Hiking through the Annapurna region is as much about seeing the mighty Himalayas, as it is about passing through villages and settlements, and seeing rural Nepali life, which has remained largely untouched by the rampant modernisation that the larger cities have experienced. Ghandruk was once a major recruitment centre for the famous Gurkha soldiers, and a role in the Gurkha Regiment is still revered and a huge honour. Ghandruk is the second largest Gurung village (Gurung is the tribe where most of the Gurkhas originate from) in Nepal, and is a good stop off point on a trek through the Annapurna.
The best accommodation in the area is Himalaya Lodge, a local tea house, but one of a slightly higher standard than the other tea houses in the region. Warm puffer jackets, crocs and hot water bottles are provided when the temperature drops as the sun dips behind the mountains. On the approach to the village is the rather eccentric and provincial Gurung Museum – if you arrive early from your trek and fancy a cultural outing, then pop down and inspect the collection of Gurung items (kukris, helmets and saddles). However, if your legs are weary from conquering the hills, then drinking a spicy chai with a hot water bottle instead is allowed!
Ghandruk itself is a charming Himalayan village with the epic backdrop of the surrounding mountains. Life here is largely sustained by subsistence farming, the gentle ebb and flow of foreign visitors and the young who head to the cities for employment. The pint-sized Gurung women of Ghandruk maintain a local industry of weaving traditional Nepalese rugs and can be seen wearing them to keep out the cold. Take a walk through the village after your days trekking and experience day to day life in the Himalayas; monasteries, construction sights, small farms, perhaps even a Nespresso coffee stall set up by opportunistic youngsters!
Life in the Himalayas has always been hard, the harsh temperatures, infertile farming land, remoteness all play a part. But the Gurung people are hardy and positive - something to learn from whilst trekking up the steepest of inclines and over narrow and flimsy mountain bridges!
Features in the following itineraries
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Anonymous, India
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Leslie Siben, India
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka