, 200% organic”

My first adoptive family lives in the mountain range called Mahabharat Range near Panauti, east of Kathmandu. It is often the case that people (especially French) come here to adapt themselves to the country just after getting off the plane, a little bit of nature. After the stay, we leave with beautiful smiles in our pocket.

It is an organic farm that offers to volunteer in exchange of a reasonable price for a bed, three meals a day and a heavenly landscape. In short, it’s a business, and Kamal tells us that he wants to make it a retirement center too. For the season, there is not much to do, we take care of children in their daily life adventures, couple of hours in the tomatoes field. Three volunteers from Italy are already there when I arrive (including Francesca) and then two others from France join when I go back a second time (Mathilde and Johanna).

Dhunkharka village.


As soon as I arrive in Nepal, I spend five days in this beautiful and relaxing place; leave with Francesca to explore the valley, then come back two weeks later mid-September. It’s two times return trips from Kathmandu in ‘that’ bus… let say more in a washing machine on wheels … The road is catastrophic, full of water and mud; everything could happen, from the breakdown to the roll over in a ditch. Sometimes the driver asks the men to get off because the bus cannot climb a slippery slope. But no, it resists, do not think one bad thing otherwise it could happen. The branded Tata buses imported from India have a hydraulic breaking system, huge wheels, competitive dampers: better so, considering the excessive number of passengers that the driver agrees to take to earn the maximum money a day as possible, especially during festivals. The two times I take it … it’s festival. There are people on the roof, and many are clinging to each other at the door. In these cases and generally in Nepal, it’s useless to worry about what might happen. As long as one does not think of the negative consequences, it is better to applause when getting down at the whole top, a little stunned.

My first stay to the farm goes smoothly. Nothing to say, I observe, I try to know more about the nepali culture, I try to know where it is wise to go, to visit, if volunteering elsewhere is useful and not only to give good consciousness… Sometimes, the best way to help a country is to act like a good tourist, to pay the entrances in some cities, to negotiate without getting fooled, yet to leave a tip … The “voluntourism” is no longer a concept that I support.

Read: Surroundings exploration with Francesca


Going back to this organic farm after fifteen days allows me to understand better this guy who welcomes all these strangers: Kamal Nepal, married, ambitious, almost thirty. After my two weeks of absence, I discover that many developments have been planned in this house made of wood and corrugated iron, and all this in order to receive all the volunteers in a better way. Moisture widens the beams and you have to gather the strength of three people to close the door. ‘Makes the rainy season funny. This time, we can help a little more in the building of a wall, painting one side of his house and watching the workers conditioning a slab in concrete. Another French girl on the road cuts my hair and closes a wide hole on my pants (thank you!). I get closer to Goma, Kamal’s wife and her a radiant smile, I live moments of complicity with her children, I take Babu-Djenis on my back, go down and go up twice a day on the hill (it’s a training like another for climbing Annapurna). I have the chance to participate in a kind of meditation workshop. Then I take shower under the opened gutter, I get amazed in front of the progress of the constructions around, enjoy painting even if I still do not know which hand to use and hold the brush, and I laugh for nothing with Gopini because she is simply beautiful. I find myself again, I am happy with them.

This trip back allows me to spend more time on this bench observing Gopini, Kamal’s mother but especially Gopal, his father. They must be sixty years old, and both are beautiful. I did not have the opportunity to meet him the first time because of a flu, preventing him from going out (and it get seriously bad… but he resisted and got better).

An incredible surprise.

I observed him with a corner of my eye one whole day. That day, he never stopped. Never. From 6 am to 9 pm, with his hat and his grey trousers, he went all over the soft mud on his bare feet.

Shovelling, digging, bended back, he fills the holes, constantly folds and unfolds the tarpaulin because the rain comes and leaves anytime,

he makes a system with a pipe for water flow to prevent the mudslide,

he builds some steps to avoid slipping on the mud, makes the bathroom door more accessible.

He also watches the 5-year-old little Babu who makes foolishness on his back and laughs at them,

he counts the steel rods for the reinforced concrete of tomorrow,

even cleans the toilets after use,

inspects the work with the torch while the night has fallen for a long time.

Everything at the same time, slowly, gently.

I told him the night of that day, with the help of google translation: “Gopal I’m proud of you for the wall”. He’s laughing. He has a strength that he gives to children, to his wife, to his son. He does not speak much, works hard, gives advice to other workers in a tone he can impose. He never slips on his competitive feet, he looks at the work in progress, little worried by the heavy rain stopping everything for a day. The next day, when the wall fells down because of the water, he does not give up and prepares the material when he and the other workers will be gathered to fix it.

Between August and my trip back, Gopal has shaved his head but left a small strand on the top of the skull. He is not the only one doing that. It is a tradition in Nepalese culture. When their father dies, men honour his memory, and shave their hair. He and his cunning face, his little laughing eyes and his muddy jogging, he embodies the kindness and human simplicity that will fascinate me to the end.

See: crazy timelapse

One day, Kamal arrives in the room where we have rice-curry breakfast and declares, in a happy mood, that it is possible and exclusive to participate in a meditation course. Euphoric and grateful, I go.

Exciting at first sight because Govinda, the adorable English teacher of the village has the extreme goodness to translate me a little of what it returns, I stop trying following the speech for thorough observations. The guru, coming straight from India is a curious character, with his orange dress (colour of peace), his round belly and his Ray-ban on his nose when he goes out for tea break and Dal (meal).

His basic ideas are quite positive and true: he makes the distinction between duty and responsibility (responsibility comes from the depths of our heart and our will), he talks about honesty, harmful judgments to avoid. A dozen of people take the floor to speak about their stories, unfortunately I do not understand what they say … And then the guru makes us dance every half hour. It leads to real enjoyable moments. It’s all about letting everything go, to blend in with the crowd and to stop laughing to tears by watching all this old group wiggling gracefully on the traditional Nepalese music -volume maximum. Then back to quiet sitting, the guru tells us to breathe deeply and regularly, that thoughts are magnetic, that gratitude is essential. “Expectation is a powerful attractive force. Expect the things useful for your self-development and ‘betterment’ of the world.” At this point in the speech, I agree with him. Then he slowly begins to drift onto Hinduism, something he had promised at the beginning not to speak about.

So at the end of the second day (out of three), I have to leave because I refuse to watch the brainwashing on the people of this village going on in front of me. The guru refuses to translate things to me because it makes him uncomfortable when he speaks, I understand one sentence per hour, the time is getting little slow.

Does he make good business with that? Does he want glory? Does he apply the Good and the lessons he advocates? I do not know. Once again, it is difficult and tiring to try to understand only with the instinct, the face expressions and the few words that he says in English. I am a free spirit; I pack my things and I go away. It’s not because he is talking about religion that I am leaving, just because he’s saying things he does not seem to apply… I do not know him, but it’s strange for a renowned guru not to feel happy in his presence, but even little impressed, stressed… Everyone is free to believe in God in the embodiment one wants. In the room, the foreheads sweat, dark circles under the eyes deepen. He speaks continuously, in a dry tone, says to smile at others while he does not smile. (Mathilde who stayed only two hours had this feeling far before me^^).

I leave with this pleasant image of shoes in front of the door.

Watch and danse for 23 seconds. Clic!

Finally, this trip back allows me to climb Mount Mahabharat with the Nepali Bizey (he knows the road) and the other two French, Mathilde and Johanna. Kamal praises the mountain every day: “3000m, 360 ° view, best place in Nepal! “. On this day, the view is overcast by dense fog. But failing to see, one must feel. Feel the strength of the massive trees in the forest, the power of the sun behind the clouds, the adrenaline of speed running on the way down (knee say thank you), the damp droplets that curl the hairs and the spider webs tight between two trees on the path. An incredible peace plunges me into a trance when I arrive. We eat a fortifying and perfectly-spicy noodle soup prepared by the guide on a wood fire, and we have a moment hoping that the clouds will dissipate to clear the view. It is difficult to describe this presence and this great peace that makes me accomplice with heaven. I lie on the grass, take a sunburn on the nose, savour the satisfaction. One just feel happy after climbing a mountain.

I leave the farm to go to Pokhara. In a few days, I will start trekking. Perfect season to go there. It breaks my heart. Kamal put a red tikka on my forehead like he did the first time I left. It is the sign of respect and hospitality. He has so many projects in mind, and keeps this same dynamic energy, probably from his father J. The detour worth it (and take the bus haha), and I will surely visit him in three years to see these changes.

I will not forget the organic honey produced in the walls of the house, the attention of Gopini and his Chapatis (flat bread), pumpkin leaves to peel and to avoid Goma to do it, “sisters”, our new name to call us; tea and fresh buffalo milk that we get in front of the door at sunrise; children and their extraordinary ability to communicate in English already at their age; Gopal, obviously; this view of the Himalayas sometimes at early morning; Kamal’s love for his happy family and guests.


Thank you for publishing such a lovely article

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What Other Visitors Experienced

Andreas-Kaimakliotis- Bethanchok -3 Dhunkharka Kavre Nepal

I really want to thank you Kamal and your wonderful family for allowing me to stay with you for two weeks and making me feel so welcome since the very beginning. Got to experience traditional nepali culture, work in nature, eat healthy organic food and take a breath from my everyday life. It truly was a return to nature experience. Until we meet again, take care dai.

Andreas Kaimakliotis, Homestay,
Thomas-Gallasso- Bethanchok -3 Dhunkharka Kavre Nepal

Fantastic place! Amazing! I came here for stay a couple of days and stayed at the end for 6 months! Excellent food, excellent rooms, excellent view. 5 stars for sure

Thomous Gallaso, Homestay,
Tatiana- Bethanchok -3 Dhunkharka Kavre Nepal

Adorable family, a unique experience in Nepal – true organic life and culture in the Himalaia mountains. The food is amazing!!!

Tatiana, Damaatto,
Aurelia-and-Pauline-1- Bethanchok -3 Dhunkharka Kavre Nepal

We are stay only 4 days but we had a nice stay with this cute family. The grandma and Gauma are really attentive to us and they cooked really good food. Kamal was really helpfull and answered to our trip question. It’s was a pleasure to stay with a Nepalese family in this beautiful setting. The 2 boys are really cute and funny we enjoy to play with them.

Aurelia and Pauline,