- Cultural heritage of Kathmandu
- Chitwan National Park
- Trek to Astam village
- Holy grounds of Lumbini
The Nepal Culture Tour indulges you in the rich culture and nature of Nepal. Besides visits to the heritage sites of Nepal, we take you on a short trek to experience the beauty of nature and we’ll visit the Chitwan National Park. The Chitwan National Park is one of the finest parks in Asia with a multitude of wildlife. The Nepal Culture Tour is a fantastic tour for your first visit to Nepal.
On arrival, we’ll whisk you away from the chaotic and modern self of Kathmandu uptown to the medieval town of Bhaktapur – to the magnificently preserved old self of Kathmandu valley – it’s old world charm, centuries old marvel of craftsmanship evident in temples and squares, and its people fiercely devotional to its ancestral ways of life and faith. Truly spellbinding transformation on the very first day – welcome to the allures of Nepal!
Drive (45mins approx) to the oldest temple and the least known of the world heritage sites in Nepal – Changu Narayan. Later, walk through the farms and the countryside to Bhaktapur (1.5hr approx).
And, so to Patan. Although these days it is part of the sprawl of the urban Kathmandu, it has a history of its own not least as the centre of Sanskrit learning and thus its oft-used Sanskrit name of Lalitpur (City of Living Arts). Like Bhaktapur, Patan warrants exploration on foot, though here all is easily encompassed within the Durbar Square.
Tucked away in an unassuming back lane of the historical Patan Durbar Square, Swotha Traditional Home is a restored Newari residence. A stay there is an enriching experience in itself that brings to the fore character, time-honored tradition and the much-acclaimed architecture of Newars.
– Visit a ‘lokta’ (authentic Nepali termite-resistant paper) factory, hidden behind one of the unassuming back-lanes of the town
– introduction to the archaic craft of pottery making. You can even try your hands at it
– a casual walk through the old market squares, mingling with the locals
– Visit the Patan Museum, considered as one of the finest art & craft museums in South Asia
At a mere distance of 10 Km from Kathmandu city, the 16th-century unsung twin towns of Bungamati and Khokana have for some unexplained reasons never been much talked about and visited by travellers thronging Kathmandu. Even the whole lot of Kathmandu dwellers seem to have neglected the historically and culturally vibrant twin towns. Being neglected has worked in favour for these two as they have been spared from much of the modernization and cultural degradation that has gripped the rest of the Kathmandu valley.
The outing today will give you an opportunity to witness and admire the traditional architecture and rich culture of the towns, reminiscent of the medieval era. Much refreshing to see the laid back locals, seemingly oblivious to modern outside world, go about their daily chores and life in a way their ancestors used to – women, men, and children sitting in the streets or common courtyards, weaving, chatting, playing, and working under the sun.
As you explore the streets, you’ll get to realise why Bungamati is famed for its master wood-carvers and Khokana for its premium produce – mustard oil. Besides, both the towns boast of some very impressive monuments and ancient temples.
On return, we make a halt en route at The Village Café, a different Newari cuisine restaurant run and maintained by the household women and a fair trade organisation. A good spot to try, in hygienic conditions, some of the Newari delicacies you’ve at already seen in local eateries in Bhaktapur & Patan. Not to be missed – bara (lentil pancake), chhoela (smoked and spiced buffalo meat), momo (Newari dumpling), Yomari (rice flower bread filled with molasses)
Before our departure out of Kathmandu valley – we visit one of the holiest temples for Hindus all around the world- Pashupatinath. Your guide will take you through the spiritual journey with grossing explanation about the Hindu religion, the cycle of birth and death and the story behind the Sadhus- Hindu Holy Men, who renounce their hedonistic social life to devote their life to Shiva (Hindu God of Destruction) to whom the temple is dedicated. Witness one of many cremations along the banks of Bagmati river and on the sanctimonious grounds of the temple.
Spiritually stimulated, you travel on for around 15 mins to reach the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal (disputably, in the world) – Bodhnath. Follow the pilgrims circumambulating the stupa spinning the prayer wheels. Offer your prayers to Lord Buddha lighting a traditional butter lamp in the main entry way to the stupa.
Food for thought! Lunch at a rooftop restaurant commanding an enticing view of the stupa.
After lunch, drive out of Kathmandu valley – ours is now a high drive north out of The Valley towards the central Himalayan region of the Langtang Himal. We climb to 2,000m and, beyond the valley rim, we enter a different world – the world of breathtaking views and the sights and sounds of rural Nepal. Hidden from the mainstream tourist route and the much forgotten historical citadel, Nuwakot gives another dimension to what we do differently. Approx 3.5hr drive
After a ‘farmhouse breakfast’ on the sunny terrace of The Farm, take a stroll to the Nuwakot Bazaar – a centrepiece of the Nepalese story, embellished by the rich history behind the 16th-century fortress and Royal palace; of the shaping of far-flung tribes and trans-Himalayan races into a unified kingdom. With your cultural and historical awareness heightened, you return to The Famous Farm for lunch. The latter part of the day can be whiled away with a hike around the surrounding area, to the viewpoint and the villages or by lap up the luxury of R ‘n R amidst the rural setting and ambience infused with the tradition of The Famous Farm. You can also pick the ingredients for the evening meal from the farm, lend your hands in the open kitchen to prepare the Nepali staple ‘Dal-Bhat’.
Here in Nuwakot village, we have built a simple residence for hearing and speech impaired students of a local school. Please pay a visit to the kids, play with them, bring a smile on their face and make their day.
Get back down on the main road to backtrack up to an auxiliary road to follow the Trisuli river onto the highway link to Kathmandu. Another scenic drive heads into the direction of Pokhara before taking the turn off the motorway due north towards the mountains and to the lake at Begnas (5hrs approx). We are paddled across its still waters to the lovely Begnas Lake Resort which has excellent views of the Annapurna range notably Machhupuchare, the famous Fishtail Mountain. This is a perfect place to understand and appreciate the reputation that the Annapurnas have for their beauty, their tranquillity and the even tenor of their ways. Here are the clusters of cottages, the tightly integrated farms, terraced fields and busy workers, the womenfolk in bright colours, and above are the sunny meadows and uplands with the bastion of the snow-clad Giants as a backdrop.
Village exploration later in the afternoon stopping by an organic coffee farm for a cup of fresh Nepali brew or take a boat out to the lake to try your luck with the fishing.
Begnas (Begnas Lake Resort)
Meal plan: B
Today, you get a gentle introduction to Nepal’s principal attraction in the world travel fraternity – trekking. Drive to Pokhara (45mins approx) and further to the city outskirts to Milanchowk (30mins approx). The route to the vantage point and a delightful little village of Astam takes about 2.5hrs of walk through picturesque villages, farmlands and lush oak and rhododendron forests. The route starts with a brief, sharp climb, continues on a gradually inclining trail and again to rise sharply for a short while. For all your effort, you’ll be rewarded aptly with a grandstand view of Fishtail Mountain and Annapurna range of Midwestern belt of Himalaya.
Set against the awe-inspiring backdrop of the Himalaya, the Eco-village of Astam and the lodge itself is an attraction in itself for it is the home of the Adhikari family for over 7 generations.
This tribe came from India in the 7th century and settled down in the harsh and remote far west Nepal.
About 300 years ago the Adhikari arrived in Astam for the first time on the hill, during a beautiful sunset. Hence, the place was aptly named Astam, meaning ‘Sunset Village’. The lodge has impressively embraced eco-friendly approach and methods – with its organic farm, biogas installation, cattle breeding.
Relish a stunning view of first rays of sun splashing the Annapurna range and breakfast with a view. Banskot, the trek end point, is reached descending on stone-paved steps through forests and farmlands (1hr approx). Drive back to Pokhara (30mins approx), en route stop by Hyangja Tibetan refugee camp. A popular lakeside tourist hub, Pokhara boasts of an array of cafés, restaurants and souvenir shops, and beach town like ambience. Free time to explore. Perhaps, take a walk along the Lake, enjoy a cup of coffee or a cocktail in one of the cafes feasting your eyes on the beauty of the lake and mountains soaring above it. Phewa Lake offers the chance of serene canoe trips, while a climb to the nearby World Peace Pagoda will test the limbs and lungs.
Mum’s Garden Resort is a family-friendly boutique resort in Lakeside Pokhara, and as soon as you enter the premises, you will be impressed by the perfect blend of modern and traditional styles of small bungalows finished with special hand-cut stones.
Morning free to take in your fill of this easy going leisurely town. After early lunch, head back on the road for a drive to the village of Bandipur (3.5hrs approx) – with its eagle’s nest location, its provincial architecture, its interesting walks and a warm welcome at The Old Inn.
Simply enjoy the lane ways and village paths of this enchanting small town. Find a quiet place to sit in the central, traffic-free bazaar, sip tea, nibble snacks or play giant chess at the Ke Garne Café, and be a part of village life as children, watched by parents, race each other and play in the village square near sunset.
A morning stroll around the Bandipur environs as the village life comes to forgiving you the reflection of the typical laid back lifestyle of the middle hills of Nepal.
The sudden change in landscape is remarkable as the central hills give way to flat lowlands and warmer climes of ‘Terai’ leading to the edges of Chitwan National Park (3hrs approx). The Park is regarded as one of the finest national parks in Asia with a multitude of wildlife- rhinos, deer, monkeys and a wide array of birdlife; even the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger, though the odds are very high of catching sight of it. Over the span of our stay there, we’re hosted for lunch at a tribal village, float down the Rapti river in a dug-out canoe with opportunities to view ‘mugger’ crocodiles and unique long-nosed ‘gharial’ crocodiles, go on a jeep safari and birdwatching walks.
A drive along the lowland belt (3.5hrs approx) leads to the holy grounds of Lumbini. Lord Buddha’s birthplace is arguably the single most important religious and historical site in the world- not just, but also for being the centre of Nepal’s most significant archaeological finds, dating from the third century BC. The spiritual energy of the place can be felt on a walk in the Lumbini Park (approx 3hrs), visiting Maya Devi Temple (the exact birth place of Buddha), Pushkarni pond (where Buddha’s mother Maya Devi took the final bath before going into labor), Ashoka pillar and the oldest archaeological ruins to be discovered in Nepal till date and the eternal flame. Later, subject to availability of time, you can hire a peddle rickshaw to take the tour of the western and eastern monastic zones and visit some of the impressive monasteries in there- not to be missed- Chinese, German, Burmese monasteries
The religious park, spread over 5 sq. Kms, consisting of ancient ruins, monastic zones belonging to several countries, cultural facilities, gardens and a tourist village offers an enriching socio-cultural and spiritual experience.
Transfer to the regional airport for a short flight back to the capital (45mins approx). Once again, the High Himalayas are just outside the port windows of our small aircraft. In Kathmandu – a deliberate no plan for the day! Explore more of the town or indulge in some retail therapy in the vibrant local markets. Your stay for the night is an erstwhile palace turned into a hotel with a rich history attached to it.
Optional: Rickshaw Night Explorer: 2-3hrs approx. Start your exciting ride on a cycle rickshaw, a.k.a. ‘street helicopters’, through the colourful tourist hub of Thamel, then on to the bustling vegetable and spice markets of Asan – the oldest market square of Kathmandu. Continue to take the back streets to the Durbar Square. Devoid of tour groups and tastefully illuminated at night, you will certainly feel the soulful side of the archaic Kathmandu.
Packing list for the Nepal Culture Tour:
Single room supplement charge whether due to odd pax/sex ratio or opted by pax.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about this tour.