Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple) is one of Nepal’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is a dynamic site with 2 main entrances and 3 side entrances. In addition, there are a lot of monkeys that will keep you on your toes. It also has a beautiful attached mythology and architecture. Swayambhunath’s history and symbolism also make this site one of my favorites in the Kathmandu valley. Come explore the Monkey Temple with me.
If you would like to know more about what you can see in Kathmandu, click here.
What does Swayambhunath mean?
Despite the common name “Monkey Temple”, Swayambhunath doesn’t mean monkey or temple. In Tibetan language, it is reference to the many beautiful trees that were once at the site. The name comes from its mythology; Swayambhu means self-created.
The nickname Monkey Temple also originates from its mythology.
Note: the monkeys are very bad here. They will steal items like food, water, and combs from you.
Swayambhunath is believed to have originated from a self-created lotus flower growing out of the center of a lake that filled the Kathmandu valley. An enlightened deity found the lake and decided to drain it by destroying a dam. After all the water rushed out, the lotus flower was the only thing left.
The deity saw the significance in this and began creating a hill to honor the self-created lotus flower. In the process or in disobedience to his mother, he let his hair grow long and eventually contracted head lice. The deity, unfinished with his work left to get the lice removed. But, when he left, the lice jumped off his head and became the monkeys that roam the temple grounds.
The lotus plant, realizing what had happened, rapidly grew thick and dense. It turned itself into the hill and its flower became the stupa.
The earliest record of the construction of Swayambhunath is from the 3rd century B.C. Emperor Ashoka is thought to have built the first temple on the hill, but it was destroyed by an unknown cause.
According to ancient text, the current Swayambhunath was built by King Vrsadeva at the beginning of the 5th century (460-500) A.D. An engraved stone found on the site identifies a work order for the temple, issued by King Manadeva in 640 A.D.
In the 17th century, the king of Kathmandu, King Malla, ordered the construction of the eastern staircase up to the stupa.
The stupa has been renovated 16 times from its construction to 2018.
Swayambhunath has a stupa, multiple shrines and temples, a Tibetan monastery, museum, book store, gift shops, restaurants and a hostel.
The Stupa is a large, white, half sphere with a cube on top of its apex. Each open side of the cube faces north, east, south, or west. Painted on the side of the cube are Buddha’s eyes and a nose, which is a number 1. On top of the cube are 13 tiers and a Gajur at the very top.
The symbolism of Swayambhunath
The base of Swayambhunath, half sphere or dome, represents the world. When a person becomes enlightened, their eyes open and they ascend to the level of Buddha’s eyes. The 13 tiers above the eyes represent the stages of spiritual realizations needed for Buddhahood.
Buddha’s eyes represent wisdom and compassion. Buddha’s nose, the symbol for #1 represents the unity of all things existing in the world and the path to enlightenment.
If you want to know more about Buddhist and Hindu sculpture, click here.
How to get to Swayambhunath
If you are staying in or near Thamel, you can walk to the Monkey Temple easily. Walk west for 40 minutes to get to the bottom of the eastern stairs. You will have to cross a bridge to get there.
You can also get to the stupa by taxi or private car. If you are brave, you can try your hand at public transportation, but you might end up someplace that’s not Swayambhunath.
It is located on the top of a large hill and is easy to spot, if the sky is clear.
Occasionally there is someone charging entrance fees at the top of the stairs on the eastern side of the stupa. The entrance fee is $2. You can also enter the area for free by coming in from the western entrance and any of the side entrances.
Depending on how interested you are and how much you want to see or experience, you can spend 1 to 3 hours here and be satisfied. I could spend an hour just watching the monkeys harass people.
When to go
Mornings are the best time to go, any time before 8:00. Any day of the year is fine too. Just note you might have to bring rain suits if you go during the monsoon season.
Finding time to travel can be difficult, especially if you have a family. Fortunately there are a number of activities you can do in Nepal that only take 3 days. These include jungle safaris, hiking, and cultural tours. Whether you are short on time or just passing through Nepal, here are my top picks for 3 day Nepal tour packages that are family friendly. I hope you come visit Nepal.
The Kathmandu valley is rich with culture and historic sites. Kathmandu has been inhabited for over 2,000 years, but the oldest buildings still standing were constructed in the mid to late 1600’s CE. This is because earthquakes destroyed the older less resilient building. Unfortunately though, Nepal has lost some incredible temples and buildings, especially in Kathmandu Durbar Square.
Although a lot of these structures have been rebuilt, restoration is still underway. With that being noted, the Kathmandu cultural Heritage Site Tour is still one of the best 3 days Nepal Tour available. It is quick, cheap, fun, and full of culture.
Kathmandu Sightseeing Tour
The Kathmandu sightseeing tour is a great way to explore the Kathmandu valley. Whether you are interested Nepal’s UNESCO world heritage sites, culture, or history, you will have a good time on the tour.
On a full day sightseeing tour, you can see 4 or more attractions including durbar squares, temples, the former king’s palace, and stupas. Believe me, there are a lot of cool and iconic places. Please see my captain’s log entry on the locations that were destroyed in the 2015 earthquake.
On the tour, you will be accompanied by a tour guide, and be chauffeured by a private vehicle. When you schedule your Nepal tour, contact us to plan which sights you want to see. If you want to see all of them, I recommend the 2 day tour. The following is a short list of the most visited sights in the Kathmandu valley.
Kathmandu Durbar square
Kathmandu durbar square is pretty cool. Kathmandu is the capital city after all. It has a lot of old buildings, temples, and the royal palace of the Mallas and Shahs. But the main attraction is the Living goddess, Kumari. I have a captains log dedicated to the Kathmandu Durbar Square. Here are a few attractions:
royal palace Hanumandhoka
The Hanumandhoka Palace was damaged in the earthquake, and repairs are still underway. However museum in the palace is open for visitors. The Palace was named after the entrance gate (“dhoka”) and the Hindu deity (Hanuman) that guards the gate.
The Statue of Kala Bairav depicts a triumphant Shiva standing over vanquished enemies. He holds his enemies’ severed body parts in his hands.
This building was built in the early 20th century. It was used for coronations of kings before the monarchy collapsed. It is still standing with mild damage from the earthquake.
Freak street was once the primary destination for foreigners. Now it is just a open air market and a nice destination when you explore Kathmandu valley.
bhimsen tower/ basantapur tower
The tower was destroyed in the 2015 Earthquake. It was made out of brick and lime and stood at about 203 ft tall. It has not been repaired yet. Your Nepal tour will skip the collapsed structures, unless you want to see a pile of rubble.
Itum Bahal is the largest Buddhist monastery in Kathmandu. It is deceivingly small in the photo, but this complex of buildings contains several buildings for prayer, recreation, living quarters, and a museum. The complex sustained minor damages, but has been repaired, and is fully operational and open for visitors.
The Juannath Temple was built in the 16th century. It is one of the oldest temples in the Kathmandu valley. It is notable for the erotic figures carved in its wood struts. The temple used to serve as a means of sexual education, and possibly the priests taught about how to live well and maintain a healthy relationship.
The temple sustained minor damages in the 2015 earthquake. It has partially been repaired, and is open for visitors. It is still a great destination for your Nepal itinerary.
digu taleju temple / maju dega
The Maju Dega 3 tier temple collapsed in the earthquake. It has yet to be rebuilt. Your Nepal tour will skip this location.
The Kumari is the living goddess of Nepal. She is chosen at 4 to 5 years of age by the Newar people of Shakya. When she reaches puberty or becomes sick she looses the goddes “power” and new kumari is chosen. She lives in a 3 story red brick building near the entrance of the square.
shiva and parvati temple
This temple is dedicated to Parvati and her husband Shiva. They are shown looking down from the window below the roof line in the center of the building.
Patan durbar square
Patan is one of those mystical locations that is popular, but you don’t know anything about. At least for me, it used to be. It was featured in Raiders of the Lost Arch as the area where Indiana Jones finds the head piece for the staff of Ra. When you visit, you will see that it belongs to a period in time forgotten forgotten in history.
The Patan museum is one of the best Museums in Nepal. There are a ton of cool bronze and stone sculptures, ancient Buddhists manuscripts, and art on the walls. If you visited one museum on your Nepal tour, make it this one.
The Krishna Temple was built in 1637. It was dedicated to the Hindu god Krishna after the king Siddhi Narasingh had a dream of Krishna and Radha standing in the location where the temple was built. The temple was constructed completely out of stone. The temple was damaged in the earthquake but was completely repaired.
The temple was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake. It is still under reconstruction.
Vishwanatha temple has a double platform and is 2 tiered. Its ornately carved wooden struts and carved decorations in its wood beams bring character to this temple. Two stone elephants are on the east side of the building, while a bull is on the west side.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur encompasses an area of over 6 square miles. Most of the area is modernized with hotels, restaurants, shops, and a lot of open space. There are 33 temples, shrines, pagodas, statues, and monuments that have historic and religious significance. The following is a short list of attractions.
This temple was built in the 17th century. It was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake and has been rebuilt. What makes this temple interesting is that it houses a sculpture of the combined forms of lord Shiva and Vishnu.
The Bhaktapur royal palace is one of the main attractions of the square. unfortunately it was severely damaged in the earthquake and is still under construction.
This temple is very similar to the Badrinath temple, but grander. This temple gets its name from the statue of Kedareshwar in its center. Kedareshwar is an incarnation of Shiva that protects farms.
The temple has a primary center pinnacle with 4 supporting smaller pinnacles at its sides. It is made out of red brick. It was damaged in the 2015 earthquake, but has since been repaired.
This temple was built to honor Vishnu and Krishna. It is a beautiful pagoda style temple artistically constructed out of carved wood and brick. The brick and wood fit seamlessly together as the jagged boundaries of the two medias create a daring dynamic look.
There are no signs of damage at the temple. It is still standing and open for visitors.
The golden gate of Bhaktapur durbar square is one of the most recognizable structures in the area. The golden roof and trim make it standout in a crowd of red brick and dark wood.
55 window pallace
The Bhaktapur Malla palace was built in 1754 after over 300 years of construction and remodeling. It was demolished in an earthquake in 1934 and rebuilt. fortunately the 2015 earthquake did not significantly damage the 55 window palace. It is still open for visitors.
Visitors can walk through the rooms and look at art, and have a city view of Bhaktapur through the windows.
Boudhanath stupa is one of the most iconic landmarks in the Kathmandu valley. The piercing blue eyes of the stupa can be seen on coffee mugs to the cover of the Lonely Planet Nepal guide book.
The stupa is at the center of a ring of monasteries, temples, shops, and hotels. The area has a beautiful park like atmosphere, where you don’t mind having a picknick and lounging around all day. It was not damaged in the 2015 earthquake.
I highly recommend this location on your Nepal tour.
The Swayambhunath temple is pretty cool. The monkeys can get a little handsy, but if you don’t have any food they’ll leave you alone. The monkey temple is located at the top of a small hill. You can walk or drive up to it.
There is also a mini Boudhanath temple at the top of the hill. It is surrounded by mini shrines, a few venders, and a tea house. In addition, They were building a temple similar to the Badrinath temple next to it. It is now complete and open for viewing.
The Swayambhunath stupa is not as grand as the stupa at Boudhanath but it is still worth a visit. None of the buildings were damaged in the earthquake.
On your way to visit Pashupatinath temple you will cross the Bagmati river, which runs through the back of the Pashupatinath temple complex. Once you are finished looking at the temples make your way to the river. There is a high probability you will be able to see a funeral pyre.
This is one of the most sacred places for a Hindu burial in Nepal. It is believed Shiva turned himself into a deer and lived on the hill above the temple. There is now a zoo on the hill to honor shiva.
Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park is my top destination for a 3 days Nepal tour. It is perfect for families with young and old members, and wildlife enthusiasts. Chitwan National Park is completely safe. It’s exciting and fun and the best way to spend your time, if you only have 3 days in Nepal.
The park is over 359 square miles of pristine habitat for the wild animals and plants. Despite being endangered and threatened, one horned rhinoceroses, elephants, and gharial crocodiles are extremally common in the park.
You can also see monkeys, deer, leopards, sloth bears, Bengal tigers, 544 species of birds, wild pigs, 56 species of reptiles, and a magnitude of other animals. The leopards, tigers, river dolphins and bears are a lot less common.
Chitwan National Park is located 119 miles west of of the Kathmandu valley. It takes about 5 to 6 hours to reach the park by bus from Kathmandu. If you arrive early enough, you can complete the tour in 2 days and be back in the Kathmandu valley for a sightseeing tour.
Chitwan National Park is in a subtropical climate. It can be chilly in the mornings in the winter, but otherwise its hot and wet. It has an average yearly rainfall of 87 inches, which occurs mainly during the monsoon season from June through September.
The average high temperature is 87 F, while the average low is 61 F.
The price of a jungle safari ranges from $200 to 3,000. You definitely get what you pay for. Accommodations range from a tent on a platform to luxury hotels with indoor plumbing. Our tour package costs $2,090, and we give group discounts.
The best time to visit the park is in the spring (March – May). At this time you are more likely to see tigers. I recommend coming in the winter (November – January) because the weather is so much more pleasant.
The park is open all year long, but during the monsoon season hotels and restaurants close down.
Poon Hill Trek
The Poon Hill trek is a lightly hearted trek through forests and small villages. The highlight of the hike is a spectacular sunrise over the Annapurna mountain ranges. The mountain views are impressive.
The trek requires minimum effort and is ranked as an easy to moderate hike, which makes it perfect for families with kids. The maximum elevation on the hike is 10,531 ft but you are only gaining about 2,000 ft in elevation from the start of the hike. You may experience altitde sickness at the top of Poon Hill, but it is unlikely.
The peak season for trekking Poon Hill is from September to November. This time offers the clearest views of the mountain ranges. However, in April you will still have pretty good views and can catch the rhododendron blooms.
Namche Bazaar Trek
One of the most adventurous trekking tracks is the trail to Everest base camp. The Namche Bazaar Trek will get you halfway there and can be done in 3 days. It is pretty strenuous though. It is worth the effort because you will have views of Mt Everest and Lhotse. They are 2 of the highest Himalayan peaks in Nepal.
The elevation of Namche Bazaar is 11,286. I had mild altitude sickness in Namche, but fortunately it passed after I was able to rest. I do not recommend this tour for kids, but it is great for teens, and adults.
If mount Everest is on your bucket list, but you don’t want to hike all the way to it, this is a great alternative. In addition the mountain views from Namche are pretty phenomenal too.
Lumbini Monastery tour
In the 6th century BCE Lumbini was an independent country ruled by King Śuddhodana. His wife Maya Devi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama who would later inspire peace in the world, and be known as Buddha.
The Lumbini Tour offers the opportunity to explore the birthplace of buddha and visit temples and monasteries built by countries to honor Buddha. You can explore the parks and gardens, and even stay in the monasteries.
The tour is only 3 days and is a perfect way to spend the day sightseeing.
Three Days Nepal Tour
You have a lot of options for a 3 days Nepal tour. Kathmandu valley has three durbar squares and a ton of temples, Chitwan has wildlife and excitement, Poon Hill has beautiful mountain views and flowers, Namche has Mt. Everest, and beautiful views, and Lumbini has enlightenment.
Great! You’ve come to the right place. In this blog post I will break down popular tour packages based on cost, duration, value, when to visit, and common activities for tourists.
I hope you enjoy this article. If you are still left with some questions, please contact me.
Is Nepal worth visiting?
Yes! If you love drop dead gorgeous landscapes, world class hiking and trekking, seeing majestic wildlife, experiencing rich vibrant cultures, and meeting the kindest people in all of Asia; It is definitely worth visiting.
If you want to visit a country where you can party, Nepal is not for you. Visit Thailand or California, I heard they know how to party. But seriously though, don’t come here if all you want to do is party.
Without giving too much away just yet, here are a few of the most popular destinations in Nepal: Chitwan National Park, Annapurna Conservation area, Sagarmatha National park (Mt. Everest), Lumbini (the birthplace of Buddha), and of course the capital, Kathmandu.
I will go over the areas in further detail, so you can best plan your Nepal tour.
How much time do you need for a Nepal tour?
You can pretty much see everything you want in 2 months. This includes hiking, travel, sight seeing, and rest breaks in-between. However; you don’t need 2 months to enjoy this beautiful country.
Your Nepal trip can be as short as 3 days, and you will still have an amazing experience. The following tour package menu give the duration, cost, and best time to travel for a specific tour package. I also Identified my favorites with a red check mark.
What a great question, and one that actually comes up more often than one would think. In 3 days you can do any one of the 3 day Nepal tour packages.
You can go on a Royal Chitwan National Park Safari, shortened Buddhist pilgrimage Tour, shortened Poon Hill Trek, UNESCO world heritage site tour, Kathmandu valley tour, yoga retreat, Cannabis tour, volunteer at a school or NGO, and live in a practicing monastery as a monk.
How much do Nepal trips cost?
The cost of a tour ranges from $250 to $5,290. The range in price is dependent on the duration and difficulty of the trip.
A one day guided tour in a private jeep will cost about 250 dollars. A two week tour package with a guide and porter requiring multiple permits licensing costs over $5,000. This includes all expenses except air travel.
In perspective, a person working 10 hour days 6 days a week, in Pokhara Nepal will make about 125,000 rupees a month. One US dollar is about equal to 125 Nepali rupee. This is enough to pay for rent, food, school supplies, and minor living expenses.
Labor workers living in a village are paid $2 to $5 per day. That is less than a dollar an hour. Book a trip with us and make a difference.
Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure is employee owned. Each guide, porter, cook, logistics manager, marketer, and content creator all get a fair and equal share of the proceeds. Which means you get a better service, a better experience, and a happy tour guide.
Tour guides are the heart of the travel industry in Nepal. Most guides will work with one or two travel agencies or tour operators, and rarely freelance.
If you are only interested in hiring a tour guide and don’t want any licensing, or arrangements, please call or email us and we will set you up.
Guides will charge based on the difficulty of the tour, and the number of people in the group. Some guides require help if they work large group tours. The number of children in a group will also affect the rate. Most guides will charge about $25 to $50 per day. I suggest paying $75 to $100 per day if you are not purchasing a package.
Please note: availability of tour guides will change based on season and holidays. Please call or email before you visit Nepal to see if your vacation falls on a Nepal holiday. Most guides will not work on important holidays, or will charge two to four times the going rate.
Dashain, Tihar and Chhath are the most important holidays in Nepal. Buddha Purina, Eid, Loktantra day, and Ganatantra day are also very important but they are not celebrated on as grand of a scale as the top 3. Here is a schedule for holidays in Nepal.
Which is the best time to visit Nepal?
This is debatable and dependent on what Nepal tours you are coming for. If you are interested in a river rafting adventure activities, you may want to consider coming at the end of the summer months. This is at the end of the monsoon season with some very high flow.
For the best landscape scenes with the clearest sky, September through November are the best months to come. Unfortunately it is also the most crowded.
I would visit Chitwan National park in the Spring months. The jeep safari tour is pretty fun. I am opposed to the mistreatment of the elephants so I tend to recommend the alternatives to the traditional park tour.
If you want to see a Bengal tiger, visit Bardiya national park, not Chitwan. Also the rhododendron forests on the Poon Hill Trek are in full bloom in late April.
Anytime is a great time for visiting Nepal. I highly recommend not coming in the summer though.
Which tour package is the best?
The Annapurna Circuit Trek is the best tour package. At least it is the one I like the most. It is one of the most popular mountain ranges for good reason. Spectacular does not even come close to describing this amazing experience.
The Everest base camp trek is a close second for me. It’s the highest mountain in the world and most famous, but not the best tour package.
Regular tour package
Tour packages include a guide, 1 to 3 porters, living accommodations, permits and licensing, logistics handling, transportation services, food and non alcoholic beverages.
You may also request a private photographer to go with you.
Living accommodations range from tea houses to 5 star hotels. A tea house is essentially a highly commercialized Airbnb. Most are single rooms with a shared bathroom. While trekking, only the tea houses are available.
The following is a list of Nepal tours and Nepal tour packages.
Chitwan National Park
The Chitwan national park tour lasts for 3 days. It is one of the least strenuous tours in Nepal. You will most likely see gharial crocodiles, one horned rhinos, tons of birds, deer, and possibly a sun bear and Bengal tiger. The cost of the trip is $2,090. The tour includes a pretty decent show featuring local culture from the ethnic groups in the area.
Mount Everest Base Camp Trek
The Everest Base Camp Trek lasts for 16 days. It is one of the most strenuous tors in Nepal. The altitude is the greatest obstacle in making it to base camp. But, it is also the easiest obstacle to overcome.
Namche Bazaar, Mt. Ama Dablam, Mt. Lhotse (4th tallest Mt. in the world) and of course Mount Everest are the main sights. If you are extremally lucky, you will see a snow leopard or mountain sheep. The cost of the Everest Base Camp trek is $4,090.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek
The ABC Trek is a 10 day adventure into the heart of the 10th largest mountain in the world. The Annapurna region has many stunning hikes, but only the base camp trek takes you to Mt. Machapurchare, and Annapurna I.
Full disclosure, I haven’t been to the base camp, so I cant speak from first hand experience, but all the stories I’ve heard say they have an amazing time.
The trip costs $3,000, which is pretty good because you can include the Poon Hill trek at no additional fee.
Annapurna Circuit Trek
This is my favorite trek in the entire country. When I say, “I love this trek” it is an understatement. To me it just feels right. The views are breathtaking, the walk is just delightful, there are plenty of side quests to explore, like Tilicho lake and ancient cliff dwellings. You get to hike through local villages in rural Nepal. There are monasteries and temples scattered along the trail. This trip has it all. It is a 16 day trip that will cost $4,090.
Langtang National park is more of a nature preserve than a hiking destination. At the peak of the trek you will be surrounded by some dynamic mountain landscapes. The trip features stellar views of Langtang Lirung, and lots of wildlife.
If you are lucky you can see red pandas! Also in late April, there are a few nice groves of Rhododendrons that should be in full bloom. There are multiple check points in and out of Langtang national park to check for smuggled wildlife.
The trip can last up to 11 days, but can be completed in 4. It costs $3,250. Contact your tour operators to discuss cost and duration.
Kathmandu sightseeing tour
Did you know the Kathmandu valley used to be a prehistoric lake? There are tons of fossils beneath all those temples and shrines. This is actually identified in the legend of the monkey temple. (identified below)
The sightseeing tour is scheduled to last 1 day, but you may extend it out to two. There are enough really cool things to see to take up 2 days. The tour costs $250. The highlights of this sightseeing tour are identified below.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
The Kathmandu Durbar Suare is a world heritage site. it used to the be the location of the Nepal royal palace, but was moved to near Thamel. The area is still a coveted attraction for both locals and tourists even though it was damaged in the 2015 earthquake. Fortunately, construction is underway.
This area used to be the business hub of Nepal. And although no formal documents identify the construction period, it is believed to have started construction in late 1000 CE. with the construction of the royal palace. Subsequent buildings were built in response.
This is one of my favorite areas in Kathmandu. It is also a world heritage site. It is believed to have been built around 1692. The complex contains temples, ashrams, Bagmati river, funeral pyres, and a small zoo at the top of the hill.
Please visit my blog post about Pashupati temple for mor information. https://mynepaltrek.com/?s=pashupati+temple
The legend of the Swayambhunath temple (AKA monkey temple) identifies a large lake covered in lotus flowers. At the center of the lake was a perfect lotus flower that grew underwater. The deity of wisdom, Manjushri, heard about this perfect flower growing at the bottom of the lake. When he found it, he turned it into an island, raising it above the water.
He thought it would be lonely so he drained the lake for people to visit. But in doing so, his head lice fell from his head on the hill and turned into rhesus monkeys.
The area the lake used to sit on is now the Kathmandu valley. If you travel to Pahupatinath, watch your belongings, because the monkeys will steal items from your bags.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
This is another world heritage site. some of the temples collapsed in the 2015 earthquake but restoration efforts are underway. Inside the Bhaktapur square you can still see the 55 window palace, Nyatapola and Bhairava temples, The golden gate of Bhaktapur, and other temples.
I believe the mini-Pashupatinath temple, and Lakshmi temples are being rebuilt. However; The pottery square is still open.
Patan Durbar Square
Patan is another UNESCO World Heritage site. Unfortunately it was heavily damaged in the 2015 earthquake. It is slowly being rebuilt. A few structures, most notably the stone shrine dedicated to Shiva and the Keshav Narayan building, which is also a museum.
Changu Narayan Temple
This temple is shrouded in mystery. I can not get a strait story about it. There are 3 legends surrounding the temple.
The first story is that it is named after the Kashmiri king who married his daughter, princes Champak, to the prince of Bhaktapur. The local community is named Changu and the temple is Changu Narayan temple.
Maybe the Bhaktapur prince was named Narayan, and over the years the villagers changed the name of the village to be named after the temple?
The second story is Vishnu was hunting in the forest and killed a man on accident. For the crime he was entombed inside a tree and could only emerge as a small boy. One day two villagers saw the boy come out of the tree and steal cow milk. They chopped down the tree and freed Vishnu from his prison.
The third story is not worth repeating. It involves an old man and a boy wrestling. The young boys name was Changu.
The temple is believed to be the oldest in Nepal. But who believes anything now, after those 3 stories.
Lumbini Spiritual Tour
Lumbini is the birth place of lord Buddha. It is a popular destination for Buddhists, and is one of the main tourist areas.
I have not been to Lumbini and can not speak from personal experience. My friends that have gone liked the accommodations.
A Buddhist pilgrimage in Lumbini can take up to 7 days, but can be shortened to 4. The tour costs $2,120.
Nepal Textile tour
Our textile tour is fairly new. It pays homage to the arts and crafts of the rich cultural diversity in Nepal. The tour lasts 11 days, and takes you to the artistic hubs around central and western Nepal. The tour visits textile factories producing daka, fabric dyeing locations, and in house fabric weaving. The textile tour costs $1,500.
Nepal Cannabis tour
The Cannabis tour is only offered in October. It combines scenic views of the Himalayan mountains with, rural village small farm tours, and a food tour in Pokhara. The tour uses a private vehicle and lasts 7 days. The cost of the tour is $2,500
UNESCO world heritage sites tour
The UNESCO world heritage sites tour visits 9 out of 10 UNESCO sites in Nepal. Sagarmatha National Park (mount Everest) is left out due to time.
The tour combines a 2 day Kathmandu sight seeing tour with a Chitwan National Park tour and a Lumbini Pilgrimage tour.
The tour takes 7 days and costs $3,250, which is a better deal than buying all activities individually.
What activities do tourist like to do in Nepal?
As a tourist in Nepal I enjoyed trekking, visiting cultural sites, and national parks. I liked Chitwan national park the best. All of the Nepal tours are great and let you experience a different aspect of the country. I did not enjoy Nepali cuisine very much, but I loved the Indian food.
Nepal is a family friendly destination with a rich culture surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Come visit Nepal and we will find an activity that’s right for you and your family.
Do you like marijuana? Do you enjoy amazing mountain views, and ancient cultures? Why not put them together in a Himalayan Cannabis Tour? That is exactly what Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure did. Now, for the first time, you can have a guided Himalayan Cannabis Tour. This tour combines the natural beauty of the Himalayan mountains, the rich cultural heritage of Nepal, and all the cannabis you set your eyes on.
History of Cannabis in Nepal
Cannabis is native and indigenous to central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. This means that Nepal and its people have grown and developed next to each other for 1,000’s of years. As proof of such a relationship, cannabis is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, which was written 500 to 200 BCE.
More recently, (date unknown) up to the 1970’s, the king of Nepal sold cannabis products to people in government-run hashish shops. These shops were shut down in the late 1970’s, because of political pressure from foreign governments.
The king then outlawed cannabis, but Nepali citizens protested the new law. The protest resulted in neutralizing the law. Although still a law, it is now not enforced.
During Shivaratri, the law is removed and everyone can partake in nation wide cannabis celebration, more on this later.
Cannabis production and celebration in Nepal
Cannabis grows wild throughout Nepal. It is also grown in gardens for its seeds, hash, and foliage for goats. By the way, goats love it! I would say each household that grows it, grows enough for 12 people or 2 goats. These plants get massive, upward of 12 feet tall and 15 feet wide. They can be extremely fragrant too.
Since most of the gardeners want seeds in their cannabis, they freely allow pollination. The seeds are used to make a food condiment used as a dipping sauce for vegetables. Its pretty good.
The hash produced from their plants is used during Shivaratri, which is a national holiday celebrating the Hindu god Shiva. Shivaratri is a Nepali version of St. Patty’s day, except with marijuana and not alcohol. In the words of Bob Dylan, “Everybody must get stoned.”
Shivaratri is based on the lunar calendar, so the date is different each year. It occurs in March or April, which correspond with the Nepali month Magha.
Do you like marijuana? Do you enjoy amazing mountain views, and ancient cultures? Why not put them together in a Himalayan Cannabis Tour? That is exactly what Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure did. Now, for the first time, you can have a guided Himalayan cannabis tour. This tour combines the natural beauty of the Himalayan mountains, the rich cultural heritage of Nepal, and all the cannabis you set your eyes on. Please note: Cannabis is Illegal in Nepal except on Maha Shivaratri, when smoking hashish is permitted. Please note: Himalayan Treks and Adventure does not sell cannabis or cannabis products and does not condone illegal activities. Please note: this tour is only available in late September and early October.
Visit historic and culturally significant areas relating to Cannabis like Freak Street and Pashupatinath temple
Tour farms in rural areas of Nepal to see their horticultural practices
Gain amazing mountain vistas
Go on day hikes
We gain incredible insights into the many different cultures in Nepal by exploring different areas and visiting temples and cities. From the cities we travel to rural areas of Nepal that are known to have amazing mountain views and equally fantastic Cannabis. At these locations we will learn about their horticultural practices and reasons for their production. We will also go on day hikes to view points in the areas. This is a blissful trip.
For more pictures and to read about the experience visit our blog link here.
Day 01: Arrive in Kathmandu and explore the city in a private car
Day 02: Visit Pashupatinath temple, Boudhanath stupa, Swayambhunath stupa, and “Freak Street”
Day 03: Visit areas of Nepal that are known for their Cannabis and mountain views
Day 04: Visit areas of Nepal that are known for their Cannabis and mountain views
Day 05: Visit areas of Nepal that are known for their Cannabis and mountain views and go on a day hike
Day 06: Go on a Pokhara food tour and visit a head shop
Unfortunately, all the Kathmandu world heritage sites can’t all be seen in 1 day; there are too many sights too far apart. Fortunately, you have this guide to help you choose which places to visit. In this blog post I provide a description of each of the world heritage sites, a few photographs and links to detailed articles further explaining the sites. I hope you enjoy!
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur is an amazing old-world town with a long history and rich culture. Its most famous temple is the Nyatapola Temple, which has 5 stories. It has a pottery area, where people can see craftsmen create earthenwear. Bhaktapur Durbar Square is known as the way back to culture. You can find out more about it here.
The history of Boudhanath Stupa is a shrouded mystery and covered in folk tales and lore. You can receive 3 different backgrounds from 3 different people and they will all have some aspects of truth. Without giving away too much detail, one history involves a human sacrifice, a chicken, and water. Another involves an old woman and the king of Nepal. Hint: the old woman isn’t his grandmother! You can read about these interesting stories here.
Changu Narayan Temple
Full disclosure: I’ve never been here, but I hear its nice! From what I understand its an old Hindu temple that is beautifully carved and constructed. Most tours do not go here because it is very far away from the other heritage sites in Kathmandu. If you do visit, let me know how it went and I will rewrite this blog post with your description. Really, you can write whatever you want, and I’ll post it here! “tempting offer” you say. You can read more about it here before you make up your mind.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square has a similar history as Patan Durbar Square. It was ruled by both the Mallas (from noth east Indians) and the Shahs (from Gorkha). It has a beautiful pallace and many supporting temples. The main attraction of Kathmandu Durbar Square is the Kumari (living goddess), who you can see, if she is there. You can read more about it here.
Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square is an amazing old-world town with a long history and rich culture. Its most famous temple is the Shiva Temple, which was carved from imported stone from India. It has a phenomenal 3 story museum, which houses relics and cultural artifacts from the past. Patan Durbar Square is known for its Newari architecture, museum, and palace. You can find out more about it here.
You are only allowed entrance into the Pashupatinath Temple if you are Hindu. You can say you’re Hindu and try to enter, but you should not be wearing any leather products. Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventures’ guides will help you, if you have any issues. In addition, I’ve even met people who have been turned away for being white. The racial bigotry aside, the temple complex is very cool. It is located on the Bagmati River and there is a mini-zoo too. You can read about the significance of the river and zoo here.
The Swayambhunath Stupa has a very beautiful myth about its creation. The myth involves a giant lake, a god with lice, and a single lotus flower. It is a miniaturized version of Boudhanath Stupa, but with statues, and a small brick stupa. Do not come here if you are allergic to monkeys stealing your lunch. Swayambhunath is also known as the monkey temple. To find out why, follow this link.
I hope this article was helpful. Please feel free to save any of these pins to your Pinterest account.
This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but only Hindus are allowed entrance. Pashupati is complex of buildings on the bank of the Bagmati river. You can find temples, ashrams, and artistic carvings in the primary temple complex. Outside the temple funeral pyres are routinely held and the ashes are freed in the river.
A small zoo is located above Pashupatinath in a park. It is fitting, because the deity Pashupati is considered lord of animals. Pashupati is important in Hinduism, because it is identified as one of the homes of Shiva as out-lined in the ancient text Paadal Petra Sthalams.
Pashupati was originally built in the 3rd century, but has been rebuilt several times since. The current version of the temple was built by King Shupuspa in the 15th century. In addition, the Guhyeshwari Temple was built in the 11th century, and the Ram temple was added in the 14th century.
There are several myths surrounding Pashupati. My favorite myth is:
One day Lord Shiva was walking around on earth and he came to Bagmati River, which he believed to be one of the most beautiful sites in the world. He fell in love with the area, and turned himself into a deer. He spent many years in this form. Because he grew missed by his deity friends, they came and grabbed him forcing him back into his original form.
Lord Shiva announced, after he returned to his divine form, that he will be known as the Lord of Animals.
How to find Pashupati
Pashupatinath Temple is located 2.5 miles east of Thamel. It is a 15 minute drive, but if there is traffic, it can take up to 40 minutes. You can walk there without too much trouble, because it is a short distance.
When to go
You can visit Pashupati anytime because the area is always open. You can see the funerals and zoo during the day and the lighted temple at night. If you are Hindu, you can enter the temple between 4am and 9pm.
How long to stay
Because you will probably not be able to enter the temple, you will want to spend at least 1 hour in Pashupati. If you are Hindu, you will want to visit for at least 2 hours.
The Kathmandu Sightseeing Tour houses 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Each site has its own unique attractions and is known for certain qualities. Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure’s professional and knowledgeable guides are dedicated to your satisfaction on this culturally rich and historic tour. You can expect to visit at least 4 sites on a full day tour. You might be able to squeeze in more if time permits.
The Kathmandu Sightseeing Tour is perfect for anyone who is interested in architecture, south Asian history, Hinduism, Buddhism, Himalayan culture, or has free time in Kathmandu and would like to see a lot of cool and iconic places.
On the tour you can see Kathmandu Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, Boudhanath, and Changunarayan temple. However, due to the time associated with traveling, you may only be able to see 4 sites. Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure guarentees you at least 4 site visits on a full day tour.
Some locations had temples and shrines collapse during the April 2015 earthquake. Fortunately restoration and rebuilding efforts are under way. Please visit our blog or contact us for up to date information about which temples are still being rebuilt and which are completed.
The top 4 most visited sites are Boudhanath, Bhktapur Durbar Sqare, Patan Durbar Sqare, and Pashupathinath.
Before you begin your tour a guide and a private car will pick you up at your hotel. From here we travel to the first 2 sites. Then around 11:30 or 12 our driver can pick up lunch for us while we are touring a site or we can have lunch at one of the many restaurants in Kathmandu. Then with the remainder of our time, we finish the tour.
To see more pictures or to read about the experience you can visit our blog here.
The Boudhanath stupa is incredibly beautiful and massive. Its white dome, like a cloud, stands out under a blue sky. Its golden spire shimmers like the sun on a wave. And its blue eyes are piercing. There is no question as to why this is the most visited UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kathmandu. (Other famous sites include the Monkey Temple, or Swayambhunath, and the Patan Durbar Square.)
You can walk around the base of the stupa spinning the several hundred prayer wheels or walk on top of the base to have a bird’s eye view of the monasteries and surrounding shops.
The Boudhanath stupa is the largest stupa in Nepal. Its base is about 85,000 square feet and its volume is about 3.5 million cubic feet. This is impressive especially considering when it was built and who built it (more on that later). Please enjoy reading the rest of this blog post. It is filled with a lot more fascinating information and pictures. If you have a Pinterest please pin all the pictures you like.
Boudhanath Newar mythology
The Newars believe that a king durning the Licchavi period (400-750 AD) wanted to build a water tap (Dhunge Dhara) in his palace court yard. Unfortunately, there was a drought and the royal water diviners, dowsers, and hydrologists could not find water. The king was frustrated and turned to an astrologer. The astrologer said he needed a perfect human sacrifice to find the water.
There were only 3 perfect people living at that time, the king, and his two sons. The king decided he would be sacrificed for the water tap.
Side note: he must have really wanted that water tap! Its too bad he didn’t see the irony in that he wouldn’t be around to enjoy it.
The king’s son cut off the king’s head then threw a chicken into the air, which flew 8 miles west. The king’s son then built Boudhanath stupa were the chicken landed.
Side note: the myth does not mention if water was ever found, but I deduced it wasn’t.
Boudhanath Tibetan mythology
There was a Buddha named Kasyapa who lived for 4 thousand years. An old woman who had given birth to 4 of his sons was grief stricken when she learned about his passing. The woman petitioned a king (name unknown) for permission to build the stupa and place Kasyapa’s ashes in it.
The king gave the woman and her 4 sons permission to build the stupa, which she put kasyapa’s remains in.
There are conflicting opinions on the actual date of construction. The stupa has been dated to the Licchavi period (590-604 AD), and to the Manadeva period (464-505 AD). In Addition, Trisong Detsen, a tibetan emporer, is also associated with the construction of the stupa (755-797 AD).
Historically the area stupa was built on, was a major trade route from Tibet to India. This gives a little more credibility to the Tibetan side with the stupa being commissioned by Trisong Detsen for the construction of the stupa sometime within 755 to 797 AD.
Earthquake damage and repairs
Boudhanath stupa’s spire was cracked during the major earthquake in 2015. The golden spire was removed 6 months later in October and replaced with a new spire in November.
I checked the stupa in April 2018 and it was back to normal.
How to find Boudhanath stupa
Boudhanath stupa is 4 miles east of Thamel. If you travel by private car, it shouldn’t take more than 1 hour to get there from Thamel. You can take a private car or taxi. You can also hire a guide and transportation from Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure.
The entrance fee is $4. However, there is a side entrance that doesn’t charge for admission. You can also enter after hours, when the ticket booth is closed.
If you are staying in one of the hotels around Boudhanath stupa, you must pay the entrance fee once then there is no charge.
Length of stay
Boudhanath can be walked in 30 minutes. If you want to spend more time exploring the different monasteries, hotels, restaurants and shops, I would allow for 1 to 2 hours.
Patan Durbar Square is a beautiful city center in Lalitpur in Kathmandu. The city is a testament to Newar ingenuity and culture. Patan Durbar Square also has a beautiful history and many amazing temples. In addition, it has an ancient palace, which served as the residence for Malla kings that governed the area. Did I mention it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site like Swayambhunath and Boudhanath Stupa?
There is a $10 entrance fee that can’t be avoided if you go into the museum or temples. You do not have to pay if you are just walking on the street.
Before Patan Durbar Square was Patan Durbar Square, it was a crossroad and settlement or office area of foreign high-ranking political advisors or ministers. From what I could deduce it was a place like present day Washington D.C. and a place for tax collection.
After Durbar Square grew into a prosperous area, it was taken up by Malla kings around 1200 AD. For 600 years after, Patan Durbar Square was extremely prosperous and this period was known as the golden years. Most of the improvements, including the temples, were built during the Malla dynasty.
The Malla dyanasty ended in 1768 when Kathmandu was invaded by the Ghorkha Kingdom. The Ghorkhas ruled Nepal until 2008 under the Shah Dyanasty. During this time king’s residence was shifted from Patan to Kathmandu.
Most of the notable architectural accomplishments in Patan Durbar Square were built in the last part of the Malla rule, in 1600’s.
The architecture displays some amazing craftmanship and artistic work by Newar people. The Krishna temple is one example and is regarded as the most important temple in the square.
Krishna temple was built in 1637. The stone was imported from India and constructed on site. It was built in the shape of a mountain (Shikhara style) and intricately carved.
The carvings on the first-floor pillars tell the story of a war fought by conflicting cousins. Two cousins were fighting for the ownership of the throne. The story is written out in Sanskrit epics of ancient India named Mahabharata.
The carvings on the second-floor tell the story of the deity Ram who rescued his wife Sita from a demon king named Ravana. This story is also written out in the Sanskrit epics of ancient India named Ramayana
The third-floor carving tell the story of Buddha.
If you would like to know more about Buddhist and Hindu deities and mythology, click here.
How to get to Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square is located about 4 miles south of Thamel near the center of ring road. It takes about 1 to 1.5 hours to travel there by car with traffic.
Depending on what you are interested in, you could spend the whole day walking through the square and old palace and viewing the artifacts in the museum. If you rush it, you can walk the square, palace and visit the museum in 2 hours.
Click here to learn more about Buddhist and Hindu sculpture.
When to go
Anytime is a great time to go. The museum and palace open at 10:30 and close at 5:30. Before then, you can walk the square.
Due to the earthquake in April 2015, most of the temples toppled over. Since then, repairs are being made to the temples. As of April 2018, the renovations have not been completed, but are expected to be completed by 2020.
Go on an exclusive pilgrimage tour to holy places and heritage sites, from around Kathmandu-Namo Buddha to the birthplace of Buddha in Lumbini.
Travel with expert guides with exceptional knowledge of the area.
Explore ancient cultural and historical sites pertinent to Buddhism.
The Buddhist Pilgrimage tour introduces spiritual sites that were historically significant to the development of Buddhism and current Buddhist philosophies. The pilgrimage emphasizes spirituality and culture while introduceing sites such as swayambhunath and Boudhanath Stupas, Namo Buddha Monastery, and the birth place of Buddha in Lumbini. At the Tibetan Refugee Center, traditional Buddhist ceremonies can be viewed and Tibetan Buddhist lifestyle experienced.