Nepal is the birthplace of Buddha and an ancient existing living Buddhist heritages. Isolated valleys of the Nepalese Himalayas were a safe haven for Buddhism while its neighbours went through a long period of political strife and occupation.
The Himalaya has always been sacred for spiritual masters to go on a retreat. There are several meditation caves, relic stupas and archaeological sites pious for Buddhist pilgrims.
Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, is the most important Buddhist site in Nepal. It has been developed in an area of 12 X 2 km after it was declared as UNESCO world heritage site in 1997. The sacred garden consists of Pushkarini pond (where Buddha and his mother took bath after the birth), ancient monastery runes and the Mayadevi temple housing the ancient temple and the market stone pinpointing the exact birthplace of Buddha.
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A greater Lumbini Buddhist circuit tour also includes few other important archaeological sites from the ancient Kapilavastu kingdom. The Ramgram stupa is the only undug Buddha relic stupa among the first eight. Tilaurakot palace is where Buddha spent 29 years as Prince Siddhartha and the Kudan monastery (Nigrodharama monastery) is where Buddha gave 5 sutta teachings.
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The Maratika cave or Halesi cave is believed as a place where Guru Rinpoche ( Padmasambhava ) got teachings of Buddha Amitayus. He with his consort princess Mandharava attended the level of Vidyadhara with power of immortality. Padmasambhava took the royal princess Mandarava as his consort, and they then went to the Maratika cave, where for three months they practised the sadhana of longevity. The Buddha of Limitless Life, Amitayus appeared, empowered them with longevity, and blessed them as inseparable from him. They both accomplished the second vidyadhara level, ‘vidyadhara with mastery over life’. Maratika is also blessed by the families of three protectors Manjushree, Vajrapani, and Avalokiteshvara.
Yangleso and Asura caves of Pharping in the south of Kathmandu valley is where Guru Rinpoche attended the third level of Vidyadhara, the wisdom of the great seal of Mahamudra. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche practices Sadhana of Yangdak Heruka with his consort princess Shakyadevi. With the Tantric practices of dharma protector Vajrakilaya against the great obstacles, they finally attended to the wisdom of Mahamudra. He then composed the Sadhana of Yangdak and Vajrakilaya. The Asura cave also has a handprint believed to be of Guru Rinpoche.
Namo Buddha Stupa built over the bones and hair of the prince Mahasattva is the third important Buddhist stupa in Nepal. The Jagaka stories and several Sutra teachings mentions the Prince Mahasattva as Shakyamuni Buddha's earlier incarnation. The stupa is a symbol of great compassion and selflessness. The prince sacrificed himself at the site to feed starving Tigress and her five newborn cubs. The hilltop still has a den temple with a stone tablet engraved with the scene of Buddha offering his flesh to the Tigress. Namo Buddha Stupa is about 40 km southeast of Kathmandu valley. The place is also a vantage point to look into the eastern Himalayas. The monastery guesthouse provides accommodation and a rare opportunity of eating and praying with monks.
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In the citadel of the Himalayas, the Kathmandu valley has been a safe haven for Buddhism since ancient times. Chronologies have mentioned some of the Stupas of the valley as from the Emperor Ashokan time. The valley in the juxtaposition of the trans-Himalayan trade between India and the silk road, was an important hub of Buddhist studies and pilgrimage. Over 300 medieval monasteries are still scattered around Kathmandu valley. The most important are the Charumati Vihar (Chabahil), believed to be built by Emperor Ashoka's daughter Charumati; Hiranya Varna (Golden Temple), Rudra Varna and Vikramashil Mahavihar are some of the important Newari Buddhist monasteries established between 5th to 12th century AD. Many Tibetan scholars came to Kathmandu valley to study and translate Buddhist scriptures into Tibetan during the period of 8 - 15th century. The two Stupas of Swayambhunath and Boudhanath and the meditation caves of the 11th century Tantric Buddhist masters, Naropa and Tilopa at Pashupatinath have been a must to visit places for Buddhists from around the globe. There are also meditation caves of Milarepa and the 3rd century Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna. Most importantly, one can see the medieval Buddhist practices in the day to day life of people making it the living Buddhist heritage.
4 hours helicopter tour of Everest base camp is the best way to see Mt Everest while you are in Nepal. See the Khumbu Icefall from above, Mount Everest and land at the foot of Mount Kalapathar to get out and feel the high ground and thin air. Fly to Everest view hotel for breakfast.
The mountainous landscape of Nepal with Himalayan frontier provides perfect ground for dreamlike trekking. Check out other short treks in the Himalayas of Nepal.
'Nepal tour for Christmas and New Year 2024'. Nepal Tour and treks recommended for December and January.
Best Nepal tour and trek for Chinese New Year 2024 holiday. Watch the new year sunrise from Pun Hill (3,200 m) or enjoy the wildlife and nature with camp fire and babeque dinner.