The Chandragiri-Chitlang-Kulekhani road is a historic route coming into or going out of Kathmandu and was once the only means to enter this enchanting valley. Vintage photographs show sixty porters struggling to carry a motor car along this road which was quite a feat considering the uphill climb to the Chandragiri pass before descending to Kathmandu. Although once an important thoroughfare, the road rarely sees long distance travelers these days but serves as a good hike to Chitlang and Kulekhani.
Chitlang is a fertile valley with a small stream flowing through the open verdant rice fields and vegetable patches. With the use of water from this stream for irrigation, the valley supplies a larger amount of vegetables to Kathmandu in the form of cabbage, radishes and more. The village is spread along the main road but actually consists of several different settlements with the original Newar village sitting in the center between the other settlements. The first settlement encountered is inhabited predominantly by Tamang people followed by the current center of Chitlang which has a police post, shops and a few eateries. The resort and one of the home stays are on the other side of the stream while the other home stays are not far from the main road. Amazingly walking from one end of Chitlang to the other end takes almost an hour.
Some of the deposed Malla royalty are said to have escaped to Chitlang after they were conquered by Prithvi Narayan Shah in the 18th Century. A little above the main road a small shrine still remains, where they are believed to have prayed to their ancestral gods. The shrine has a number of weapons hanging on the wall. The entrance to a cave can be seen here which they are supposed to have used to reach the water spout (this is also known as Narayan Hiti as the one in Kathmandu.) A large spherical block of stone believed to be a cannonball lies near the royal shrine.
There are several forms of transport available, but hiking or a ride on the cable car is a far more enjoyable means of reaching Chitlang. The cable car drops off passengers on the ridge from where it is an easy hike down. Presently there are five functional homestays and a resort where you can spend a night or two. Some of the homestays are basic but they are constantly improving their facilities with the addition of shower rooms etc. One, in particular, is more of a regular lodge but is popular for goat cheese production. The proprietor was trained in Belgium and France and always has fresh cheese available for his guests as well as for sale. You can visit his cheese-producing facility accompanying him.
A hike to the Kulekhani reservoir past Chitlang takes about two hours if you take the shortcut avoiding the motor road which takes a more long and winding route. There are lodges and eateries at Kulekhani and many Nepali travelers come for the fish delicacies and some take a dip as well. One can catch a bus back to Kathmandu from here as there are not many passengers traveling from Chitlang. Most of the passengers are picked up here before heading for Kathmandu.
There are several means to reach Chitlang from the capital city and with the introduction of a cable car to the top of the ridge, one can reduce the hike to just going downhill from the top after a short ride. Buses and smaller vehicles leave from Kathmandu and reach Taukhel near Chitlang via Kulekhani. Chitlang is an easy one hour walk from Taukhel. Buses from Hetauda go all the way to Chitlang also via Kulekhani and leave for Hetauda in the morning. Above Thankot is a settlement known as Godam from where some pickup vehicles leave for Chitlang in the morning and go via the Chandragiri pass; it’s the shortest route taking about an hour. One set of buses travel via Pharping near Dakshinkali and takes about three hours but don't reach Chitlang, with Taukhel being the closest point. The other vehicles take the old Tribhuvan Highway to reach Kulekhani. The pick-up vehicles to Kathmandu from Chitlang leave in the morning while the bus leaves from Taukhel in the afternoon.
There are several home stays which are controlled by the Home Stay Association (the office is beside the main road) which decides the rates and where the guests should stay. The resort is on the other side of the river.