Tale of Two Valleys

Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara City Tour Package (6 days, 5 nights)

Blessed with the densest concentration of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Kathmandu Valley is a treasure trove of religious, cultural, and architectural heritage.  It’s pagoda roofed temples, squares choking with sculptures, sites that are holy to both Hindus and Buddhists, and countless festivals evoke Rudyard Kipling’s famous line, ‘The strangest dreams of Kew are the facts of Kathmandu.’ Walk into the Kumari Temple in Kathmandu, and the dream of seeing a living goddess comes true.

     

    Day 01 Arrival in Kathmandu

    Assistance at the airport upon arrival and transfer to hotel.

    Day 02 Visits to Kathmandu City, Swayambhunath, and Patan City

    Breakfast at hotel.
    Full day sight-seeing of Kathmandu City, Swayambhunath, and Patan City.

     
    Kathmandu City
    Three dynasties, a century-long oligarchy, and hordes of hippies have at one time or another occupied the center of old Kathmandu, the Basantapur Durbar Square. Kumari, the living goddess, lives here. In this one square are the wonders, eccentricities, and diversity of Nepali temples. Enter the Hanuman Dhoka Palace and go back in time. Inside are the residential quarters of the kings of the Malla Dynasty (1200–1769 A.D.) and the square where Nepal’s kings were crowned, and temples whose interiors have never been seen by anyone except the priests.
     
    Swayambhunath
    The stone stairs leading up to the Swayambhunath stupa are dauntingly steep. The all-seeing eyes on the stupa beckon you. Huffing and puffing you clamber to the top, where a breeze cools your sweat-drenched body. Swayambhu, or the Self-Born, is the oldest religious structure in Kathmandu. It is also one of the best places to view the Kathmandu Valley from. Om Mani Padme Hum, the unofficial soundtrack of Swayambhu, drifts to your ears, and for a few blissful moments your world is composed entirely of prayer wheels, butter lamps, monkeys, mutts, and Buddha sculptures. Kathmandu feels like another world.
               
    Patan 
    Merger is the theme in Patan. Chaityas are fused with Shiva-Lingam, a medieval palace serves as a museum, livings are made by fashioning gods, festivals are held in the same courtyards where at other times children play football. In the Patan Durbar Square you will find the equivalent of mall rats, whiling away time in this timeless location. Enter the Golden Temple to watch a boy of six or seven, clad in an old dress, perform the daily rituals. Above all, don’t miss the opportunity to enter the low, anonymous doorways. Losing your way is often a means to finding something in Patan.

    Day 03 Visit to Pashupatinath, Boudhanath, and Bhaktapur City

    Breakfast at hotel.
    Full day sight-seeing of Pashupatinath, Boudhanath, and Bhaktapur City.

     
    Pashupatinath
    Pashupatinath, which is named after Lord Shiva’s form as ‘Master of the Beasts,’ is one of the holiest sites in the world for Hindus. The main temple that houses a black Shiva linga sits surrounded by temples and shrines. Just outside the temple’s walls life encapsulated in scenes: animals being sacrificed; bodies being cremated; sadhus posing for photos and demanding money in return; wailing and singing. A little further and above these is the deer park, where blackbucks and chital saunter. According to Hindu mythology, Shiva once frolicked here in the form of a stag. The Vishwarupa Temple houses Shiva in his supreme and all-encompassing form, an image so powerful that a cloth is wrapped around it to prevent exposure.
     
    Boudhanath
    Boudhanath is a novel experience, one where the Buddha’s all-seeing eyes gaze at restaurants and curio shops, as devotees go around the stupa. Buddhism finds itself in the middle of consumerism here. But it is not limited by its location. On the contrary it transcends boundaries: backpackers in T-shirts walking abreast with grey-haired Tibetan women, doing the kora around Asia’s largest stupa. Streets lead off in every direction from the stupa, like canals designed to carry the spiritual energy generated here by the countless prayer wheels and the ceaseless humming of Om Mani Padme Hum.
     
    Bhaktapur
    Bhaktapur dates back to the 11th century, and in many places that is where it still exists. Walk its brick-paved streets and you see scenes that have almost disappeared elsewhere in the Valley: grains spread out on the ground to dry, spinning potter’s wheels, carpenters chiseling ancient window designs, and elderly men chatting and playing dice games. With three major squares filled with temples, several medieval ponds, and 172 pilgrim shelters, Bhaktapur lives up to its name of ‘City of Devotees.’
     
    The biggest source of wonder regarding the Bhaktapur Durbar Square is that it once had more temples than it does today. The 1934 earthquake destroyed many buildings adorning Nepal’s most photographed square. Masterpieces from the past like the iconic 55 Windows and the Golden Gate survive, just two of the countless excuses to deliberately miss the bus back to Kathmandu and stay in Bhaktapur.

    Day 04 Fly by Buddha Air to Pokhara

    Transfer to hotel in Pokhara.
    Sight-seeing of Pokhara and an hour-long boat ride on the Phewa Lake in the evening.

     
    Pokhara
    Nature seems to have created Pokhara based on the winning design in a competition: a chain of mountains, a verdant valley, and a lake. But its origin is all about the destructive side of Nature. Pokhara was created centuries ago by a massive avalanche-triggered flood. Entire hills were razed to form a valley. Centuries later, the nightmare event has created a painter’s dream location. ‘At the touch of love,’ claimed Plato, ‘everyone becomes a poet.’ The same could happen to a person at the sight of Pokhara.
     
    Pokhara is not all about sedentary activities or philosophy. A host of adrenaline-pumping activities have earned it the title of Nepal’s adventure capital. Thrill-seekers can soar in the skies by paragliding, rumble down churning rivers on a raft, or blaze downhill on a zip line. For an experience that is somewhere in between an artist’s languor-filled day and an adrenaline junkie’s minutes of exhilaration, Pokhara offers walks through forests and boating on the iconic Phewa Lake.
     
    Lakeside
    Pokhara’s Lakeside turns people into amphibians. You go to the lake, come back for a meal, then go boating, and return in the evening for a round of karaoke. Sound and air pollution are second to the visual pollution of countless shops and restaurants in lakeside. If overwhelmed, seek refuge in the many parks running parallel to the lake.
     
    Boating and Varahi Temple
    What better way to start a visit to a place referred to as the Lake City than to go boating? Boating is almost an unwritten law in Pokhara; however, failure to experience it is more about missed rewards than punishment incurred. It is also a reconnaissance of Pokhara. From the expanse of the lake most of the nearby places are visible, so you can pick and plan visits. Boating becomes a pilgrimage if you go to the Pokhara’s most famous Hindu temple, the Varahi Mandir. It is an 18th century Vishnu temple, the god residing here in his boar avatar. 
     
    Devi’s Falls
    Devi’s Falls is a spectacular (and deafening) testament to the old saying: Water is mightier than stone. The Pardi Khola plummets to the underground world at this site, where, according to local lore a Swiss named David and his girlfriend fell into the maw and drowned. Perhaps Devi was easier on the locals’ tongues than David; hence Devi’s Falls.
     
    Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave
    The Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave is a subterranean spiritual center. There is a large stalagmite in the cave, revered as a natural Shiva linga. There also something for the atheist and agnostic. By paying an additional 70 rupees on the entry ticket, you can enter a tunnel behind the linga and reach a moist chamber near the roaring Devi’s Falls. 

    Day 05 Watching sunrise from Sarangkot, visit Old Pokhara and Gurkha Museum, and departure for Kathmandu

    Early morning trip to Sarangkot for seeing sunrise and mountains. Breakfast at hotel. Sight-seeing in Old Pokhara and visit to the Gurkha Museum. Departure by Buddha Air to Kathmandu.
     
    Sunrise from Sarangkot 
    An early morning visit to Sarangkot produces yawns and gapes—yawns as you wait for dawn and gapes as you witness the Himalayas bathe in the morning light. Sarangkot is like taking a step nearer to the mountains visible from Pokhara. Stretched out on the horizon are Dhaulagiri (8,167m), Manaslu (8,156 m), the iconic Machhapuchhare (6,997m), and numerous peaks of the Annapurna range. Sarangkot is the likeliest place where you take a giant leap toward the mountains by deciding to do the Annapurna Base Camp Trek.
     
    Old Pokhara
    A little pocket of nostalgia and Newari architecture, Old Pokhara offers a much-needed respite from the kerfuffle of Lakeside. This old part of town lies north of Mahendra Pul. A handful of Newari houses of exceptional brickwork remain. Another relic of the past is the 200-year-old Bhimsen Temple, a shrine dedicated to the Newari god of trade and commerce. A short walk from here is the Bindhya Basini Temple, where Durga has resided in the form of a saligram (fossil) since the 17th century.
     
    Gurkha Museum
    The gunfire might startle you, but it’s only a sound effect. It may be music to the Gurkha soldiers, the mere mention of whose names have roused terror in the opposing forces. The museum portrays the feats that the Gurkhas have achieved on the battlefields of the two World Wars down to the present day war in Afghanistan.

    Day 06 Departure from Kathmandu

    Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to International Airport for departure.
     
    Pokhara Tour Extension
     
    Day 6: Hike to the World Peace Pagoda and then visit the Bat Cave and Mahendra Gufa or go Paragliding and then visit Tibetan Refugee Settlements
     
    World Peace Pagoda
    The World Peace Pagoda is a good place to find individual peace. The trail to the pagoda passes through a dense forest that offers excellent birding. After watching your fill of birds, climb to the top and take in a captivating bird’s-eye view of Phewa Tal.
     
    Bat Cave and Mahendra Gufa
    The Bat Cave is a deep, dark, and damp place. And there are the eponymous bats clinging to the ceiling. It certainly would make the ideal venue for a vampire-themed costume party. Panic may seize you if you struggle to emerge from the narrow chute that serves as the exit route for the slim and adventurous. A similar environment awaits you at the Mahendra Gufa, which is much larger than the Bat Cave. Dare yourself to go further (with a guide) from the first 125 meters, beyond which there are no lights and the darkness thickens.
     
    Paragliding
    As you rise a couple of hundred meters above Pokhara, your Pokhara experience goes up a couple of notches. Like an eagle scouring the ground for prey, you can swallow chunks of Pokhara with your eyes, all the while looking at the mountains that had looked so remote from ground level.
     
    Tibetan Refugee Camp 
    You’ve read their stories in books, seen documentaries about their flight across the Himalayas, and heard tales of their guerilla battles against the Chinese Army. In Pokhara, you can finally meet and talk to the Khampas, the former Tibetan guerilla fighters. Beside the military history, the refugee settlements are also enclaves of Tibetan culture. Stepping into any of the three settlements in Pokhara can feel like being transported across the Himalayas to Tibet. 
     
    Option: Instead of these activities, you can chose to leave Pokhara to stay in either the tranquil Begnas Tal or the medieval town of Bandipur
     
    Begnas Tal
    Ask an old-timer what Pokhara was like when he was young and he will probably tell you it looked a lot like Begnas Tal.  It is a cleaner, quieter, smaller place than Pokhara. The hills around the lake are still densely wooded, so a walk around it is rewarded with great bird watching, spectacular scenery, and sometimes hours of complete solitude.
     
    Bandipur
    Bandipur’s history is the history of so many small towns in Nepal’s mid-hills: Nepal businessmen migrated here to do business, stayed, and built a mini Kathmandu. Bandipur’s Newari architecture goes back to the 18th century and, in some ways, that is where the town exists. Vehicles are prohibited from entering the town’s center. Re-creating European towns, restaurants set up chairs and tables on the streets.
     
    The sights and activities in Bandipur can be overwhelming. The Thani Mai Temple offers a sweeping view of mountains. There is the 50m-high, 437m-deep Siddha Gufa, Nepal’s largest cave. You can paraglide from the nearby hills, climb limestone walls, or abseil through a cave roof.

    Contact Us Book Now Download PDF Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara City Tour Package (6 days, 5 nights)

    The best time to visit?

    February – March and then September to early November are the best times to visit.

    Attire

    Kathmandu is hot from March to May. September is cool with chances of rain, so carrying umbrellas is wise. Avoid dresses that reveal too much of your body. October onwards, warm clothes are needed for Pokhara’s chilly mornings and evenings.

    Visa

    The minimum duration of a tourist visa to Nepal is fifteen days and costs $25.

    What to do when inside temples and monasteries?

    When inside or near temples and monasteries do not act in any way – excessive photography, talking loudly, wearing shoes into prayer rooms – that impinges on the activities of the priests or devotees.

    Is swimming permitted on the Phewa Lake?

    Yes, although the water tends to be polluted near the shores. Best to swim further away from the edges.

    Is it risky to enter the caves?

    Entry without a guide is not allowed in Pokhara’s caves. Areas with low oxygen levels are out of bounds, so you are safe. If you experience any difficulties while inside, ask your guide for help.

    Contact Us Book Now Download PDF Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara City Tour Package (6 days, 5 nights)

    Package Includes

    • Airport pick-up and drop
    • Sight-seeing in Kathmandu and Pokhara
    • Hotel accommodation in Kathmandu and Pokhara (Hotel with B&B Basis)
    • Entrance fee for: Kathmandu, Swayambhunath, Patan, Pashupatinath, Boudhanath, and Bhaktapur

    Package Excludes

    • Transportation (Arrangement of transportation via air or road can be done as per client’s request)
    • Visa fee at the International Airport
    • Laundry
    • Personal expenses
    Contact Us Book Now Download PDF Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara City Tour Package (6 days, 5 nights)

    Adult (12yrs+) Child (02-11yrs) Infant (below 2yrs)**

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    ** Infant tickets will be issued at the check-in counter before your flight at 10% of adult fare rate

    Download PDF Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara City Tour Package (6 days, 5 nights)