Tours in Nepal

Around Kathmandu Valley

Pashupatinath -

The most sacred of all Hindu temples in Nepal, Pashupatinath is situated on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it draws tens of thousands of pilgrims and devotees from Nepal and India during the festival of Mahashivaratri (the night of Lord Shiva) that takes place in early spring. Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the temple precincts but may look in from the opposite bank and walk around the outer complex.

Boudhanath -

Possibly the world's largest Buddhist stupa, Boudhanath is a site of great veneration for Buddhists. Around the stupa are numerous monasteries of the various sects of Tibetan Buddhism including one (on the west side of the stupa) that houses an enormous seated statue of Maitreya Buddha (future Buddha), splendidly adorned.

Kopan Monastery -

Perched on a hilltop on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Kopan is a monastery in the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism under the guidance of Lama Zopa Rinpoche.  It is about a half-hour drive from the city centre.  A spectacular view of the city and the whole valley is seen from the monastery.

Kopan was established in 1969 by Lama Thubten Yeshe, and Lama Zopa Rinpoche as a centre of Buddhist teaching in response to a strong wish expressed by their Western students for spiritual guidance and for a place of study.

Kopan was also conceived as a place of study for young people of the Solu Khumbu area of Nepal, and is now home to more than 500 monks and nuns from the Himalayan region, under the guidance of Geshe Lama Lhundrup as abbot.

Thousands of people have studied the Buddha Dharma here at Kopan since the first meditation course in 1970.  They come in search of inspiration, to get to know Buddhism and explore the spiritual dimension of their life, to attend short meditation courses or the now famous one-month meditation course, or for private study and retreat.  Some of those who attended the courses here have gone back to their countries to establish Dharma centres there, working selflessly to facilitate the spread of Buddhist teachings to other countries. Most of the students are foreigners.

Budhanilkantha -

The shrine of the Sleeping Vishnu, situated below Shivapuri hill, 8 km. north of Kathmandu city is possibly the largest image of Vishnu. The five-yard long image of Narayan lying on a bed of serpents is one of the incarnations of Vishnu. It is believed the ruling kings of Nepal were forbidden to lay their eyes on this image, lest they be harmed.

The shrine consists of a pond in which lies a large image of Lord Vishnu reclining on the coils of a cosmic serpent carved in stone. The huge statue of the Sleeping Vishnu was carved from a single block of black stone of a type not found in the valley. It is believed that in another age, there lived a hardworking, farming couple who maintained their farm here. One day, while ploughing the field they discovered the stone image here and ever since, it has been an important place of worship.

Gokarna –

South-east of Kathmandu, with the Bagmati River running along its boundary, is the beautiful, pristine forest of Gokarna. Legend has it that Lord Shiva himself once wandered through this forested hills, disguised as a beautiful golden deer. Local devotees built a shrine in his honour, the Gokarna Mahadev Temple on the river bank opposite the forest. Visitors pay a fee to enter Gokarna forest which has a safari park and other facilities. Various species of deer roam here along with pheasants and peacocks. Nature walks can be arranged upon request.

Sankhu & Bajra Jogini –

Lying at the north-eastern edge of Kathmandu Valley is the ancient settlement of Sankhu. This sleepy town was once on the important trade route east to Helambu. The neighbouring hillside is covered in dense forests, which hide a temple to a secret goddess, the Bajra Jogini. Her shrine is tucked away among tall, dark pines in a sacred, secluded spot. According to legend, the goddess has been residing here from time immemorial.

The central temple is located amidst a series of stupas housing a four dimensional Buddha. Built in the 17th century, it has three roofs and struts with figures of various deities. The tympanum is a work of art. Within the inner sanctum, the goddess is flanked by her two traditional companions, Singhini, the lioness and Baghini the tigress. Follow the wide stone path north of the village and climb up the steps to the temple, flanked by small shrines, stupas and statues.  Behind the temple there are other shrines and sculptures.

Beyond Kathmandu Valley

Dhulikhel -

The small quiet town of Dhulikhel, known for traditional Newari crafts, lies 30 km east of Kathmandu at an altitude of 1,470 m. Climb a little to see the mountains, from Cho Oyu in the east to Himalchuli in the west. This town is popular for its great mountain views and typical Newari culture.

Nagarkot -

Nagarkot has gained immense popularity for its awe inspiring sunrise and sunset views. Only 30 km east of Kathmandu at an altitude of 2,175m, this little town enjoys cool mountain breezes and one of the best panoramic views of the Himalaya, stretching from Dhaulagiri in the west all the way past Everest to Kanchenjunga in the east. This incredible view is the prime attraction that brings hordes of visitors to Nagarkot  An easy 4-hour walk from Nagarkot through the local villages and rice fields takes us to one of the oldest temples in the valley, Changu Narayan.

Changu Narayan -

The temple of Changu Narayan, built on a hilltop some 12 km east of Kathmandu dates back to the 4th century and is clearly visible from a distance. As you walk through the main entrance you are greeted by a couple of stone elephants, then encounter a twin roofed pagoda and the main two tiered temple. The temple is dedicated to Vishnu whose idol occupies the central spot in the main temple. In the form of Narayan, one of his many incarnations, he has 10 arms going through the different layers of the universe. This beautiful priceless piece of art from the 5th or 6th century is surrounded by half a dozen other images dating back to the 9th century. There is also an image of Garuda, the mythical bird that serves as Vishnu’s heavenly vehicle. This shrine is of immense value not only as an ancient piece of architecture but also for one of the oldest and most important Licchavi inscriptions of the Valley.

Godavari -

Situated at the foot of Phulchowki, in the Godavari area are located the Botanical Gardens; the Department of Medicinal Plants and a fish farm. The garden houses thatched-roof picnic shelters, lily ponds, rushing streams and beds of seasonal flowers. It has a notable collection of orchids, ferns and cacti. A clear spring that emerges from a cave, known as Godavari Kunda, is revered by Hindus. Every 12 years, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims come to bathe in the Kunda which is believed to have magical powers.

Phulchowki –

Lying 20 km south-east of Kathmandu, Phulchowki is the tallest hill in the Valley. It is triple-peaked and measures 2,762m in altitude. Phulchowki means 'flower covered hill' in Nepali and it lives up to its name during spring, when pilgrims climb high in search of orchids, clematis vines and rhododendrons – to offer them to the Mother of the Forest, Phulchowki Mai, in whose honour there are two shrines on the mountain.

The view from Phulchowki's summit is simply superb. To the north, the whole of Kathmandu Valley can be seen and beyond the valley, the snow-capped Himalayan range provides an incomparable backdrop. To the south you gaze across valleys of the lower hill ranges that lead to the terai lowlands and India. Phulchowki is one of the important sites for bird watching.

Kirtipur -

Perched on a rock saddle, 5 km south-west of Kathmandu is the picturesque town of Kirtipur also known as the “City of Glory”. Established in the 12th century, it later became an independent kingdom and was the last stronghold of the Malla Dynasty that fell to the invading army from Gorkha. Remains of the original fortification can still be seen here. The Bagh Bhairav Temple still has weapons used during the last battle nailed to its sides.

A majority of the inhabitants are farmers, and most others are merchants. Besides farming, traditional occupations are spinning and weaving. Kirtipur gives the visitor a feeling of walking back into Nepal's past. Some of the multi- storied houses still have exquisite carved windows.

Chobar -

Legend has it that Kathmandu valley was once a massive lake, until the deity Manjushri cut a path through the rock at Chobar with his sword, thus releasing the waters. This natural wonder is located south-west of the city and the waters of the Bagmati River can be seen flowing through Chobar gorge and out of the valley.

The famous Buddhist temple known as Adinath Lokeshwar is located here. The most remarkable features of this triple roofed structure - built in the 15th century are the numerous water vessels, pots and pans nailed to boards all along the building. Facing the shrine, a stone shikhara is believed to be the entrance to a stone cave that cuts through the hill, emerging at the Chobar Cave.

Hattiban -

Located in the midst of a pine forested, sun drenched hilltop, 13 km south of Kathmandu, Hattiban offers a magnificent view of the mighty Himalaya rising high above the Kathmandu valley. The dying rays of the sun paint the pinnacles of ice in many changing hues before daylight fades away and stars fill the sky. Hattiban is a vacationer's paradise, where the air is clean and clear. There is abundant sunlight, the panoramic views are spectacular and there is peace in the serene setting of a silent pine forest.

Dakshinkali -

The temple at Dakshinakali is dedicated to the ferocious Kali who is one of the most powerful mother goddesses in the Hindu pantheon. She gives will power and energy to those who come to her and she loves sacrifices. The six armed goddess, trampling a male human, stands in the company of Ganesh, seven Ashta Matrikas and a stone image of Bhairav. The shrine is decorated with brass tridents and a canopy adorned with snakes. In the inner sanctum, is a black stone idol of Kali. The temple is tantric in nature and twice a week, a large number of animals are sacrificed here. Saturdays are good days to visit as there is always a massive crowd of worshippers who come from all corners of Nepal to pray and offer sacrifices. Fittingly, this is a shrine to the Dakshin or 'southern' Kali.

Vajra Varahi -

Of great scenic, if not religious interest is the Vajra Varahi Temple. One of the most important sites of Tantric origins in Kathmandu Valley, Vajra Varahi is located in a sacred grove of trees east of Chapagaon. There is an interesting network of canals - some of them underground - with little round bridges, an exceptional indication of a sophisticated, but long forgotten irrigation and drainage system. Beyond the canal are large open fields which lead to a grove of tall trees within which lies the sacred temple of Varahi.

Panauti -

One of the finest, purely Newar settlements outside Kathmandu valley is the village of Panauti. Built at the confluence of two rivers within a small valley, this settlement has fine examples of early temple architecture. The Indreshwar Mahadev Temple is of fine proportions and has exquisite carvings that represent early Newari architecture. The roof struts, showing incarnations of Shiva are matchless in their serenity.

Bungamati-

The road leading from Patan to Bungamati, which lies 5 km. south of Patan is dotted with small votive chaityas.  The village of over 2,000 people is tightly clustered on a hilly riverside slope, surrounded by terraced rice fields and clumps of trees.  Past a Ganesh temple, a series of steps lead to a gate guarded by two lions and the head of a third one, which juts out from a ramp obviously built around the animal.  A shikhara-style temple with heavy columns houses the idol of the popular Rain God, Rato Machhendranath. This idol is taken around on a chariot procession through the streets of Patan once every year. Through the grille of the wooden door of the nearby Lokeshwar shrine, you may catch a glimpse of the huge head of Bhairav with a crooked nose.

Ten minutes walk away, past the important Karya Binayak shrine on a tree-covered hillock, is the village of Khokana.  Slightly bigger than Bungamati, with a population of about 3,000 Newar Buddhists, it is famous for its mustard-oil production.  The medieval looking village's old oil presses are worth a visit.

Khokana's streets are brick and stone-paved with central gutters.  The main street is remarkably wide and was built after the earthquake of 1934. The village's main temple is dedicated to the Goddess Shekali Mai, also known as Rudrayani, one of the Valley's nature goddesses.

Namobuddha (meaning “Hail the Buddha”) 1,700 m -

A sacred site steeped in legend, Namobuddha has drawn devout pilgrims from far and wide.  Drive one hour to Dhulikhel which is 30 km east of Kathmandu on an ancient trade route to Tibet. The trek to Namobuddha starts from the Tudhikhel (1,600 m) from where a rough trail climbs steeply to Kavre, a substantial village which lends its name to this district. A dirt road leads up to Namobuddha but is not always in good condition. The trail avoids this road, and passes through forested areas and scattered villages inhabited by Brahmins, Chhetris, Tamangs and Newars. In clear weather there are good views to the north and peaks such as Gang Chenpo (6,390 m) Dorje Lhakpa (6,990 m) Phurbi Chyachu (6,658 m) and Gauri Shanker (7,145 m) are visible. After a further two-hour gradual uphill walk, the ancient Buddhist pilgrimage site of Namobuddha is reached. There is a small village around the stupa and the top of the hill is adorned with prayer flags, chortens (chaityas) and a monastery. Legend has it that a Boddhisatva sacrificed himself to a starving tigress to feed her and her cubs.

Shivapuri-

Lying within the Shivapuri National Park, north of the valley is Shivapuri at 2,760m. From here, fine views can be had of Ganesh Himal, Himalchuli, Manaslu and Langtang range. The entire hill is thickly forested and enjoys a rich flora and fauna. The four-hour hike begins at Budhanilkantha. Camp overnight (remember to carry water) and rise early to catch the sunrise. On the way back, climb down to Baghdwar, source of the holy Bagmati, and stop for lunch at Nagi Gompa, after which Budhanilkantha is only a short walk back. Shivapuri is known for its butterflies.

Kakani -

This weekend retreat is 29km. north-west of Kathmandu and lies beside the road to Trisuli at an altitude of 2,073m. From the hilltop, excellent views can be had of Ganesh Himal, Himalchuli, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Gauri Shanker. During spring, wild flowers cover the hillsides. The trekking trail begins at Balaju and continues on a flat stretch for more than an hour until Kauli. From there it is a stiff one-hour climb. Strawberries are grown here for export.

Daman -

Perched on a ridge 2,500m above sea level, Daman offers a sensational 400-km panoramic view of mountains from Dhaulagiri in the west and beyond Everest in the east. Visitors can go for many walks around Daman. The old Tribhuwan Highway leading up to Daman has recently been upgraded with surface drains, retaining walls, and several new bridges. For those wishing to fly to Daman, there is also a helipad next to the Resort. It is a mere 10- minute flight from Kathmandu.

Palanchowk Bhagvati -

One of the most popular images of the Goddess Bhagwati, the Palanchowk Bhagvati is indeed impressive. Located over 1,520m amidst a natural setting with views of the majestic north-eastern Himalayan range, this stone carved image of the goddess is housed in the Palanchowk Bhagvati temple. It is three feet long and considered one of the most beautiful idols of Bhagwati. Photos of this Bhagwati have been extensively used on Dashain greeting cards.

The Palanchowk Bhagvati stands as a symbol of matriarchal prominence from the 5th century A D. The temple is 55 km. east of Kathmandu along the Arniko Highway (Tibet border). Going over hills and through valleys, the 2-hour journey is very enjoyable.

Gorkha -

The ancient capital of the principality of Gorkha that gave the feared Gorkha soldiers their name and from which King Prithivi Narayan Shah set out to unify all of Nepal - is 130 km west of Kathmandu (roughly half way between Kathmandu and Pokhara) and stands at an altitude of 1,135m. The old palace of King Prithivi Narayan Shah, the unifier of Nepal, sits atop a ridge with fine views of the Annapurna and Himachuli ranges and the surrounding area. The hike up to the palace takes about 40 minutes from Gorkha town below. Also worth visiting on the ridge are the temples of Kali and Gorkhanath with its legendary cave.

Tansen -

Located in Nepal's central hills, Tansen at 1,372m offers a lovely setting for those with wanderlust and a desire for solitude.  It not only enjoys a panoramic view of Nepal's chief attraction, the Himalaya (from Dhaulagiri in the west to Gauri Shankar, north-east of Kathmandu), but from this hilltop vantage point, you can also get a sweeping view of the Tinau River valley below and the surrounding Churia and Mahabharata hills. To the far south is seen the terai (plains) shimmering in glorious sunlight.

Lumbini -

The birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini is located some 250 km west of Kathmandu, in the plains of Kapilvastu.  In the 6th Century B.C., during the time of the Buddha, a confederacy of Sakya clan people lived here.  There are numerous buildings of religious significance in Lumbini, the most important of which is a massive stone pillar erected by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka in 250 B.C.  It was discovered only in 1895 during excavations.  Beside the Ashoka Pillar and the Maya Devi Temple, plinths of huge temples and a pond, where the new-born infant and his mother bathed, have been unearthed. Many monasteries and libraries have been constructed by nations from around the world in Lumbini.