The Himalayas Tour

25th February- 12th March 2023

Nepal, Bhutan & India are a cultural cocktail. With their diverse mixture of people, climates, scenery, architecture, religions, and cultural influences, it can be inspiring, moving and is incomparable to any other destination or civilization. This tour gives you an opportunity to put your finger on the pulse and experience the very soul and essence of the of the regions across the Himalayas.

Quick Look Itinerary

Day 01: 25th Feb, Friday- Arrive Kathmandu
Day 02: 26th Feb, Saturday- Kathmandu
Day 03: 27th Feb, Sunday- Kathmandu
Day 04: 28th Feb, Monday- Kathmandu
Day 05: 1st March, Tuesday- Fly to Paro- Thimpu
Day 06: 2nd March, Wednesday- Thimpu
Day 07: 3rd March, Thursday- Punakha
Day 08: 4th March, Friday- Paro
Day 09: 5th March, Saturday- Paro
Day 10: 6th March, Sunday- Fly to Delhi/Ddun. -Haridwar
Day 11: 7th March, Monday – Haridwar
Day 12: 8th March, Tuesday – Haridwar
Day 13: 9th March, Wednesday – Haridwar
Day 14: 10th March, Thursday – Rishikesh
Day 15: 11th March, Friday – Rishikesh
Day 16: 12th March, Saturday- Fly to Delhi.
Departure International Flights


DAY 01: 25th February, Saturday – Kathmandu
Basking in the grandeur of the mighty Himalayas – Nepal, is a landlocked country in South Asia, the world, considered the abode of the Gods and hosts the world’s highest peak “Sagarmatha (in Nepali), “Quomolongma” (Goddess Mother of the Seas in Tibetan) and “Mount Everest” as the world knows. Nepal is embellished with the gleaming Himalayan range in the north and adorned with tropical low land greenery in the south. Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal and the largest urban agglomerate of Nepal. The agglomerate consists of Kathmandu Metropolitan City at its core, and its sister cities Patan, and Bhaktapur. The city stands at an elevation of approximately 1,400 meters (4,600 ft) in the bowlshaped Kathmandu Valley of central Nepal Captivating art, culture, cryptic monasteries and temples, numerous palaces and monuments, unique festivals, and lifestyles.

On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Time at leisure to recover from your flight. Later in the afternoon visit Nepal’s most sacred Hindu shrine and one of the subcontinent’s great Shiva sites at Pashupatinath. The sanctity of the site stems from the Shiva linga enshrined in its main temple and its location. It expresses the very essence of Hinduism as pilgrims, priests, devotes, temples, ashrams, images, inscriptions, and cremation ghats intermingle with the rituals of daily life, all sprawled along the banks of the sacred Bagmati River. The temple’s origins are obscure, an inscription dates from 477, but a shrine may have stood here for 1000 years before that. We end the tour by a personalized evening aarti at the temple.

Welcome dinner at the Krishnarpan restaurant offering a slow-dining Nepalese gastronomic experience, paying homage to its vibrant ethnicity and its traditional food, taking you on a fascinating voyage through Nepalese cuisines, communities, and regions. Overnight Kathmandu

Day 02: 26th February, Sunday – Kathmandu

After breakfast proceed for a sightseeing Tour of Kathmandu City, Pattan & Swyambhunath. Kathmandu Durbar Square: Kathmandu’s number one tourist attraction swarms with life. Though a few of the square’s 50-plus monuments date from the 12th century, most are from the time of the Malla Kings. Probably the most famous building here is the Kumari Bahal, a building richly decorated with beautiful woodcarvings, which is home to the Royal Kumari, the Living Goddess, a manifestation of the great goddess Durga. Nearby the former Royal Palace is a Malla Dynasty dwelling, once considerably more extensive than today. Within the courtyard of Nassal Chowk, dramatic dance performances were originally hosted, now it is the coronation site of the Shah kings and contains some of the finest wood carvings you will see anywhere in the kingdom.

Post lunch we visit the ancient city of Patan. Once a kingdom in itself, is situated across the Bagmati River to the south of Kathmandu. The Durbar Square here offers the finest display of Newari urban architecture in Nepal. There are temples devoted to Shiva, Krishna, Ganesh and Vishnu all actively visited by residents and visitors. At the northern end of the square the ancient sunken water tap has been restored and is still in use with young girls filling huge jugs from the carved stone waterspouts. The courtyards of the Royal Palace with their ornamented windows, columned arcades, shrines and sunken royal bath are amongst the loveliest in all Kathmandu. Overnight Kathmandu

Day 03: 27thFebruary, Monday – Kathmandu
Optional : One hour flight along the highest mountain range in the word for a panoramic and scenic flight to get spectacular views of Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and more. Post visit breakfast visit the Baudhneelkanth, the eternal state of Lord Vishnu resting on the divine serpent sheshnag. Proceed to Bouddhanath. This great stupa is one of Nepal’s most distinctive monuments and one of the most important Buddhist sites in Nepal and, with a diameter of over 100 meters, amongst the largest in the world. There are several legends accounting for the stupa’s construction, but it is generally believed to date from the 5th century. All stupas contain holy relics and Boudha is said to contain the remains of the past Buddha Kasyapa.

Boudha is a particular focus for Kathmandu’s Tibetan community and throughout the day there is a constant stream of people circling the stupa spinning prayer wheels and reciting mantras. Surrounding the stupa are six major monasteries and a host of smaller ones as well as cafes, restaurants and shops selling Tibetan carpets and Newari silversmiths. Overnight Kathmandu

Day 04: 28th February, Tuesday – Kathmandu

Check Bhaktapur. A former capital of the valley, it was once a flourishing city on the trade route to Tibet. It has preserved its traditional character better than the other two cities, due to its more isolated location. It is regarded today as a classic showcase of medieval Nepalese town life. It is situated in the east of Kathmandu valley about 14 km. away. It today retains much of its beauty in ornate woodcarvings and in the famed Golden Gate. The city is famous for its traditional pottery, cloth weaving, wood carving and handicraft production. After sightseeing proceed to a Newari home for a traditional Nepalese lunch where the guests will be offered typical Newar welcome with a Pyala of Rakshia, a tour of the house, followed by lunch. Afternoon at leisure to explore the markets in Thamel. Overnight Kathmandu.

Day 05: 1st March, Wednesday – Kathmandu-Paro-Thimpu
After breakfast at leisure. Check out and drive to Kathmandu airport for flight departing 0910hrs KB 401. Arrive Paro, Bhutan 1030 hrs

Bhutan is in the Eastern Himalayas between Tibet and India. The name Bhutan is derived from Sanskrit, meaning “end of Tibet” or from Bhu-uttan meaning “high land”.This land is the home of the Drukpas ,who refer to their country as “druk yul”-land of the thunder dragon. While Bhutan is one of the smallest countries in the world, its cultural diversity and richness is profound. As such, strong emphasis is laid on the promotion and preservation of its unique culture. By protecting and nurturing Bhutan’s living culture it is believed that it will help guard the sovereignty of the nation. The Kingdom of Bhutan is one of the world’s little-known treasures, where quality of life is measured in terms of Gross National Happiness, rather than purely material measures!

Morning flight from Kathmandu offers you the most breathtaking sights as it takes you past some of worlds’ highest glacial peaks including Mt Everest. Descending into the Paro Valley you pass forested hills, with the Pa Chu (Paro River) meandering through the valley below and the Paro Dzong(fortress) and Ta Dzong situated on a hill above the town. The airport is extremely picturesque and pretty. Visa is granted on arrival. You will be met by your chauffer and escort/guide and transferred to the capital city of Thimpu is a national capital city in the world to not have any traffic lights. Thimpu the official seat of government and commercial and religious hub with an interesting fusion of ancient and modern, with historical architecture and traditional elements juxtaposed with contemporary buildings and aesthetics.

The road leads through the Paro valley to the confluence of Paro and Thimphu rivers at Chuzom (confluence). Shortly before reaching Chuzom, you will see on your left Tamchog Lhakhang, the temple built by Thangtong Gyalpo, a pioneering engineer who introduced the construction of suspension bridges into Bhutan and Tibet (several of which are still in use today). The present bridge to Tamchog Lhakhang was restored in 2005 in the design of a traditional style with iron chains and crossing this iron bridge is a wonderful experience. (approx. 50 min, roundtrip walk). On arrival, in Thimphu check-into the hotel.

Later in afternoon visit National Memorial Chorten, a large white structure crowned with a golden spire. It is located close to the center of Thimphu city and is one of its most iconic monuments. This is the most ideal spot to interact with locals who throng in large numbers to circumambulate the chorten, whirl the large red prayer wheels and pray at a small shrine inside the gate. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.

Afterwards an exploratory walk around Thimphu main street and market area. Overnight Thimphu (Altitude 2,320m).

Day 06: 2nd March, Thursday – Thimphu
Morning after breakfast, take a short drive to the north of town to Buddha Dordenma, located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park. The statue fulfils an ancient prophecy dating back to the 8th century A.D that was discovered by Terton Pema Lingpa (Religious Treasure Discoverer) and is said to emanate an aura of peace and happiness to the entire world. This massive statue of Shakyamuni made of bronze and is gilded in gold, measures 51.5 meters in height, making it one of the largest statues, in Bhutan. 125,000 smaller Buddha statues have been placed within the Buddha Dordenma statue, each of these also have been cast in bronze and gilded. Here at Buddha point, you’ve option to perform meditation at a designated area.

Bhutan is known for its innovative postage stamps and The Postal Museum showcases the progress of postal services and to some extent communication system in Bhutan & country’s rare and unique stamps issued over the years. Also visit the Postal office located next door to get your own personalized postal stamps made and check out various souvenirs. Then drive to Textile Museum. With the opening of Textile Museum, under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Sangay Choden, Bhutanese textile have reached new heights as one of the most visible distinct art forms. The textile museum has opened its exhibition on six major themes – warp pattern weaves, weft pattern weaves, role of textiles in religion, achievements in textile arts, textiles from indigenous fibers and the Royal collection.

Post lunch, for an insight into traditional crafts of Bhutan, visit National Institute for Zorig Chusum, established in 1971, it is the premier institute to preserve and promote thirteen traditional art and crafts of Bhutan. Commonly known as Arts & Crafts School or Painting School, the Institute offers 4-to-6- year courses in 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.

This is followed by visit to The Folk Heritage Museum, dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past through exhibits, demonstrations, educational programs and documentation of rural life.

Then explore Centenary Farmers Market. Popularly known as Weekend market, this bustling, colorful market center is the biggest where farmers from different part of the country gather to sell their farm products. With its wide assortment of products including handicrafts and its picturesque and colorful setting, the Farmer’s Market is a favorite spot for many.

Conclude the sightseeing of the day with visit to Trashichhoedzong, ‘fortress of the glorious religion’. This is the center of government and religion, site of monarch’s throne room and seat of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in 1960s in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans. Overnight Thimphu (Altitude 2,320m).

Day 07: 3rd March, Friday – Thimphu – Punakha (75km, approx. 2.1/2-hour drive)
After breakfast drive up to Dochu-la pass (3,088m/ 10,130 ft) stopping briefly here to take in the view and admire the chorten, mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendagang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m), Jejegangphugang (7,158 m), Kangphugang (7,170 m), Zongphugang (7, 060 m), a Table Mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana – finally Gangkar puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,570m.

At Dochula Pass, 108 chortens or stupas known as Druk Wangyal Chortens have been built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother. These chortens are built in three layers, the first lowest level layer has forty-five chortens, the second has thirty-six and the top layer has twenty-seven, built around the main chorten. Then proceed onward to Punakha. Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan and seat of government until 1955 and still it is the winter seat of Je Khenpo (the chief abbot).

Blessed with temperate climate and owing to its natural drainage from Pho Chhu (male) and Mo Chhu (female) rivers, the fertile Punakha valley produces abundant crops and fruits. Located at an elevation of 1300m above sea level, Punakha enjoys mild winters and is popular year-round destination. After lunch, visit Punakha Dzong or ‘Palace of Great Happiness’, built at the junction of the Phochu and Mochu rivers in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. This majestic dzong served as both the religious and the administrative center of Bhutan in the past. It measures some 600 by 240 feet and has a six-story, gold-domed tower. Inside are courtyards and religious statuary that hint at the depth of history and spiritual tradition embodied here.

Then a short excursion to Chimi Lhakhang. The Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the center of the valley, also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children and wanting one, if they pray at this temple, they are usually blessed with a child very soon. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’. A walk through the village near the temple will give you rare glimpses into the daily life and lifestyle of the villagers.

Time permitting visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang nunnery:

Perched on a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang, gleams the magnificent structures of Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang (Temple). The temple houses a 14-foot main bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara (Chenrigzig chagtong chentong). Other statues include those of Guru Padmasambawa, Gautama Buddha, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, Tsela Namsum, the 21 Taras and Tsepamay (Buddha of longevity). The Avalokiteshvara statue, one of the biggest in the country, was the handiwork of entirely local Bhutanese artisans.The temple complex also houses a permanent higher learning and meditation centre for nuns where, apart from religious trainings, it provides life skill training such as tailoring, embroidery, statue making and thangka painting. Overnight Punakha (Altitude 1,300m).

Day 08: 4th March, Saturday – Punakha – Paro (125 km, approx. 4-hour drive)
After breakfast drive to Paro along scenic highway. The beautiful valley of Paro encapsulates within itself a rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends. It is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries, National Museum and country’s only international airport. Mount Chomolhari (7,314m) reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley and its glacial water plunge through deep gorges to form Pa Chhu (Paro River). Paro is also one of the most fertile valleys in the Kingdom producing a bulk of the locally famous red rice from its terraced fields.

Later in the day after checking into hotel, proceed to visit Ta Dzong, originally built as Watchtower, which now houses National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & amour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts. Ta Dzong visit shortly followed by a short walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning (“fortress of the heap of jewels”), which has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as four friends, the old man of long life, the wheel of life, scenes from the life of Milarepa, Mount. Sumeru and other cosmic Mandala. Overnight Paro. (Altitude 2,280m)

Day 09: 5th March, Sunday – Paro
After breakfast, embark on a fascinating excursion to Taktshang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest (approx. 5 hours round trip walk). It is one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. Legends say that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognized as a most sacred place and visited by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime.

Later in the afternoon we’ll visit a typical farmhouse. Bhutanese farmhouses are very colorful, decorative, and traditionally built without the use of single nail. The majority of the population of Bhutan continues to live as it has for centuries – in small, isolated farms and hamlets, surrounded by terraced fields of rice, maize and buckwheat. Overnight Paro (Altitude 2,280m).

Day 10: 6th March, Monday – Paro-Delhi-Dehradun-Haridwar
After early breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred to the airport for flight for your Druk Air flight to Delhi departing at 1130hrs. Arrive Delhi 1340 hrs. After immigration and collecting baggage, transfer to domestic terminal for flight to Dehradun (Alliance Air/Indigo departing at 1800hrs) Arrive Dehradun. Transfer to Haridwar (1 hour). Check into your hotel on the banks of the river Ganges. Dinner on arrival. Overnight Haridwar

Haridwar & Rishikesh are one of the most revered pilgrimage centers in India. This is where the Holy Ganga River descends from the Himalaya mountains to the plains. It is the gateway of the pilgrims journey to the Char Dham (the four main centers of pilgrimage Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. Sacred to followers of Shiva and Vishnu and the birthplace of Shakti worship. A land steeped in rituals and traditions, enlightenment and liberation, holy men, temples and ashrams, yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. Bustling colorful bazaars and surrounded green verdant forests and quaint villages.

Day 11: 7th March, Tuesday – Haridwar
Take a leap of faith and wake up at the crack of dawn to embark upon an immersive experience life around the holy river Ganga at daybreak. The walk unfolds along the ghat as you witness pilgrims perform morning worship, tour temples and shrines, participate in and learn about rituals and ceremonies. Weave through market lanes and back alleys, savoring the local flavors. Return to the hotel for breakfast.

Soon afterwards we visit a Van Gujjar (Forest Nomads) Village. Once a nomadic tribe, who used to migrate between the foothill forests and higher Himalayan pastures, are now restricted to semipermanent settlements on the periphery of the jungle since formation of national parks. A visit to the village provides an insight into their daily lives and beautiful architectural skills. We interact with village elders, women and children. We will cook and share a meal with our nomadic hosts and later take a short hike into the jungle accompanied by the by local Nature trackers with intimate knowledge of the sounds, scents, and sights of the forest.

Later in the afternoon proceed for the Seeking Shiva tour. Hardwar, the Gateway of the Gods has many seekers , meditating , availing and absorbing the Sacred Energies of its land. On this tour meet and interact with seekers, learn about their individual journeys, stories, and practices. Highlight of the tour is feeding of “bhikshus” and participation in a personalized “Thanksgiving” ceremony for Lord Shiva at a quaint temple in the forest. Dinner at hotel. Overnight Haridwar

Day 12: 8th March, Wednesday – Haridwar (Holi Celebrations)
At daybreak we head to a Sacred location on the banks of the mainstream, the Neel Ganga “the Blue Ganga”, before daybreak, to absorb high Energies and the rays of the rising Sun and Nature in its bountiful. Guided by an experienced yoga instructor, spend a few hours in Meditation and Yoga at this auspicious hour and location. Breakfast at hotel. Today we participate in the colorful festival of Holi, with colors, music, dance and food. (Lunch included). Evening proceed for a spectacle of sound and colors of the evening prayer (Aarti) dedicated to the Goddess Ganga. This is indeed one of the most inspirational and magical moments in India, a time when one is in communion with both the creator and the created. Dinner at hotel. Overnight Haridwar.

Day 13: 9th March, Thursday – Haridwar
Soon after visit one of the most famous and old Ashrams of Haridwar, to understand the concept and working style of the ashrams. Ashrams were originally founded as Indian hermitages or places of seclusion and remain so today. Participate in a sacred fire ritual There also an opportunity to visit the Ashram Gaushala, have a chai /milk from those cows. Return to hotel for a late breakfast.

Afternoon wildlife safari in open jeeps into the Chilla Wildlife Sanctuary,a part of the Rajaji National Park, covering an area of around 840sq km. Its pristine scenic beauty and rich biodiversity attracts over 23 species of mammals and 315 fauna species. One may watch a herd of wild elephants roaming majestically in the jungle or come across other wildlife like tigers, leopards, jungle cats, sambar, chital and barking deer, wild boar, langur monkeys, sloth bear, the pied hornbill and many other varieties of birds. Dinner at hotel.

Day 14: 10th March, Friday – Haridwar-Rishikesh
Morning yoga and meditation on the river ghat. Check out and drive to Rishikesh (1 hour)

Optional extra head into the mountains across the river on a Ghost Village Tour. Due to mass migration of the younger generations to the plains, many of the hill villages of Uttrakand have become empty and ghostly. This tour is an effort to introduce and involve surviving members and elders in communitybased tourism. An hour’s drive through the jungle and hill slopes brings us to some remote Hill villages, located at approx. Between 3000 – 4000ft (above sea level) which have a spectacular view of valleys and the snowcapped greater Himalayas and beyond. We hike through the village and meet with the residents. Learn about their culture, agricultural and water harvesting methods and discuss about

local crafts and the possibilities of improving sustenance. We also take a sort of trek to soak in the amazing views and visit a local school, interact with children. Later we have an opportunity to join a family for a home hosted typical pahari “hill” meal. Enroute we visit the Beatles Ashram, made famous by the visit of the Beatles in 1968.We walk through the Rishikesh town and the Laxman & Ram Jhulas(swinging bridges),visit ashrams and meet with holy men. Proceed to hotel upstream the Ganges River. Evening at leisure Dinner at hotel Overnight Rishikesh

Day 15: 11th March, Saturday – Rishikesh
Morning yoga and meditation on the river beach. Breakfast at hotel. At leisure to explore the town on your own or just relax. (Optional river rafting /hikes/spa). Dinner included. Overnight Rishikesh.

Day 16: 12th March, Sunday : Rishikesh-Departure
Morning at leisure. Post noon transfer to Dehradun airport for flight to Delhi for onward international connection.

Vaishali's Other Tour