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Upper Mustang Trek Package Cost | Itinerary | Budget | Map

Duration

(18 Days)

Price

USD: On Request

Mustang was an ancient forbidden kingdom, bordered by the Tibetan Plateau and sheltered by some of the world's tallest peaks, including 8000-meter tall Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. Strict regulations of tourists here have aided in maintaining old traditions. Upper Mustang was a restricted demilitarized area until 1992, which makes it one of the most preserved regions in the world due to its relative isolation from the outside world, with a majority of the population still speaking traditional Tibetan languages. The name "Mustang" is derived from the Tibetan word meaning, "Plain of Aspiration." Upper Mustang was only opened to foreigners in 1992 and the region is a popular area for trekking and can be visited year-round (regardless of season).

Venture out on a timeless and breathtaking journey through the Kingdom of Lo; this off-the-beaten-path region was until recently a hidden Tibetan Buddhist enclave forbidden to foreigners. From the trail, expect incredible sights like sculpted canyons with wild rock formations, deep gorges, medieval villages, ancient fortresses, palaces, and mysterious, ancient cave hermitages. You'll also see the Tibetan Buddhist gompa and soaring snow peaks that characterize this spectacular region, the "thumb" sticking up from Nepal into the Tibetan plateau.

Also Read: Langtang Valley Trek - Map | Height, 12 Days Itinerary, Cost, and Guide

Mustang is rich in trans-Himalayan biodiversity, where five species of zooplankton, seven nematode species, two mollusk species, one annelid species, 25 insect species (seven aquatic insects and 18 butterfly species), one spider species, 11 amphibian species, eight lizard species, five snake species, 105 bird species, and 29 mammal species have been recorded. The vegetation of Mustang is of the steppe type and consists of grasslands interspersed with scrub. Cold desiccating winds, a short growing season, low precipitation, and cold air temperatures limit the standing biomass produced from the steppe vegetation. Scrub is dominated by Juniper us Squamata on gentle slopes, whereas steeper slopes are dominated by Caragana gerardiana, Chrysosphaer ellabrevispina, and Rosa sericea, as well various species of Ephedra and Lonicera. Vegetation above 5,000 meters consists mainly of Rhododendron anthopogon, as well as Potentillabi flora and various species of Saxifrages. Little or no vegetation is found above 5,800 meters. Forest covers 3.24 percent of Mustang's total landmass. Forest cover ends near Jomsom and is very limited in Upper Mustang, which falls in the Alpine climatic area and the region is rich in medicinal and aromatic plants with very high economic and ethnomedicinal values.

This trekking itinerary to Nepal's Upper Mustang region is specially designed by the Asian Heritage team to introduce you to one of Nepal's best-preserved otherworldly destinations. Please feel free to let us know should you wish to discuss any aspects of this trip planning further and we will be very happy to tailor-make the program to suit your specific preference – if any.

Tour Overview

Departure City
Kathmandu, Nepal
Arrival City
Kathmandu, Nepal
Lodging
Hotel Annapurna
Location
Kathmandu, Nepal
Activity
Sightseeing
Time
13 days
Maximum Altitude
6430 ft

Itinerary

This itinerary is a guideline only and we will follow the itinerary as far as possible but due to weather conditions, health conditions, natural disasters and other unfavorable phenomenon your guide might decide to amend or skip the itinerary for your own safety. Your guide will help you at any time with providing indesc-wrapion regarding conditions and safety during the trek.

After landing at the Tribhuvan International Airport, we will be greeted by a representative of Asian Heritage Treks and Expeditions who will drop us off at our hotel. We then check in at the hotel, freshen up, and take a rest.

Accommodation: Hotel Yatri Suites and Spa.

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

After having breakfast at the hotel we will then set off for a whole day of sightseeing of the Kathmandu valley's major attractions. They include the followings:

a)         Kathmandu Durbar Square:

b)         Swayambhunath:

c)         Boudhanath:

d)         Pashupatinath:

- Welcome dinner with a Live Nepalese Culture show in the evening

Accommodation: Hotel Yatri Suites and Spa

Meals:                         Breakfast, Dinner

Read more:

a) Kathmandu Durbar Square:

Kathmandu’s Durbar Sq was where the city’s kings were once crowned and legitimized, and from where they ruled (Durbar means palace). As such, the square remains the traditional heart of the old town and Kathmandu’s most spectacular legacy of traditional architecture. The square bore the brunt of Kathmandu's 2015 earthquake damage. Half a dozen temples collapsed, as did several towers in the Hanuman Dhoka palace complex, but it's still a fabulous complex. Reconstruction will continue for years.

Although most of the square dates from the 17th and 18th centuries (many of the original buildings are much older), a great deal of rebuilding happened after the great earthquake of 1934. The entire square was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1979.

The Durbar Sq area is actually made up of three loosely linked squares. To the south is the open BasantapurSq area, a former royal elephant stables that now houses souvenir stalls and off which runs Freak St. The main Durbar Sq area is to the west. Running northeast is the second part of Durbar Sq, which contains the entrance to the Hanuman Dhoka and an assortment of temples. From this open area MakhanTole, at one time the main road in Kathmandu and still the most interesting street to walk down continues northeast.

b) Swayambhunath:

The Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the crowning glories of Kathmandu Valley architecture. This perfectly proportioned monument rises through a whitewashed dome to a gilded spire, from where four iconic faces of the Buddha stare out across the valley in the cardinal directions. The site was shaken severely by the 2015 earthquake, but the main stupa sustained only superficial damage. The entire structure of the stupa is deeply symbolic: the white dome represents the earth, while the 13-tiered, tower-like structure at the top symbolizes the 13 stages of nirvana. The nose-like squiggle below the piercing eyes is actually the Nepali number Ek (one), signifying unity, and above is a third eye signifying the all-seeing insight of the Buddha.

The base of the central stupa is ringed by prayer wheels embossed with the sacred mantra om mani Padme hum (‘hail to the jewel in the lotus).

Pilgrims circuiting the stupa spin each one as they pass by. Fluttering above the stupa are thousands of prayer flags, with similar mantras, which are said to be carried to heaven by the Wind Horse. Set on ornate plinths around the base of the stupa are statues representing the five DhyaniBuddhas – Vairocana, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha, Amoghasiddhi, and Aksobhya – and their consorts. These deities represent the five qualities of Buddhist wisdom.

A journey up to the Buddhist temple and Unesco World Heritage Site of Swayambhunath is one of the definitive experiences of Kathmandu. Mobbed by monkeys and soaring above the city on a lofty hilltop, the ‘Monkey Temple’ is a fascinating jumble of Buddhist and Hindu iconography. Even the 2015 earthquake failed to topple Kathmandu's best-loved temple, though a couple of outlying buildings crumbled in the tremor.

The compound is centered on the gleaming white stupa, topped by a gilded spire painted with the eyes of the Buddha. Depictions of these eyes appear all over the Kathmandu Valley. The atmosphere is heightened in the morning and evening by local devotees who make a ritual circumnavigation of the stupa, spinning the prayer wheels set into its base. It is also a great place to watch the sunset over Kathmandu.

c) Boudhanath:

The first stupa at Boudhanath was built sometime after AD 600, when the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo, converted to Buddhism. In terms of grace and purity of line, no other stupa in Nepal comes close to Boudhanath. From its whitewashed dome to its gilded tower painted with the all-seeing eyes of the Buddha, the monument is perfectly proportioned. Join the Tibetan pilgrims on their morning and evening koras (circumambulations) for the best atmosphere. According to legend, the king constructed the stupa as an act of penance after unwittingly killing his father. The first stupa was wrecked by Mughal invaders in the 14th century, so the current stupa is a more recent construction. The highly symbolic construction serves in essence as a three-dimensional reminder of the Buddha’s path towards enlightenment. The plinth represents earth, the Kumbha (dome) is water, the harmika (square tower) is fire, the spire is air and the umbrella at the top is the void or ether beyond space. The 13 levels of the spire represent the stages that a human being must pass through to achieve nirvana.

Stupas were originally built to house holy relics and some claim that Boudhanath contains the relics of the past Buddha, Kashyapa, while others say it contains a piece of bone from the skeleton of Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha. Around the base of the stupa are 108 small images of the Dhyani Buddha Amitabha (108 is an auspicious number in Tibetan culture) and a ring of prayer wheels, set in groups of four or five into 147 niches.

To reach the upper level of the plinth, look for the gateway at the north end of the stupa, beside a small shrine dedicated to Hariti (Ajima), the goddess of smallpox. The plinth is open from 5 am to 6 pm (till 7 pm in summer), offering a raised viewpoint over the tide of pilgrims surging around the stupa. Note the committed devotees prostrating themselves full-length on the ground in the courtyard on the east side of the stupa.

d) Pashupatinath:

Nepal’s most important Hindu temple stands on the banks of the holy Bagmati River, surrounded by a bustling market of religious stalls selling marigolds, prasad (offerings), incense, rudraksha beads, conch shells, pictures of Hindu deities and temples, tika powder in rainbow colors, glass lingams, models of Mt Meru and other essential pilgrim paraphernalia.

At first glance, Pashupatinath might not look that sacred – the temple is just a few hundred meters from the end of the runway at Tribhuvan Airport, overlooking a particularly polluted stretch of the Bagmati. However, in religious terms, this is a powerhouse of Hindu spiritual energy and is closely connected to Shiva in the form of Pashupati, the Lord of Animals. Some surrounding minor shrines were damaged in the 2015 earthquake, but the main mandir (temple) was unscathed.

After touring Pashupatinath we will then return back to the hotel and refresh ourselves before heading for a welcome dinner in the evening hosted in your honor by Asian Heritage Trekking.

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

We have breakfast and then leave for Pokhara.  Upon our arrival in Pokhara, we are rewarded with magnificent views of the Himalayas including Dhaulagiri (8,167m/26,794ft), Manaslu (8,156m/26,759ft), Machhapuchhre (6,993m/22,943ft), the five peaks of Annapurna and others. We then check in to our hotel and take a rest. We enjoy boating in the Fewa Lake and strolling in the city’s quaint streets. Overnight in Pokhara.

Accommodation:        Kuti Resort

Meals:                         Breakfast

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

Today we will take an early morning flight to Jomsom which is famous for its apples, strong winds, and the landscape. We begin our trek on an open trail alongside a beautiful valley. We pass through Eaklibatti village before reaching Jomsom which is ideally located at the bank of two rivers. The village is beautiful with flat-roofed houses and also has ruins of an old fortress. Overnight in Kagbeni.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

We get our permits checked and then begin our trek on a trail alongside the Kali Gandaki River. We walk on sand amidst strong winds before ascending a hill. We reach the Tangbe Village and admire its narrow alleyways, white-washed houses, barley and buckwheat fields, and apple orchards. We continue our walk and pass another village and cross a river on our way. Next, we walk on a ridge before reaching Chele Village. Overnight in Chele.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

Our trek from today will be a little hard compared to what we experienced before.  Our walk today involves crossing two passes, Taklam La pass (3,624m) and Dajori La pass (3,735). On our way, we enjoy great views of Tilicho, Yakawakang, and Damodar Danda and pass by Ramchung Cave. We descend further and reach Samar Village. From here we walk on a trail above the village and reach a ridge. Next, we descend on a steep trail to a stream and continue our trek to Syanboche. Overnight in Syanboche.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House (Hotel/Teahouse)

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

We ascend to the Yamada La pass at 3,850m. On the way, we pass by a few teahouses, chortens, and beautiful villages. We trek through poplar forests and barley fields and reach Nyi Pass at 4,010m. From here, we descend to Ghami which is one of the biggest villages in the Lo region. The village is beautiful with fields surrounding the entire village. Overnight in Ghami.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House (Hotel/Teahouse)

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

Our trek today begins with a descent through a rough and often slippery trail. We then cross a suspension bridge over the GhamiKhola and begin ascending. The pathway is beautiful with Mani walls along the trail. Next, we cross the Tsarang La Pass at 3870m and reach Tsarang village. The village lies atop the Charang Chu canyon with a huge fortress and a red gompa towards its east. Overnight in Tsarang.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House (Hotel/Teahouse)

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

We begin our trek by descending into a canyon and crossing a river before beginning our uphill trek to Lo La pass which is at 3950m. From the top of the pass, we can admire the beautiful Lo Manthang village. From the pass, we descend to Lo Manthang which is a beautiful walled village. From here the views of the Himalayas including Nilgiri, Tilicho,  Annapurna I, Bhrikuti Peak as well as Damodar Kunda (pond) is quite good. Overnight in Lo-Manthang.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

Lo Manthang is a walled town in the remote Upper Mustang region of Nepal. We spend the day touring three major gompa of the town namely Jhampa, Thupchen, and Chhoeda. All of these gompas have undergone expert restoration over the last two decades. We can also trek to Tingkhar which is a beautiful village located northwest of Lo-Mangthang. Overnight in Lo Manthang.

Accommodation:         Hotel/Tea House (Hotel/Teahouse)

Meals:                          Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

We trek on a different route when returning from Lo-Manthang. Our trail passes through Gyakar village which houses a century-old Ghar Gompa with beautiful rock paintings. According to a local legend, anyone who makes a wish at the Gompa will have it fulfilled. We explore the Gompa and continue our trek to Drakmar for an overnight stay.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House (Hotel/Teahouse)

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

We start our trek early to avoid strong winds and descend for the most part of the trek. Our trail passes through a dry plateau and fields before reaching Ghiling. The walk can be relatively difficult as we are most likely to experience strong winds on our faces. Ghiling is mostly dry, but we still get good views of the Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri mountains. We can tour the village in the evening. Overnight in Ghiling.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

We begin our trek after breakfast. We walk on the same trail as before going up to Lo Manthang. On the way to Chhuksang, we can enjoy great views of the Himalayas and small villages we pass en route. Overnight in Chhuksang.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House (Hotel/Teahouse)

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

Today is the last day of our trek and it is a long one. After trekking for a while, we come to an end of our Mustang trails and join the trails of the Annapurna circuit. We stop for lunch at Kagbeni. After lunch, we continue our trek to Jomsom for an overnight stay.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House (Hotel/Teahouse)

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

We take an early morning flight to Pokhara. The airplane passes through a gorge between Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountains making the flight itself an amazing experience. After arriving in Pokhara, we can spend the rest of the day exploring this beautiful lakeside city.

Accommodation:        Kuti Resort

Meals:                         Breakfast

Pokhara:

Pokhara ticks all the right boxes, with spectacular scenery, adventure activities, and accommodation and food choices galore. Whether you’ve returned from a three-week trek or endured a bus trip from hell, Lakeside Pokhara is the perfect place to recharge your batteries.

The scene is a chilled-out version of Kathmandu's Thamel neighborhood, stretching along the shore of a tranquil lake with bobbing paddle boats. From the lake, and possibly even from your hotel bed, you can enjoy a clear view of the snow-capped mountains, just 20 or so kilometers away.

There’s much more to Pokhara than its laid-back charm. It also boasts a booming adventure-sports industry: it is arguably the best paragliding venue on the globe and is surrounded by white-water rivers. There's a fascinating museum dedicated to the world-famous Gurkha soldier. And last but not least, it’s the gateway to the world-famous treks in and around the Annapurna range and beyond.

Some of the sights we cover today in Pokhara are as follows:

  • Old Pokhara:

For a glimpse of what Pokhara was like before the traffic, chaos and tourist restaurants besieged the erstwhile village, head out to the old town, north of the bustling MahendraPul. The best way to explore is on foot.

 From the Nepal Telecom building at MahendraPul, head northwest along Tersapati, passing a number of religious shops selling Hindu and Buddhist paraphernalia. At the intersection with NalaMukh, check out the Newari houses with decorative brickwork and ornately carved wooden windows.

Continue north on BhairabTole to reach the small two-tiered Bhimsen Temple, a 200-year-old shrine to the Newari god of trade and commerce, decorated with erotic carvings. The surrounding square is full of shops selling baskets and ceramics.

About 200m further north is a small hill, topped by the ancient Bindhyabasini Temple. Founded in the 17th century, the temple is sacred to Durga, the warlike incarnation of Parvati, worshipped here in the form of a saligram.

  • Phewa Tal:

Phewa Tal is the travelers’ focal point in Pokhara and is the second largest lake in Nepal. In contrast to the gaudy tourist development of Lakeside, the steep southwestern shore is densely forested and alive with birdlife. The lush Rani Ban, or Queen’s Forest, bestows an emerald hue to the lake, and on a clear day, the Annapurna Mountains are perfectly reflected on its mirror surface.  You can take to the lake in one of the brightly painted doongas (boats) available for rent at Lakeside. Many people walk or cycle around the lakeshore – the trek up to the World Peace Pagoda affords breathtaking views over the tal to the mountains beyond.

  • Varahi Mandir:

Pokhara’s most famous Hindu temple, the two-tiered pagoda-style Varahi Mandir stands on a small Island in Phewa Tal, near the former Ratna Mandir (Royal Palace). Founded in the 18th century, the temple is dedicated to Vishnu in his boar incarnation. It’s been extensively renovated over the years and is inhabited by a lot of cooing pigeons. Rowboats to the temple (per person return Rs 100) leave from VarahiGhat in Lakeside.

  • Devi’s Falls

Also known as PataleChhango, this waterfall marks the point where the Pardi Khola stream vanishes underground. When the stream is at full bore after monsoon rains, the sound of the water plunging over the falls is deafening. The falls are about 2km southwest of the airport on the road to Butwal, just before the Tashi Ling Tibetan camp.

According to one of the many local legends, the name is a corruption of David’s Falls, a reference to a Swiss visitor who tumbled into the sinkhole and drowned, taking his girlfriend with him.

  • International Mountain Museum

This expansive museum is devoted to the mountains of Nepal, the mountaineers who climbed them, and the people who call them home. Inside, you can see original gear from many of the first Himalayan ascents, as well as displays on the history, culture, geology, flora, and fauna of the Himalayas.

 Once you’ve been inspired by the climbers of the past, head outside where there’s a 21m climbing wall and a 9.5m-high climbable model of Mt Manaslu. A taxi here from Lakeside will cost you around Rs 800 in return.

  • Gurkha Museum:

Located just north of MahendraPul, near the KI Singh Bridge, the Gurkha Museum celebrates the achievements of the renowned Gurkha regiments. Accompanied by sound effects, it covers Gurkha history from the 19th-century Indian Uprising, through two World Wars to current-day disputes and peace-keeping missions, with a fascinating display of Gurkhas who have been awarded the Victoria Cross medal.

  • World Peace Pagoda:

Balanced on a narrow ridge high above Phewa Tal, the brilliant-white World Peace Pagoda was constructed by Buddhist monks from the Japanese NipponzanMyohojiorganisation. There are three paths up to the pagoda and several small cafes once you arrive. Sadly, there have been muggings on the trails in the past. Check the latest situation before you head off.

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

The flight back to Kathmandu leaves between 8 am up to 3 pm. The scheduled flight time can sometimes change according to the weather conditions. Once back in Kathmandu you will be transferred to your hotel where you will have the day off to rest and reflect on your trip.

Accommodation: Hotel (Yatri Suites and Spa)

Meals:                         Breakfast

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

After early morning breakfast, we will then start for the full day sightseeing of in Patan and Bhaktapur.

Accommodation:        Hotel (Yatri Suites and Spa)

Meals:                         Breakfast

Bhaktapur:

The third of the medieval city-states in the Kathmandu Valley, Bhaktapur was always described as the best-preserved. Tragically, however, the 2015 earthquake caused terrible devastation and loss of life. Nevertheless, only a few temples were destroyed, there is still much to see here and tourism is vital to the community.

Many Nepalis use the old name of Bhadgaon (pronounced bud-gown) or the Newari name Khwopa, which means City of Devotees. The name fits – Bhaktapur has three major squares full of towering temples that comprise some of the finest religious architecture in the country.

Cultural life is also proudly on display. Along narrow alleys, artisans weave cloth and chisel timber, squares are filled with drying pots, and locals gather in courtyards to bathe, collect water, play cards and socialize. To view this tapestry of Nepali life, visitors must pay a town entry fee, which helps fund temple repair and maintenance.

Must-see attractions in Bhaktapur

  • The Golden Gate:

The magnificent Golden Gate is a visual highlight of Durbar Sq. Set into a bright red gatehouse surrounded by white palace walls, the fabulous golden portal boasts some of Nepal's finest repoussé metalwork. The gilded Torana features a fabulous Garuda wrestling with a number of supernatural serpents, while below is a four-headed and 10-armed figure of the goddess TalejuBhawani, the family deity of the Malla kings.

 Construction of the gate began during the reign of King BhupatindraMalla (r 1696–1722), and the project was completed by his successor, Jaya RanjitMalla, in 1754. The death of Jaya RanjitMalla marked the end of the Malla dynasty and the end of the golden age of Newari architecture in Nepal.

The gate opens to the inner courtyards of the Royal Palace, a once vast compound until the 1934 earthquake leveled all but a handful of its 99 courtyards. More walls toppled during the 2015 earthquake. To the right of the Golden Gate is the 55 Window Palaces, which, you guessed it, has 55 intricate wooden windows stretching along with its upper level.

As you enter the palace complex, hidden behind grills in the darkness on either side of the inner gate is a pair of enormous war drums, which were used to rouse the city in the event of an attack. From here you’ll pass the two statues of traditionally dressed guards standing on either side of an ornate door, brought here from Rajasthan.

Continuing on you’ll reach the main entrance to MulChowk, the oldest part of the palace and the site of Taleju Temple, built-in 1553. Damaged in the quake but not destroyed, it is one of the most sacred temples in Bhaktapur. Only Hindus can enter, but you can peer in and admire its entrance, which is fronted by magnificent woodcarvings. Photography is prohibited.

Continuing on around the corner from MulChowk is the Naga Pokhari, a 17th-century water tank used for the ritual immersion of the idol of Taleju. The pool is encircled by a writhing stone cobra and other serpents rise up in the middle and at the end of the tank, where water pours from a magnificent Dhara (spout) in the form of a goat being eaten by a Makara.

 

  • Nyatapola Temple

You should be able to see the sky-high rooftop of the Nyatapola Temple long before you reach TaumadhiTole. With five storeys towering 30m above the square, this is the tallest temple in all of Nepal and one of the tallest buildings in the Kathmandu Valley. This perfectly proportioned temple was built in 1702 during the reign of King BhupatindraMalla, and the construction was so sturdy that the 1934 and 2015 earthquakes caused only minor damage.

The temple is reached by a stairway flanked by stone figures of the temple guardians. At the bottom are the legendary Rajput wrestlers Jayamel and Phattu, depicted kneeling with hefty maces. Subsequent levels are guarded by elephants with floral saddles, lions adorned with bells, beaked griffons with rams’ horns, and finally two goddesses – Baghini and Singhini. Each figure is said to be 10 times as strong as the figure on the level below.

The temple is dedicated to Siddhi Lakshmi, a bloodthirsty incarnation of the goddess Durga (Parvati). The idol of the goddess is so fearsome that only the temple’s priests are allowed to enter the inner sanctum, but less brutal incarnations of the goddess appear on the Torana above the door, beneath a canopy of braided snakes, and also on the temple’s 180 carved roof struts. In a classic piece of religious crossover, the Buddhist eight lucky signs are carved beside the temple doorways.

Look for the chariot runners piled up on the north side of the temple.

  • Potters’ Square

Hidden down shop-lined alleyways leading south from the curving road to TaumadhiTole, Potters’ Sq is exactly what you would expect – a public square full of potter's wheels and rows of clay pots drying in the sun. Nearby buildings were damaged by the 2015 earthquake, but life – and pottery – in the square continues.

This is the center of Bhaktapur’s ceramic industry, and it’s a fascinating place to wander around. Several shops sell the finished article, and you can see the firing process at the back of the square, which is lined with mud-covered straw kilns.

On the northern side of the square, a small hillock is topped by a shady pipal tree and a Ganesh shrine, surrounded by piles of straw for the pottery kilns. In the square itself is a solid-brick Vishnu Temple, which was constructed from remnants of temples destroyed in the 1934 quake, and the double-roofed Jeth Ganesh Temple, whose priest is chosen from the Kumal (potters’) caste. During the harvest in October, every square inch that is not covered by pots is covered by drying rice.

  • Bhairabnath Temple

The broad-fronted, triple-roofed Bhairabnath Temple is dedicated to Bhairab, the fearsome incarnation of Shiva, whose consort occupies the Nyatapola Temple across the square. Despite Bhairab’s fearsome powers and his massive temple, the deity is depicted here as a disembodied head just 15cm high! Casually stacked against the north wall of the temple are the enormous wheels and runners from the chariot used to haul the image of Bhairab around town during the BisketJatra festival in mid-April.

The first temple on this site was a modest structure built in the early 17th century, but King BhupatindraMalla added an extra storey in 1717, and a third level was added when the temple was rebuilt after the 1934 earthquake. The final version of the temple has a similar rectangular plan to the Bhimsen Temple in Patan’s Durbar Sq.

A small hole in the temple's central door (below a row of carved boar snouts) is used to push offerings into the temple’s interior; prior to the 2015 earthquake, priests accessed the interior through the small Betal Temple, on the south side of the main pagoda, but this collapsed entirely, and restoration work is underway.

The temple’s facade is guarded by two brass lions holding the Nepali flag, the only national flag that is not rectangular or square. To the right of the door is an image of Bhairab painted on the rattan, decorated with a gruesome garland of buffalo guts. Head here at dusk to hear traditional devotional music.

Next to the temple is a sunken hiti with a particularly fine spout in the form of a Makara (mythical crocodile-like beast).

  • National Art Gallery

The western end of Bhaktapur's Royal Palace contains the best of the three museums in Bhaktapur. Inside, you can view an extensive collection of Tantric cloth paintings – the Hindu version of Buddhist thangkas – as well as palm-leaf manuscripts, and metal, stone, and wooden votive objects, some of which date from the 12th century. Keep hold of your ticket as this also covers the Woodcarving Museum and Brass & Bronze Museum in TachupalTole.

The entrance to the gallery is flanked by two huge guardian lions, one male, and one female. Besides the lions are some imposing 17th-century statues of Hanuman the monkey god, in his four-armed Tantric form, and Vishnu, as the gut-ripping Narsingha.

Inside the gallery are portraits of all the Shah kings, including a surly Gyanendra (the last of the Nepali kings) following the abolition of the monarchy in 2008. In the first gallery lookout for depictions of the nightmarish MahaSambhara, with 21 faces and an unbelievable number of arms, and then turn around on the spot for scenes from the Kama Sutra.

  • Char Dham Temples

Standing at the western end of Durbar Sq, the four Char Dham temples were constructed to provide spiritual merit for pilgrims who were unable to make the journey to the Indian state of Uttaranchal to visit its famed Char Dham temples. After the 2015 earthquake, only three remained. The shikhara-style Kedarnath Temple, dedicated to Shiva, was shaken apart by the tremor but was actively under reconstruction when we last visited.

Although damaged, the three remaining temples are still worth visiting. The two-roofed Gopinath Temple (also called Jagarnath) features different incarnations of Vishnu on the ceiling struts and a statue of Garuda on the pillar at the entrance.

The small Rameshwar Temple, topped by an ornate dome, is still standing on its four repaired but cracked pillars. The Badrinath Temple is sacred to Vishnu in his incarnation as Narayan.

  • Dattatreya Temple

At the east end of TachupalTole, the eye-catching Dattatreya Temple was originally built in 1427, supposedly using timber from a single tree. The slightly mismatched front porch was added later. The temple is dedicated to Dattatreya, a curious hybrid deity, blending elements of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Judging from the Garuda statue and the conch and chakra disc mounted on pillars supported by stone turtles in front of the temple, Vishnu seems to have come out on top.

The three-story temple is raised above the ground on a brick and terracotta base, which is carved with erotic scenes, including unexpected humor where one bored-looking woman multitasks by washing her hair while being pleasured by her husband. The main steps to the temple are guarded by statues of the same two Malla wrestlers who watch over the first plinth of the Nyatapola Temple.

  • Taleju Bell

In front of what once was the VatsalaDurga Temple is a large bell, which was erected by King Jaya RanjitMalla in 1737 to mark morning and evening prayers at the Taleju Temple.

A smaller bell on the plinth of the VatsalaDurga Temple was known as the ‘barking bell’. According to legend, it was erected by King BhupatindraMalla in 1721 to counteract a vision he had in a dream, and dogs were said to bark and whine when the bell was rung. Unfortunately, it was damaged when the temple collapsed in 2015 and it now sits forlornly in a corner of the entrance to MulChowk.

Behind the bell, the pavilion is an ornate sunken Hiti containing a fine stone Dhara in the form of a Makara, topped by a crocodile and a frog – the only part of the famous VatsalaDurga Temple to survive the 2015 earthquake.

  • Ugrachandi & Bhairab Statues

As you enter Durbar Sq through the western gate, look left to a gateway flanked by two stocky stone lions, erected by King BhupatindraMalla in 1701. On either side are statues of the terrible Bhairab (right), the rending, sundering incarnation of Shiva, and his consort on the left side, the equally terrible Ugrachandi (Durga). It is said that the unfortunate sculptor had his hands cut off afterward, to prevent him from duplicating his masterpieces.

Ugrachandi has 18 arms holding various Tantric weapons symbolizing the multiple aspects of her character. She is depicted casually killing a demon with a trident to symbolize the victory of wisdom over ignorance. Bhairab gets by with just 12 arms, one holding two heads impaled on a trident and another holding a cup made from a human skull. The statues originally guarded a courtyard that was destroyed in the 1934 quake.

  • TilMahadev Narayan Temple

This interesting temple at TaumadhiTole has hidden away behind the buildings at the south end of the square. The TilMahadev Narayan Temple is set in an untidy courtyard, but this is actually an important place of pilgrimage and one of the oldest temples in the city. An inscription states that the site has been in use since 1080 and that the image of TilMahadev was installed here in 1170.

 The double-tiered temple is fronted by an elegant kneeling Garuda statue on a pillar and two columns bearing the sacred sankha and chakra symbols of Vishnu. In case Shiva was feeling left out, a lingam symbol on a yoni base (the Shaivite symbol for the male and female genitals) stands behind a wooden grill in front and to one side of the temple. A plaque to the right of the door depicts the Buddhist deity Vajrayogini in a characteristic pose with her left leg high in the air.

  • KhalnaTole

Southeast of Potters' Sq and above the river is the wide-open square of KhalnaTole, the setting for the spectacular BisketJatra festival. Many flanking houses were damaged in the 2015 earthquake, but restoration work is underway. In the middle of the square, note the huge stone yoni where the giant lingam is erected during the festival. You may have to pick your way through mountains of drying rice and grain to get here.

Just south of the bridge, past an orange Hanuman statue on the riverbank is the campus of the Kathmandu University Department of Music, where the sound of traditional music wafts over the peaceful ornamental gardens. Across the river are the modern cremation plinths at ChupingGhat.

  • Pujari Math

TachupalTole is flanked by a series of ornate brick-and-timber buildings that were originally used as math (Hindu priests’ houses). The best known is the Pujari Math, which now serves as the Woodcarving Museum. The building was damaged in the 2015 earthquake, but its most famous feature – the superb 15th-century Peacock Window, widely regarded as the finest carved window in the Kathmandu Valley – is intact.

 The building was first constructed in the 15th century during the reign of King Yaksha Malla but rebuilt in 1763. German experts renovated the building in 1979 as a wedding gift for the then King Birendra. Many surrounding shops sell miniature wooden copies of the Peacock Window as souvenirs.

  • Suriya Binayak Temple:

South of Bhaktapur, on the south side of the Arniko Hwy, SuriyaBinayak is an important Ganesh temple dating back to the 17th century. The white shikhara-style temple contains some interesting statuary, but the main attractions are the peaceful setting and the walk uphill above the temple to a hillside with sweeping views over Bhaktapur. The temple is flanked by statues of Malla kings and a large statue of Ganesh’s vehicle, the rat.

To get here, take the road south from Potters’ Sq to Ram Ghat (where there are areas for ritual bathing and cremations) and cross the river to the Arniko Hwy. On the other side, it’s a 1km walk along the road to the start of the steps to the temple. Bank on around 30 minutes from TaumadhiTole.

  • Tadhunchen Bahal

Walking east from Durbar Sq, you’ll pass the gateway to the restored TadhunchenBahal monastery, tucked between souvenir shops. This Buddhist temple is linked to the cult of the Kumari, Bhaktapur’s living goddess. Bhaktapur actually has three Kumaris, but they lack the political importance of Kathmandu.

In the inner courtyard, the roof struts on the eastern side have unusual carvings that show the tortures of the damned. In one, a snake is wrapped around a man, another shows two rams butting an unfortunate’s head, while a third strut shows a nasty tooth extraction being performed with a large pair of pliers!

  • Hanuman Ghat

 This impressive collection of chaitya, Shiva statues, Shaivite shrines, and lingam in the town's southeast includes what could well be the two largest Shiva lingam (in equally large yoni) in Nepal. The site was damaged in the 2015 quake, but most structures are still standing. Through the archway are more statues beside the stinking confluence of rivers at Hanuman Ghat. Note the exquisitely carved images of Ganesh, Sakyamuni, Ram and Sita, Hanuman and Vishnu/Narayan, reclining on a bed of snakes. Hindu yogis often come here to meditate.

  • King BhupatindraMalla’s Column

With hands folded in a prayer position, the bronze statue of King BhupatindraMalla sits atop a column in front of the VatsalaDurga Temple. The statue was created in 1699 and similar statues were erected in the Durbar Sqs of Kathmandu and Patan. Both of the latter collapsed in 2015; Patan's was restored, but Kathmandu's was awaiting restoration at the time of research. Bhupatindra was the best known of the Malla kings of Bhaktapur and contributed to much of the architecture in town.

  • ChyasilinMandap

'Chyasilin' refers to the eight-cornered roof of this pavilion. It was rebuilt in 1990 using old photos and paintings and components from the original building, which was destroyed in the 1934 earthquake. With modern steel-frame technology underpinning it, it survived the 2015 earthquake. The original was used to receive royal guests, the upper floor was used as a viewing platform during festivals, and at least once it was the venue of a poetry competition.

  • Brass & Bronze Museum:

Directly across from the Woodcarving Museum, in another old math (Hindu priest’s house) with similar lighting problems, this museum has some excellent examples of traditional metalwork, including ceremonial lamps and ritual vessels from around the valley. Hold on to your ticket to avoid paying for entry to the Woodcarving Museum and National Art Gallery.

  • Woodcarving Museum

This museum has some fine examples of Bhaktapur woodcarving displayed in dark, creaky rooms. There isn’t enough light to justify paying the camera fee, but it’s worth a visit, not least for the extravagantly carved windows in the inner courtyard. The same ticket covers entry to the nearby Brass & Bronze Museum and the National Art Gallery.

  • Pashupatinath Temple

Behind the Vatsala Durga Temple, the Pashupatinath Temple is dedicated to Shiva as Pashupati and is a replica of the main shrine at Pashupatinath. Originally built by King YakshaMalla in 1475 (or 1482), it is the oldest temple in Durbar Sq. Like many temples, the roof struts feature erotic images, but what exactly the dwarf is doing with that bowl takes things to a new level.

Patan:

Once a fiercely independent city-state, Patan (pah-tan) is now almost a suburb of Kathmandu, separated only by the murky Bagmati River. Many locals still call the city by its original Sanskrit name of Lalitpur (City of Beauty) or by its Newari name, Yala. Almost everyone who comes to Kathmandu also visits Patan’s spectacular Durbar Sq – even after the 2015 earthquake, this remains the finest collection of temples and palaces in the whole of Nepal.

 Another good reason to come here is to take advantage of the shops and restaurants set up to cater to the NGO workers and diplomats who live in the surrounding suburbs. Then there are Patan’s fair-trade shops, selling superior handicrafts at fair prices and channeling tourist dollars to some of the neediest people in Nepal.

The ancient royal palace of Patan faces on to magnificent Durbar Sq. This concentrated mass of temples is perhaps the most visually stunning display of Newari architecture to be seen in Nepal. Temple construction in the square went into overdrive during the Malla period (14th to 18th centuries), particularly during the reign of King SiddhinarsinghMalla (1619–60). It's well worth at least a half-day trip from Kathmandu.

Reconstruction of temples affected by the 2015 earthquake will continue for several years, so safety fencing and scaffolding are to be expected. However, all restorations are well underway and the Royal Palace housing the museum is open.

Formerly the residence of the Malla kings, the section of the Royal Palace surrounding Keshav Narayan Chowk now houses one of the finest collections of religious art in Asia. The museum is a national treasure and an invaluable introduction to the art, symbolism, and architecture of the valley. You need at least an hour, and preferably two, to do this place justice, and it’s worth taking a break at the Museum Café before diving in for another round.

The collection is displayed in a series of brick and timber rooms, linked by steep and narrow stairways. There are informative labels on each of the hundreds of statues, carvings, and votive objects, allowing you to put a name to many of the deities depicted at temples around the valley.

There are also some interesting displays on the techniques used to create these wonderful objects, including the art of repoussé and the ‘lost wax method of casting. The top floor houses some fascinating photos of Patan at the end of the 19th century.

The museum has a shop selling reproductions of some of the works displayed inside. For a sneak preview of the museum’s highlights and the story of its renovation, go to www.asianart.com/patan-museum. Photography is allowed.

The other attractions that you will visit today in Patan include Golden Temple (KwaBahal), MulChowk, Krishna Mandir, Sundari Chowk, Royal palace, Golden Gate, and MahaBoudha Temple.

Must-see attractions in Patan

  • Patan Durbar Square:

 The ancient royal palace of Patan faces on to magnificent Durbar Sq. This concentrated mass of temples is perhaps the most visually stunning display of Newari architecture to be seen in Nepal. Temple construction in the square went into overdrive during the Malla period (14th to 18th centuries), particularly during the reign of King SiddhinarsinghMalla (1619–60). It's well worth at least a half-day trip from Kathmandu.

Reconstruction of temples affected by the 2015 earthquake will continue for several years, so safety fencing and scaffolding are to be expected. However, all restorations are well underway and the Royal Palace housing the museum is open.

  • Golden Temple (KwaBahal):

This unique Buddhist monastery is just north of Durbar Sq. It was allegedly founded in the 12th century, and it has existed in its current form since 1409. The temple gets its name from the gilded metal plates that cover most of its frontage and it is one of the most beautiful in Patan. 

Entry is via an ornate narrow stone doorway to the east, or a wooden doorway to the west from one of the interlinked courtyards on the north side of Nakabhil.

Entering from the east, note the gaudy lions and the 1886 signature of Krishnabir, the master stonemason who sculpted the fine doorway with its frieze of Buddhist deities. This second doorway leads to the main courtyard of the Golden Temple; shoes and leather articles must be removed to enter the lower courtyard. The main priest of the temple is a young boy under the age of 12, who serves for 30 days before handing the job over to another young boy.

The temple itself is a magnificent example of courtyard temple architecture. Two elephant statues guard the doorway and the facade is covered by a host of gleaming Buddhist figures. Inside the main shrine is a beautiful statue of Sakyamuni (no photos allowed). To the left of the courtyard is a statue of Green Tara and in the right corner is a statue of the Bodhisattva Vajrasattva wearing an impressive silver-and-gold cape. Both are inside inner shrines.

Facing the main temple is a smaller shrine containing a ‘self-arisen’ (swayambhu) chaitya. The four corners of the courtyard have statues of four Lokeshvaras (incarnations of Avalokiteshvara) and four monkeys, which hold out jackfruits as an offering. A stairway leads to an upper-floor chapel dedicated to a white eight-armed Avalokiteshvara, lined with Tibetan-style frescoes including a wheel of life. Finally, as you leave the temple at the eastern exit, look up to see an embossed mandala mounted on the ceiling. Outside of winter, look for the tortoises pottering around the compound – these are the temple guardians.

It’s worth ducking south towards Durbar Sq to see the small, two-tiered Uma Maheshwar Temple and the handsome stone Gauri Shankar Temple, in the Indian shikhara style. Across the road, the Buddhist MaruMandapaMahavihar is set in a small courtyard.

  • MulChowk:

South of the Patan Museum, a gateway opens onto the stately MulChowk, the largest and oldest of the Royal Palace’s three main chowks (squares). The original buildings were destroyed by fire in 1662 but rebuilt just three years later by SrinivasaMalla. The temples in the courtyard were restored in 2014 and the surrounding walls and buildings were quickly restored after the 2015 earthquake.

In the center of the square is the small, gilded, central Bidyapith Temple, beside a wooden post used to secure animals for sacrifices. The central deity is Yantaju, a form of Durga, and a personal deity to the Malla kings.

On the south side of the square is the TalejuBhawani Temple, flanked by statues of the river goddesses Ganga, on a tortoise, and Jamuna, on a Makara. The upper galleries now form part of the museum's architectural displays, with fine examples of carved wooden struts.

At the northeastern corner of the square is the tall Degutalle Temple, topped by an octagonal triple-roofed tower. The larger, triple-roofed Taleju Temple is directly north, looking out over Durbar Sq, and dedicated to Taleju, another protective deity of the Malla kings.

  • Patan Museum:

Formerly the residence of the Malla kings, the section of the Royal Palace surrounding Keshav Narayan Chowk now houses one of the finest collections of religious art in Asia. The museum is a national treasure and an invaluable introduction to the art, symbolism, and architecture of the valley. You need at least an hour, and preferably two, to do this place justice, and it’s worth taking a break at the Museum Café before diving in for another round.

 The collection is displayed in a series of brick and timber rooms, linked by steep and narrow stairways. There are informative labels on each of the hundreds of statues, carvings, and votive objects, allowing you to put a name to many of the deities depicted at temples around the valley.

There are also some interesting displays on the techniques used to create these wonderful objects, including the art of repoussé and the ‘lost wax method of casting. The top floor houses some fascinating photos of Patan at the end of the 19th century. The museum has a shop selling reproductions of some of the works displayed inside.

  • Royal Palace:

Forming the entire eastern side of Durbar Sq, the Royal Palace of Patan was originally built in the 14th century and expanded during the 17th and 18th centuries by SiddhinarsinghMalla, SrinivasaMalla, and Vishnu Malla. The Patan palace predates the palaces in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur and remains one of the architectural highlights of Nepal.

 Behind the extravagant facade, with its overhanging eaves, carved windows and delicate wooden screens, are a series of connecting courtyards and a trip of temples dedicated to the valley’s main deity, the goddess Taleju. The closed external Bhairab gateway leading to the central MulChowk courtyard is flanked by two stone lions and colorful murals of Shiva in his wrathful incarnation as Bhairab. Strings of buffalo guts are hung above the door in his honor.

The northern courtyard is reached through the Golden Gate (Sun Dhoka). Installed in 1734, this finely engraved and gilded gateway is topped by a golden Torana showing Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh, and Kumar (an incarnation of Skanda, the god of war). Directly above the gateway is a window made from gold foil wrapped around a timber frame, where the king once made public appearances. This gateway now forms the entrance to the Patan Museum and northern ticket office.

Restoration works following the 2015 earthquake are not the first to take place at the palace. Reconstruction followed the conquest of the valley by Prithvi Narayan Shah in 1768, and again after the great earthquake of 1934.

  • Krishna Mandir:

Heading into Durbar Sq, you can’t miss the splendid Krishna Mandir built by King SiddhinarsinghMalla in 1637. Constructed from carved stone – in place of the usual brick and timber – this fabulous architectural confection shows the clear influence of Indian temple design and is the earliest stone temple of its type in Nepal. The temple stayed intact through the 2015 earthquake.

The temple consists of three tiers, fronted by columns and supporting a northern Indian–style shikhara spire. The distinctive temple is often depicted on the ornate brass butter lamps hung in Nepali homes. Non-Hindus cannot enter to view the statue of Krishna, the goatherd, but you’ll often hear temple musicians playing upstairs. Vishnu’s mount, the man-bird Garuda, kneels with folded arms on top of a column facing the temple. The delicate stone carvings along the beam on the 1st-floor recount events from the Mahabharata, while the hard-to-see beam on the 2nd floor features scenes from the Ramayana.

A major festival, Krishna Jayanta, also known as Krishnasthami, is held here in the Nepali month of Bhadra (August to September) for Krishna’s birthday.

  • SundariChowk:

South of MulChowk is the smaller SundariChowk, arranged around a superbly carved sunken water tank known as the TushaHiti. The chowk was restored in 2014, and again after the 2015 earthquake. Built-in 1647, the renovated water tank has 72 carved stone plaques depicting Tantric deities and was used by the king for ritual ablutions. The spout is new; the original was stolen in 2010 (and recovered). Ancient carved wooden struts lie scattered in the corners.

On the way outlook at the restored Bhandarkhal water tank, once the main water supply for the palace, features a charming meditation pavilion.

Back in Durbar Sq, the traditional gateway to SundariChowk features three magnificent statues of Hanuman (barely recognizable beneath layers of orange paint), Ganesh, and Vishnu as Narasimha, the man-lion, tearing out the entrails of a demon.

  • Golden Gate

The entry to Patan Museum is through the Royal Palace's superb Golden Gate. Installed in 1734, this finely engraved and gilded gateway is topped by a golden Torana showing Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh, and Kumar (an incarnation of Skanda, the god of war).

Directly above the gateway is a window made from gold foil wrapped around a timber frame, where the king once made public appearances.

  • RatoMachhendranath Temple:

Almost directly across the road from the Minnath Temple, down an alley, a white-columned gateway leads to the wide, open square containing the revered RatoMachhendranath Temple. Dedicated to the god of rain and plenty, the temple, like so many in Nepal, blurs the line between Buddhism and Hinduism. Buddhists regard Rato (Red) Machhendranath as an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, while Hindus see him as an incarnation of Shiva.

Set inside a protective metal fence, the towering three-storey temple dates from 1673, but there has been some kind of temple on this site since at least 1408. The temple’s four ornate doorways are guarded by stone snow lions, and at ground level on the four corners of the temple plinth are yeti-like demons known as kyah.

Mounted on freestanding pillars at the front of the temple is a curious collection of metal animals in protective cages, including a peacock, Garuda, horse, buffalo, lion, elephant, fish, and snake. Look up to see the richly painted roof struts of the temple, which show Avalokiteshvara standing above figures being tortured in hell.

The main image of Machhendranath resides here for six months a year, before moving to Bungamati during the spectacular RatoMachhendranath Festival in April/May.

  • Mahabouddha Temple:

As you step through the entryway of this hard-to-find courtyard in the southeast of Patan, the temple suddenly looms above you, crammed in like a plant straining to get some sunlight. Built-in the Indian shikhara style, the shrine takes its name from the hundreds of terracotta tiles that cover it, each bearing an image of the Buddha. The shikhara is upright, although it was cloaked in heavy-duty scaffolding when we last visited.

The temple dates from 1585 but was totally rebuilt after the 1934 earthquake. Unfortunately, without plans to work from, the builders ended up with a different-looking temple and had enough bricks and tiles left over to construct a smaller shrine to Maya Devi, the Buddha’s mother, in the corner of the courtyard. The temple is loosely modeled on the Mahabouddha Temple at Bodhgaya in India, where the Buddha gained enlightenment.

The surrounding lanes are full of shops selling high-quality Patan-style metal statues. The roof terrace of the shop at the back of the courtyard has a good view of the temple.

To reach the Mahabouddha Temple, you must walk southeast from Durbar Sq along HakhaTole, passing a series of small Vaishnavite and Shaivite temples. When you reach SundharaTole, with its temple and sunken hiti (water tank) with three brass water spouts, turn right and look for the tiny doorway leading to the temple.

  • Kumbeshwar Temple:

Due north of Durbar Sq is the eye-catching Kumbeshwar Temple, one of the valley’s three five-storey temples. This tall, thin mandir (temple) features some particularly artistic woodcarving, and it seems to defy gravity as it towers above the surrounding houses. Amazingly, this precarious structure survived the earthquake, though the top tier toppled in May 2015 and the tower is now leaning slightly. A large Nandi statue and central lingam indicate that the shrine is sacred to Shiva.

The temple platform has two ponds whose water is said to come straight from the holy lake at Gosainkund, a weeklong trek north of the valley. Bathing in the tank at Kumbeshwar Temple is said to be as meritorious as making the arduous walk to Gosainkund.

The surrounding square is dotted with temples sacred to Bhairab and Baglamukhi (Parvati). Local women gather at the tank known as KontiHiti to socialize, wash clothes and fill up their water jugs. Down an alley to the north of the temple is the Kumbeshwar Technical School.

From here you can detour north to see the Northern Stupa, one of four marker shrines showing the old city limits of Patan.

  • King Yoganarendra Malla’s Statue

 South of the Jagannarayan Temple is a tall column topped by a striking brass statue of King YoganarendraMalla (r 1684–1705) and his queens. Installed in 1700, the column toppled in the 2015 earthquake but was one of the first items to be restored. Looming over the king's head is a cobra, and alighted on the head of the cobra is a small brass bird.

Legend has it that as long as the bird remains, the king may still return to his palace. Accordingly, a door and window of the palace are always kept open and a hookah pipe is kept ready. A rider to the legend adds that when the bird flies off, the elephants in front of the Vishwanath Temple will stroll over the Manga Hiti for a drink.

Behind the statue of the king are three smaller Vishnu temples, including a brick-and-plaster shikhara temple, built-in 1590 to enshrine an image of Narsingha, Vishnu’s man-lion incarnation.

  • Peace Gallery

Nepal's decade-long civil war has been marked by a photo exhibition that brings the conflict poignantly to life. Based on the book A People War by Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit, the exhibition is on display at the Peace Gallery inside the Rato Bangla School. It's possible the exhibition will find a new home, in which case contact the Bhaktapur Tourism Development Committee for updates.

The images include portraits of schoolchildren giving the Maoist red salute, siblings who faced each other on either side of the front line, and a teacher who continued to teach despite having his hands cut off by Maoists. It's everything photojournalism should be – nuanced, moving, surprising, and never simplistic.

Enter the school, just behind Dhokaima Cafe, and ask for directions. The gallery is on the 4th floor of an administration building.

Bhimsen Temple

At the northern end of Durbar Sq, the Bhimsen Temple is dedicated to the god of trade and business, which may explain its prosperous appearance. One of the five Pandavas from the Mahabharata, Bhimsen is credited with superhuman strength – he is often depicted as a red muscleman, lifting a horse or crushing an elephant under his knee.

The three-storey pagoda has an unusual rectangular plan that sets it apart from other temples in Patan. The current temple was completely rebuilt in 1682 after a fire and was later restored after the 1934 earthquake, and again in 1967. Once repairs following the 2015 quake are complete, non-Hindus may once again be able to climb to the upper level (the inner sanctum is usually upstairs in Bhimsen temples) to view the wild-eyed statue of Bhimsen.

  • UkuBahal  or the Rudra Varna Mahavihar:

Located south of Patan Durbar Square, the Rudra Varna Mahavihar (UkuBahal) Newar Buddhist Monastery is known locally as Rudra Varna Mahavihar. One of several popular attractions of culture worth stopping by to see in Patan city. The area around Rudra Varna Mahavihar contains 3 courtyards and each has interesting and unique features. The highlight is, of course, the main UkuBahal central courtyard which was started by King Shivadev (590-604) as one of five monasteries.

The outer courtyard is marked by an impressive gate with two flag-bearing lion statues on top that wouldn’t look out of place in London. These were a later addition in 1680. The courtyard at the back of Rudra Varna Mahavihar is relatively modern and actually belongs to the residents surrounding it. Nonetheless, it’s worth taking a walk around it and possibly admitting some of the painted sculptures and stupa there.

  • Min Nath Temple

 Just 200m south of I BahaBahi, a large water tank marks the entrance to a courtyard strewn with wooden beams. In the center is the brightly painted, two-tiered Minnath Temple, dedicated to the Bodhisattva JatadhariLokesvara, who is considered to be the little brother of RatoMachhendranath. The temple was founded in the Licchavi period (3rd to 9th centuries), but the multi-armed goddesses on the roof struts were added much later.

Note the metal pots and pans nailed to the temple rafters by devotees. The timbers surrounding the temple are assembled into a chariot every year to haul the statue of Minnath around town as part of the RatoMachhendranath Festival.

  • Vishwanath Temple

 South of the Bhimsen Temple stands the Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Shiva. This elaborately decorated two-tiered pagoda was built in 1627 and it features some particularly ornate woodcarving, especially on the Torana (lintel) above the colonnade.

On the west side is a statue of Shiva’s loyal mount, Nandi the bull, while the east side features two stone elephants with mahouts, one elephant crushing a man beneath its foot. When the doors are open, you can view the enormous lingam inside.

  • Manga Hiti

Immediately across from Bhimsen Temple is the sunken Manga Hiti, one of the water conduits with which Patan is liberally endowed. The tank contains a cruciform-shaped pool and three wonderfully carved Dhara (water spouts) in the shape of Makara (mythical crocodile-like beasts). The two wooden ceremonial pavilions that overlook the tank – known as the Mani Mandap – collapsed in the 2015 earthquake and are under repair.

  • Hari Shankar Temple

 This temple is dedicated to Hari Shankar, a curious hybrid deity that has half the attributes of Vishnu and half the attributes of Shiva. Although it collapsed in the 2015 earthquake, restoration of this three-storey temple is underway using recovered materials, including the roof struts carved with scenes of the tortures of the damned. The original temple was built in 1704–05 by the daughter of King YoganarendraMalla.

  • TushaHiti

The highlight of SundariChowk is the superbly carved sunken water tank known as the TushaHiti. Built-in 1647, the renovated tank has 72 carved stone plaques depicting Tantric deities and was used by the king for ritual ablutions. The spout is new; the original was stolen in 2010 but recently recovered. Ancient carved wooden struts lie neglected in the corners like kindling wood.

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

Your trip will come to an end today after breakfast. We will be advised and assisted with your onward travel arrangements and transfer to Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport by our private vehicle approximately 3 hours before departure of your flight schedule and flight back to your home/other travel destination. Have a safe journey onwards. And we hope to see you again.

Meals:                         Breakfast

Maximum Altitude

8,848.86 m

Lodging

Yatri Suites

Activity

Hiking

Includes and Excludes

    • All land transportation by private vehicle.
    • Fully guided sightseeing with an English-speaking guide as per the above itinerary including all applicable entrance fees, guide and driver's daily wages, etc.
    • Accommodation at Hotel Yatri Suites & Spa in Kathmandu and Kuti Resort in Pokhara including breakfast and all taxes
    • Kathmandu Pokhara transfer by private AC vehicle
    • Pokhara-Jomsom-Pokhara-Kathmandu flights including all domestic surcharge
    • Accommodation throughout the trek in local lodge / local tea house including three meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner).
    • Restricted Area Permit for Upper Mustang, & other required permits.
    • An experienced, English-speaking, and government-licensed holder trekking guide.
    • All porters (one porter can carry 18 kilos of luggage and share between two clients. So both clients are suggested to bring 9 kilos of luggage each) Staff costs including their salary, insurance, equipment, and accommodation.
    • All government and local taxes.
    • First aid kit.
    • Drinks / Beverages bills for you.
    • Tipping (Tips).
    • Personal Expenses.
    • Travel Insurance
    • International Flights
    • Donations in Temples, schools, Monasteries, etc.
    • Extra costs for upgrading rooms and services at hotels
    • Personal trekking gears.
    • First aid kit (for you).
    • Emergency Rescue evacuation.
    • Any other items not specified in the package

Date & Prices

Dates

Arrival -Departure

Availability

Spaces

Price

Per Person (Twin share basis)

Sunday
01 May, 2020
Sunday
01 June, 2020
4 spaces left
USD 1000.99
Sunday
01 May, 2020
Sunday
01 June, 2020
4 spaces left
USD 1000.99

FAQs

Yes, you can get a visa on arrival. The rates are as follows- Multiple Entry – 15 Days – 25$ Multiple Entry – 30 Days – 40$ Multiple Entry – 90 Days – 100$

Absolutely, Nepal is safe. Nepal is considered one of the safest countries to travel. Chances are Nepal is safer than your own home country. In Bhaktapur, you will be amazed by the architecture, as until today the city has been able to be kept intact in its old form. You can observe the old wood carved buildings all around Bhaktapur and then you will visit another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bhaktapur Durbar Square Explore the surroundings and afterwards visit the Nyatapola Temple, one of the tallest pagoda styled temple in Nepal. After completing your sightseeing get back to Kathmandu and check-in hotel and have rest.

Extras

To enhance your experience in Nepal, we give you the possibility to add one or more extra activities to this travel package. The step of adding these is available in the "Book now" process.

Nepal - Upper Mustang Trek Package Cost | Itinerary | Budget | Map (18 Days)

Mustang was an ancient forbidden kingdom, bordered by the Tibetan Plateau and sheltered by some of the world's tallest peaks, including 8000-meter tall Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. Strict regulations of tourists here have aided in maintaining old traditions. Upper Mustang was a restricted demilitarized area until 1992, which makes it one of the most preserved regions in the world due to its relative isolation from the outside world, with a majority of the population still speaking traditional Tibetan languages. The name "Mustang" is derived from the Tibetan word meaning, "Plain of Aspiration." Upper Mustang was only opened to foreigners in 1992 and the region is a popular area for trekking and can be visited year-round (regardless of season).

Venture out on a timeless and breathtaking journey through the Kingdom of Lo; this off-the-beaten-path region was until recently a hidden Tibetan Buddhist enclave forbidden to foreigners. From the trail, expect incredible sights like sculpted canyons with wild rock formations, deep gorges, medieval villages, ancient fortresses, palaces, and mysterious, ancient cave hermitages. You'll also see the Tibetan Buddhist gompa and soaring snow peaks that characterize this spectacular region, the "thumb" sticking up from Nepal into the Tibetan plateau.

Also Read: Langtang Valley Trek - Map | Height, 12 Days Itinerary, Cost, and Guide

Mustang is rich in trans-Himalayan biodiversity, where five species of zooplankton, seven nematode species, two mollusk species, one annelid species, 25 insect species (seven aquatic insects and 18 butterfly species), one spider species, 11 amphibian species, eight lizard species, five snake species, 105 bird species, and 29 mammal species have been recorded. The vegetation of Mustang is of the steppe type and consists of grasslands interspersed with scrub. Cold desiccating winds, a short growing season, low precipitation, and cold air temperatures limit the standing biomass produced from the steppe vegetation. Scrub is dominated by Juniper us Squamata on gentle slopes, whereas steeper slopes are dominated by Caragana gerardiana, Chrysosphaer ellabrevispina, and Rosa sericea, as well various species of Ephedra and Lonicera. Vegetation above 5,000 meters consists mainly of Rhododendron anthopogon, as well as Potentillabi flora and various species of Saxifrages. Little or no vegetation is found above 5,800 meters. Forest covers 3.24 percent of Mustang's total landmass. Forest cover ends near Jomsom and is very limited in Upper Mustang, which falls in the Alpine climatic area and the region is rich in medicinal and aromatic plants with very high economic and ethnomedicinal values.

This trekking itinerary to Nepal's Upper Mustang region is specially designed by the Asian Heritage team to introduce you to one of Nepal's best-preserved otherworldly destinations. Please feel free to let us know should you wish to discuss any aspects of this trip planning further and we will be very happy to tailor-make the program to suit your specific preference – if any.

This itinerary is a guideline only and we will follow the itinerary as far as possible but due to weather conditions, health conditions, natural disasters and other unfavorable phenomenon your guide might decide to amend or skip the itinerary for your own safety. Your guide will help you at any time with providing information regarding conditions and safety during the treks.

After landing at the Tribhuvan International Airport, we will be greeted by a representative of Asian Heritage Treks and Expeditions who will drop us off at our hotel. We then check in at the hotel, freshen up, and take a rest.

Accommodation: Hotel Yatri Suites and Spa.

After having breakfast at the hotel we will then set off for a whole day of sightseeing of the Kathmandu valley's major attractions. They include the followings:

a)         Kathmandu Durbar Square:

b)         Swayambhunath:

c)         Boudhanath:

d)         Pashupatinath:

- Welcome dinner with a Live Nepalese Culture show in the evening

Accommodation: Hotel Yatri Suites and Spa

Meals:                         Breakfast, Dinner

Read more:

a) Kathmandu Durbar Square:

Kathmandu’s Durbar Sq was where the city’s kings were once crowned and legitimized, and from where they ruled (Durbar means palace). As such, the square remains the traditional heart of the old town and Kathmandu’s most spectacular legacy of traditional architecture. The square bore the brunt of Kathmandu's 2015 earthquake damage. Half a dozen temples collapsed, as did several towers in the Hanuman Dhoka palace complex, but it's still a fabulous complex. Reconstruction will continue for years.

Although most of the square dates from the 17th and 18th centuries (many of the original buildings are much older), a great deal of rebuilding happened after the great earthquake of 1934. The entire square was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1979.

The Durbar Sq area is actually made up of three loosely linked squares. To the south is the open BasantapurSq area, a former royal elephant stables that now houses souvenir stalls and off which runs Freak St. The main Durbar Sq area is to the west. Running northeast is the second part of Durbar Sq, which contains the entrance to the Hanuman Dhoka and an assortment of temples. From this open area MakhanTole, at one time the main road in Kathmandu and still the most interesting street to walk down continues northeast.

b) Swayambhunath:

The Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the crowning glories of Kathmandu Valley architecture. This perfectly proportioned monument rises through a whitewashed dome to a gilded spire, from where four iconic faces of the Buddha stare out across the valley in the cardinal directions. The site was shaken severely by the 2015 earthquake, but the main stupa sustained only superficial damage. The entire structure of the stupa is deeply symbolic: the white dome represents the earth, while the 13-tiered, tower-like structure at the top symbolizes the 13 stages of nirvana. The nose-like squiggle below the piercing eyes is actually the Nepali number Ek (one), signifying unity, and above is a third eye signifying the all-seeing insight of the Buddha.

The base of the central stupa is ringed by prayer wheels embossed with the sacred mantra om mani Padme hum (‘hail to the jewel in the lotus).

Pilgrims circuiting the stupa spin each one as they pass by. Fluttering above the stupa are thousands of prayer flags, with similar mantras, which are said to be carried to heaven by the Wind Horse. Set on ornate plinths around the base of the stupa are statues representing the five DhyaniBuddhas – Vairocana, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha, Amoghasiddhi, and Aksobhya – and their consorts. These deities represent the five qualities of Buddhist wisdom.

A journey up to the Buddhist temple and Unesco World Heritage Site of Swayambhunath is one of the definitive experiences of Kathmandu. Mobbed by monkeys and soaring above the city on a lofty hilltop, the ‘Monkey Temple’ is a fascinating jumble of Buddhist and Hindu iconography. Even the 2015 earthquake failed to topple Kathmandu's best-loved temple, though a couple of outlying buildings crumbled in the tremor.

The compound is centered on the gleaming white stupa, topped by a gilded spire painted with the eyes of the Buddha. Depictions of these eyes appear all over the Kathmandu Valley. The atmosphere is heightened in the morning and evening by local devotees who make a ritual circumnavigation of the stupa, spinning the prayer wheels set into its base. It is also a great place to watch the sunset over Kathmandu.

c) Boudhanath:

The first stupa at Boudhanath was built sometime after AD 600, when the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo, converted to Buddhism. In terms of grace and purity of line, no other stupa in Nepal comes close to Boudhanath. From its whitewashed dome to its gilded tower painted with the all-seeing eyes of the Buddha, the monument is perfectly proportioned. Join the Tibetan pilgrims on their morning and evening koras (circumambulations) for the best atmosphere. According to legend, the king constructed the stupa as an act of penance after unwittingly killing his father. The first stupa was wrecked by Mughal invaders in the 14th century, so the current stupa is a more recent construction. The highly symbolic construction serves in essence as a three-dimensional reminder of the Buddha’s path towards enlightenment. The plinth represents earth, the Kumbha (dome) is water, the harmika (square tower) is fire, the spire is air and the umbrella at the top is the void or ether beyond space. The 13 levels of the spire represent the stages that a human being must pass through to achieve nirvana.

Stupas were originally built to house holy relics and some claim that Boudhanath contains the relics of the past Buddha, Kashyapa, while others say it contains a piece of bone from the skeleton of Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha. Around the base of the stupa are 108 small images of the Dhyani Buddha Amitabha (108 is an auspicious number in Tibetan culture) and a ring of prayer wheels, set in groups of four or five into 147 niches.

To reach the upper level of the plinth, look for the gateway at the north end of the stupa, beside a small shrine dedicated to Hariti (Ajima), the goddess of smallpox. The plinth is open from 5 am to 6 pm (till 7 pm in summer), offering a raised viewpoint over the tide of pilgrims surging around the stupa. Note the committed devotees prostrating themselves full-length on the ground in the courtyard on the east side of the stupa.

d) Pashupatinath:

Nepal’s most important Hindu temple stands on the banks of the holy Bagmati River, surrounded by a bustling market of religious stalls selling marigolds, prasad (offerings), incense, rudraksha beads, conch shells, pictures of Hindu deities and temples, tika powder in rainbow colors, glass lingams, models of Mt Meru and other essential pilgrim paraphernalia.

At first glance, Pashupatinath might not look that sacred – the temple is just a few hundred meters from the end of the runway at Tribhuvan Airport, overlooking a particularly polluted stretch of the Bagmati. However, in religious terms, this is a powerhouse of Hindu spiritual energy and is closely connected to Shiva in the form of Pashupati, the Lord of Animals. Some surrounding minor shrines were damaged in the 2015 earthquake, but the main mandir (temple) was unscathed.

After touring Pashupatinath we will then return back to the hotel and refresh ourselves before heading for a welcome dinner in the evening hosted in your honor by Asian Heritage Trekking.

We have breakfast and then leave for Pokhara.  Upon our arrival in Pokhara, we are rewarded with magnificent views of the Himalayas including Dhaulagiri (8,167m/26,794ft), Manaslu (8,156m/26,759ft), Machhapuchhre (6,993m/22,943ft), the five peaks of Annapurna and others. We then check in to our hotel and take a rest. We enjoy boating in the Fewa Lake and strolling in the city’s quaint streets. Overnight in Pokhara.

Accommodation:        Kuti Resort

Meals:                         Breakfast

Today we will take an early morning flight to Jomsom which is famous for its apples, strong winds, and the landscape. We begin our trek on an open trail alongside a beautiful valley. We pass through Eaklibatti village before reaching Jomsom which is ideally located at the bank of two rivers. The village is beautiful with flat-roofed houses and also has ruins of an old fortress. Overnight in Kagbeni.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

We get our permits checked and then begin our trek on a trail alongside the Kali Gandaki River. We walk on sand amidst strong winds before ascending a hill. We reach the Tangbe Village and admire its narrow alleyways, white-washed houses, barley and buckwheat fields, and apple orchards. We continue our walk and pass another village and cross a river on our way. Next, we walk on a ridge before reaching Chele Village. Overnight in Chele.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Our trek from today will be a little hard compared to what we experienced before.  Our walk today involves crossing two passes, Taklam La pass (3,624m) and Dajori La pass (3,735). On our way, we enjoy great views of Tilicho, Yakawakang, and Damodar Danda and pass by Ramchung Cave. We descend further and reach Samar Village. From here we walk on a trail above the village and reach a ridge. Next, we descend on a steep trail to a stream and continue our trek to Syanboche. Overnight in Syanboche.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House (Hotel/Teahouse)

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

We ascend to the Yamada La pass at 3,850m. On the way, we pass by a few teahouses, chortens, and beautiful villages. We trek through poplar forests and barley fields and reach Nyi Pass at 4,010m. From here, we descend to Ghami which is one of the biggest villages in the Lo region. The village is beautiful with fields surrounding the entire village. Overnight in Ghami.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House (Hotel/Teahouse)

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Our trek today begins with a descent through a rough and often slippery trail. We then cross a suspension bridge over the GhamiKhola and begin ascending. The pathway is beautiful with Mani walls along the trail. Next, we cross the Tsarang La Pass at 3870m and reach Tsarang village. The village lies atop the Charang Chu canyon with a huge fortress and a red gompa towards its east. Overnight in Tsarang.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House (Hotel/Teahouse)

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

We begin our trek by descending into a canyon and crossing a river before beginning our uphill trek to Lo La pass which is at 3950m. From the top of the pass, we can admire the beautiful Lo Manthang village. From the pass, we descend to Lo Manthang which is a beautiful walled village. From here the views of the Himalayas including Nilgiri, Tilicho,  Annapurna I, Bhrikuti Peak as well as Damodar Kunda (pond) is quite good. Overnight in Lo-Manthang.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Lo Manthang is a walled town in the remote Upper Mustang region of Nepal. We spend the day touring three major gompa of the town namely Jhampa, Thupchen, and Chhoeda. All of these gompas have undergone expert restoration over the last two decades. We can also trek to Tingkhar which is a beautiful village located northwest of Lo-Mangthang. Overnight in Lo Manthang.

Accommodation:         Hotel/Tea House (Hotel/Teahouse)

Meals:                          Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

We trek on a different route when returning from Lo-Manthang. Our trail passes through Gyakar village which houses a century-old Ghar Gompa with beautiful rock paintings. According to a local legend, anyone who makes a wish at the Gompa will have it fulfilled. We explore the Gompa and continue our trek to Drakmar for an overnight stay.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House (Hotel/Teahouse)

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

We start our trek early to avoid strong winds and descend for the most part of the trek. Our trail passes through a dry plateau and fields before reaching Ghiling. The walk can be relatively difficult as we are most likely to experience strong winds on our faces. Ghiling is mostly dry, but we still get good views of the Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri mountains. We can tour the village in the evening. Overnight in Ghiling.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

We begin our trek after breakfast. We walk on the same trail as before going up to Lo Manthang. On the way to Chhuksang, we can enjoy great views of the Himalayas and small villages we pass en route. Overnight in Chhuksang.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House (Hotel/Teahouse)

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Today is the last day of our trek and it is a long one. After trekking for a while, we come to an end of our Mustang trails and join the trails of the Annapurna circuit. We stop for lunch at Kagbeni. After lunch, we continue our trek to Jomsom for an overnight stay.

Accommodation:        Hotel/Tea House (Hotel/Teahouse)

Meals:                         Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

We take an early morning flight to Pokhara. The airplane passes through a gorge between Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountains making the flight itself an amazing experience. After arriving in Pokhara, we can spend the rest of the day exploring this beautiful lakeside city.

Accommodation:        Kuti Resort

Meals:                         Breakfast

Pokhara:

Pokhara ticks all the right boxes, with spectacular scenery, adventure activities, and accommodation and food choices galore. Whether you’ve returned from a three-week trek or endured a bus trip from hell, Lakeside Pokhara is the perfect place to recharge your batteries.

The scene is a chilled-out version of Kathmandu's Thamel neighborhood, stretching along the shore of a tranquil lake with bobbing paddle boats. From the lake, and possibly even from your hotel bed, you can enjoy a clear view of the snow-capped mountains, just 20 or so kilometers away.

There’s much more to Pokhara than its laid-back charm. It also boasts a booming adventure-sports industry: it is arguably the best paragliding venue on the globe and is surrounded by white-water rivers. There's a fascinating museum dedicated to the world-famous Gurkha soldier. And last but not least, it’s the gateway to the world-famous treks in and around the Annapurna range and beyond.

Some of the sights we cover today in Pokhara are as follows:

  • Old Pokhara:

For a glimpse of what Pokhara was like before the traffic, chaos and tourist restaurants besieged the erstwhile village, head out to the old town, north of the bustling MahendraPul. The best way to explore is on foot.

 From the Nepal Telecom building at MahendraPul, head northwest along Tersapati, passing a number of religious shops selling Hindu and Buddhist paraphernalia. At the intersection with NalaMukh, check out the Newari houses with decorative brickwork and ornately carved wooden windows.

Continue north on BhairabTole to reach the small two-tiered Bhimsen Temple, a 200-year-old shrine to the Newari god of trade and commerce, decorated with erotic carvings. The surrounding square is full of shops selling baskets and ceramics.

About 200m further north is a small hill, topped by the ancient Bindhyabasini Temple. Founded in the 17th century, the temple is sacred to Durga, the warlike incarnation of Parvati, worshipped here in the form of a saligram.

  • Phewa Tal:

Phewa Tal is the travelers’ focal point in Pokhara and is the second largest lake in Nepal. In contrast to the gaudy tourist development of Lakeside, the steep southwestern shore is densely forested and alive with birdlife. The lush Rani Ban, or Queen’s Forest, bestows an emerald hue to the lake, and on a clear day, the Annapurna Mountains are perfectly reflected on its mirror surface.  You can take to the lake in one of the brightly painted doongas (boats) available for rent at Lakeside. Many people walk or cycle around the lakeshore – the trek up to the World Peace Pagoda affords breathtaking views over the tal to the mountains beyond.

  • Varahi Mandir:

Pokhara’s most famous Hindu temple, the two-tiered pagoda-style Varahi Mandir stands on a small Island in Phewa Tal, near the former Ratna Mandir (Royal Palace). Founded in the 18th century, the temple is dedicated to Vishnu in his boar incarnation. It’s been extensively renovated over the years and is inhabited by a lot of cooing pigeons. Rowboats to the temple (per person return Rs 100) leave from VarahiGhat in Lakeside.

  • Devi’s Falls

Also known as PataleChhango, this waterfall marks the point where the Pardi Khola stream vanishes underground. When the stream is at full bore after monsoon rains, the sound of the water plunging over the falls is deafening. The falls are about 2km southwest of the airport on the road to Butwal, just before the Tashi Ling Tibetan camp.

According to one of the many local legends, the name is a corruption of David’s Falls, a reference to a Swiss visitor who tumbled into the sinkhole and drowned, taking his girlfriend with him.

  • International Mountain Museum

This expansive museum is devoted to the mountains of Nepal, the mountaineers who climbed them, and the people who call them home. Inside, you can see original gear from many of the first Himalayan ascents, as well as displays on the history, culture, geology, flora, and fauna of the Himalayas.

 Once you’ve been inspired by the climbers of the past, head outside where there’s a 21m climbing wall and a 9.5m-high climbable model of Mt Manaslu. A taxi here from Lakeside will cost you around Rs 800 in return.

  • Gurkha Museum:

Located just north of MahendraPul, near the KI Singh Bridge, the Gurkha Museum celebrates the achievements of the renowned Gurkha regiments. Accompanied by sound effects, it covers Gurkha history from the 19th-century Indian Uprising, through two World Wars to current-day disputes and peace-keeping missions, with a fascinating display of Gurkhas who have been awarded the Victoria Cross medal.

  • World Peace Pagoda:

Balanced on a narrow ridge high above Phewa Tal, the brilliant-white World Peace Pagoda was constructed by Buddhist monks from the Japanese NipponzanMyohojiorganisation. There are three paths up to the pagoda and several small cafes once you arrive. Sadly, there have been muggings on the trails in the past. Check the latest situation before you head off.

The flight back to Kathmandu leaves between 8 am up to 3 pm. The scheduled flight time can sometimes change according to the weather conditions. Once back in Kathmandu you will be transferred to your hotel where you will have the day off to rest and reflect on your trip.

Accommodation: Hotel (Yatri Suites and Spa)

Meals:                         Breakfast

After early morning breakfast, we will then start for the full day sightseeing of in Patan and Bhaktapur.

Accommodation:        Hotel (Yatri Suites and Spa)

Meals:                         Breakfast

Bhaktapur:

The third of the medieval city-states in the Kathmandu Valley, Bhaktapur was always described as the best-preserved. Tragically, however, the 2015 earthquake caused terrible devastation and loss of life. Nevertheless, only a few temples were destroyed, there is still much to see here and tourism is vital to the community.

Many Nepalis use the old name of Bhadgaon (pronounced bud-gown) or the Newari name Khwopa, which means City of Devotees. The name fits – Bhaktapur has three major squares full of towering temples that comprise some of the finest religious architecture in the country.

Cultural life is also proudly on display. Along narrow alleys, artisans weave cloth and chisel timber, squares are filled with drying pots, and locals gather in courtyards to bathe, collect water, play cards and socialize. To view this tapestry of Nepali life, visitors must pay a town entry fee, which helps fund temple repair and maintenance.

Must-see attractions in Bhaktapur

  • The Golden Gate:

The magnificent Golden Gate is a visual highlight of Durbar Sq. Set into a bright red gatehouse surrounded by white palace walls, the fabulous golden portal boasts some of Nepal's finest repoussé metalwork. The gilded Torana features a fabulous Garuda wrestling with a number of supernatural serpents, while below is a four-headed and 10-armed figure of the goddess TalejuBhawani, the family deity of the Malla kings.

 Construction of the gate began during the reign of King BhupatindraMalla (r 1696–1722), and the project was completed by his successor, Jaya RanjitMalla, in 1754. The death of Jaya RanjitMalla marked the end of the Malla dynasty and the end of the golden age of Newari architecture in Nepal.

The gate opens to the inner courtyards of the Royal Palace, a once vast compound until the 1934 earthquake leveled all but a handful of its 99 courtyards. More walls toppled during the 2015 earthquake. To the right of the Golden Gate is the 55 Window Palaces, which, you guessed it, has 55 intricate wooden windows stretching along with its upper level.

As you enter the palace complex, hidden behind grills in the darkness on either side of the inner gate is a pair of enormous war drums, which were used to rouse the city in the event of an attack. From here you’ll pass the two statues of traditionally dressed guards standing on either side of an ornate door, brought here from Rajasthan.

Continuing on you’ll reach the main entrance to MulChowk, the oldest part of the palace and the site of Taleju Temple, built-in 1553. Damaged in the quake but not destroyed, it is one of the most sacred temples in Bhaktapur. Only Hindus can enter, but you can peer in and admire its entrance, which is fronted by magnificent woodcarvings. Photography is prohibited.

Continuing on around the corner from MulChowk is the Naga Pokhari, a 17th-century water tank used for the ritual immersion of the idol of Taleju. The pool is encircled by a writhing stone cobra and other serpents rise up in the middle and at the end of the tank, where water pours from a magnificent Dhara (spout) in the form of a goat being eaten by a Makara.

 

  • Nyatapola Temple

You should be able to see the sky-high rooftop of the Nyatapola Temple long before you reach TaumadhiTole. With five storeys towering 30m above the square, this is the tallest temple in all of Nepal and one of the tallest buildings in the Kathmandu Valley. This perfectly proportioned temple was built in 1702 during the reign of King BhupatindraMalla, and the construction was so sturdy that the 1934 and 2015 earthquakes caused only minor damage.

The temple is reached by a stairway flanked by stone figures of the temple guardians. At the bottom are the legendary Rajput wrestlers Jayamel and Phattu, depicted kneeling with hefty maces. Subsequent levels are guarded by elephants with floral saddles, lions adorned with bells, beaked griffons with rams’ horns, and finally two goddesses – Baghini and Singhini. Each figure is said to be 10 times as strong as the figure on the level below.

The temple is dedicated to Siddhi Lakshmi, a bloodthirsty incarnation of the goddess Durga (Parvati). The idol of the goddess is so fearsome that only the temple’s priests are allowed to enter the inner sanctum, but less brutal incarnations of the goddess appear on the Torana above the door, beneath a canopy of braided snakes, and also on the temple’s 180 carved roof struts. In a classic piece of religious crossover, the Buddhist eight lucky signs are carved beside the temple doorways.

Look for the chariot runners piled up on the north side of the temple.

  • Potters’ Square

Hidden down shop-lined alleyways leading south from the curving road to TaumadhiTole, Potters’ Sq is exactly what you would expect – a public square full of potter's wheels and rows of clay pots drying in the sun. Nearby buildings were damaged by the 2015 earthquake, but life – and pottery – in the square continues.

This is the center of Bhaktapur’s ceramic industry, and it’s a fascinating place to wander around. Several shops sell the finished article, and you can see the firing process at the back of the square, which is lined with mud-covered straw kilns.

On the northern side of the square, a small hillock is topped by a shady pipal tree and a Ganesh shrine, surrounded by piles of straw for the pottery kilns. In the square itself is a solid-brick Vishnu Temple, which was constructed from remnants of temples destroyed in the 1934 quake, and the double-roofed Jeth Ganesh Temple, whose priest is chosen from the Kumal (potters’) caste. During the harvest in October, every square inch that is not covered by pots is covered by drying rice.

  • Bhairabnath Temple

The broad-fronted, triple-roofed Bhairabnath Temple is dedicated to Bhairab, the fearsome incarnation of Shiva, whose consort occupies the Nyatapola Temple across the square. Despite Bhairab’s fearsome powers and his massive temple, the deity is depicted here as a disembodied head just 15cm high! Casually stacked against the north wall of the temple are the enormous wheels and runners from the chariot used to haul the image of Bhairab around town during the BisketJatra festival in mid-April.

The first temple on this site was a modest structure built in the early 17th century, but King BhupatindraMalla added an extra storey in 1717, and a third level was added when the temple was rebuilt after the 1934 earthquake. The final version of the temple has a similar rectangular plan to the Bhimsen Temple in Patan’s Durbar Sq.

A small hole in the temple's central door (below a row of carved boar snouts) is used to push offerings into the temple’s interior; prior to the 2015 earthquake, priests accessed the interior through the small Betal Temple, on the south side of the main pagoda, but this collapsed entirely, and restoration work is underway.

The temple’s facade is guarded by two brass lions holding the Nepali flag, the only national flag that is not rectangular or square. To the right of the door is an image of Bhairab painted on the rattan, decorated with a gruesome garland of buffalo guts. Head here at dusk to hear traditional devotional music.

Next to the temple is a sunken hiti with a particularly fine spout in the form of a Makara (mythical crocodile-like beast).

  • National Art Gallery

The western end of Bhaktapur's Royal Palace contains the best of the three museums in Bhaktapur. Inside, you can view an extensive collection of Tantric cloth paintings – the Hindu version of Buddhist thangkas – as well as palm-leaf manuscripts, and metal, stone, and wooden votive objects, some of which date from the 12th century. Keep hold of your ticket as this also covers the Woodcarving Museum and Brass & Bronze Museum in TachupalTole.

The entrance to the gallery is flanked by two huge guardian lions, one male, and one female. Besides the lions are some imposing 17th-century statues of Hanuman the monkey god, in his four-armed Tantric form, and Vishnu, as the gut-ripping Narsingha.

Inside the gallery are portraits of all the Shah kings, including a surly Gyanendra (the last of the Nepali kings) following the abolition of the monarchy in 2008. In the first gallery lookout for depictions of the nightmarish MahaSambhara, with 21 faces and an unbelievable number of arms, and then turn around on the spot for scenes from the Kama Sutra.

  • Char Dham Temples

Standing at the western end of Durbar Sq, the four Char Dham temples were constructed to provide spiritual merit for pilgrims who were unable to make the journey to the Indian state of Uttaranchal to visit its famed Char Dham temples. After the 2015 earthquake, only three remained. The shikhara-style Kedarnath Temple, dedicated to Shiva, was shaken apart by the tremor but was actively under reconstruction when we last visited.

Although damaged, the three remaining temples are still worth visiting. The two-roofed Gopinath Temple (also called Jagarnath) features different incarnations of Vishnu on the ceiling struts and a statue of Garuda on the pillar at the entrance.

The small Rameshwar Temple, topped by an ornate dome, is still standing on its four repaired but cracked pillars. The Badrinath Temple is sacred to Vishnu in his incarnation as Narayan.

  • Dattatreya Temple

At the east end of TachupalTole, the eye-catching Dattatreya Temple was originally built in 1427, supposedly using timber from a single tree. The slightly mismatched front porch was added later. The temple is dedicated to Dattatreya, a curious hybrid deity, blending elements of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Judging from the Garuda statue and the conch and chakra disc mounted on pillars supported by stone turtles in front of the temple, Vishnu seems to have come out on top.

The three-story temple is raised above the ground on a brick and terracotta base, which is carved with erotic scenes, including unexpected humor where one bored-looking woman multitasks by washing her hair while being pleasured by her husband. The main steps to the temple are guarded by statues of the same two Malla wrestlers who watch over the first plinth of the Nyatapola Temple.

  • Taleju Bell

In front of what once was the VatsalaDurga Temple is a large bell, which was erected by King Jaya RanjitMalla in 1737 to mark morning and evening prayers at the Taleju Temple.

A smaller bell on the plinth of the VatsalaDurga Temple was known as the ‘barking bell’. According to legend, it was erected by King BhupatindraMalla in 1721 to counteract a vision he had in a dream, and dogs were said to bark and whine when the bell was rung. Unfortunately, it was damaged when the temple collapsed in 2015 and it now sits forlornly in a corner of the entrance to MulChowk.

Behind the bell, the pavilion is an ornate sunken Hiti containing a fine stone Dhara in the form of a Makara, topped by a crocodile and a frog – the only part of the famous VatsalaDurga Temple to survive the 2015 earthquake.

  • Ugrachandi & Bhairab Statues

As you enter Durbar Sq through the western gate, look left to a gateway flanked by two stocky stone lions, erected by King BhupatindraMalla in 1701. On either side are statues of the terrible Bhairab (right), the rending, sundering incarnation of Shiva, and his consort on the left side, the equally terrible Ugrachandi (Durga). It is said that the unfortunate sculptor had his hands cut off afterward, to prevent him from duplicating his masterpieces.

Ugrachandi has 18 arms holding various Tantric weapons symbolizing the multiple aspects of her character. She is depicted casually killing a demon with a trident to symbolize the victory of wisdom over ignorance. Bhairab gets by with just 12 arms, one holding two heads impaled on a trident and another holding a cup made from a human skull. The statues originally guarded a courtyard that was destroyed in the 1934 quake.

  • TilMahadev Narayan Temple

This interesting temple at TaumadhiTole has hidden away behind the buildings at the south end of the square. The TilMahadev Narayan Temple is set in an untidy courtyard, but this is actually an important place of pilgrimage and one of the oldest temples in the city. An inscription states that the site has been in use since 1080 and that the image of TilMahadev was installed here in 1170.

 The double-tiered temple is fronted by an elegant kneeling Garuda statue on a pillar and two columns bearing the sacred sankha and chakra symbols of Vishnu. In case Shiva was feeling left out, a lingam symbol on a yoni base (the Shaivite symbol for the male and female genitals) stands behind a wooden grill in front and to one side of the temple. A plaque to the right of the door depicts the Buddhist deity Vajrayogini in a characteristic pose with her left leg high in the air.

  • KhalnaTole

Southeast of Potters' Sq and above the river is the wide-open square of KhalnaTole, the setting for the spectacular BisketJatra festival. Many flanking houses were damaged in the 2015 earthquake, but restoration work is underway. In the middle of the square, note the huge stone yoni where the giant lingam is erected during the festival. You may have to pick your way through mountains of drying rice and grain to get here.

Just south of the bridge, past an orange Hanuman statue on the riverbank is the campus of the Kathmandu University Department of Music, where the sound of traditional music wafts over the peaceful ornamental gardens. Across the river are the modern cremation plinths at ChupingGhat.

  • Pujari Math

TachupalTole is flanked by a series of ornate brick-and-timber buildings that were originally used as math (Hindu priests’ houses). The best known is the Pujari Math, which now serves as the Woodcarving Museum. The building was damaged in the 2015 earthquake, but its most famous feature – the superb 15th-century Peacock Window, widely regarded as the finest carved window in the Kathmandu Valley – is intact.

 The building was first constructed in the 15th century during the reign of King Yaksha Malla but rebuilt in 1763. German experts renovated the building in 1979 as a wedding gift for the then King Birendra. Many surrounding shops sell miniature wooden copies of the Peacock Window as souvenirs.

  • Suriya Binayak Temple:

South of Bhaktapur, on the south side of the Arniko Hwy, SuriyaBinayak is an important Ganesh temple dating back to the 17th century. The white shikhara-style temple contains some interesting statuary, but the main attractions are the peaceful setting and the walk uphill above the temple to a hillside with sweeping views over Bhaktapur. The temple is flanked by statues of Malla kings and a large statue of Ganesh’s vehicle, the rat.

To get here, take the road south from Potters’ Sq to Ram Ghat (where there are areas for ritual bathing and cremations) and cross the river to the Arniko Hwy. On the other side, it’s a 1km walk along the road to the start of the steps to the temple. Bank on around 30 minutes from TaumadhiTole.

  • Tadhunchen Bahal

Walking east from Durbar Sq, you’ll pass the gateway to the restored TadhunchenBahal monastery, tucked between souvenir shops. This Buddhist temple is linked to the cult of the Kumari, Bhaktapur’s living goddess. Bhaktapur actually has three Kumaris, but they lack the political importance of Kathmandu.

In the inner courtyard, the roof struts on the eastern side have unusual carvings that show the tortures of the damned. In one, a snake is wrapped around a man, another shows two rams butting an unfortunate’s head, while a third strut shows a nasty tooth extraction being performed with a large pair of pliers!

  • Hanuman Ghat

 This impressive collection of chaitya, Shiva statues, Shaivite shrines, and lingam in the town's southeast includes what could well be the two largest Shiva lingam (in equally large yoni) in Nepal. The site was damaged in the 2015 quake, but most structures are still standing. Through the archway are more statues beside the stinking confluence of rivers at Hanuman Ghat. Note the exquisitely carved images of Ganesh, Sakyamuni, Ram and Sita, Hanuman and Vishnu/Narayan, reclining on a bed of snakes. Hindu yogis often come here to meditate.

  • King BhupatindraMalla’s Column

With hands folded in a prayer position, the bronze statue of King BhupatindraMalla sits atop a column in front of the VatsalaDurga Temple. The statue was created in 1699 and similar statues were erected in the Durbar Sqs of Kathmandu and Patan. Both of the latter collapsed in 2015; Patan's was restored, but Kathmandu's was awaiting restoration at the time of research. Bhupatindra was the best known of the Malla kings of Bhaktapur and contributed to much of the architecture in town.

  • ChyasilinMandap

'Chyasilin' refers to the eight-cornered roof of this pavilion. It was rebuilt in 1990 using old photos and paintings and components from the original building, which was destroyed in the 1934 earthquake. With modern steel-frame technology underpinning it, it survived the 2015 earthquake. The original was used to receive royal guests, the upper floor was used as a viewing platform during festivals, and at least once it was the venue of a poetry competition.

  • Brass & Bronze Museum:

Directly across from the Woodcarving Museum, in another old math (Hindu priest’s house) with similar lighting problems, this museum has some excellent examples of traditional metalwork, including ceremonial lamps and ritual vessels from around the valley. Hold on to your ticket to avoid paying for entry to the Woodcarving Museum and National Art Gallery.

  • Woodcarving Museum

This museum has some fine examples of Bhaktapur woodcarving displayed in dark, creaky rooms. There isn’t enough light to justify paying the camera fee, but it’s worth a visit, not least for the extravagantly carved windows in the inner courtyard. The same ticket covers entry to the nearby Brass & Bronze Museum and the National Art Gallery.

  • Pashupatinath Temple

Behind the Vatsala Durga Temple, the Pashupatinath Temple is dedicated to Shiva as Pashupati and is a replica of the main shrine at Pashupatinath. Originally built by King YakshaMalla in 1475 (or 1482), it is the oldest temple in Durbar Sq. Like many temples, the roof struts feature erotic images, but what exactly the dwarf is doing with that bowl takes things to a new level.

Patan:

Once a fiercely independent city-state, Patan (pah-tan) is now almost a suburb of Kathmandu, separated only by the murky Bagmati River. Many locals still call the city by its original Sanskrit name of Lalitpur (City of Beauty) or by its Newari name, Yala. Almost everyone who comes to Kathmandu also visits Patan’s spectacular Durbar Sq – even after the 2015 earthquake, this remains the finest collection of temples and palaces in the whole of Nepal.

 Another good reason to come here is to take advantage of the shops and restaurants set up to cater to the NGO workers and diplomats who live in the surrounding suburbs. Then there are Patan’s fair-trade shops, selling superior handicrafts at fair prices and channeling tourist dollars to some of the neediest people in Nepal.

The ancient royal palace of Patan faces on to magnificent Durbar Sq. This concentrated mass of temples is perhaps the most visually stunning display of Newari architecture to be seen in Nepal. Temple construction in the square went into overdrive during the Malla period (14th to 18th centuries), particularly during the reign of King SiddhinarsinghMalla (1619–60). It's well worth at least a half-day trip from Kathmandu.

Reconstruction of temples affected by the 2015 earthquake will continue for several years, so safety fencing and scaffolding are to be expected. However, all restorations are well underway and the Royal Palace housing the museum is open.

Formerly the residence of the Malla kings, the section of the Royal Palace surrounding Keshav Narayan Chowk now houses one of the finest collections of religious art in Asia. The museum is a national treasure and an invaluable introduction to the art, symbolism, and architecture of the valley. You need at least an hour, and preferably two, to do this place justice, and it’s worth taking a break at the Museum Café before diving in for another round.

The collection is displayed in a series of brick and timber rooms, linked by steep and narrow stairways. There are informative labels on each of the hundreds of statues, carvings, and votive objects, allowing you to put a name to many of the deities depicted at temples around the valley.

There are also some interesting displays on the techniques used to create these wonderful objects, including the art of repoussé and the ‘lost wax method of casting. The top floor houses some fascinating photos of Patan at the end of the 19th century.

The museum has a shop selling reproductions of some of the works displayed inside. For a sneak preview of the museum’s highlights and the story of its renovation, go to www.asianart.com/patan-museum. Photography is allowed.

The other attractions that you will visit today in Patan include Golden Temple (KwaBahal), MulChowk, Krishna Mandir, Sundari Chowk, Royal palace, Golden Gate, and MahaBoudha Temple.

Must-see attractions in Patan

  • Patan Durbar Square:

 The ancient royal palace of Patan faces on to magnificent Durbar Sq. This concentrated mass of temples is perhaps the most visually stunning display of Newari architecture to be seen in Nepal. Temple construction in the square went into overdrive during the Malla period (14th to 18th centuries), particularly during the reign of King SiddhinarsinghMalla (1619–60). It's well worth at least a half-day trip from Kathmandu.

Reconstruction of temples affected by the 2015 earthquake will continue for several years, so safety fencing and scaffolding are to be expected. However, all restorations are well underway and the Royal Palace housing the museum is open.

  • Golden Temple (KwaBahal):

This unique Buddhist monastery is just north of Durbar Sq. It was allegedly founded in the 12th century, and it has existed in its current form since 1409. The temple gets its name from the gilded metal plates that cover most of its frontage and it is one of the most beautiful in Patan. 

Entry is via an ornate narrow stone doorway to the east, or a wooden doorway to the west from one of the interlinked courtyards on the north side of Nakabhil.

Entering from the east, note the gaudy lions and the 1886 signature of Krishnabir, the master stonemason who sculpted the fine doorway with its frieze of Buddhist deities. This second doorway leads to the main courtyard of the Golden Temple; shoes and leather articles must be removed to enter the lower courtyard. The main priest of the temple is a young boy under the age of 12, who serves for 30 days before handing the job over to another young boy.

The temple itself is a magnificent example of courtyard temple architecture. Two elephant statues guard the doorway and the facade is covered by a host of gleaming Buddhist figures. Inside the main shrine is a beautiful statue of Sakyamuni (no photos allowed). To the left of the courtyard is a statue of Green Tara and in the right corner is a statue of the Bodhisattva Vajrasattva wearing an impressive silver-and-gold cape. Both are inside inner shrines.

Facing the main temple is a smaller shrine containing a ‘self-arisen’ (swayambhu) chaitya. The four corners of the courtyard have statues of four Lokeshvaras (incarnations of Avalokiteshvara) and four monkeys, which hold out jackfruits as an offering. A stairway leads to an upper-floor chapel dedicated to a white eight-armed Avalokiteshvara, lined with Tibetan-style frescoes including a wheel of life. Finally, as you leave the temple at the eastern exit, look up to see an embossed mandala mounted on the ceiling. Outside of winter, look for the tortoises pottering around the compound – these are the temple guardians.

It’s worth ducking south towards Durbar Sq to see the small, two-tiered Uma Maheshwar Temple and the handsome stone Gauri Shankar Temple, in the Indian shikhara style. Across the road, the Buddhist MaruMandapaMahavihar is set in a small courtyard.

  • MulChowk:

South of the Patan Museum, a gateway opens onto the stately MulChowk, the largest and oldest of the Royal Palace’s three main chowks (squares). The original buildings were destroyed by fire in 1662 but rebuilt just three years later by SrinivasaMalla. The temples in the courtyard were restored in 2014 and the surrounding walls and buildings were quickly restored after the 2015 earthquake.

In the center of the square is the small, gilded, central Bidyapith Temple, beside a wooden post used to secure animals for sacrifices. The central deity is Yantaju, a form of Durga, and a personal deity to the Malla kings.

On the south side of the square is the TalejuBhawani Temple, flanked by statues of the river goddesses Ganga, on a tortoise, and Jamuna, on a Makara. The upper galleries now form part of the museum's architectural displays, with fine examples of carved wooden struts.

At the northeastern corner of the square is the tall Degutalle Temple, topped by an octagonal triple-roofed tower. The larger, triple-roofed Taleju Temple is directly north, looking out over Durbar Sq, and dedicated to Taleju, another protective deity of the Malla kings.

  • Patan Museum:

Formerly the residence of the Malla kings, the section of the Royal Palace surrounding Keshav Narayan Chowk now houses one of the finest collections of religious art in Asia. The museum is a national treasure and an invaluable introduction to the art, symbolism, and architecture of the valley. You need at least an hour, and preferably two, to do this place justice, and it’s worth taking a break at the Museum Café before diving in for another round.

 The collection is displayed in a series of brick and timber rooms, linked by steep and narrow stairways. There are informative labels on each of the hundreds of statues, carvings, and votive objects, allowing you to put a name to many of the deities depicted at temples around the valley.

There are also some interesting displays on the techniques used to create these wonderful objects, including the art of repoussé and the ‘lost wax method of casting. The top floor houses some fascinating photos of Patan at the end of the 19th century. The museum has a shop selling reproductions of some of the works displayed inside.

  • Royal Palace:

Forming the entire eastern side of Durbar Sq, the Royal Palace of Patan was originally built in the 14th century and expanded during the 17th and 18th centuries by SiddhinarsinghMalla, SrinivasaMalla, and Vishnu Malla. The Patan palace predates the palaces in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur and remains one of the architectural highlights of Nepal.

 Behind the extravagant facade, with its overhanging eaves, carved windows and delicate wooden screens, are a series of connecting courtyards and a trip of temples dedicated to the valley’s main deity, the goddess Taleju. The closed external Bhairab gateway leading to the central MulChowk courtyard is flanked by two stone lions and colorful murals of Shiva in his wrathful incarnation as Bhairab. Strings of buffalo guts are hung above the door in his honor.

The northern courtyard is reached through the Golden Gate (Sun Dhoka). Installed in 1734, this finely engraved and gilded gateway is topped by a golden Torana showing Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh, and Kumar (an incarnation of Skanda, the god of war). Directly above the gateway is a window made from gold foil wrapped around a timber frame, where the king once made public appearances. This gateway now forms the entrance to the Patan Museum and northern ticket office.

Restoration works following the 2015 earthquake are not the first to take place at the palace. Reconstruction followed the conquest of the valley by Prithvi Narayan Shah in 1768, and again after the great earthquake of 1934.

  • Krishna Mandir:

Heading into Durbar Sq, you can’t miss the splendid Krishna Mandir built by King SiddhinarsinghMalla in 1637. Constructed from carved stone – in place of the usual brick and timber – this fabulous architectural confection shows the clear influence of Indian temple design and is the earliest stone temple of its type in Nepal. The temple stayed intact through the 2015 earthquake.

The temple consists of three tiers, fronted by columns and supporting a northern Indian–style shikhara spire. The distinctive temple is often depicted on the ornate brass butter lamps hung in Nepali homes. Non-Hindus cannot enter to view the statue of Krishna, the goatherd, but you’ll often hear temple musicians playing upstairs. Vishnu’s mount, the man-bird Garuda, kneels with folded arms on top of a column facing the temple. The delicate stone carvings along the beam on the 1st-floor recount events from the Mahabharata, while the hard-to-see beam on the 2nd floor features scenes from the Ramayana.

A major festival, Krishna Jayanta, also known as Krishnasthami, is held here in the Nepali month of Bhadra (August to September) for Krishna’s birthday.

  • SundariChowk:

South of MulChowk is the smaller SundariChowk, arranged around a superbly carved sunken water tank known as the TushaHiti. The chowk was restored in 2014, and again after the 2015 earthquake. Built-in 1647, the renovated water tank has 72 carved stone plaques depicting Tantric deities and was used by the king for ritual ablutions. The spout is new; the original was stolen in 2010 (and recovered). Ancient carved wooden struts lie scattered in the corners.

On the way outlook at the restored Bhandarkhal water tank, once the main water supply for the palace, features a charming meditation pavilion.

Back in Durbar Sq, the traditional gateway to SundariChowk features three magnificent statues of Hanuman (barely recognizable beneath layers of orange paint), Ganesh, and Vishnu as Narasimha, the man-lion, tearing out the entrails of a demon.

  • Golden Gate

The entry to Patan Museum is through the Royal Palace's superb Golden Gate. Installed in 1734, this finely engraved and gilded gateway is topped by a golden Torana showing Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh, and Kumar (an incarnation of Skanda, the god of war).

Directly above the gateway is a window made from gold foil wrapped around a timber frame, where the king once made public appearances.

  • RatoMachhendranath Temple:

Almost directly across the road from the Minnath Temple, down an alley, a white-columned gateway leads to the wide, open square containing the revered RatoMachhendranath Temple. Dedicated to the god of rain and plenty, the temple, like so many in Nepal, blurs the line between Buddhism and Hinduism. Buddhists regard Rato (Red) Machhendranath as an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, while Hindus see him as an incarnation of Shiva.

Set inside a protective metal fence, the towering three-storey temple dates from 1673, but there has been some kind of temple on this site since at least 1408. The temple’s four ornate doorways are guarded by stone snow lions, and at ground level on the four corners of the temple plinth are yeti-like demons known as kyah.

Mounted on freestanding pillars at the front of the temple is a curious collection of metal animals in protective cages, including a peacock, Garuda, horse, buffalo, lion, elephant, fish, and snake. Look up to see the richly painted roof struts of the temple, which show Avalokiteshvara standing above figures being tortured in hell.

The main image of Machhendranath resides here for six months a year, before moving to Bungamati during the spectacular RatoMachhendranath Festival in April/May.

  • Mahabouddha Temple:

As you step through the entryway of this hard-to-find courtyard in the southeast of Patan, the temple suddenly looms above you, crammed in like a plant straining to get some sunlight. Built-in the Indian shikhara style, the shrine takes its name from the hundreds of terracotta tiles that cover it, each bearing an image of the Buddha. The shikhara is upright, although it was cloaked in heavy-duty scaffolding when we last visited.

The temple dates from 1585 but was totally rebuilt after the 1934 earthquake. Unfortunately, without plans to work from, the builders ended up with a different-looking temple and had enough bricks and tiles left over to construct a smaller shrine to Maya Devi, the Buddha’s mother, in the corner of the courtyard. The temple is loosely modeled on the Mahabouddha Temple at Bodhgaya in India, where the Buddha gained enlightenment.

The surrounding lanes are full of shops selling high-quality Patan-style metal statues. The roof terrace of the shop at the back of the courtyard has a good view of the temple.

To reach the Mahabouddha Temple, you must walk southeast from Durbar Sq along HakhaTole, passing a series of small Vaishnavite and Shaivite temples. When you reach SundharaTole, with its temple and sunken hiti (water tank) with three brass water spouts, turn right and look for the tiny doorway leading to the temple.

  • Kumbeshwar Temple:

Due north of Durbar Sq is the eye-catching Kumbeshwar Temple, one of the valley’s three five-storey temples. This tall, thin mandir (temple) features some particularly artistic woodcarving, and it seems to defy gravity as it towers above the surrounding houses. Amazingly, this precarious structure survived the earthquake, though the top tier toppled in May 2015 and the tower is now leaning slightly. A large Nandi statue and central lingam indicate that the shrine is sacred to Shiva.

The temple platform has two ponds whose water is said to come straight from the holy lake at Gosainkund, a weeklong trek north of the valley. Bathing in the tank at Kumbeshwar Temple is said to be as meritorious as making the arduous walk to Gosainkund.

The surrounding square is dotted with temples sacred to Bhairab and Baglamukhi (Parvati). Local women gather at the tank known as KontiHiti to socialize, wash clothes and fill up their water jugs. Down an alley to the north of the temple is the Kumbeshwar Technical School.

From here you can detour north to see the Northern Stupa, one of four marker shrines showing the old city limits of Patan.

  • King Yoganarendra Malla’s Statue

 South of the Jagannarayan Temple is a tall column topped by a striking brass statue of King YoganarendraMalla (r 1684–1705) and his queens. Installed in 1700, the column toppled in the 2015 earthquake but was one of the first items to be restored. Looming over the king's head is a cobra, and alighted on the head of the cobra is a small brass bird.

Legend has it that as long as the bird remains, the king may still return to his palace. Accordingly, a door and window of the palace are always kept open and a hookah pipe is kept ready. A rider to the legend adds that when the bird flies off, the elephants in front of the Vishwanath Temple will stroll over the Manga Hiti for a drink.

Behind the statue of the king are three smaller Vishnu temples, including a brick-and-plaster shikhara temple, built-in 1590 to enshrine an image of Narsingha, Vishnu’s man-lion incarnation.

  • Peace Gallery

Nepal's decade-long civil war has been marked by a photo exhibition that brings the conflict poignantly to life. Based on the book A People War by Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit, the exhibition is on display at the Peace Gallery inside the Rato Bangla School. It's possible the exhibition will find a new home, in which case contact the Bhaktapur Tourism Development Committee for updates.

The images include portraits of schoolchildren giving the Maoist red salute, siblings who faced each other on either side of the front line, and a teacher who continued to teach despite having his hands cut off by Maoists. It's everything photojournalism should be – nuanced, moving, surprising, and never simplistic.

Enter the school, just behind Dhokaima Cafe, and ask for directions. The gallery is on the 4th floor of an administration building.

Bhimsen Temple

At the northern end of Durbar Sq, the Bhimsen Temple is dedicated to the god of trade and business, which may explain its prosperous appearance. One of the five Pandavas from the Mahabharata, Bhimsen is credited with superhuman strength – he is often depicted as a red muscleman, lifting a horse or crushing an elephant under his knee.

The three-storey pagoda has an unusual rectangular plan that sets it apart from other temples in Patan. The current temple was completely rebuilt in 1682 after a fire and was later restored after the 1934 earthquake, and again in 1967. Once repairs following the 2015 quake are complete, non-Hindus may once again be able to climb to the upper level (the inner sanctum is usually upstairs in Bhimsen temples) to view the wild-eyed statue of Bhimsen.

  • UkuBahal  or the Rudra Varna Mahavihar:

Located south of Patan Durbar Square, the Rudra Varna Mahavihar (UkuBahal) Newar Buddhist Monastery is known locally as Rudra Varna Mahavihar. One of several popular attractions of culture worth stopping by to see in Patan city. The area around Rudra Varna Mahavihar contains 3 courtyards and each has interesting and unique features. The highlight is, of course, the main UkuBahal central courtyard which was started by King Shivadev (590-604) as one of five monasteries.

The outer courtyard is marked by an impressive gate with two flag-bearing lion statues on top that wouldn’t look out of place in London. These were a later addition in 1680. The courtyard at the back of Rudra Varna Mahavihar is relatively modern and actually belongs to the residents surrounding it. Nonetheless, it’s worth taking a walk around it and possibly admitting some of the painted sculptures and stupa there.

  • Min Nath Temple

 Just 200m south of I BahaBahi, a large water tank marks the entrance to a courtyard strewn with wooden beams. In the center is the brightly painted, two-tiered Minnath Temple, dedicated to the Bodhisattva JatadhariLokesvara, who is considered to be the little brother of RatoMachhendranath. The temple was founded in the Licchavi period (3rd to 9th centuries), but the multi-armed goddesses on the roof struts were added much later.

Note the metal pots and pans nailed to the temple rafters by devotees. The timbers surrounding the temple are assembled into a chariot every year to haul the statue of Minnath around town as part of the RatoMachhendranath Festival.

  • Vishwanath Temple

 South of the Bhimsen Temple stands the Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Shiva. This elaborately decorated two-tiered pagoda was built in 1627 and it features some particularly ornate woodcarving, especially on the Torana (lintel) above the colonnade.

On the west side is a statue of Shiva’s loyal mount, Nandi the bull, while the east side features two stone elephants with mahouts, one elephant crushing a man beneath its foot. When the doors are open, you can view the enormous lingam inside.

  • Manga Hiti

Immediately across from Bhimsen Temple is the sunken Manga Hiti, one of the water conduits with which Patan is liberally endowed. The tank contains a cruciform-shaped pool and three wonderfully carved Dhara (water spouts) in the shape of Makara (mythical crocodile-like beasts). The two wooden ceremonial pavilions that overlook the tank – known as the Mani Mandap – collapsed in the 2015 earthquake and are under repair.

  • Hari Shankar Temple

 This temple is dedicated to Hari Shankar, a curious hybrid deity that has half the attributes of Vishnu and half the attributes of Shiva. Although it collapsed in the 2015 earthquake, restoration of this three-storey temple is underway using recovered materials, including the roof struts carved with scenes of the tortures of the damned. The original temple was built in 1704–05 by the daughter of King YoganarendraMalla.

  • TushaHiti

The highlight of SundariChowk is the superbly carved sunken water tank known as the TushaHiti. Built-in 1647, the renovated tank has 72 carved stone plaques depicting Tantric deities and was used by the king for ritual ablutions. The spout is new; the original was stolen in 2010 but recently recovered. Ancient carved wooden struts lie neglected in the corners like kindling wood.

Your trip will come to an end today after breakfast. We will be advised and assisted with your onward travel arrangements and transfer to Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport by our private vehicle approximately 3 hours before departure of your flight schedule and flight back to your home/other travel destination. Have a safe journey onwards. And we hope to see you again.

Meals:                         Breakfast

Includes

  • All land transportation by private vehicle.
  • Fully guided sightseeing with an English-speaking guide as per the above itinerary including all applicable entrance fees, guide and driver's daily wages, etc.
  • Accommodation at Hotel Yatri Suites & Spa in Kathmandu and Kuti Resort in Pokhara including breakfast and all taxes
  • Kathmandu Pokhara transfer by private AC vehicle
  • Pokhara-Jomsom-Pokhara-Kathmandu flights including all domestic surcharge
  • Accommodation throughout the trek in local lodge / local tea house including three meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner).
  • Restricted Area Permit for Upper Mustang, & other required permits.
  • An experienced, English-speaking, and government-licensed holder trekking guide.
  • All porters (one porter can carry 18 kilos of luggage and share between two clients. So both clients are suggested to bring 9 kilos of luggage each) Staff costs including their salary, insurance, equipment, and accommodation.
  • All government and local taxes.
  • First aid kit.


Excludes

Includes

  • All land transportation by private vehicle.
  • Fully guided sightseeing with an English-speaking guide as per the above itinerary including all applicable entrance fees, guide and driver's daily wages, etc.
  • Accommodation at Hotel Yatri Suites & Spa in Kathmandu and Kuti Resort in Pokhara including breakfast and all taxes
  • Kathmandu Pokhara transfer by private AC vehicle
  • Pokhara-Jomsom-Pokhara-Kathmandu flights including all domestic surcharge
  • Accommodation throughout the trek in local lodge / local tea house including three meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner).
  • Restricted Area Permit for Upper Mustang, & other required permits.
  • An experienced, English-speaking, and government-licensed holder trekking guide.
  • All porters (one porter can carry 18 kilos of luggage and share between two clients. So both clients are suggested to bring 9 kilos of luggage each) Staff costs including their salary, insurance, equipment, and accommodation.
  • All government and local taxes.
  • First aid kit.


Excludes

  • Drinks / Beverages bills for you.
  • Tipping (Tips).
  • Personal Expenses.
  • Travel Insurance
  • International Flights
  • Donations in Temples, schools, Monasteries, etc.
  • Extra costs for upgrading rooms and services at hotels
  • Personal trekking gears.
  • First aid kit (for you).
  • Emergency Rescue evacuation.
  • Any other items not specified in the package

Budget Package

Standard Package

Deluxe Package

To enhance your experience in Nepal, we give you the possibility to add one or more extra activities to this travel package. The step of adding these is available in the "Book now" process.

Do not hesitate to check each extra activity. They can be booked also separately.

Kanchenjunga Basecamp Trek Bungee Jump in The Last Resort Canyoning Cooking Workshop in Kathmandu Golf Tour Everest Heli Tour Mountain Flight Paragliding in Pokhara Rafting/Kayaking in Trishuli Rickshaw ride at Kathmandu Skydiving Zipline at Pokhara Ultralight flight at Pokhara Heli tour in Nepal

Booking Form - Upper Mustang Trek Package Cost | Itinerary | Budget | Map - (18 Days)

All of your personal information will be securely stored in our office. We will not share your information with anyone unless we are using for official business on your behalf (obtaining travel permits, national park registration cards). Please complete the following information for booking this program:


Personal Information











Simple is fine with me (clean and not too expensive)
Comfortable (3-star equivalent)
Luxurious (4-stars and up)
Homestays (in people's homes)

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Booking Form - Upper Mustang Trek Package Cost | Itinerary | Budget | Map - (18 Days)

All of your personal information will be securely stored in our office. We will not share your information with anyone unless we are using for official business on your behalf (obtaining travel permits, national park registration cards). Please complete the following information for booking this program:


Personal Information
















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ADDRESS
Thabahi Road, Thamel
Kathmandu, Nepal

CONTACTS
Email: info@asianheritagetreks.com
Phone: +977 9851 019 279
Tel/Fax: +977 1 4413736/01-4413738



License No.: 702/061 (Asian Heritage Treks & Expiditions (P) Ltd.)

Regd. No.: 90357/068/069 (Asian Heritage Int'l Tours & Travels (P) Ltd).