March 13, 2012

Happiness: Kathmandu's Kantipur Temple House

In the KTH garden courtyard, reading, sipping a banana lassi.

Just like so many cities in America, Kathmandu is a crowded, noisy, chaotic, polluted place. For that reason alone, I’ve come to love staying in the capital city’s Kantipur Temple Hotel (KTH). While it’s only a quick walk from Thamel -- Kathmandu’s bustling tourist district -- KTH is a soothing island of quiet, smack dab in the middle of the hubbub.

The Tranquil Oasis
What a pleasure to check in here, after the long flights from the USA... and the crazy ride into town from the airport. Here’s my room:

Once I got settled in, I headed for the courtyard patio, to relax, read, and check my email. That’s what I’m doing in picture at the top of this post. To give you an idea of my view from there, I scanned my camera around the courtyard. Some nice flowers:

Please click "read more" below.

Looking across the courtyard:

To the interesting KPH tower:

Across to the other side of the courtyard...

... and around to where another visitor is reviewing her travel guidebook, sipping a bottle of water, and enjoying the courtyard’s ambiance… just like me.

Environmental Consciousness
But there’s another reason to love this place: its commitment to the environment, and to being an exemplary “green” hotel. Inside each room, guests find a reminder on their wall about different ways they can “Preserve Nature.” It’s a bit hard to read the fine print in this image:

On KTH website, (, visitors will see this welcome:
Kantipur Temple House is built and operated under the core principles of responsible and sustainable tourism where care is taken that the hotel has a positive impact on all of its stakeholders being employees, guests, community, environment, local culture and the local economy. Kantipur Temple House is known as an eco-boutique hotel and over the years has put a lot of effort in environment and culture preservation.

Mr. Bharat Basnet, the founder of the hotel, started his career in the tourism industry in 1979 organizing a variety of tours throughout Nepal for travellers visiting the country. As an environmental activist and an appreciator of Nepal’s cultural heritage, he wanted to accommodate his guests in a hotel that follows his life’s principle of living and working responsibly. The idea of a sustainable hotel had not yet emerged in Nepal and as such in 1998 he founded the Kathmandu valley’s first hotel based on the principles of sustainability - the Kantipur Temple House.
The site also posts the hotel’s Responsible Tourism Report. In that report, there’s a “Go Green” section which catalogues KTH’s many strategies toward environmental responsibility:
Kantipur Temple House puts the greatest emphasis on nature and environment conservation since we feel that every positive human action can save the planet from further deterioration.

Energy Management
Energy in the hotel is mostly consumed in the form of electricity through light-bulbs and kitchen and housekeeping appliances. The other forms of energy used are LPG gas for cooking and heating. For much of the year Nepal Electricity is unable to generate sufficient power and as such there are times when there is not electricity for up to 16 hours per day. Due to these outages Kantipur Temple House, as with many other businesses, is forced to run a diesel backup generator adding to both carbon emissions but noise pollution.

The hotel continually minimizes the use of energy through the following methods:
• An inverter is used to provide backup lighting during power outages and reduce the need for the diesel generator.
• All light-bulbs are energy saving CFLs.
• Rooms are allocated to minimize the use of common lighting.
• Generator usage is restricted to just 2 hours in the morning and evening.
• Electric fans are used for cooling instead of air conditioning.
• Hot water bottles and electric blanks are provided. Gas heaters are used in common areas and for a limited time in guest rooms.
• Solar is the main method of heating water with electricity-based geysers as back up.
• Guest rooms do not have televisions, saving energy and adding to the authenticity of the guests stay.
• All hotel purchasing is done on bicycle or on foot. When bulk purchasing is required, a local rickshaw is used as transport.
KTH provides cloth bags for guests to use when we go shopping, to avoid the menace of plastic. The hotel does not sell water in plastic bottles, the scourge of American landfills. Instead, we're encouraged to keep refilling our own bottles from the "pure" water dispenser in the hotel's dining room. Thanks to KPH's example, I've used only one plastic water bottle for my many lengthy stays in Nepal. (Mike's restaurant in Pokhara also offers a drinking water dispenser; it's too bad Western hotels catering to tourists don't encourage the same practice. Sadly, nothing trumps convenience for most American travelers.

And an A+ Staff
On top of the quiet comfort and the environmental responsibility of this place, the staff is superbly welcoming and eager to please.

It’s no wonder the Kantipur Temple House became my Kathmandu “home away from home” for all these years. There’s lots to love about the place.

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