Nepal is synonymous with the Himalayas, trekking, nature and various adrenaline rushing activities, but the most interesting aspect of this small nation is its culture and people. This trip gives you a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience life in a rural village with Nepali families, their culture, tradition and values. In addition to this intimate experience, this tour also incorporates some of the most important religious and historical sites of the country as well as some of the most beautiful. A power packed trip to give you the exhilarating experience of dynamic Nepal!
You will start the day going to the heart of the city with a visit to Kathmandu Durbar Square (also known as Basantapur), one of the three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu valley. The others are in Bhaktapur and Patan. Durbar Square means “Kings square”, and is the area in front of the royal palace. All three Durbar squares are UNESCO Heritage sites that echo the ethnicity and legends of the former kings, displaying exquisite arts of traditional Newari craftsmanship over several centuries in the forms of temples, idols, courtyards, fountains and more.
After lunch, you will visit one of the oldest religious sites in Nepal. Swayambhu (also Swayambunath, Shoyambhu and commonly referred to as the ‘monkey temple’), is on top of a hill in the west of the city. Ancient Buddhist architecture is featured around one big stupa surrounded by a number of smaller temples and shrines – Hindu as well as Buddhist. This is one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites and is a UNESCO world heritage site. There is a Tibetan monastery, a museum and a number of shops and restaurants. After the steep climb up or easier back route, you can enjoy views of all of Kathmandu stretched out below.
Pay homage to Goddess Kali, the most ferocious incarnation of Goddess Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva. Dakshinkali temple is about 22 kilometers from Kathmandu. On the way to Dakshinkali, you can visit Shes Narayan temple, the temple of Lord Vishnu. The word ‘shes’ refers to the snakes upon which Lord Vishnu sits and rests.
On the way back to the city is the gorgeous village of Chobar, known for its gorge that flows in between the two hills. The gorge was formed when water seeped in through the soft rock of the limestone hills creating a gaping fissure, a magnificent view in itself! A myth enshrouds the gorge that it was struck by the mighty sword of Manjushri to sprout out the water, making the land suitable for habitation.
Kirtipur is a historic town just outside Kathmandu’s ring road. King Prithivi Narayan Shah invaded it in 1768, subsequently capturing all three kingdoms of Nepal - Bhaktapur, Lalitpur and Kathmandu, marking him in history as the legendary king of the Shah dynasty who ruled over a unified Kingdom of Nepal! Kirtipur is full of medieval temples and shrines throughout its back streets. Known for its weavers, you will see yarn drying and hear the clicking of hand looms as you explore this ancient town.
Pokhara is one of the most popular destinations in Nepal. Focused around the picturesque Phewa Tal, a large lake, the clean air and relaxed atmosphere is a welcome break from the crowds, bustle and dust of the capital city. It is a 5-7 hour scenic drive along the Prithivi Highway, hugging the Trisuli river for a large part of the way.
The International Mountain Museum was established to maintain records of all those who successfully summit Nepal’s eight thousand meters high peaks! The museum displays the original gears from many of the first Himalayan ascents, as well as beautifully showcases the history, culture, geographic flora and fauna of the Himalayas.
The mysterious and deceitful Davis Fall - locally known as ‘Patale Chhango’, which means ‘The Hell’s Fall’! The modern name ‘Davis Fall’ was derived from the tragic incident of a foreigner named Davis who got swept into the underground passage by the strong currents never to be seen again!
The World Peace Pagoda appears pristine and powerful across Phewa Lake. From its vantage point one can enjoy scenic views of Pokhara city and the spectacular Annapurna mountain range. A hike straight down to Phewa Tal takes you to the boat that will take you back to Lakeside (the tourist area), as dusk casts its shimmering glow of orange on the mountains and serene waters of the lake. The perfect relaxing end to the day!
A short drive from Pokhara, Sirubari is a pristine Gurung village and pioneering model of ‘village tourism’. This picturesque village is surrounded by natural beauty and offers wonderful nearby hiking. The villagers have worked hard to preserve their culture and traditions. In 2001 Sirubari was awarded the PATA Gold Award in recognition of their efforts to preserve the culture and heritage of Nepali rural life.
You will have the opportunity to spend some time with local villagers, have a traditional meal and a glimpse into local rural village life exploring the village.
You will continue along the Siddhartha highway to the beautiful hill station town of Tansen, capital of Palpa. Tansen is steeped in history - before the Shah dynasty, Tansen was the capital of the Magar kingdom of Tanahun. Perched in the middle hills with the Himalayas providing a panoramic view to the north and the plains of the Terai to the south.
You will have a chance to explore Tansen, see the traditional handicrafts of dhaka textiles and bronze water jugs and visit the various sites of interest in this fascinating little town.
After breakfast, you will get back on the Siddhartha highway and continue south until you reach Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You will have a whole day to explore the magical site of Lumbini, possibly the most important Buddhist pilgrimage site, the place of Siddhartha Gautama’s birth, the royal prince and son of Queen Mayadevi, who was to become the revered Lord Buddha. There are monasteries, shrines and temples dating back to the 9th century that will fill you with a deep sense of reverence and mysticism.
The bustling town of Bhaktapur is home to one of the three Durbar squares in the Kathmandu valley. This historic Newari town is brimming with stunning architecture and history. Unfortunately the town suffered a lot of damage in the 2015 earthquake. The main temples and historic sites are in the process of restoration but many of the inhabitants are still struggling to rebuild their homes and lives. Nonetheless, there is still much to see and a wander around this beautiful town is still enthralling.
A few miles north of Bhakatpur is Changu Narayan Temple, thought to be the oldest temple in Nepal from the Licchavi Dynasty. Perched on top of a hill, this temple is full of rich craftsmanship of statues and temples earning its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple suffered serious damage during the 2015 earthquake. Although many of the sites are still under restoration, the site is open and you can still enjoy the majestic artistry of the whole complex.
After enjoying the sunrise over the mountains from Dhulikhel, you will set out on a short trek from Dhulikhel to Namo Buddha and Panauti. This should take about 3 to 4 hours at a comfortable pace.
Namo Buddha is a Buddhist pilgrimage site where legend tells of a kind prince (Buddha in a previous life), who offered himself to a weak tigress who had just given birth to three cubs. There is a monastery and a temple in the small village.
Panauti is a small, beautiful Newari town rich in culture and ancient temples. Situated at the confluence of two rivers along with a third ‘invisible river’ there are many who believe this sacred spot is resistant to earthquakes – and it certainly did weather the 2015 quake with minimal damage!
Boudhanath Stupa is one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world. Adorned with prayer flags, the giant mandala with a huge dome in its center and a square tower of 13 steps pyramid above it is a stunning sight. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites of Buddhists.
Pashupatinath temple for Hindus is what Boudhanath and Swayambhunath are to Buddhists. On any auspicious day for Hindus, Pashupatinath temple comes alive with throngs of people, visiting to pay their homage. Heavy incense, chanting and the mantras of the Hindu priests reverberate in the air, creating quite an extraordinary sight and experience! Although you can’t go inside the temple area unless you are Hindu, there is still plenty to see throughout this UNESCO World Heritage Site including the funeral rituals at the burning ghats.
Patan Durbar square is located in the city of Lalitpur.This square is more compact than the other Durbar squares but possibly the most beautiful. You can also explore the wonderful Patan Museum in one of the former royal palaces adjacent to the main square. The Krishna mandir (temple) is one of the most famous attractions here.
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