Finding Peace and Purpose in the Mountains

Finding Peace and Purpose in the Mountains

Krish Khemlani

Himalayan Trekking and Temples, Nepal 2022

Images have been provided by Krish and the program leaders. Read Krish’s story below!

It was challenging for Krish Khemlani to quite express how magnificent the views were during his travels in Nepal. On his bucket list is a hope to climb Mt. Everest some day, but Krish knew he had to work his way up to that. To get started, he signed up for the Himalayan Trekking and Temples program.

The program includes several days of trekking in remote mountainous regions. Krish is from Puerto Rico, but he has been to India a number of times. He says Nepal’s capital city Kathmandu reminded him of India, but the views elsewhere in the country were unlike anything else he had seen.

One of those highlights was when the students reached the summit of a mountain near Poon Hill after spending two days hiking to the location.

“It felt like you’re in heaven, and I say that word because there were clouds covering everything around you – the whole vicinity,” Krish said. “So all you see is where you are, and it feels like it’s a floating island. It was very, very unique.”

The views near Poon Hills are stunning in Nepal. Photo: Rustic Pathways 2022

The views near Poon Hills are stunning in Nepal. Photo: Rustic Pathways 2022

When the clouds cleared, the students took in well-deserved views of the Annapurna Massif Mountain Range in the Himalayas. Krish said such sights that stopped you in your tracks happened at every turn – sometimes unexpectedly. One moment that surprised him is when they encountered what Krish described as a “massive” monkey sitting on a rock. They also saw waterfalls, lakes, emerald green valleys, and a sunrise over the mountain tops.

The sunrise in Nepal during a Rustic Pathways program.

Enjoying the sunrise in Nepal

“It’s like you’re bringing all of nature’s elements from different parts of the world to one place,” Krish said.

Lessons Learned on the Mountainside

Krish said he picked the Nepal program because he wanted something with a high level of adventure and more rustic accommodations. Being somewhere without daily Western amenities was appealing to him.

“I knew that I was going to be out of my comfort zone when I went there,” Krish said. “I was also physically able to do the trekking, and I wanted to challenge myself.”

Krish says he is an athlete who has done endurance training. Such physical fitness was important on the trip, and the students on the program generally were prepared for that. Krish used the word “hyped” to describe the attitude when they started trekking, but then they realized it wasn’t going to necessarily be easy.

“It still surprised us that there were multiple parts when we would get very tired,” Krish said.

The group kept going with support from other group members, their program leaders and Nepali trekkers who would help them realize if they were going too fast. This enabled the group to keep a steady pace.

Trekking in Nepal

Krish took shots of the trekking experience in Nepal.

Along the way, they stopped in several small villages where they stayed in tea houses. Those stays helped the students understand how people in Nepal live. Krish said the tea houses had the bare minimum necessities.

“I learned to be really grateful for the life we live because it’s so different from the lifestyle in Nepal,” Krish said. “It really puts it in perspective – the minimal things like no air conditioning or hot water… or no Western toilet. These very small things make you understand that what you’re living is what the majority is not experiencing. And don’t take it for granted.”

A Paradise for Adventure Seekers

When the students weren’t climbing mountains, they got to try other adventure activities and meet Nepali residents who live in different regions of the country. Early in the trip, the students spent two days on a rafting trip.

White water rafting in Nepal

Krish and his fellow students enjoy white water rafting in Nepal. Photo: Rustic Pathways

“The guides were amazing – 100%,” Krish said. “One of the best parts was jumping out of the raft into the river and lying down in the water. The views were breathtaking.”

After the first day of rafting the students stayed in a jungle resort. It was a secluded glamping site amid the trees that is owned by a Nepali man and his wife who was from Russia. Krish says they were very welcoming, and the students got to enjoy traditional dal bhat while they were there, which is rice and lentils with a spicy sauce.

Later, the students also went zip lining and bungee jumping. By this point, Krish says he felt like he was at home in the mountains. And the students were told to embrace that if they had some fear.

Rustic Pathways students gather near the zipline in Nepal.

Krish and his fellow students gather near the starting point for the zipline in Nepal.

“They said to look at the mountains and not look down,” Krish said. “Overall, everyone we met was so friendly and so nice – there always was a conversation.”

While in this area, the students also spent some time in Nepal’s second largest city – Pokhara. In this area and in Kathmandu the students took in some of the man-made wonders in Nepal.

Embracing Culture

Krish described Kathmandu as being a city with “organized chaos.” They went to temples and saw interesting monuments and shops. He particularly liked an area they visited that had artists ranging from rookie to grand master displaying their work. He picked a painting that showed an aerial view of a monument in Nepal that includes cylinders representing peace, harmony, wealth and gratitude. He gave it as a gift to his mother for her birthday.

He also enjoyed a visit to Syambhu Nath Temple, which is also called the monkey temple since a number of monkeys live on the grounds there. While visiting such sites, he learned about the rules for walking around a circular temple stupa.

“You have to go clockwise. Walking counter clockwise is bad luck,” Krish said. “When leaving the circle you go around an odd amount of times. Walking an even number is bad luck, and you also need to walk on the left. I never heard of anything of that sort before.”

The peace pagoda in Nepal

After taking in such cultural and religious lessons, the students did the traditional Rustic Ties ceremony in Kathmandu. They received special Nepal bracelets and discussed what they learned about Nepal and each other.

Krish said it was a nice tradition and that overall he loved the program. If he could go back to Nepal he said he would. In the meantime, he left with unforgettable memories of the mountains and what they taught him.

“The world is so big around us. Many problems that we think we have in the grand scheme of things are small. Those things only matter to us because we allow them to matter,” Krish said. “There’s no reason to be living our lives thinking about these problems when you can move on and just keep going with your individual purpose.”

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