Nepal and Bhutan may be tiny countries but they are rich storehouses of ancient cultures and traditions. Their history and cultural traditions date back to thousands of years. Unlike their neighboring countries, Nepal and Bhutan were never colonized by foreign powers. This has made the two countries preserve their ancient cultures and traditions in their purest form. The absence of western influence in their history has ensured a culture that has remained unchanged and unspoiled down the centuries.
It is a treat to take a culture and city tour across Nepal and Bhutan. Dotted with medieval palaces, castles, temples, and monasteries, it's a delight to explore these two destinations. For people who are interested in Buddhist culture and philosophy, these are must-visit destinations.
Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Lumbini, a small town in the Terai region, was where the 'Light of Asia' was born. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lumbini's pride, is the Maya Devi Temple where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Lord Buddha. Puskarini Pond, Sacred Garden, and the sacred monasteries are the other sacred landmarks in Lumbini. In Kapilvastu are the ruins of the palace where Lord Buddha spent his early years.
Kathmandu Valley is the cultural heart of Nepal. The capital city that lies surrounded by the hills of Shivapuri, Champa Devi, Pulchowki, Nagarjun, and Chandragiri has been the stronghold of successive dynasties that ruled over the countries. From Kiratas, who were the earliest rulers of the valley, to the Lichhavis, Mallas, and the Shahs, Kathmandu was the royal seat from where the kings ruled over their kingdom.
Exploring the palace squares built by the Malla kings in the three medieval cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan will transport you to another time and space. Kathmandu Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar square, and Patan Durbar Square are storehouses of the rich Newari art and culture. The nine tiered pagoda roof of Nyatopole Temple, the intricately carved 55 windows palace, Krishna Temple, Golden Gate, Patan Palace Museum, Hanuman Dhoka Palace Museum, Narayahiti Palace Museum, Kumari Bahal or the House of the Living Goddess, etc., are some of the cultural jewels of Kathmandu valley.
The UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Boudhanath, Pashupatinath Temple, Changu Narayan Temple, and Swayambhunath are also important cultural landmarks. Dating back to thousands of years, these are living heritage sites where locals still perform and practice their religious rituals as their ancestors had done.
Bhutan, covered by mists and green mountains, is known as the 'Land of the Thunder Dragon.' The only country in the world which is carbon negative, Bhutan follows a policy of harmonious development where spiritual happiness and contentment are given more priority than rapid development and material prosperity. This tiny country strives hard to preserve its native culture and traditions. The Bhutan government strictly regulates the flow of tourists and outsiders inside the country. Their policies revolve around nurturing their local culture and local economy.
Bhutan may be the only country in the world where you will find people going about their daily lives wearing their traditional costumes. The locals moving about wearing their traditional Gho and Kira, the traditional wooden houses, beautiful monasteries located on ridges and hilltops, the slow pace of life, and the pristine nature is sure to melt your heart.
There are many cultural attractions in Bhutan. In Paro, the must-visit sites are Tiger's Nest or the Taktsang Monastery, Rinpung Dzong, Kichu Lakhang, National Musem, and Drugyel Dzong. Thimpu's cultural assets include the Tashichho Dzong, Buddha Dordenma, National Memorial Chorten, Folk Heritage Museum, and Changkhangka Lakahang. Punakha's cultural hotspots include the Punakha Dzong, Chimi Lakhang, and Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten. In Phobjika or Gangtey Valley, you should visit the Gnagtey Gompa, Kumbu Lakhang, and Tenkor Yuetshe.
Village walks, homestays, and spending time at local farms living with local families also give you ample opportunities to experience the native culture and lifestyle.
From festivals to weather conditions, there are many factors to consider when planning a trip to Nepal and Bhutan. Let us help you choose the best time to visit....
I am Werner Berger and my "claim to fame" is probably best defined as being in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest person in the world to have climbed the highest mountain on each of the seven continents, including Mt. Everest.
Little did I know my life was to change forever on my first trek into the Himalaya in 1992 at age 55. It was the beginning and just a matter time before I realized I could combine my leadership and climbing skills to create a program in which people could explore their own possibilities.
So, in 2010, I began leading Transformational Life Experiences, treks to Mt. Everest Base Camp and other high places.
One of the earliest keys to success is to find a company with the right mix of professionalism, support, and, of course, experience. I have used Naba Amgai and his teams on all my Nepal trekking adventures.
Naba's caring and climber support, is second to none. In my estimation, Third Rock Adventures is one of the very best in the business, in or outside of Nepal. They know the mountains. So you can relax, enjoy and transform.
- Werner Berger