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Janai Purnima and Gai Jatra

Festival Tours in Nepal

Tour Information

Pashupatinath Temple, one of the most sacred shrines to Shiva in the whole of South Asia. It is situated on the banks of the Bagmati River, whose waters offer the same guarantee of release from rebirth as the Ganges. The same promise applies to dying at Pashupatinath, so this is also Nepal’s most important Hindu cremation site.

The most important festival of Hindus is called Janai Purnima. Brahmin men change the janai (sacred thread) they wear once a year on this day, while other Hindus have a sacred thread tied around their wrists. For the Brahmins, this ritual is an affirmation of their status, and for other Hindus, the thread around their wrist is supposed to offer them protection against all ills.

While this festival is celebrated all over the country, the high-altitude Gosaikunda Lake in Rasuwa District is the most happening place at this time. Hundreds of pilgrims and shamans make the pilgrimage to take a ritual dip in the icy waters. Water from this lake is believed to flow some 60 km southwest to the Kumbheshwar Temple tank in Patan, thereby making this also a lively venue for the occasion.

On a different day each year, sometime in August or September, thousands of colorfully masked people are seen cheerfully parading through the streets of Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur, Kirtipur. The festival’s name is Gai Jatra (literally meaning the festival of cows). Nowadays it is a fusion of three traditions that came into being at three different periods. The first and oldest tradition incorporates worship of the ancient god of death, Yamaraj. Thus, the festival marks the acceptance and celebration of death in a positive way, as an inevitable part of life. Every family who has lost a member in the previous year is supposed to lead a carefully and intricately decorated cow through the city. In the absence of a cow, a boy dressed as a cow can successfully take on the role.

Fixed Departure

Itinerary Overview

DaysActivity
Day 1 23rd AUG 2018: Welcome to Kathmandu!
Day 2 24th AUG 2018: Tour Kathmandu
Day 3 25th AUG 2018: Panauti and Bhaktapur
Day 4 26th AUG 2018: Celebrate Janai Purnima at Pashupatinath
Day 5 27th AUG 2018: Celebrate Gai Jatra at Kathmandu Durbar Square
Day 6 28th AUG 2018: Community Hike from Sanga to Panauti
Day 7 29th AUG 2018: Tour Bungamati and Khokana
Day 8 30th AUG 2018: Departure

Information

What's Included?
  • All land transportation by private AC vehicle as per group size
  • Necessary Entrance Fee
  • English Speaking tour guide for the trip
  • Accommodation in Kathmandu on twin sharing with breakfast
  • Accommodation in Panauti on twin sharing with breakfast and dinner
What's Excluded?
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa and passport fees
  • International flights
  • Tips and gratuities

Reviews

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About Us

Royal Mountain Travel is a community for Adventure & Local Experience offering the best indigenous and community-oriented tours and treks in Nepal. Experience the authentic lifestyles of Himalayan civilizations and trek in some of the most unique landscapes on Earth with us.
1

Day 1

23rd AUG 2018: Welcome to Kathmandu!

As you exit baggage claim/customs on arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, your airport representative will be waiting to greet you and transfer you to your hotel. Please look for your name sign. The airport is close to the city centre (about half an hour’s drive), but traffic can make the journey a little slow, especially during peak hours.

O/N Hotel Traditional Comfort BB

2

Day 2

24th AUG 2018: Tour Kathmandu

Start at Boudhanath Stupa, one of the holiest sites in Nepal, and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist site outside of Tibet. It commands admiration not only from Buddhists but also Hindus, who can also be seen paying their respects at this holy site. The stupa is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a symbol of peace and love. It used to be a resting point for Tibetan merchants travelling to Nepal and India. Tibetans and other Buddhists from around the world consider this a sacred destination.

Swayambhunath is one of the oldest and most revered shrines in Nepal. Perched atop a conical hill, its lofty white dome, glittering golden spire and all-seeing eyes is a not only a major landmark of the valley but also a symbol of Nepal. The stupa has been an important Buddhist pilgrimage site since the 5th century. Buddha Jayanti (Buddha’s Birthday), Gunla (a month-long festival) and Lhosar (Tibetan New Year) are celebrated with gusto here.

You reach the shrine by climbing 365 steps uphill, or by a winding road on the other side. You will see numerous temples and small stone chaityas in the complex, but look out for the mysterious Shantipur Temple, inside of which is said to live the 8th century Tantric Shantikar Acharya, whose meditation has kept him alive for many centuries! To the west of the main complex is one of the later additions: a giant 57-foot statue of the Buddha within a park area.

Later on, visit the old town of Patan. This is one of the Kathmandu Valley’s World Heritage Sites, and well worth a visit. Its origins are mysterious, but it has a long Buddhist history. It claims to have been the capital of the mythical Kiranti Dynasty, and is associated with the great Indian emperor, Ashoka, who is credited with the building of the four grass-covered stupas surrounding the city in around 250 BCE. For many centuries, Patan’s importance eclipsed Kathmandu’s, and by the 7th century it was a major Buddhist centre of Asia, attracting pilgrims, scholars and monks from India, Tibet and China. Medieval Patan was the largest and most prosperous of the three kingdoms in the Kathmandu Valley. The town was ruled by noblemen until the Mallas of Kathmandu took control of the city in 1597, for a while unifying the Kathmandu Valley. Most of Patan’s magnificent architecture dates to the late Malla era (16th-18th centuries).

O/N Hotel Traditional Comfort BB

3

Day 3

25th AUG 2018: Panauti and Bhaktapur

Following the Araniko Highway out of Kathmandu, climb up and out of the valley to the village of Panauti, set at the confluence of sacred rivers (35km, 1-2 hrs).

Many families in Panauti village have come together to establish a homestay program. They provide comfortable rooms for guests in their own homes, as well as cultural programmes and sightseeing activities. Eat lunch with a local family in their homestay, a unique and memorable experience.

Next, drive to Bhaktapur for sightseeing. Bhaktapur is an important and fascinating World Heritage Site. It’s comprised of three large squares filled with shrines, temples and activity, and a typical Newari city (the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley) with some of the finest architecture in Nepal. In its heyday (14th-16th centuries), Bhaktapur was the most powerful of the Kathmandu Valley kingdoms, and its capital for 300 years.

Despite earthquakes and frequent rebuilding, Bhaktapur today retains a medieval feel. Its neighbourhoods are still caste-oriented and centred around the old ponds or tanks (built to store water for drinking, washing and religious ceremonies), and which continue to be a social focal point. Local people here are predominantly farmers or engaged in the traditional crafts of pottery, metalwork, art and woodwork, which continue today and have supported the city since its establishment in the 12th century to service the trade route between Tibet and India. It’s a fascinating place to explore.

In the evening, return to Kathmandu.

O/N Hotel Traditional Comfort BB

4

Day 4

26th AUG 2018: Celebrate Janai Purnima at Pashupatinath

You will be picked up from your hotel and taken to Pashupatinath Temple, one of the most sacred shrines to Shiva in the whole of South Asia. It is situated on the banks of the Bagmati River, whose waters offer the same guarantee of release from rebirth as the Ganges. The same promise applies to dying at Pashupatinath, so this is also Nepal’s most important Hindu cremation site.

 

The most important festival of Hindus is called Janai Purnima. Brahmin men change the janai (sacred thread) they wear once a year on this day, while other Hindus have a sacred thread tied around their wrists. For the Brahmins, this ritual is an affirmation of their status, and for other Hindus, the thread around their wrist is supposed to offer them protection against all ills.

While this festival is celebrated all over the country, the high-altitude Gosaikunda Lake in Rasuwa District is the most happening place at this time. Hundreds of pilgrims and shamans make the pilgrimage to take a ritual dip in the icy waters. Water from this lake is believed to flow some 60 km southwest to the Kumbheshwar Temple tank in Patan, thereby making this also a lively venue for the occasion.

This day is also when Raksha Bandhan is celebrated (particularly in the Terai). On this occasion, girls tie a thread bracelet around their brothers’ wrists, reminding them of their protective duties. You may see brothers and sisters spending time together on this day.

O/N Traditional Comfort Hotel BB

 

 

5

Day 5

27th AUG 2018: Celebrate Gai Jatra at Kathmandu Durbar Square

Today, you walk from your hotel in Kathmandu to Kathmandu Durbar Square via Asan (a colorful local market) [you could also link to this article here:  https://www.insidehimalayas.com/a-tour-of-asan-the-oldest-streets-in-kathmandu/] to see the Gai Jatra Festival along the way.

On a different day each year, sometime in August or September, thousands of colorfully masked people are seen cheerfully parading through the streets of Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur, Kirtipur. The festival’s name is Gai Jatra (literally meaning the festival of cows). Nowadays it is a fusion of three traditions that came into being at three different periods. The first and oldest tradition incorporates worship of the ancient god of death, Yamaraj. Thus, the festival marks the acceptance and celebration of death in a positive way, as an inevitable part of life. Every family who has lost a member in the previous year is supposed to lead a carefully and intricately decorated cow through the city. In the absence of a cow, a boy dressed as a cow can successfully take on the role.

O/N Traditional Comfort Hotel BB

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT GAI JATRA, PLEASE CLICK: https://goo.gl/2Qc8ti

TO SEE VIDEO ABOUT GAI JATRA, PLEASE CLICK: https://goo.gl/64U5bt

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Day 6

28th AUG 2018: Community Hike from Sanga to Panauti

Leave the Kathmandu Valley and travel to Sanga, best known as the place with the tallest Shiva statue in the world (because of the high altitude at which it sits!) Sanga is the starting point for the Community Hike to Panauti (it can also be the end point). [you could also link to this article: https://www.insidehimalayas.com/new-sanga-panauti-community-hike-initiative/ ]

After a steep ascent for about half an hour, the hike mostly flattens out and takes walkers along ridgelines with steep drops below, views of rice fields and farmland, the town of Banepa and–on clear days–unobstructed views of the Himalayas. The paths we follow are mostly just local paths that the villagers of this area have always used. The curious faces with which you will be met prove that the local people aren’t used to outsiders passing through.

The hike ends at Panauti, a beautiful Newari town surrounded by rice fields, and famed for being one of the best-preserved Newari settlements in the whole of Nepal.

O/N Panauti Community Homestay FB

7

Day 7

29th AUG 2018: Tour Bungamati and Khokana

Today, visit the authentically Nepali villages of Bungamati and Khokana, on the outskirts of Kathmandu. A classic Newari village, Bungamati has rows of brick houses lining streets paved with flagstones. The village is the winter residence of the Newari rain god, and justifiably famous for the significant number of skilled woodcarvers among its inhabitants.

Nearby is another ancient Newari village, Khokana. This place has quite a reputation for its mustard oil made the traditional way by oil pressing. If you come across somebody in the old marketplaces of Kathmandu with a weathered face carrying two tin drums hanging at the ends of a pole across his shoulders, it is likely he is from Khokana, in town to sell mustard oil. A day exploring these two villages will be one of the most genuine experiences of traditional life in the Kathmandu Valley you will find.

O/N Traditional Comfort Hotel BB

8

Day 8

30th AUG 2018: Departure

Today, we bid you farewell at Kathmandu airport as you depart for your return trip, or transfer for further travels around Nepal.

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