Krishna Janma Ashtami marks the birth of Hindu Lord Krishna. Considered the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Krishna is the most important character in the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. On this day, Hindu devotees visit Krishna temples. In particular, thousands of devotees gather at the stone Krishna Mandir in Patan Durbar Square. Devotees fast throughout the day and, at the stroke of midnight when he is supposed to have been born, they worship his childhood, which is placed on a swing. Everybody makes sure to give the swing a push or two, singing a lullaby of sorts. This happens in all Krishna temples throughout the country as well as in the puja kothis (prayer rooms) of Hindu homes.
As well as enjoying the color and fun of the festival, this tour offers you a glimpse into Nepalese life at a homestay in Panauti, in the Kathmandu Valley, and a couple days in Chitwan, where you will see a very different lifestyle staying with Tharu families there.
Inspired by more tours like this? Have a look at other festival tours and trips staying in homestays offered by Royal Mountain Travel:
Interested to learn more about this and other festivals? Visit Inside Himalayas: Celebrating Krishna, Most Flamboyant of the Gods; Modern Cultural Festivals in Nepal You Can’t Miss; Major Festivals of Nepal in 2018
|Day 1||Welcome to Kathmandu!|
|Day 2||Boudhanath, Pashupatinath & Kathmandu Durbar Square sightseeing|
|Day 3||Panauti and Bhaktapur|
|Day 4||Celebrate Krishna Janmaasthami at Patan|
|Day 5||Drive to Chitwan|
|Day 6||Explore Barauli and safari in the Chitwan National Park|
|Day 7||Return to Kathmandu|
Royal Mountain Travel is a Nepal-based sustainable tourism operator. We specialize in curating once-in-a-lifetime experiences to showcase indigenous and community based tourism projects. We work with travel agents and tourism companies to help plan travel experiences that highlight authentic, local lifestyles throughout some of the most unique landscapes on earth.
Welcome to Kathmandu!
As you exit baggage claim/customs on arrival at Tribuvan 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.
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Boudhanath, Pashupatinath & Kathmandu Durbar Square sightseeing
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.
Next, visit Pashupatinath Temple, which is dedicated to Hindu Lord Shiva, the God of Destruction and Lord of Animals. This temple is a final destination for Hindu devotees from all around the world, as many people come to die here and to have their ashes scattered. Built in around 400 A.D, the temple is located beside the holy river Bagmati, and is decorated with ancient arts and crafts. Four of the main gates of the temple are made of silver.
Pashupatinath Temple is also home to many Hindu sadhus. They can be spotted around the temple: they are the men with long dreadlocks who meditate by the banks of the Bagmati River. They can sometimes be seen smoking marijuana, as it is believed that Lord Shiva was fond of smoking marijuana at his adobe, Mount Kailash—so the sadhus at Pashupatinath impersonate him!
The Kathmandu Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage site (and one of eight in the Kathmandu Valley) is a cluster of ancient temples, palaces, courtyards and streets that date back to the 12th and 18th centuries. The square is known to be the social, religious and urban focal point of the capital city. Your visit to Durbar Square includes many temples like Kumari Chowk, Aakash Bhairav Temple, Temple of Lord Machhendranath and Itumbahal courtyard.
Itumbahal is an old Newari settlement set in a large courtyard and famous for its herb, spice and medicine traders. From here, continue to Indrachowk, one of Kathmandu’s most ancient and colourful local markets. We finish our tour with a walk to Ason Chowk, another market dedicated to spices and local vegetables, and the Annapurna temple, which is dedicated to the goddess of Grains.
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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.
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Celebrate Krishna Janmaasthami at Patan
Krishna Janmaasthami marks the birth of Hindu Lord Krishna. Considered the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Krishna is the most important character in the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. On this day, Hindu devotees visit Krishna temples. In particular, thousands of devotees gather at the stone Krishna Mandir in Patan Durbar Square. Devotees fast throughout the day and, at the stroke of midnight when he is supposed to have been born, they worship his childhood, which is placed on a swing. Everybody makes sure to give the swing a push or two, singing a lullaby of sorts. This happens in all Krishna temples throughout the country as well as in the puja kothis (prayer rooms) of Hindu homes.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT KRISHNA JANMAASTHAMI, PLEASE CLICK: https://goo.gl/TSDMKa
TO SEE VIDEO ABOUT KRISHNA JANMASTHAMI PLEASE CLICK: https://goo.gl/fZBdFh
Drive to Chitwan
Leaving Kathmandu on one of the country’s busiest roads can be slow, but once out of the city the views along the way to Chitwan are impressive: the Trishuli River, ancient stone villages backed by steep rice terraces, precarious suspension bridges and the mountains beyond. At Mugling, turn south and slowly descend from the central hills to the fertile lowlands of the Western Terai and Chitwan National Park.
For the next couple of days you will be staying at the Barauli Community Homestay, on the edge of Chitwan National Park.
Accommodation is provided in twelve little cottages that have been built by the village. All are simply furnished, but offer you everything you need for a comfortable stay. Each cottage has a modern attached bathroom and comfortable beds. The accommodation is basic, but rooms are attractive and clean. The village women live close by, and take care of their guests like they were staying in their own homes. While you might not be staying in the families’ homes themselves, you will be staying very close by. The houses of the Tharu villagers are very small and not well-equipped for guests, but in the Community Homestay cottages, guests have the opportunity to get a close-up experience of typical village life.
The purpose of the Barauli Community Homestay is to provide a way for the local Tharu people (an indigenous group of Nepal) to generate extra income from their very own houses. For many centuries, the Tharu have been a very shy tribe and are mainly agriculturalists. So, this project was designed to boost their confidence in the modern economy while protecting their culture and traditional values.
Explore Barauli and safari in the Chitwan National Park
The Barauli Community Homestay is located right next to the spectacular Chitwan National Park, so on this day you’ll get the chance to enjoy some jungle activities.
In the morning, take a guided walk around Barauli village to get to learn about local life, including visiting a school (if open). The programme takes around 2 hours.
In the afternoon, go on a jeep safari (roughly 3 hours). You’ll likely see rhinoceros, gharial crocodiles, an abundance of bird life…and maybe even a tiger!
In the evening, try to make your own Nepali food with a cooking class with local women! And then eat the results.
Return to Kathmandu
After breakfast, depart Barauli/Chitwan. You will leave the lowlands, climbing into the Central Hills to join the Prithvi Highway at Mugling. It is then a slow but very scenic journey east along Nepal’s busiest highway, to Kathmandu. The steep rice terraces make a dramatic backdrop to the river, funeral pyres, suspension bridges and villages.
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Today, we bid you farewell at Kathmandu airport. Or, arrange transfers for onward travel in Nepal.