Day 01 – Visit Swayambhunath, Kathmandu Durbar Square, and nearby Buddhist viharas
The first day of this five-day long tour begins with a short tour around Kathmandu. We will start by visiting the Swayambhunath Stupa. The stupa lies on a hilltop of the western part of the city, around 3 km away from its center. It is also called the monkey temple. You will travel via a private vehicle as per your arrangement. From the entrance, you will have to travel a 365 steps long staircase.
You will be welcomed by a beautiful stupa and many temples, prayer wheels, and excellent views of the city. After our tour of the stupa and its attractions, we will leave for Kathmandu Durbar Square. Kathmandu Durbar Square is less than a half hour drive away from Swayambhu. The place also houses many Buddhist attraction sites. Jana Baha, Aksheshowr Mahavihar, and Ananada Kuti Vihar are the main Buddhist sites in the square. The Durbar Square is an ancient palace that serves as a historical monument. The viharas nearby carry a significant history, art, and culture.
The Jana Bahal is a Buddhist monastery that houses the statue of Seto Macchindranath. Aksehswor Mahavihar, on the other hand, is a serene ancient monastery with beautiful architecture. Located near Indra Chowk is another Vihar called the Ananda Kuti Vihar. It is a historical site that was built a long time ago during Pratap Malla’s reign. It is popular for its intricate wood carvings.
After a whole day’s worth of touring these attraction sites, we will return back to our hotel. This marks the end of day one.
Day 2 – Baudhanath & Bajrayogini (Sankhu)
Baudhanath is a local’s favorite spot in the town. It lies around 7 km northeast of the town’s center. The place is popular among both locals as well as tourists. It houses a huge monastery of the Baudhanath and has several other monasteries in its vicinity. The main monastery lies in the center, surrounded by a very vibrant local business running around it. You will find many cafes, restaurants, Tibetan artifacts, local street foods, and delicacies here. It is a must-visit place when you are in Kathmandu.
Along with the main Baudhanath stupa, Shechen Monastery, Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery, and Rangjung Yeshe Gomde are other monasteries in the area.
After Baudhanath’s visit, we will head towards Sankhu, which lies on the outskirts of the valley. The place houses the famous Bajrayogini temple. The temple holds significant importance among Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims. The Bajrayogi festival is a popular celebration performed in this region. The area is a Newari settlement with scenic trekking spots and local markets where you can buy souvenirs and traditional crafts. You will find ancient Newari architecture and woodwork here as well.
Visiting these two places will be the goal of day two. Once we are done touring, we will return to our hotel and call it a day.
Day 3 – Pharping, Yangleshor, Asura Cave, Vajrayogini
Today’s journey will be quite exciting as all the destinations exist outside Kathmandu Valley. We will leave early in the morning from Kathmandu to Pharping. It is around 16 km southwest of Kathmandu and a quick drive. Pharping has many Buddhist attraction sites, including the Pharping monastery, Guru Rinpoche cave, and Vajra Varahi temple.
The Pharping monastery is a primary location to witness major Buddhist rituals. The Guru Rinpoche Cave is a serene location, also known as Pelgyi Ling Cave. People believe Guru Rinpoche had meditated and gained spirituality here. The Vajra Varahi temple is another location that is a temple of the goddess Vajra Varahi, a Tibetan deity.
From Pharping, we will head to the Yangleshor temple, which is a 3 km distance from Pharping. It is an ancient temple of the Hindu god Lord Shiva. The place has intricate woodwork and architecture. You will also find the Seshnarayn temple here, with statues representing Shiva and different Hindu deities.
After Yangleshwor temple, the Asura cave is our next stop. It is also a significant spot related to Guru Rinpoche. Also popular with the name, Yangleshö, people believe the temple is where Guru Rinpoche attained realization and subdued local deities. A mere 11 km distance away from here is our next stop, Vajrayogini temple. It is a temple dedicated to a Tantric Hindu goddess with ancient Newari architecture. The temple is located in a picturesque location with Newari markets and settlements nearby. This will be the last spot of visit for the day.
We will then head back to Kathmandu after our visit to Vajrayogini temple. This will mark the end of day three of our Buddist Tour around Kathmandu.
Day 4 – Bhaktapur or Patan, Manjushree cave Overnight Nagarkot
On day four of our Buddhist tour around Kathmandu, we have two major locations. You will visit the Manjushree cave later in the day, along with either a tour to Bhaktapur or Patan. For the first half today, we will choose one of those two locations. Both have great attraction sites and carry significant history and culture.
Option – 1 [Bhaktapur]
If you choose to tour Bhaktapur, you will be touring the Bhaktapur Durbar Square. It is another variation of an ancient palace like the Kathmandu Durbar Square. It has similar architecture with intricate woodwork, statues, pagoda-styled architecture, temples, and courtyards. You will find the Nyatapola temple in the vicinity as well. It is an ancient five-storied temple of the goddess Siddhi Laxmi. Dattatreya temple is also another popular spot in the area. Bhaktapur also has a pottery square where you can learn traditional pottery-making techniques and buy pottery items.
Option – 2 [Patan]
Your other choice will be Patan Durbar Square. It is also similar to both Bhaktapur and Kathmandu Durbar Square. You can find many ancient architectural marvels in its vicinity. You can find the Krishna Mandir, Bhimsen Mandir here. The popular golden temple, or the Hiranya Varna Mahavihar, is also housed here. Patan also has a museum that has a collection of ancient art, sculpture, and artifacts from the region. Buddhist sites like Mahaboudha temple are also found here. The temple is made up of a unique structure of terracotta bricks and houses myriad images of Buddha.
After our tour of one of these two destinations, we will head to Manjushree Cave. It is a historical attraction site lying on the outskirt of the town of Chobar. As per folklore, Manjushree, an ancient warrior, chopped off a part of Chobar’s hill to drain a lake that existed in present-day Kathmandu. The chopped hill is believed to be the gorge at Chobar. Once we are done with our tour of the Manjushree cave, we will leave to head to another destination.
Our next stop will be towards the other side of the end of town at Nagarkot. You can catch awesome views of the sunset, and the Himalayas shine during dawn. We will stay for the night at a hotel in Nagarkot and call it a day.
Day 5 – Namobuddha, Panauti
Today’s tour has two major stops which are in the vicinity of Nagarkot. We will visit Namobuddha and Panauti today. Namobuddha is a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site. People believe reincarnation of Buddha in his previous life lived in the region. Namobuddha’s monastery, also called Namobuddha Stupa, commemorates this version of Buddha. As per myths, a reincarnation of Buddha cut himself to feed a hungry Tiger.
Another stop in Namobuddha is the Thrangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery. It is another Buddhist stupa that gives stunning views of the Namobuddha countryside area. After we finish our tour of Namobuddha, we will travel around 15 km to reach our next stop, Panauti. Panauti is an old Newari settlement with very interesting cultural, historical, and religious sites.
One of the most popular places in Panauti is Durbar Square here. It is similar to the ones in Kathmandu Valley, primarily an ancient royal palace. It consists of traditional Newari art and has several temples and courtyards. The Indreshwar Mahadev temple is also an ancient site commemorating Lord Shiva. It also has a unique blend of intricate woodwork and architecture. Other than these two major attraction points, the area’s street is quite beautiful. They present in a traditional Newari style. The narrow and winding streets house beautiful houses in Newari architecture, along with old temples. Walking past the streets of Panauti is a very aesthetically pleasing experience.
Panauti will be the last stop for our Buddhist tour around Kathmandu. We will return to our hotel back in Kathmandu and bid farewell to this trip.