From India to Nepal: a strike, a monsoon and surreal landscape

Leaving India proved a bit more difficult than we anticipated. Not so much in terms of complications and annoyances, but the length of the trip and the number of connections were definitely higher than our initial estimation. Overall, it took us around 40 hours to reach the first destination in Nepal: Sauraha.

The beginning of the trip was marked by the 15h by train from Rishikesh to Gorakhpur. The 2nd sleeper class was not exactly comfortable, being overcrowded and having only “natural air conditioning” as the Indians cheerfully described the lack of windows 🙂 There was a plus side to it though: we got to see incredible landscape which we would have missed otherwise if we were to stay in the air conditioning class (where the windows are locked and too dirty to see through them).
This was not the landscape promised in the title. I’ll get soon to describing it, but let’s continue the story chronologically.

From Gorakhpur we went by bus to Sonauli (3h) where lied the border between India and Nepal.
If there’s one thing a traveler doesn’t want to hear at the border is that “it’s closed until further notice“. An Indian told me just that as we were getting off the bus. Lucky for us, he just didn’t know enough English to use more appropriate words for describing the transportation strike which was happening that day 🙂

Before reaching the Indian Immigration Office, we had to dodge the rickshaw drivers insistent in offering a quick ride to the border which laid only 5 min away by foot.
Formalities done on the Indian side, we simply walked 50 meters from the immigration office and we were on Nepalese ground. No one asked us anything and it didn’t feel or look like any other border crossings we’ve ever seen. Only two military men hanged around, basically ignoring everyone. There was a 30m strip of no man’s land between the two countries, but only a tourist information office was there. So, we got our visa on the other side, after actually entering Nepal territory.
Again, this was the most unusual crossing we’ve even seen. There was no one to supervise the traffic entering Nepal and we could’ve just passed by the office without actually getting a visa.

Long story short, the next 20 hours or so were spent like this:
– An uncomfortable 20 min rickshaw ride to a second bus stand in a nearby village where they still had empty seats in a bus – for the direction we were going to;
– 5h waiting time until the strike was over;
– 6h to reach Narayangarh (which was not that far from Sonauli to justify this time, but the bus kept stopping along the way, taking very long breaks 10 to 30 min).
– One night in Narayangarh which was just 1.5 hours away from the final destination – Sauraha. We had to sleep there because of the late arrival in the area (23:30) which was not considered very safe for traveling at such hours.


Despite the long journey and exhaustion, we were in a good mood thanks to the scenery from the other side of the window. Yes, we got to the nicest part of the post 🙂 Let’s paint the image of a landscape we were so lucky to see that night.
Try to imagine this: night time – completely dark, the entire sky flashing at once every few seconds, while trees covered in fireflies were lighting up as Christmas trees.
The best and amazing part was hearing no thunder whatsoever – while seeing flashes from lightnings which probably occurred in a different blanket of clouds, above the one that dispersed the light to the ground. The effect was having the entire sky lit up for a fraction of a seconds. This wouldn’t have felt magical without the fireflies which seemed to have the flashes synchronized, thus making the trees look life Christmas decorations.

By the time we got to the destination, we were already wooed by Nepal. But Sauraha managed to top it off with some amazing adventures. You’ll definitely find the next post both interesting and funny. I can’t wait to finish it 🙂

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