September, 2017. A Spiritual Journey in the Kathmandu Valley
Day 1: Kathmandu
You will arrive in Kathmandu and be received by Tshering at the airport. Transfer to Dwarika’s hotel and check in.
Dwarika’s is a charming and beautiful hotel in the heart of Kathmandu and only 10- minutes’ drive from the airport.
Day 2: Kathmandu Valley – Sankhu Vajrayogini and Boudha Stupa
After breakfast at Dwarika’s, we will drive to Sankhu Vajrayogini, a temple complex sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. The 40-minute hike up brings you to the site that was badly damaged during the 2015 earthquake. Explore and make traditional offerings at important sites. Approximate drive time 1-2hours. After the visit in Sankhu we will drive back to Boudha.
Lunch in Boudha
Rest of the day explore Boudha Stupa and nearby important Tibetan Buddhist monastic centers recreated in exile by lineage holders and heads.
Dinner will also be in Boudha overlooking the Stupa and the thousands of lit butter lamps.
Day 3: Kathmandu Valley – Namo Buddha Stupa, Banepa Ekadzati and Patan
After breakfast, we will drive to Namo Buddha Stupa, a pilgrimage site and way off the beaten track. Approximate drive time 2.5 hours.
Explore and make traditional offerings at important sites (1-2 hours)
Lunch at Namo Buddha
After lunch drive down to Banepa Ekadzati Shrine where you will also make traditional offerings.
Patan, a major historic center of arts and crafts in the region, is filled with countless Buddhist shrines because the Newars, the indigenous population of the Kathmandu Valley, have been predominantly Buddhist.
Dine in the old city of Patan or at Chez Caroline in Baber Mahal 15 minutes away from the Patan square. Besides a pleasant restaurant for dinner, Baber Mahal has about 20 of the best craft boutiques, and one can see conveniently the wealth of creative product that is produced in Kathmandu.
Day 4: Pharping
After breakfast, we will drive approximately 2 hours to the small town of Pharping south-west of Kathmandu. Pharping is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for both Buddhists and Hindus. The 5 religious sites we will visit on this day are:
Self-arisen Tara Temple, previously known to be a place of blood sacrifice where the small statue of Tara, enlightened lady, began appearing.
Asura cave, where the great 8th Century master, Guru Padmasambhava / Guru Rinpoche, practiced with his Nepali consort, Shakyadevi, and attained enlightenment. He is said to be from modern day Swat Valley in Pakistan, and he helped establish Buddhism and the first monastery, Samye, in Tibet at the request of their King Trisong Deutsen. It is a most important site for Tibetan Buddhists, especially the Nyingmas/ early tradition school.
Pharping Vajrayogini Temple, Vajrayogini is another popular form of the enlightened lady Tara. This site was revered by famous masters like Marpa the Translator who is the Guru of Milarepa, Tibet’s most famous yogi, and is still an important temple today. The name of Pharping is said to have derived from this temple.
Lunch will be in a traditional Nepali restaurant.
The residence of the greatest contemporary Buddhist master, Kyabje Chatral Rinpoche, who passed away at the age of 103 in December 2015. His Kudung (holy body) is enshrined at his residence and has become a place of pilgrimage.
The lower cave, Yangleshod, where Guru Rinpoche practiced with his Nepali consort he met in Sankhu, Shakyadevi.
And Kyabje Chatral, Rinpoche’s monastery next door.
Drive back to Kathmandu and have dinner at Dwarika’s
Day 5: Kathmandu – Thamel Bahal & Basantapur
Before breakfast, drive to Thamel Bahal to view the original Prajnaparamita Text. Open 8-10am only. Thamel Bahal is where the original Prajnaparamita/Heart Sutra/ Transcendent Wisdom text is housed.
Explore and make traditional offerings there.
Have breakfast in Thamel.
Drive up to Swayambhunath Stupa, descend to the base of Swoyambhu hill, and do a traditional circumambulation/kora at the base of Swoyambhunath which takes a half hour.
Lunch in Swayambhunath.
Visit Bijeshwori/Vajrayogini Sisters Shrine nearby.
Explore and make traditional offerings.
End your day at Basantapur Durbar Square, another important protector temple and visit the house of the living goddess, Kumari.
Dinner tonight in Basantapur.
Day 6: Phaplu
This is the day we will fly to the mountains! We will fly by small mountain helicopter (40 minutes flight time),, the most reliable means to get to the mountains. We will arrive in Phaplu by late morning and check in at the house. Lunch will be traditional Sherpa meal and served outside in the garden. In the afternoon, we will do some light village walking together. (Altitude 2,500 meters)
Day 7: Chiwong Monastery
Today is the festival of Mani Rimdu at Chiwong Monastery. After breakfast, we will walk from Phaplu to Chiwong (approx. time 2.5 hours) The walk is a nice gradual climb. When we get to the monastery, the procession of the festival will be in progress and we can join in to be part of the Dharma and prayers. Tonight will be spent camping in the yards of the late Sange Lama, the founder of the Monastery (1932). Tents and equipment will be brought by our team. (Altitude 2,800 meters)
Day 8: Chiwong Monastery and Phaplu
We will be part of the ongoing ritual and prayers. In the morning, we will organize a private audience with Sang Sang Rinpoche who presides over the festival. This is also the day of Tibetan theatre and storytelling. The monks perform different acts to tell the story of how Buddhism came to Tibet and how the Dharma was spread through the land. In the late afternoon, we will walk down to Phaplu to the house for a comfortable dinner, relaxation and warm bed.
Day 9: Pikey Summit & Suke Pokhari
Early morning wake up with hot chocolate, tea or coffee. After a light breakfast, we will start our summit walk. It will take approximately 1.5 hours to make it to the top of the peak. At the summit, we will be at 4,100 meters. Pikey is placed in such a way that it is the only viewpoint in Eastern Nepal that offers a panoramic view of the West to East mountain ranges. Altitude: 4,100 meters.
After summiting we will return to base camp, have a good breakfast, and then walk onwards to Suke Pokhari where we will camp for the night. Altitude: 3,500 meters.
Day 10: Phaplu
Waking up with a view of the Himalayas, we will start our descent to Phaplu and back to the house. By late afternoon we should be back in Phaplu and can relax and unwind.
Day 11. Phaplu & Rathnange
We will spend the morning in Phaplu, visiting the hospital built by Sir Edmund Hillary as well as the school and meet with students and teachers. After lunch we will start our walk to Ratnange ridge. It is a 3-hour walk from the house and we will arrive in time to enjoy the sunset over the Himalayas. We will camp here tonight.
Day 12: Phaplu via Salleri
Breakfast in Ratnange with a view of the Himalayas. Walk down from Ratnange to Phaplu through the jungle and the bustling village of Salleri.
Day 13: Kathmandu
We will breakfast in Phaplu and then fly back to Kathmandu late morning. Check in at the Dwarika’s hotel. Visit Thamel local market and the tourist district of Kathmandu. In the late evening, we will visit Boudhanath Stupa where we will have dinner surrounded by thousands of lit butter lamps and a wonderful positive energy.
Day 14: Kathmandu
This morning we will visit Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the oldest and largest of the ancient capitals around Kathmandu valley and home to different artisans who work in wood carving, silver making, Buddhist paintings. A traditional Nepali dinner will be organized for our final night.