- Program 1 : Kathmandu Urban Area
- Program 2 : East of Kathmandu Valley
- Program 3 : Balthali and Surroundings
Description of the stay:
Whole program of 9 days and 8 nights.
–> Day 1 : Kathmandu
The stay starts with the visit of Durbar Square, the historical centre of Kathmandu. Its magnificent architectural heritage is consisted of many temples of different gods (Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesh…), and many statues and palaces. Temples of Durbar Square, dating back several centuries, are the most striking monuments for the traveller. Given the incredible heritage, the visit requires taking several hours to not miss anything.
Then, we visit the district of Asan’s Tole, between Durbar Square and Thamel, where we can find also typical monuments and temples. But Asan is especially famous for the market (Asan’s bazaar), one of the biggest of Kathmandu, which takes place every day from the sunrise to the sunset, and where we can find a great diversity of spices, tea, vegetables and cereals, but also clothes or all kind of jewels.
-> Day 2 : Swayambunath & Bauddanath
The second day starts with a little walk from Thamel to lead to the famous place of Swayambunath, on the west of Kathmandu. This Buddhist sanctuary is located on the top of a hill where we have a great view of all Kathmandu. The Stupa found here is the oldest of the Nepal and one of the oldest pilgrimage places for Buddhist people. Several Tibetan monasteries are located next to the Stupa, with the possibility to visit.The most interesting is to discover them during monks’ ceremonies which taking place every day. The place is also nicknamed “Monkey temple”, due to all monkeys are living here, and which are very familiarly with human contact.
The day follows with the visit of another famous Buddhist place in the north east of Kathmandu: Bauddanath, where we can find the biggest Stupa of all Nepal, with 120 feet in diameter and 43 meters in height. As Swayambunath, it is one of the most important places of pilgrimage, but it is also the principal centre of Buddhist studies in Kathmandu Valley. Bauddanath gets an important Tamang community, however now Tibetan refugees form the most important and active community there. Days of Buddhist festival, the Stupa place is overpopulated and ceremonies are very impressive for the traveller. We can find a lot of monasteries in Bauddanath, where ceremonies take place every day. The day finishes with the visit of one famous of them, the Shechen monastery.
-> Day 3 : Pashupatinath & Patan
The day begins with a little walk from Bauddanath to Pashupatinath, a famous Hindu sanctuary. This sacred place is also a centre of Hindu pilgrimage. Pashupati is one of the several names of the god Shiva. We discover many famous temples, like the Golden temple and the Batchhla Dev temple. Then, we see the Burning Ghat, the place where dead Hindus are burnt near Bagmati River. Finally, we visit the Mrigasthali, a wood on a hill where we can find a rich heritage again.
Then, the day follows with the visit of Patan (Lalitpur), an old royal capital, separated of Kathmandu by the Bagmati River. We begin by visiting Durbar Square, famous for the Royal Palace, the Patan Museum (inside the Royal Palace), and many others temples. We follow the visit around Durbar Square, where we can find the Golden Temple, the Shiva’s Temple, and the Maha Buddha, also called 9000 Buddha’s Temple, due to the Buddha’s effigy which has been painted on every brick of the monument.
-> Day 4 : Bakhtapur & Changu Narayan
We leave Patan to go to Bakhtapur, which was another old royal capital between 12th and 15th century. This town is the artistic and cultural capital of Nepal. Newari community, considerate as the oldest ethnic of Nepal, is very important in Bakhtapur. Newari have given to the town his great heritage. Their lifestyle, art and food are to discover when we visit the place. Architecture richness of Bakhtapur gives the charm of the town, and places to discover are many, all famous for their temples. The visit begins by Bakhtapur Durbar Square, where we find many temples, but also the Golden Gate and the National Art Gallery. The visit follows in others places: Taumadhi Tole, famous for the Nyatapola temple, and Dattatraya Square, the oldest part of the town. Finally the visit of Bakhtapur finishes in the artisanal district of Pottery Square.
Then, we follow by visiting Changu Narayan, the seventh and last place classified at UNESCO World Heritage of Kathmandu Valley. This town is smaller and less famous than others places visited until yet, but not less interesting. As Pashupatinath, this place is a famous Hindu sanctuary. We can find an ensemble of old medieval buildings, which gives an authentic character to the town. The visit allows us to see old Hindus temples and also an interesting little museum.
Finally, we reach in the evening the town of Nargakot, at 2000m in the mountains. Better not go to bed late, we have to wake up early the day after…
-> Day 5 : Nagarkot & Dhulikhel
The day starts in Nagarkot at 5 am to see the impressive sunrise, allowing us to discover the Himalaya chain and see the Everest. In fact, Nagarkot is considerate as the best place to see mountains. Later in the morning, after a good breakfast, we leave to do a nature walk of a few hours to reach the View Tower.
Then, we leave Nagarkot to go to Dhulikhel. The town is famous for the Mountain View too, but also for old town and temples. Dhulikhel is the big city of the district of Kavre.
-> Day 6 : Namo Buddha
The day starts with a big walk from Dhulikhel to Namo Buddha, a famous Buddhist place. The walk lasts 3-4 hours but beautiful landscapes on the road makes quickly forgotten tiredness.
Namo Buddha is one of main pilgrimage Buddhist place with Swayambunath and Bauddanath. We begin the visit by going to the stupa, located down the monastery. Then, we enter in Namo Buddha sanctuary, all this place owns to the monastery. First, we visit the place which has a great heritage and we enjoy the beautiful view on the valley, then we assist to a monks’ ceremony into the monastery. Finally, we pass the night in a guesthouse of the monastery, and we are lucky to share dinner and breakfast with monks in the common room.
-> Day 7 : Balthali
We leave Namo Buddha to lead the village of Balthali, by walking during 2-3 hours. Balthali is a peaceful village surrounded by green hills and typical fields of rice. Its inhabitants have kept alive their traditions and their way of life since several generations. By coming in this village, we get off the beaten track. In fact Balthali is very different of others towns visited until yet, because it’s precisely not touristic, which gives an authentic character to the place.
First, we reach Sabina’s home, where we are going to pass the night. Then, we visit the village, its fields and we explore local culture. In the evening time enjoying several cups of masala tea, we observe Sabina’s mother cooking local food on wood fire.
-> Day 8 : Balthali
We start the day by visiting the upper part of Balthali village, the traditional settlement of Humagain community. We have the possibility to discuss with men and women about different aspects of their life.
Then we walk to the top of a small hill to explore a typical Tamang village: Dadagaun. Tamang people have still preserved their Tibetan Buddhist culture and speak their own language. They have very few lands and to sustain their family their work as carpenters, labourers or farm hands on the field. These days most of them have developed goat farming. This visit offer us an opportunity to observe how certain economically disadvantaged communities as Tamang, are struggling to adapt themselves on the market economy.
Then we visit another village, Khyaku, where most of the people have a good economic situation. It is an occasion to discuss about the kinship, marriage and relation between different generations.
In the end of the afternoon we come back to Sabina’s home. We learn to make a good masala tea and Nepalese tea. In the evening we learn how to cook a good Nepali dal-bhat and enjoy the food with the family.
-> Day 9 : Panauti & Banepa
The last day begins by a walk from Balthali to Panauti.This small town gets an incredible heritage. In fact, Panauti used to be a little kingdom in the past. Located on the confluence of three legendry rivers; Punyamati, Roshamati and Lilavati; many temples and shrines witness the rich history of this city. Till now Panauti is considered as one of the famous pilgrimage site near Kathmandu valley.
Thenwe leave Panauti to go to Banepa, a town located at 25 km from Kathmandu. Banepa had been destroyed by fire in the 60’s, if the town was rebuilt since, most of the architectural heritage was lost. However we can find near Banepa the famous Chandeswori temple, dedicated to Shiva, and a very impressive Vishnu’s statue. If we have time, we go to Nala, a Newari village which keep a traditional lifestyle.
Finally, we go back to Kathmandu, where unfortunately the journey finishes…