Nepal and Tibet have been friendly neighbors with many connections for centuries together. Each beautiful in its own way, this trip brings together best of both lands. Nepal boasts of eight of the world’s tallest mountains and some of the world’s oldest Hindu and Buddhist sites. Tibet, “The Roof of the World”, “The Forbidden City” or the “Third Pole” has its shares of amazing sights. Images of grandeur and spirituality amidst a wild and uncompromising landscape, with its people being the most resilient in the world. Dalai Lama’s summer and winter retreats, the Potala Palace and Norbulingka are easy to conjure in one’s mind. Together they are one of the most fascinating places to visit in Asia. Ready?
Arrive at Kathmandu, and explore the city at your leisure for the rest of the day.
The exploration of the ancient cities starts with Kathmandu and Patan. Kathmandu, being the largest city and the capital of Nepal, is on a flurry of development. but the people are still as friendly and happy as ever.
The tour of the day starts with vegetable & spice market in Ason to see the many courtyards and bustling bazaars. From here, take the local rickshaw (tricycle) ride to Thamel, a happening tourist hub of Kathmandu. The first UNESCO site to visit is Swayambhunath Stupa, also called the Monkey Temple. Resting on a hillock, it is one of the most important and sacred Buddhist shrines of Nepal.
Swayambu means self-creating. The legend is that when Kathmandu Valley was a lake 2000 years ago, a single lotus flower grew at the center of the lake. Saint Manjushree, the Bodhisatva drained the lake with a single slash of his sword, the lotus settled on top of a hill and magically turned into a stupa. Thus, Swayambhunath, the Self-Created Stupa was formed.
This stupa is the most ancient and perhaps the most enigmatic of all holy shrines in Kathmandu. The area surrounding the stupa is filled with smaller chaityas, temples, painted images of deities and numerous other religious objects.
After this glorious Stupa, it's time now for Patan, the city of architectural splendor. Also known as Lalitpur, this city of artisans is a paradise of fine arts and is famous for its rich cultural heritage. The valley’s finest craftsmen have lived, preserved and shared the ancient techniques like the repoussé and lost wax process used to produce exquisite sculptures. The city retains much of its old charm with its narrow streets, brick houses and a multitude of well-preserved Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries (vihars) and monuments.
Though the entire city is wonderful, the Patan Durbar Square, an area filled with ancient palaces, pagoda temples, stone baths, Hindu and Buddhist statues, engravings and bronze cravings is the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Check out the Patan Museum, that used to be called the Malla palace. Here you can find bronze statues and religious objects, dating back to the 11th century.
After the Kathmandu Valley and Patan, it's time for the third ancient city - Bhaktapur.
Start the day at the magnificent temple of Pashupatinath. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an architectural beauty situated in the midst of a lush green natural setting on the bank of the sacred River Bagmati. The temple has pagoda-style gilded roof and richly carved silver doors. It is dedicated to the Hindu God of Destruction, Lord Shiva, this temple is regarded as one of the most sacred.
Next stop is the threshold to understanding the Buddhist way of life. And that is achieved by visiting the Boudhanath Stupa, a center of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. Built on a massive three level mandala, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the largest in the world. The Stupa is situated on the ancient trade route from Tibet that enters the Kathmandu Valley. This has been a place where Tibetan merchants have rested and offered prayers for many centuries. Along with souvenirs and handicrafts, a variety of exclusive Tibetan specialties and delicacies can also be found here.
How to Pray here:
Thousands of pilgrims circle the stupa in a clockwise direction each day spinning the prayer wheels. It is said that each spin of a prayer wheel is the equivalent of reciting the mantra.
After lunch, head to Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur or Bhadgaon means the ‘City of Devotees’. Situated on the Arniko Highway that connects Kathmandu to the Chinese border. Bhaktapur is still untouched by urbanization and has managed to retain its brick paved roads, charming red brick houses and a way of life that goes back to medieval times. This ancient city is also famous for pottery and woodcarving, displayed on the squares and windows everywhere.
The Bhaktapur Durbar Square is the UNESCO World Heritage Site and its monuments reflect the glory days of the Malla Dynasty when art and architecture thrived in the three ancient cities of the valley. Start at the Nyatapola Temple, the unique Temple that literally means ‘five storied’ and naturally rises above the city’s landscape. Next stop is the Bhairavnath Temple, dedicated to Bhairav, the God of Terror. This is a three-storied temple, but has artistic grandeur. Next, stop at the Golden Gate, the entrance to the 15th century Palace of 55 Carved Windows. The golden gate itself is a masterpiece in repousse art.
Last stop is at Taumadhi Tole, a short street lined with tourist shops, where you can go souvenir shopping.
Arrive in the holy city of Lhasa in the afternoon, the capital city of the mystical Buddhist Kingdom of Tibet.
Meet and greet with the guide who will then assist you in settling in your hotel.
Take the rest of the day to acclimatize to get used to the high altitude. You will need it.
Now that you are used to the altitude, the sightseeing can start with the Drepung Monastery. Drive for about 8 km to the west of central Lhasa to arrive at Drepung, one of the "great three" Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet. You don't have to wonder for long, the other two are Ganden and Sera. Drepung literally means "heaps of rice". And why was it called thus? Because, seen from afar, Drepung’s grand, white construction gives the monastery the appearance of a heap of rice. Brownie points for creative visualization. The Drepung Monastery houses many cultural relics, making it more beautiful and historically significant. After the heaps of rice, it's time to set out 5km north of Lhasa to reach the Sera Monastery. Truly, one of the prettiest in Lhasa. Hugging the ridge that forms the Northern wall of the Kyi Chu Valley, the monastery is magnificent featuring a unique style. Not only is it pretty, but it's the hub of all things Buddist. The monastery is a Buddhist think-tank and lively debates on Buddhist doctrines are held here. Should you be in the mood to discuss Buddha and his preachings, you know where to go.
Soaking up more peace and spirituality at Tibet, today, head to Potala Palace, the chief residence and the winter palace of the Dalai Lama since 7th century. It is the cardinal landmark of Tibetan Buddhism and played a key role in the traditional administration of Tibet. Next stop is the "Treasure Park" - Norbulingka. Built 100 years after the Potala Palace on the bank of the Kyichu River, it is the biggest man-made garden in Tibet. Norbulingka reflects both the ethnic and religious traits of the Tibetan people and embodies the architectural style of inland China. Both Potala Palace and Norbulingka are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Next, visit Jokhang. It means ‘House of the Lord’ in Tibetan. Located at the center of old Lhasa, it is the oldest and the most revered religious structure in Tibet. Built by craftsmen from Tibet, China and Nepal it features an intriguing mix of architectural styles.
Last stop for the day is at Barkhor Street is the oldest street in Lhasa that runs through the center of the old city. Life has changed little down the centuries here and it gives you a curious sensation of having slipped through time into a medieval carnival. Since Tibetans walk clockwise around the Jokhang Temple to pay their respects to Sakyamuni, they have established Barkhor Street as Tibet's "Sacred Way".
It's time to leave Lhasa and reach Kathmandu. Take the day for exploration and shopping at Kathmandu.
It's time to bid adieu to the beautiful lands by the Himalayas.
- Necessary arrival/ departure transfers.
- 4 nights’ accommodation at on a twin sharing basis on bed and breakfast plan.
- All necessary sightseeing tours and transfers by a private A/C vehicle and escorted by English speaking local guide.
- All monument entrance fees as per the above program.
- All arrival/ departure transfers with private vehicle.
- 3 nights’ accommodation on twin sharing basis on bed and breakfast basis.
- All the sightseeing tour and transfers as per the itinerary with local English speaking guide by private vehicle.
- Entrance fees & Monument Fees
- Tibet Travel Permit
- Nepal Visa Fee
- Chinese Visa Fee [Quoted separately, subject to change, if revised]
- International Airfares. [Will be quoted separately and is subject to change if revised].
- Refreshments, bottled drinks.
- Insurance and rescue of any form.
- Cost arising out of flight cancellation/road blockades/landslides/riots and events beyond our control.
- Expenses of personal nature and any other expenses not mentioned in the above cost.
- Photography charges in the monasteries and monuments.
- Any meals and services which are not included in the above cost inclusion or mentioned in the above itinerary.