TICKETS ARE SOLD OUT FOR THIS MAGICAL ADVENTURE
The Jewels of the Himalayas
A Magical Journey Through a Mystical World
October 28 – November 10, 2018
Join Kutira on a 14 day cultural and spiritual journey throughout Nepal and Bhutan. Our journey begins in Nepal where together we will explore the Kathmandu valley and the cultural traditions of the multi-ethnic people who settled in this remote Himalayan valley over the past two millennia.
Next we fly to Bhutan along the most stunning views of the Himalayas including Mount Everest (8848m), the highest peak in the World. It is a breathtaking journey, culminating in an exciting descent past forested hills and hilltop villages into the kingdom of Bhutan. We will visit temples, including the famous Tiger’s Lair, monasteries, nunneries, dzongs (fortress), art projects, schools and Kutira’s special projects.
Throughout our magical journey, we will explore Nepal and Bhutan’s rich traditions and culture heritage. Meet like-minded friends and explore the magical and mystical land of the Thunder Dragon and National Gross Happiness. This is truly the last jewel of the Himalayas and if spirit is calling you, then you will be immersed in the beauty of Bhutan.
Day 1 | Sunday, October 28 | KTM/Thamel Arrive in Kathmandu at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). We will be staying at the legendary Kathmandu Guesthouse and the hotel will pick you up according to your arrival time. After the check in at the hotel, relax, have some dinner and get a good rest.
If you choose to arrive a day or two earlier we can arrange additional room reservations.
Day 2 | Monday, October 29 | KTM/Thamel We will begin our day by gathering together for breakfast and getting to know one another followed by a day of relaxed exploring.
- Kathmandu’s Durbar Square:
- Hanuman Dhoka: We will visit this ancient palace named after the monkey God, Hanuman. This is the historic seat of royalty and the Kings of Nepal are crowned inside its courtyard.
- Statue of King Pratap Mall: We will visit the stone pillar and the temple of Jagannath, built in the medieval period. Next, we will walk over to the temple of Taleju from 1549 AD, the large stone statue of Kal Bhairav, the God of destruction, the Big Bell and Big Drum, and Hindu Lord Shiva with his consort Parvati peeping from the window.
- Temple of Kumari: We will explore the residence of the Living Goddess: Kumari. Kumari means “the virgin girl,” who is selected from a devout Buddhist family. This temple has beautifully carved wooden balconies and window screens, where the Living Goddess “peeks” through. We will end our evening enjoying the many offerings of the city and either walk through the now “car-free” streets of Thamel or enjoy a Rikshaw (bicycle on 3 wheels) ride. For dinner, we will explore some local culinary delicacies as simple as “Dal Bhat” or if your taste calls for another kind of food, be insured Kathmandu’s restaurants have an abundance of varieties.
Day 3 | Tuesday, October 30 | KTM/Thamel
- Swoyambhunath Temple: This beautiful temple is also known as the Monkey Temple and literally means ‘Self-Existent One.’ The history of Kathmandu Valley is said to have started with the beginning of Swoyambhunath. It is perhaps the best place to observe the religious harmony in Nepal and is believed to have been established more than 2,500 years ago. An inscription dated 460 A.D. states that the construction was carried out by King Mandela and by the thirteenth century Swoyambhunath had developed into an important Buddhist learning site. We will visit the monastery next to the stupa and experience the largest image of the Sakyamuni Buddha in Nepal. Next, we will explore a temple dedicated to Manjushree of Saraswati – the goddess of learning. On this majestic hilltop, we will see many statues and shrines of Buddhist and Hindu deities. Large numbers of Buddhists and Hindus alike visit Swoyambhunath.
The remainder of the day is free to explore the surrounding area, partake in a Nepali cooking class, get a massage, or simply relax at the hotel.
Day 4 | Wednesday, October 31 | KTM/Thamel
- Pasupahtinath Temple: This famous, sacred Hindu temple is one of the four most important religious sites in Asia dedicated to god Shiva and is where devotees, pilgrims and wandering saddhus (holy men) gather. This stunning two-tiered golden roof and silver doors is situated at the bank of Bagmati river where one can also observe the cremation taking place. The remainder of this evening is free for you to explore the surrounding area, get some last minute shopping done for Bhutan or simply relax at the hotel and get ready for tomorrow as we change hotels. (Any gift shopping is better to do in Nepal as Bhutan has only a few traditional crafts to offer. Anything you see in a shop in Bhutan might come from Nepal. Kutira will be happy to advise you with your needs).
Day 5 | Thursday, November 1 | KTM/Bhouda After check-out we will leave for Bhouda: the center of Tibetan culture in Nepal with a wonderfully vibrant and interesting community. We will enjoy our lunch on a rooftop at the stupa.
- Bhouda: This is the largest stupa in Nepal and truly a magical place. It is one of Kutira’s favorite sacred places in the world and we will take time to walk around and explore. Join her in experiencing this very special place by sitting in one of the rooftop coffee shops, watching the many pilgrims prostrating and circumambulating the stupa. Our evening is open for whatever magic our time may bring.
Day 6 | Friday, November 2 | KTM/Bhouda As we enjoy our stay right in the outer ring of the stupa, we will have mornings that are purely magical. You may find yourself exploring the morning circumambulation of the stupa or simply watching the many activities from the hotel. In the afternoon we will visit Kutira’s Tibetan/Muslim healer, Fatima. You can get a traditional foot massage, acupuncture or any healing you may seek. Kutira has seen many miraculous healings, including herself, and she always values this special time. The remainder of this evening is free and to get ready for your departure the next day.
Day 7 | Saturday, November 3 | Nepal to Bhutan/Punakha We will be leaving early in the morning for the airport with a time TBD. The flight to Bhutan/Paro provides the most stunning views of the Himalayas including Mount Everest (8848m), the highest peak in the World. It is a breathtaking journey, culminating in an exciting descent past forested hills and hilltop villages into the kingdom of Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport, we will be welcomed by our Bhutanese guide. After an hour bus ride to Thimphu, we will all enjoy lunch together. Our journey continues to Punakha for 3 hours with a tea stop at scenic Dochula Pass (3150m) with another breathtaking view of Himalayas range. This road descends through beautiful farm villages and fields allowing for amazing photo opportunities. The Dochula holds many favorite memories for Kutira and she is especially excited to guide you to this place and enjoy the beautiful temple built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangchuk. We will spend some time at this auspicious place on the way to Punakaha and on our return to Thimphu. Our evening concludes with checking in at the hotel in Punakaha, dinner, and relaxation.
Day 8 | Sunday, November 4 | Punakha
- Punakha Dzong: This dzong was built in 1637 and continues to be the winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbot, the Je Khenpo. It is a stunning example of Bhutanese architecture, sitting at the fork of two rivers, portraying the image of a medieval city from a distance. The dzong was destroyed by fire and glacial floods over the years but has been carefully restored and is today, a fine example of Bhutanese craftsmanship. The Punakha Dzong is also one of the most important places for ceremonies such as the funeral of the je Khenpo in 2005 (attended by Kutira) and the coronation for the 5th King in 2008 (Kutira was also invited.) After so many visits Kutira discovers something she may not have noticed before. She is especially excited to explore this place with all of you.
We will enjoy lunch in town. In the afternoon we’ll be visiting a nunnery located on top of a mountain with a beautiful view into two valleys. This is the perfect place for a meditation and some reflection time.
Our evening is open for relaxation and daily recap with dinner at the hotel.
Day 9 | Monday, November 5 | Punakha
- Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Pagoda: This structure is built by HM the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck and is a splendid example of the Bhutanese architecture and art and is the only one of its kind in the world. It took eight and a half years to build and its details have been drawn from religious scripture. HM built this place for her son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck the current reigning Druk Gyalpo or “Dragon King” of the Kingdom of Bhutan and to protect the Kingdom. This is place is simply breathtaking and a transformational experience. As we climb from the ground floor to the top of the Chorten we enter into the blissful state of peace.
After an invigorating hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten you will be rewarded for your efforts with incredible views of the valley below. We will enjoy lunch at the Chorten.
For an additional cost, the courageous ones can take a river rafting trip back to the hotel.
Day 10 | Tuesday, November 6 | Punakha to Thimpu
On our way from Punakha to Thimpu our exploration continues.
- Chimi Lakhang: the famous temple of the Divine Madman Drukpa Kinely. This is one of Kutira’s favorite temples. The short hike will guide us through rice paddies and many little shops that sell Drukpa Kinely’s magic wand. We will have a late lunch at Dochula Pass and circumambulate the 108 stupas on our return back to Thimphu.
Dinner will be in Thimpu at one of Kutira’s favorite places.
Day 11 | Wednesday, November 7 | Thimpu This is a day of cultural experiences that will introduce you to the arts of this colorful country. We will visit the site of the largest Buddha statue, overlooking the Thimphu Valley. We will visit the Traditional School of Painting and the Arts to capture close-ups of students practicing the ancient arts of Bhutanese thanka painting, mask making, and wood carving.
No evening program – open for what magic Bhutan provides .
Day 12 | Thursday, November 8 | Thimpu to Paro
On the way to Paro we will stop at the the Nuns Foundation Project.
- Nuns Foundation Project:“The Bhutan Nuns Foundation’s mission is to work for the benefit of the nuns country, to empower them and to enable them to become positive agents of change in society. As women with deeply embedded spiritual values, the nuns have the capacity to nurture and inspire others, especially those of the younger generation, to lead more balanced, meaningful lives. It is, therefore, our responsibility as a foundation to help the nuns identify this potential, and acquire the life skills necessary to not only to achieve their own aspirations, but also to fulfill this special role as educators and mentors of their communities.”
Kutira has been on the advisory board since the beginning of the Nuns foundation’s creation. She’s especially excited to share with you the Training & Resource Center Project.
- Kyichu Lhakhang Temple: This is one of Bhutan’s oldest temples, dating back centuries. We will also be exploring the small village of Paro during our time here. We will have dinner in Paro at her old friend’s restaurant. She makes the best fried ginger potatoes and is also known for her delicious momos. You are in for a culinary treat!
After a stroll through the town and visit of the local Dzong we may still have time to stop by at the tower museum.
Evening: Massages and hot stone bath available at the historical Olatung hotel for those who wish.
Day 13 | Friday, November 9 | Paro
- Tiger’s Nest Temple: Our journey in the kingdom culminates with a hike to the most famous pilgrimage site in Bhutan: Taktsang Lhakhang, or the Tiger’s Nest Temple (9,300 feet). Visible from afar, this stunning monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 2,000 feet above the valley floor. Kutira been visiting Tiger’s Nest for many years and each time it is a new breathtaking experience that will stay with you for rest of your life. Ponies or hiking sticks are available for those who wish to ride or walk up.
Evening: Closing circle and celebration.
Day 14 | Saturday November 10 | We will be leaving for the Paro Airport to return either to Kathmandu, New Delhi, or Bangkok.