Arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, accompanied by welcome from our representative at the airport and hotel transfer.
The Swyambhunath Stupa is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal and is situated in a mound in the western part of the Kathmandu city. Clear visibility of the settlement in Kathmandu valley, and a close encounter with the Chaityas and Monasteries which encircles the main stupa of Swyambhunath is the main aim of this leg of the trip. Another interesting encounter will be with the local monkeys, which has also led to the naming of the site as “Monkey Temple”.
This stupa also relates itself to the myth of creation of Kathmandu Valley as how Manjushree, a Buddhist monk, saw a huge lotus emanating bright light at the centre of the lake. It is believed that he cut a deep gorge allowing the water to drain from the lake at the southern end, because he wanted to observe and worship the lotus. It is the location of the Swyambhunath Stupa, which is believed to be the exact location of the light-emanating lotus. If history is more your forte, a visit to the National Museum and the Museum of Natural History at the foothill may actually interest you.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Arriving into the main city, the Kathmandu Durbar Square, also acknowledged as the Hanumandhoka Durbar Square is actually the courtyard of the ancient monarchs. The precinct welcomes you with beautifully paved walkways, and the living history of the courtyards and temples built between 12th to 18th centuries. These courtyards have witnessed the coronation of until the last king of the Shah dynasty. The diversity of medieval architecture and numerous temples in the courtyard will certainly make you skip a heartbeat. The presence of the residence of the iconic virgin goddess “Kumari” and her momentary glimpse will surely write a mesmerizing moment for you.
Kumari, the Virgin Goddess, is a living tradition to actually worship a pre-pubescent girl, rigorously chosen from the “Shakya” community amongst the Newar inhabitants of the Kathmandu valley. Amongst others, the selection criterion forbids the living goddess-to-be of having any body marks and/or injuries, and is termed to be replaced by another pre-pubescent girl after the reigning Kumari attains puberty.
Kasthamandap meaning “Wood-Covered Shelter” is a three storied pagoda style temple which enshrines a statue of Gorakhnath, the lord of worship of the then Shah Dynasty monarchs. It was built in the early sixteenth century from the wood of a single tree which is open for everyone from mid day to mid night, but no photography of the shrine is allowed. The capital city, Kathmandu, was coined after this temple, relating to the many myths and stories associated with this temple, which is shared every year in a ceremony with different varieties of food by the Newar community.
Patan Durbar Square is an enchanting mélange of palaces, artistic courtyards and graceful pagoda temples. Also popularly known by the name “Lalitpur”, relating to the artistic variation in the city pf Patan, the Durbar Square is listed as a World Heritage Site, of which the former Royal Palace complex is the centre of Patan’s religious and social life. A museum full of bronze statues and religious monuments is one of the fascinating places to visit within Patan Durbar Square. A temple entirely built by stone in the 17th century in the name of Hindu deity Krishna, is one of the major attractions of the Patan Durbar Square.
Shopping for artefacts, precious stones, hand crafted jewellery and various other mementos may be interesting in the square precinct.
Tibetan Refugee Camp
The refugee camp set up by the International Red Cross and the Swiss Development Corporation in corporation in 1960 AD with the then His Majesty’s Government of Nepal may be one of the areas of interest, where you may buy carpets and handicrafts and support the less fortunate people.
A short 35 minutes of flight to the air-strip at Lukla actually opens all doors to possibilities and prospects of Himalayan exploration and adventure. The Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla was coined collectively after Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary, the first human step to successfully scale Mount Everest, in 1998. Attracting many well-experienced to novice mountaineers from all around the world and willing to pay substantial sums for a successful expedition, the Tenzing-Hillary Airport is the gateway to the Khumbu region, and ultimately to Mount Everest. Due to the unpredictable weather in the Khumbu region, almost all flights are concentrated in early mornings.
After catching up with the trek crew in the airport and getting updates on various details, the journey continues towards the highest peak of the world. After an hour of walk on a straight trail, a small village of Chaplung is encountered. This is where the main trail from the west meets the trail from Lukla on approach to Mount Everest. The walk continues for another two hours to reach Ghat, and it finally ends at Phakding after an hour more.
The day comes to a halt after reaching Phakding and an overnight stay in a local lodge accompanied by great local cuisine, imported and local spirits and hospitality on offer makes you forget the tiredness of the trip for the rest of the day.
Day four of the trip begins shortly after breakfast, with some catching up with the trekking crew. Trailing down towards the Bhotekoshi River and crossing a long suspension bridge over the Bhotekoshi River, Jorsele is the next destination after crossing the bridge and a walk of about two hours along the straight trail, passing a forest and few villages. Everest National Park check post, located at Jorsele welcomes you to the Khumbu Region and the national park permits are checked. Beyond this point, no firewood is allowed. Following the trail, the path drops steeply, and reaches a long suspension bridge to cross the Dudh Koshi River. Continuing on the straight trail for an hour more, the terrain becomes a bit steep. Going through various difficult terrains, a forest and several other Sherpa villages for almost two hours, the team reaches Namche. Namche is a great spot for the first close glimpse of the mesmerizing beauty of Mount Everest.
The day comes to an end with a warm and hospitable welcome to a guest house by the local Sherpas, and the aroma of local cuisine, imported and local spirits, and a bountiful dinner.
Looking at the effort put in by all in the team, this day marks the day of rest, the acclimatization day. Due to change in weather, altitude and the rigorous exercise of walking terrains, a day is taken off the schedule for the guests to rest and enjoy, or then to have a picturesque excursion to Khumjung village. The major aim of this day is to prevent any possible AMS signs, which may hamper the rest of the trip.
The day ends in a local guest house with hospitable welcome, good food, great spirits and plenty of rest.
Day 6 begins with new enthusiasm because of all the rest achieved off the previous day. You would leave for Tengboche, following the trail that traverses from Choi Gang to Kyanjuma Foundation, where the descent to the suspension bridge across Dudh Koshi River begins. After crossing the bridge and passing a few tea houses, the trail reaches Phungi Tenga. A pleasant walk uphill begins, pointing towards the next destination. Passing through a blend of forest and shrubs on a wide trail, you will get a great chance to spot Pheasants, Tahr and Deer. At the end of the climb, you would reach a Kani, an arched entrance with ceiling paintings of deities and forms of Lord Buddha, which is believed to cleanse people of the many feared spirits before entering the sacred area of the Himalayas. Three hours of the pleasant trail and the catch is the best glimpse of the Himalayas including Mt. Everest, Amadablam, Nuptse, Lhotse, Thamserku and Kangi Tenga, an opportunity to spot local animals of the region and to visit the famous Tengboche Monastery.
The day ends in a local guest house, with taste-bud-tingling food, superb spirits in the cold temperature and the warm hospitality of the locals. This would be our point of return from the day following.
The way back from Tengboche to Namche takes about four hours since it’s a fairly pleasant downhill path. You get options to spot some local animals yet again, and take great pictures of the picturesque Himalayan mystical peaks.
The day ends in a guest house in Namche.
Yet another four hour trek from Namche to Phakding via the Everest National Park check post at Jorsele and crossing the Bhotekoshi River yet again. The day ends in a guest house in Phakding.
This trip marks the end of the trekking trip on return to Lukla and takes about four hours. Going across Ghat again, you will walk across the trekking route intersection at Chaplung, and reach Lukla to end the day’s trip in a guest house.
Flight from Lukla to Kathmandu, and transfer service to the hotel upon arrival at the airport. The rest of the day is off for leisure.
Bouddhanath Stupa Bouddhanath Stupa not only takes you to a journey to an ancient, and the holiest Tibetan-Buddhist Pilgrimage sites, but also exposes you to the local Tibetan communities in Nepal. Boudhanath is considered to be one of the largest stupas in the world, built on an octagonal base, with prayer wheels surrounding the whole area. Along with numerous monasteries out and about and devotees chanting religious hymns and playing prayer wheels, you will also get to view the devotion of numerous young boys and girls turned Buddhist Monks, with shaved heads and specific dressing, which may give you a different perspective towards life.
Pashupatinath Temple is one of the four holiest pilgrimage sites of the Hindus. It is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, and has gilded, beautifully and gracefully carved silver doors, beautiful wooden carved balustrades and posts and is yet another temple built in the pagoda style. The temple amidst the green forest and is bound by the Bagmati River on the eastern side. The bank of this holy river is where Hindus are cremated. No devotees other than Hindus are allowed to enter the main courtyard of the temple, but the temple can be viewed from the eastern bank of the river. It is the centre of the Hindu pilgrimage and thousands of devotees flock into the temple annually during Maha-Shivaratri and Haritalika-Teej, which occurs in the month of March and August respectively.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
The beauty of this precinct will certainly mesmerize you with the presence of numerous temples, beautifully paved courtyards and amongst all, the 55 Windowed Palace of the past Malla Dynasty kings of the region. You will not only be able to see the spectacular view of 15th century architecture but also will be acquainted with the palaces and the courtyard of the ancient times. The golden gates, wooden palace studded with 55 windows, Batsala temple, Shiva temple and the National Art Gallery are the major attractions of this square. Overlooking the stone paved courtyard is the gracious five storied Nyatapola Temple built in the 17th century. Adding on to its structure are the statues, a pair of wrestlers, elephants, two lions, two griffins and goddess’s tigress & lioness on each storey, making it the tallest pagoda style temple, and exhibiting the immense creativity and craftsmanship of Nepalese culture and art-form in relevant centuries.