DHULIKHEL is justly famous as a well-preserved Newari town, mountain viewpoint, and hiking and biking hub, but its popularity is waning as modernization takes its toll. Located 5km east of Banepa, just beyond the Kathmandu Valley rim, it sits in a saddle at the relatively low elevation of 1550m, making it warmer than Nagarkot. A number of hotels are positioned along the highway to catch the mountain views, but there are more pleasant places to stay in the woods above town, on the way to a small summit from which the full Himalayan vista can be seen.
These days, Dhulikhel is something of a boomtown -- not necessarily a good thing for visitors in search of tranquillity. The municipality donated a large tract of land below town to Kathmandu University, Nepal's first private campus, which opened in 1991, and the Dhulikhel hospital, established five years later, has earned a reputation as one of the better public ones in Nepal.
However, the most significant development is yet to come, as a new 158km route to Sindhulimadi and the eastern Terai snaking out from the town's western and southern flanks is constructed. Donated by Japan, the road is expected to draw as much as half of the traffic between the Kathmandu Valley and India, all of which currently has to squeeze through Thankot. Work started in 1996, but progress has been slow, as a result of the conflict, a lack of funds and the difficulties posed by the terrain.
The 37km stretch between Bardibas and Sindhulimadi and the 50km between Dhulikhel and Nepalthok are both finished. When the rest of the road is eventually completed, Dhulikhel may become one of Nepal's principal transport junctions, with all the revving and tooting that entails.