The Jewels of the Himalayas

A Magical Journey Through a Mystical World and Dance Festival

March 14 – March 27, 2019

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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.

INTINERARY 

Nepal

Day 1 | Thursday, March 14 | 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 | Friday, March 15 | 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 | Saturday, March 16 | 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 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 | Sunday, March 17 | 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 | Monday, March 18 | 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 | Tuesday, March 19 | 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.


Bhutan 


Day 7 | Wednesday, March 20 | Nepal to Bhutan/Paro

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. We will be checking into our hotel and get ready to attend the annual Tschechu Dance Festival.

The Tschechu is a religious festival in honour of Gure Padmasambhava “One who was born from the Lotus”, popularly known as “Guru Rinpoche”, the Precious Teacher. The dances re performed by monks a well as by laymen. By attending this festival it is believed one gains merit and lifts obstacles. It is also an amazing social gathering where the people come together to rejoice dressed in all their finery. This is definitely a highlight and gift to be able to attend such a memorable dance festival.

New participants will join us on this day and will continue to travel with me on my next journey to Eastern Bhutan.

Evening: We gather and get to know each other and meet the group arriving for the East Bhutan journey. We will be together fro the time in Paro and Thimpu till our group journey ends and the East Bhutan group travels on.

Overnight at the famous historical Olatung hotel built for the coronation of the 4th King in the late 70’s. 



Day 8 | Thursday, March 21 | Tschechu Paro 

We will continue taking part in the Tschechu Festival. 

 We will enjoy lunch in town and in the afternoon we will visit 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.

Overnight: Olatung Hotel



Day 9 | Friday, March 22 | Paro Thongdrel 

Final day of the Festival and  the hanging of the 3 story tall Thanka of Guru Padmasambhava. After lunch we visit the 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 Kutira’s 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 the tower museum.
Evening: Massages and hot stone baths are available at the historical Olatung hotel for those who wish.

Overnight: Olatung Hotel



Day 10 | Saturday, March 23 | Paro Tigersnest: Pilgrimage to Tiger’s Nest, One of Bhutan’s Most Sacred Places

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 has 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. This pilgrimage route invites us to explore with sitting and walking meditation of our inner landscape and gives us solo reflection time.
Dinner at the hotel, optional massages/hot stone baths, relax and pack.

Overnight: Olatung Hotel



Day 11 | Sunday, March 24 | Thimphu 

This is a day of cultural experiences including the Saturday farmers market. We will visit the site of the largest Buddha statue, overlooking the Thimphu Valley. No evening program – open for whatever magic Bhutan provides
.

Overnight: Thimphu 



Day 12 | Monday, March 25 | Thimpu Excursion

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.

Overnight: Thimphu 



Day 13 | Tuesday, March 26 |

Group One: This will be our last day to shop and enjoy the capital. We will decide the day before how to create the final time for you in the Dragon country according to your needs and meet Dr. Tashi Zangmo, director of  the 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.

Group Two will be leaving early in the morning  to catch a flight into Eastern Bhutan.

Overnight: Thimphu 



Day 14 | Wednesday, March 27 | 

We will be leaving for the Paro Airport to return either to Kathmandu, New Delhi, or Bangkok.