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6 days of immersion in the Kathmandu Valley culture and heritage, including all 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites!

Departure: Kathmandu
Duration: 6 Days
Best Season: October to March (Possible all year round)

This tour is the ultimate cultural experience in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley, home to 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, countless temples, monasteries and of course the mountain views! With this program, you get to know medieval cities like Patan and Bhaktapur; explore old palaces and temples; and immerse yourself in the stunning mountain views and surroundings of terraced fields and the fascination of diverse cultural groups.  This is your chance to learn about Nepal’s many ethnic groups, diverse people and culture, mountains and villages of Nepal, because believe it or not, all of this is actually still here, inside the Kathmandu Valley, in the unique ancient-modern mix that is so fascinating about this place!

BRIEF ITINERARY

Day 01: Your arrival in Kathmandu
Day 02: Buddhism in the Kathmandu Valley
Day 03: Mountains and history
Day 04: Kathmandu’s oldest temples
Day 05: Ancient villages and Patan Durbar Square
Day 06: Depart Kathmandu

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 01: Your arrival in Kathmandu
Upon your arrival at Kathmandu airport we will greet you and transfer you to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time, we can organise some exploring in the afternoon to introduce you to this amazing place, or you can relax until the evening. At 6pm we will meet to explore Kathmandu in the evening by iconic Rickshaw, including Asan Bazaar and Kathmandu Durbar Square, before returning to our hotel for dinner.

Exploring the old city, you’ll wander through narrow streets and alleyways, discovering hidden temples and meeting the locals. Exotic produce and a bewildering mix of people are everywhere; you're likely to see Ghurkhas, Tibetan women in their striped aprons, traders from India, and sadhus - Hindu holy men - perhaps on pilgrimage to one of the many temples and shrines of the valley.

Day 02: Buddhism in the Kathmandu Valley
After breakfast we have a visit to Kapan Monastery, overlooking the eastern part of the valley. From there we will walk down to Boudanath Stupa and enjoy the serene surroundings over lunch. This afternoon we will visit the majestic Swayambunath Stupa overlooking Kathmandu. In the evening we will have the chance to sample a typical Nepali dinner and see the traditional dancing at a local restaurant.

Boudanath
This Stupa, 8 kms. east of Kathmandu City, is one of the biggest in the world. It stands with four pairs of eyes in the four cardinal directions keeping watch for righteous behaviour and human prosperity. This Buddhist Stupa was built by King Man Deva on the advice of the Goddess Mani Jogini. Boudanath is part of the shared history of Nepal and Tibet, with Tibet having held ruling privileges over the site until the last century. It is built on an octagonal base inset with prayer wheels and the stupa is ringed by houses of Lamas or Buddhist priests, monasteries and shops.

Swayambunath
Located in a hilltop above Kathmandu, this Buddhist Stupa is said to be 2000 years old and is one of Nepal’s most important Buddhist sanctuaries. The oldest inscription discovered dates back to the 5th century and refers to the founding of a monastery.

The Stupa which forms the main structure is composed of a solid hemisphere of brick and earth supporting a lofty conical spire capped by a pinnacle of copper gilt. Painted on the four sided base of the spire are the all seeing eyes of Lord Buddha. The whole hill is a mosaic of small Chaityas (memorials) and temples and it is one of the only places that you can see the Stupa, Pagoda and Shikar style of temple. It is a sacred Buddhist place of worship, but it is also holy to Hindus and you can also find Hindu shrines here – a fine illustration of the religious tolerance found in Nepal.

Day 03: Mountains and history
This morning you have the option of taking an early morning mountain flight before breakfast – this flight is a truly spectacular 1 hour flight along the Himalayan Range to unforgettable Mount Everest and back!

After breakfast we visit the holy Pashupatinath temple complex followed by a visit to the ancient city of Bhaktapur. In the afternoon we will drive up to the Kathmandu Valley rim and stay in the little town of Nagarkot for the chance to enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Himalayan Range.

Pashupatinath
Situated 5 km east of Kathmandu City, Pashupatinath temple is one of the holiest temples in the Hindu religion and was first mentioned in 365AD. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the three main gods in Hinduism, as his birthplace. Situated on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River, the main temple is built in pagoda style with gilt roof and richly carved silver doors. Non Hindu visitors are only permitted to view the temple from the east bank of Bagmati River, as entrance into the temple is strictly forbidden to all non Hindus. Pashupatinath is the main cremation site for Hindus in the Kathmandu Valley, with cremation ghats lining the Bagmati River below the temple. It is such an important pilgrimage site that any Hindu should visit it once in their life and there is a constant stream of sadhus coming and going from Nepal and India.

Bhaktapur
Bhaktapur is the one of the three ancient cities within the Kathmandu Valley. It is also known as Bhadgaun, meaning the city of devotees and is the home of true medieval art and architecture in the Valley. Lying 14 km east of Kathmandu city, Bhaktapur was founded in the 9th century and is shaped like a conch shell. Not only because of its famous carved peacock windows but also due to its museum, Bhaktapur is the centre of traditional Nepalese wood carving. Compared to other royal cities in Patan and Kathmandu, Bhaktapur is the most original and is without a doubt the most historically authentic.

We will visit the Durbar Square (palace square) with its array of temples overlooked by the Palace of Fifty-five Windows built by King Bhupatindra Malla. We will also visit the Taleju Temple which is the best example of Pagoda style structure in Nepal. It stands majestically on five terraces, on each of which stands a pair of figures. As you go up from one terrace to the next, the figures gain strength of ten times that of the lower terrace: we see two strong men; two elephants; two lions; two griffins; and two goddesses.

Nagarkot
Nagarkot is one of the most scenic spots in the Kathmandu Valley and beyond. Situated about 35 km east of Kathmandu, on the valley rim, you can have excellent views of the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayan Range. It is a favourite place to relax and pamper yourself and to enjoy the spectacular sunrise and sunsets over the snowy peaks.

Day 04: Kathmandu’s oldest temples
After an early start to view the stunning sunrise, followed by a hearty breakfast, we depart to visit Changunarayan Temple. This is the oldest temple in the Kathmandu Valley (and some say the oldest in Nepal) and has unique designs and carvings, different from others in the Valley. We will drive a short way and then have a scenic 1 ½ hour walk down to the temple through forest and villages.

We will have a packed lunch overlooking the Kathmandu Valley at Changunarayan before taking the van out to historic Panauti to explore ancient temples at the confluence of two rivers. We will proceed up to the hill town of Dhulikhel for sunset and dinner at our hotel.

Changunarayan
Changunarayan Temple is situated on a ridge overlooking the Kathmandu Valley. One of the finest and oldest specimens of pagoda architecture, the temple is said to be the oldest pagoda style temple in Nepal built sometime back in 323 A.D. It is dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu – the Preserver. The ancient complex is one of the Kathmandu Valley’s 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. From the temple you can have amazing views of farming land and villages in this end of the valley against the backdrop of the Himalayan Range.

Panauti
Panauti is located approximately 30km from Kathmandu, in a small side valley of alluring farming land and village sanctuaries. In the 13th century Panauti was the capital of the autonomous kingdom of Banepa and it is still the most important historic village in the area and has retained its historic authenticity. The town is built in the Newari's signature style, with pink brick and carved wood. The village is full of rural calm and only in September is the idyll disturbed by the ‘Carriage Festival’. The old town is wedged between two small rivers with a cluster of important temples at the confluence. It is regarded as an ancient power place, with an invisible third stream also connecting here. Cremations are held at the confluence and a festival is held here once a year in January with every 12 years being of major significance as the third stream is said to be seen at this time.

Dhulikhel
Dhulikhel, like Nagarkot is a hillside town with spectacular mountain views, a great place to relax and pamper yourself and to enjoy the spectacular sunrise and sunsets over the snowy peaks. In the fore ground a beautiful display of hills and scattered farmhouses dominated the deep valley of the Indrawaty River. It is an old town on the road north to Tibet and has some lovely old Newari buildings (Newar people are the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley and are renowned as artisans and beautiful architecture).

Day 05: Ancient villages and Patan Durbar Square
You can have an early start to catch stunning sunrise over the mountains, or enjoy and cosy sleep in. After breakfast we will take a drive down from Dhulikhel to visit the unspoiled villages of Khokana and Bungamati. We will proceed to have lunch at Patan and visit Patan Durbar Square before retiring to our hotel.

Khokana / Bungamati
The twin villages of Bungamati and Khokana date from 16th century and are typical ancient Newar Villages. They are located south of Kathmandu down a rutty road dotted with chaityas, very appropriate for an ancient procession route.

Bungamati is famous as the winter home of the Red Machhendra god of Patan who resides every winter in a powerful, Shikhara-style temple. Its spacious courtyard is often used for spreading grain to dry in the sun at harvest time.

Khokana lies next to Bungamati and in between the two villages is the temple of Karya Binayak. Like Bungamati, Khokana is a compact village, with a wide main street running through it. In the middle of the street is the temple of Sikali Mai, Khokana's guardian mother goddess. Khokana has long been famous as an oil-pressing centre where mustard seeds are pressed using traditional methods and if you are lucky you will see traditional weaving done by elderly ladies in the sun on the street and courtyards.

Patan
The cities in the Kathmandu Valley are made up of 3 ancient cities and Patan is located across the Bagmati River to the south of Kathmandu city. Patan is also known as Lalitpur, the city of fine arts. According to legend the founding of Patan dates back to Pre-Christian times. As opposed to the Malla cities of Kathmandu and Bhaktapur that were mainly influenced by the Hindu religion, Patan was for many years a major Buddhist city. It is believed that it was founded in the third century B.C. by the famous Buddhist emperor, Ashoka, who visited the town while on a pilgrimage from Northern India and built four stupas that enclosed the centre of the old town. This would make it the oldest continuing Buddhist town in the world. We will visit the Patan Durbar Square and see the Krishna Temple built by King Siddhi Narsingh Malla, Hiranya Varna Mabavihar and the Mahadouddha Temple.

Day 06: Depart Kathmandu
After breakfast at your hotel, we have a short visit to Kirtipur before it is time for us to transfer you to the airport in time for your flight home.

Kirtipur
Kirtipur very old village situated in a small hill, 5km southwest of Patan. The village boasts many ancient monuments including the famed temple of tiger faced Bhairva. In the past there were 12 gates of the town and parts of the old city wall still remain. It was the first place raided by Prithvi Naryan Shah when conquering the Kathmandu Valley and their resistance was so fierce (and retribution so dire) that a tower was erected in the Kathmandu Durbar Square in honour of their valour. The main industry in town is the Kirtipur Cottage Industry Centre and most of the residents are either weavers or farmers, so it is a great place to see traditional crafts practiced in traditional surroundings.
 
 

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