From Dharan the road switchbacks dramatically over a 1420m saddle at Bhedetar, then descends to cross the Tamur Koshi at Mulghat (280m) before climbing once again to DHANKUTA, stretched out on a ridge at 1150m. Though you’d never guess, this is the administrative headquarters for eastern Nepal.

Dhankuta is a small, predominantly Newari town, with a friendly, well-to-do feel. Steps lead up from the bus park to the main bazaar, which climbs north along the ridge. The lower half of the bazaar, up to the police station, is paved and reasonably active; the upper half is quieter and more picturesque, lined with whitewashed, tiled and carved Newari townhouses. The outlying area is populated by Rais, Magars and Hindu castes, who make Dhankuta’s haat bazaar, on Thursdays, a tremendously vivid affair.

Although you can’t see the Himalayas, the area makes for fine walking. In Santang, about 45 minutes southeast of town, women are seen embroidering beautiful shawls and weaving dhaka. You can walk to Hile in about two hours by taking short cuts off the main road: stick to the ridge and within sight of the electric power line.

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