Day 1 Hindu Temple Arrival in Kathmandu
Met at airport and transfer to Summit Hotel, just outside Patan/Garden Wing Rooms.
Day 2 Hindu Temple Kathmandu
This morning we will be arranging the Tibet permits.
Morning tour of Patan. Originally known as Lalitpur, Patan is situated on the southern bank of the Bagmati River and is 5 Km southeast of Kathmandu. ItsÕ Durbar Square is an enchanting melange of palace buildings, artistic courtyards and graceful pagoda temples. Listed as a World Heritage Site, the former royal palace complex is the center of Patan’s religious and social life, and houses a museum containing an array of bronze statues and religious objects. One remarkable monument here is a 17th-century temple dedicated to the Hindu god Krishna, built entirely of stone instead of the usual brick and wood used for temples in Nepal. WeÕll also visit the Golden Temple, the Mahabouddha Temple (also known as the temple of the thousand Buddhas due to the carving of Buddha on each brick), Uku and Kwa Bahal.
Afternoon walking tour of Kathmandu CityÕs Durbar Square with itÕs array of temples centralized around the Hanuman Dhoka Palace, the ancient seat of royalty. Visit the Jagannath Temple with itÕs erotic carvings, the Kal and Seto Bhairav temples, the Temple of the Living Goddess, the big bell and the Kasthamandap Pavilion, said to have been built out of timber of a single celestial tree and from which the city of Kathmandu derives itÕs name.
Culminate with a visit to Swayambunath, one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal. Swayambhunath, the oldest Buddhist stupa, said to be 2000 years old. The stupa which forms the main structure is composed of a solid hemisphere of brick and earth supporting a lofty conical spire capped by a pinnacle of copper gilt. Painted on the four sided base of the spire are the all seeing eyes of Lord Buddha. This hill is a mosaic of small Chaityas and Pagoda temples.
Day 3 Hindu Temple Fly to Lhasa, Tour Jokhang Temple
Fly to Lhasa. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to hotel, about 100km,1hour 40minutes drive. Independent time to rest and aclimatize to the altitude. Hotel in Old City, Keichu hotel or Dhood Gu hotel.
Lhasa- means holy land in Tibetan. On the northern bank of Lhasa River, a tributary of Yarlungtsanpo River, it is 3,650 meters above sea level. It is the capital city of the Tibet Autonomous Region and is a political, economic and cultural center of the region. It boasts many historical sites and scenic spots both in its urban areas and outskirts.
Afternoon: Tour of Jokhang Temple & Barkhor Street
Jokhang Temple is in the heart of old Lhasa, most sacred temples in Tibet established in 7th century by King Songtsen Gampo, the King who brought Buddhism to Tibet. Barkhor Temple and Barkhor Bazaar is the market place where everything is available, also good for people watching. Tibetans spin prayer wheels and shop as they circumambulate. Good for shopping everything from trinkets to tantaric ritual objects.
Day 4 Hindu Temple Lhasa: Tour Portola Palace, Kangyur Stupa, Norbulingka
Potala Palace is the cardinal landmark and a structure of massive proportion. This symbol of Tibet, an architectural gem built in the colossal monastic style of Central Tibet by Gyelwa Ngapa, the fifth Dalai Lama, in the 17th century, stands 300m above the valley atop the hill called Marpo Ri. The thousand rooms in Potala date from 1645 when the fifth Dalai Lama began erecting a palace that would serve as a sacred and administrative center. It served many succeeding Dalai Lamas and as one of Tibetâs most impressive and enduring monuments, the Chinese Army of Red Guards protected it during the Cultural Revolution. As a result many of its chapels and treasures are intact, virtually unchanged since the 17th century Norbulingka Palace.
Kangyur Stupa: This unique site is a favorite pilgrimage site for Tibetans today. The entire Kangyur (Translated Buddhist Cannon) is carved onto slate rocks, and the slates then used to build the stupa.
Norbulingka is the summer palace of His Holiness Dalai Lama. The 8th Dalai Lama designated it as a summer retreat but the majority of the buildings were not erected until the reigns of 13th and 14th Dalai Lamas. Every year as the chill air warmed, the Dalai Lama would leave Potala in a grand procession for six months residence in the Norbulingkha. It is worth a visit and the park is a great place to be at festival times and public Holidays.
Day 5 Hindu Temple Tour of Drepung & Sera Monastery
About 8km to the west of central Lhasa, Drepung, one of the world’s largest monastery was built in 1416 by Jamyang Choje a pupil of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa Sect. Drepung literally means ÒRice Mountain,Ó after the famous and very large Danayakataka Stupa in South India where Buddha originally taught the Kalachakra Tantra. Prior to 1959 Drepung ranked as Tibet’s largest monastery, sometimes with a population exceeding 10,000 monks. It also served as the residence of the early Dalai Lamas, until the Potala Palace was constructed in 1645. The second and third and the fourth Dalai Lama lived and were entombed here. Suffering only minor damage during the Cultural Revolution Drepung has plenty of historical relics, Buddhist scriptures and arts. We will walk down to Nechung Monastery and drive to Lhasa for lunch.
In the afternoon, drive to Sera monastery, the 15th century sprawl of golden roofs and whitewashed walls is situated on a mountain slope, few miles north of Lhasa city. This monastery belongs to the Gelugpa sect and is one of the three great monasteries of Tibet, the other two being Drepung & Ganden. Sera was hard hit during the cultural revolution owing to its resident’s active participation in the 1959 uprising. The highlight of the visit to Sera would be to witness the monks debating out in the courtyard.
Day 6 Hindu Temple Drive Lhasa/Samye/Tsetang
After breakfast, depart for Yarlung river and board the ferry for an hour across the river followed by a 20 minutes drive in a bus or truck to Samye monastery. Built in the mid-8th century; Samye is first formal Buddhist Monastery for the monks in Tibet. The magnificent and unique Central Hall is three-stories high. The first floor is of the Tibetan architectural style, the second the Han style and the third the Indian style. The halls in the monastery house many statues and murals. The monastery has bronze bells, carved marble lions and tablets marking the development of Buddhism. All these are valuable cultural relics. As described in historical books, this monastery is considered “an unimaginable construction and incomparable monastery.” Return the same route and drive to Tsetang ( 200 kms. 5 hours drive & 2 hours on ferry).
Tsetang has had many “firsts”, for instance, the first king Nyatri Tsenpo, the first palace Yumbu Lhakang, the first temple Tradruk, the first cropland Syarisotang, the first Tibetan Opera Pakhapu and the first Buddhist scripture Pangkong Chagya are all credited to Shannan. Here is also the place where King Songtsan Gampo united Tibet and once lived with Princess Wencheng. The Tangka made and embroidered by Princess Wencheng herself is still kept in Tradruk Temple, which is a great treasure house of culture and art. Overnight in Yarlung.
Day 7 Hindu Temple Drive to Yamdrok Lake (approx 3 hrs); and continue to /Gyantse
Morning drive to Mindroling monastery then climb to Kampa La Pass 4793m to view the Yamdrok Tso (lake).
Yamdrok Tso (lake) also known as Turquoise lake is situated in the Lhoka area, covers 621 square km at elevation of 4441M and is one of the three largest lakes in Tibet. Enjoy the beautiful views of the lake; time for photo opportunity and short walk.
There is a road to Gyantse which go via lake, but now the road is under construction. So we have to take the main highway (friendship highway) which goes near Shigatse, then take a short cut to Gyantse. It doesn’t actually go to main Shigatse town. It gets near Shigatse, then takes short cut. Overnight in Jing Zhang Hotel in Gyantse.
Mindroling Monastery is one of the two major Nyingmapa centers in Central Tibet. The monastery is large and impressive. Most of the vast complex has been destroyed in the 1960s. Despite the damage, its handsome building constructed of beauitfully dressed stones are among the finest in the country. The monastery dates back to the 1othe century. Overnight in Jing Zhang Hotel in Gyantse.
Day 8 Hindu Temple Drive to Shigatse
After breakfast visit Pelkor Choede Monastery. Its’ remarkable feature accommodates the three sects of Tibetan Buddhism in one monastery coexisting in peace with each other. The three sects are: the Sakya, the Kagyu and the Gelug. The full name of the Palcho Monastery is “The Auspicious Wheel Joy Monastery.” According to the historical records, this monastery was built in 14th or 15th century. It consists of the Assembly Hall, the 100000-Buddha pagoda, dratsangs and an enclosure wall as its construction units. Also visit the justifiably famous Kumbum monastery with its extraordinary architecture. The Stupa was designed by Newari architects from Nepal and is one the unique stupas in Tibet.
After lunch, drive 90 kms, 2 hours to Shigatse, an ancient city on the Plateau of which its history can be traced back to more than 500 years. With its altitude of 3800m, Shigatse covers a total area of 182000sq.km in 18 counties and is the second largest city after Lhasa. With population of 635200 under its jurisdiction, Shigatse is historically named ‘Nyangme’ which means -the lower reaches of the Nyangchu River- in Tibetan.
Before reaching Shigatse we will visit Shalu Monastery which is a detour from the main road. Shalu is the only monastery in Tibet known to possess a significant collection of 14th century Newari style murals, moderated and enhanced by the artistic sensibilities of the Yuan Dynasty of China. Arniko, master painter from Kathmandu valley, pioneered this unique art that later came to full flower in the Chinese capital. The architecture of Shalu is a rare combination of Chinese and traditional Tibetan elements. Overnight in Hotel Shigatse or Manasarovar in Shigatse.
Day 9 Hindu Temple Return to Lhasa
After breakfast, visit the great Tashilhunpo Monastery , the seat of the Panchen Lama, second only in importance to the Dalai Lama. Located on the south slope of the Nyimari hill in the west of the city of Xigatse, the Tashilunpo Monastery , known as one of the six major monasteries of Êthe Gelug Sect, was originally built in 1447. It is the largest monastery in the Tsang area of 300000-sq.m. Tsongkhapa’s 8th disciple, Gendun Drupa,the 1st Dalai Lama, built it with the financial aid from the Pakdru regime. Its numeroushalls contain a 21.6-meter wooden statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha and elaborate, jewel encrusted reliquary chorten. The monastery was expanded and renovated by the 4th, 5th and 6th Panchens. Thereafter, the Tashilunpo Monastery stands at an impressive scale today and becomes the residence for each successive Panchen Lama. Drive back to Lhasa (4 hours). Enroute, visit carpet weavers.
Tibetan carpets have a history of over 600 years. Situated to the west of Tibet University Lhasa Carpet Factory is one of the remarkable enterprises in Tibet Autonomous Region. Hundreds of experienced weavers use old-styled vertical looms to weave carpets of incredible complexity. Learn about the process of natural dying, preparation of wool, technique of weaving and symbolism in patterns.
Day 10 Hindu Temple Fly to Kathmandu
Early morning flight to Kathmandu. This is one of the most spectacular aerial views of the Himalan range including Mt. Everest. Remain at international airport for flight home.