Festival & Pilgrimage Tours in Nepal

Please find some popular pilgrimage tour spots in Nepal at below:

Kathmandu Valley in Central Nepal

The Kathmandu Valley has an exotic setting. Green hill walls above tower mighty snowcapped peaks surround it. It consists of three main cities Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon).

HANUMAN DHOKA (DURBAR SQUARE)

It is the historic seat of royalty. The Durbar Square, with its old palaces and temples, epitomizes the religious and cultural life of the people. It is here the Kings of Nepal are crowned and their coronations solemnized. Interesting things to see are:

Taleju Temple built by King Mahendra Malla in 1549 A.D.
Gigantic figure of Kal Bhairav, the God of Destruction.
Basantapur Durbar or Nautalle Durbar
Coronation Platform (Nasal Chok)
The hall of Public Audience (Gaddi Baithak)
The Big Bell - Big Drums
The Jagannath temple.

DAKSHINKALI:

Dakshinkali is one of the very important places of pilgrimage regarding Hindu goddess, which dates back to immemorial. Pilgrims visit this temple to offer their prayers and animal sacrifices to the goddess. Apart from the religious performance this place has also been developed as a popular picnic spot.

THE TEMPLE OF KUMARI (KUMARI GHAR):

The temple or the residence of Living goddess, Kumari is situated in the vicinity of Hanuman Dhoka Palace. The building has profusely carved wooden balconies and window screens. The non Hindu visitors may enter the courtyard, but may not go beyond that. The Kumari acknowledges their greetings from her balcony window.

BUDHANILKANTHA:

About eight kilometers north of Kathmandu . The base of Sivapuri hill is a remarkable colossal statue of Lord Vishnu reclining on the bed of snakes. This is one of the masterpieces of stone sculpture of Lichchhavi period. The fifth century statue is in the middle of small pond and seems to float in water. It is a place of pilgrimage for Hindus.

SWOYAMBHUNATH:

This is one of the world's most glorious Buddhist Chaitya's, it is said to be 2000 years old. The Chaitya, which forms the main structure, is made of a solid hemisphere of brick and clay supporting a lofty conical spire capped by a pinnacle of copper gilt. It is three kilometers west of Kathmandu city and it is situated on a hillock about 77m above the level of the Valley. This hill is mosaic of small Chaitya and pagoda temples.

NATIONAL MUSEUM:

Located at Chauni, two and a half kilometers west of Kathmandu, a twenty-five minute walk from Hanuman Dhoka, the National Museum has a splendid collection of weapons, artifacts from ancient, medieval and modern Nepal. Its archeological and historical displays are worth seeing.

PASHUPATINATH TEMPLE: Situated

Five kilometers east of Kathmandu on the bank of sacred Bagmati River, the temple of Lord Shiva-Pashupatinath with two-tiered golden roof and silver doors is famous for its superb architecture. It is a center of annual pilgrimage on the day of Maha-Sivaratri. Entrance to the temple precincts permitted to the Hindus only however, visitors can clearly see the temple and the activities performed in the temple premises from the eastern bank of the Bagmati River.

GUHESWARI TEMPLE:

Near Pashupatinath is located another historic and holy temple of Guheswari. This is a shrine of Goddesses Sati (Parvati); Lord Shiva's consort.

PILGRIM SPOTS IN BHAKTAPUR (BHADGAON)

Bhaktapur situated at the altitude of 1401m, is a home of medieval art and architecture. The urban city covers an area of 4 square miles. Shaped like a conch-shell, Bhaktapur means the city of devotees. Pottery and weaving are its traditional industries. The city lies about 14 kilometers east of Kathmandu. The major pilgrimage places in Bhaktapur include:

DURBAR SQAURE:

The main square of the city contains innumerable temples and other architectural showpieces like the Lion gate, which was built by King Bhupatindra Malla, is adorned with the lovely stone figures of Hanuman, Bhairav and Narayansingh Narayan. The picture Gallery contains ancient paintings belonging to Hindu and Buddhist schools of Tantrism. The Golden Gate is the main entrance to the courtyard of the 55 Window Palace. The Palace of 55 Windows was built in the seventeenth century. The balcony of the Palace is a masterpiece of woodcarving. The stone temple of Batsala Devi is a full intricate carving. There is a bronze bell on the terrace of the temple, which is also known as the "Bell of Barking Dogs". There is also a replica of Pashupatinath Temple inside the Square. Etc. AKASH BHAIRAV TEMPLE: It is a three-storey temple in the main market avenue, called Indra Chowk. The image of Akash Bhairav is displayed outside for a week during Indra Jatra, the festival of Indra –the god of rain.

NYATAPOLA TEMPLE:

This five-storey pagoda was built in 1702 A.D. It stands on a five terraced platform on each of the terraces squat a pair of figures; two famous wrestlers, two elephants, two lions, two griffins and Baghini and Singhini the tiger and the lion goddesses. Each pair of figures is considered ten times stronger than the ones immediately below. This is one of the tallest pagodas and is famous for its massive structure and the subtle workshop. This temple was built for goddess Laxmi.

BHAIRAVNATH TEMPLE:

This temple was built as a one-storey pagoda during the reign of King Jagat Jyoti Malla and later changed into the three-storey temple in 1718 A.D by King Bhupatindra Malla. It is dedicated to Lord Bhairav – the god of Terror.

DATTATREYA TEMPLE:

This temple is said to have been built from the trunk of a single tree. It was built in 1427 A.D. During King Yakchhya Malla reign.

PUJARI MATH:

Near the Dattatraya temple is a monastery with exquisitely carved peacock windows. This monastery was built by King Yakchhya Malla and later renovated by the then priest Ram Dutt Giri.

SURYA VINAYAK:

It is a shrine of Ganesh; the elephant headed God, situated in a beautiful surrounding of Bhadgaon, placed in a sylvan setting to catch the first rays of the rising sun. The view of the city of Bhaktapur is seen from here with snow peaks in the background. Nestling in the thick forest, it is a good picnic spot flanked by many attractive landscapes.

PILGRIM SPOTS IN LALITPUR (PATAN)

This ancient city of Patan is situated on the southern bank of the river Bagmati and it is five kilometers southeast of Kathmandu. The city is full of Hindu temples and Buddhist monuments with bronze gateways, guardian deities, and wonderful carvings. It is known as the city of artists. The major pilgrimage attractions of Patan are:-

DURBAR SQUARE:

Patan Durbar Square, situated in the heart of the city constitutes the focus of visitor’s attraction. The square is full of ancient palaces, temples, and shrines noted for their exquisite carvings. One can rummage for treasures in the various shops around the square. The main attraction of Patan Durbar Square is the ancient Royal Palace itself. It consists of three main chowks or courtyards, the central Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Main Keshab Narayan Chowk.

KRISHNA MANDIR:

Built in seventeenth century, the temple of Lord Krishna holds a commanding position in the palace complex of Patan. It is the only temple in Nepal having 21 shrines and is completely made of stone. Most of the important scenes from the ancient Hindu epics- the Ramayana and Mahabharata have been engraved on its friezes.

MAHABOUDHA:

A little further from Patan Durbar Square lies the Buddhist temple made of clay bricks in which thousands of images of Lord Buddha are engraved. The terracotta structure is one of the fourteenth century Nepalese architectural masterpieces.

HIRANYA VARNA MAHAVIR:

This three storey golden pagoda of Lokeshwor (Lord Buddha) was built in the twelfth century. There are a wealth of gem like carvings on its walls and a complete life of Buddha in gold relief.

KUMBHESHWOR:

Kumbheshwor temple in Patan and Nyatapola temple in Bhaktapur are the only temple in the Valley with five roofs with the exception of the round five tiered Pancha Mukhi Hanuman of Kathmandu's Hanuman Dhoka Palace. A fair is held here on the Janai Purnima day in August.

RUDRA VARNA MAHAVIHAR:

This unique Buddhist monastery contains fine and amazing collection of images and statues in metal, stone, and wood. Kings in the ancient times were crowned in this monastery. Many of the treasures offered by the devotees can be seen here even today.

TEMPLES OF MACHCHHENDRA NATH AND MIN NATH:

The pagoda of Red Machchhendra nath, built in 1408 A.D is situated in Tabahal. Red Machchhencra nath also known as Avalokitishwor and Adinath Lokeshwor is housed here for six months. For the rest six months the idol is taken to its shrine in Bungamati. The temple of Min Nath is situated in Tengal, on way to Tabahal. The temple to Min Nath is supposed to be older than the temple of Red Machchhendra Nath.

PHULCHOKI:

Located around ten kilometers southeast of Patan, this mountain, 2759m high, is a good spot for hiking. Rhododendrons of different varieties and colors from pure white to dark red are found here. A Buddhist shrine is situated on top of the hill, which can be reached through the jeep able road.

Barah Chhetra:

Is one of the four great Hindu pilgrimages. This is the spot where Barah, the boar incarnation of Lord Bishnu, protector of the universe, fought with the demon Hiranakshya and killed him. Apart from the main shrine dedicated to Barah, there are many other temples that bear the image of Bishnu’s boar incarnation. Barah Chhetra is located at the confluence of the mighty Saptakoshi and Koka rivers, a few kilometers from the industrial town of Biratnagar in east Nepal. A religious fair takes place here in November.

Janakpur:

Dhanushadham is a historical and religious site dating back to the time of the great Hindu epic Ramayana. Located 18 km to the northeast of Janakpur in south central Nepal, it was here that Lord Ram broke asunder Shiva’s divine bow - a condition for obtaining the hand of Sita in marriage. According to the epic, one of the three pieces fell in present-day Dhanushadham. During the Makar Sankranti festival, hundreds of thousands of devotees from different parts of Nepal and India throng the Dhanusha temple at Dhanushadham to worship the fossilized bow fragment. In addition to the Dhanusha temple, there are two other temples dedicated to Ram and Ganesh in the vicinity.

Manakamana:

The temple of Manakamana lies atop a 1,302-m hill. The deity is one of the manifestations of the Hindu Goddess Bhagawati who is believed to have the power to fulfill wishes. It is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Nepal. Manakamana is situated 125 km to the west of Kathmandu. It is a steep three-hour hike to the hilltop from Abu Khaireni on the Kathmandu-Gorkha highway. Or you can take the cable car at Cheres, 104 km from Kathmandu on the highway to Pokhara. Package tours are available, and you can be back the same day. There are hotels at Manakamana if you want to stay the night.

Gorkha:

Is the birthplace of King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the Great, and the founder of modern Nepal; hence it is the ancestral home of Shah Kings of Nepal. Situated on a hill overlooking the snowy peaks of the Himalayas, there is a beautiful palace known as Gorkha Durbar. The palace is said to have been built by King Ram Shah. King Prithvi Narayan Shah began his campaign to unify the kingdom from this palace of Gorkha. There are two attractive temples of Gorakhnath and Kali inside the palace precinct. Gorkha Durbar is certainly one of the most outstanding examples of Nepalese architecture. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple of Gorakhnath, where from the town derives its name. The world famous Gurkha soldiers hail from this place. Gorkha can be reached in about four hours from Kathmandu and in about two hours from Pokhara.

Lumbini:

Is the birthplace of Lord Buddha, the apostle of peace, compassion, and non-violence. It is situated in Kapilvastu District of Lumbini Zone the western Terai of Nepal, 250 km southwest of Kathmandu. The broken Ashokan pillar, remnants of an old monastery, images of Buddha’s mother Maya Devi, etc are still preserved in Lumbini. It is accessible by air from Kathmandu to Bhairahwa from where one can reach Lumbini in about 3 hours by bus or car from Tansen via Bhairahwa. From Kathmandu it takes about eight hours by bus or car.

Gosainkunda:

One of the most famous religious places of pilgrimage of Nepal is Gosainkunda. This is a noted religious lake situated at an altitude of about 4360 m to the northwest of Helambu beyond a pass at 4602 meters. The best approach to Gosainkunda is to trek through Dhunche, 132 km northeast of Kathmandu. On the east and west of Kunda, there are other 9 famous lakes such as Saraswati Kunda, Bhairav Kunda, Sourya Kunda, Ganesh Kunda, etc. We are trying to promote this special site, by bringing pilgrims by Chartered Helicopter.

Tilicho (Bhusunda Tal Ram):

At nearly 5000m above sea level, Lake Tilcho, situated high up in the scenic Manang Valley is the collected glacial melt of the entire northern slopes of Annapurna and Throng Peak. Tilicho is not a prohibited area but by virtue of its remoteness and altitude, few tourists take off the popular Annapurna circuit to hike up to the lake which lies within the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP). Those that do make the trip, roughly a day and a half walk from Manang Village, are treated to a spectacular view of the icy ramparts of Annapurna and Tilciho peak, carved by glaciers which plunge down to the lake itself. The shores of this idyllic, crystal-clear lake, dotted with wild flowers in spring, are ideal for camping. Trekkers, coming in from Manang village, usually spend a night at Khangsar, a small village on the way, before they make their way along the rugged and picturesque route to the base of the lake where there are a couple of lodges. Access to Tilicho is also possible from Jomsom, in Mustang. The route from Jomsom, consists of a rugged two-day trek, through misty meadows, rugged terrain, and finally the Mesogondala Pass. At present a track is being planned to connect Mustang to Manang via the same way. Local Manangi herders rarely venture up to the lake, except sometimes to look for straying yak. In 2001, Hindu pilgrims from around the world flocked to the lake convinced it is a holy spot mentioned in the Ramayana. They were flown in by helicopter to listen to Bapu recite the seventh chapter of the Ramayan, a holy book of the Hindus. The pilgrims believe that this is the lake that is referred to in the Ramayan where the crow recited the Ramayana to Garuda and where Shiva found solace after the death of his consort Sati. The Tilicho Lake Pilgrimage tour 2001 say they cannot prove it scientifically, but they are convinced it is indeed the Kak Busundi sarovar mentioned in the Ramayan. The Ramayan gives some clues and says the lake is south of the Annapurnas and north of the Nilgiris.

Tansen:

Amar Narayan Temple Built in 1807 AD by Amar Singh Thapa, the temple of Amar Narayan is considered an important landmark of Tansen. It is built in typical Nepali Pagoda style for its historical and architectural significance. The intricate works of wood carvings in the temple are simply marvelous. The temple is surrounded by one meter wide stone wall-locally known as the ‘Great wall of Palpa’. Inside the temple-complex there are the temple of Lord mahadev, ponds, parks, rest houses and a natural water spring. Every morning and evening devotees gather in the compound and chant ‘Bhajans’ ( holy recitals) in chorus.

Bhagawati Temple:

Built by Ujir Singh Thapa in 1814 AD to mark the victory over colonial British-India forces, the temple is a small structure but holds immense religions importance. Located near the Tansen Durbar, it is a pilgrimage of Palpalies. It is said that the original structure was remarkably bigger and beautiful. and it has undergone many physical adjustments, most recently after the great earthquake of 1934. In the month of august every year, a chariot procession of deities is taken out throughout the town with military honor to observe the historic battle.

Ridi:

It is only the second Pashupatinath temple beyond   Kathmandu in holiness. The Rikheswar Narayan Mandir situated here is the local version of the Pashupatinath temple with its auspicious cremation ghats. Ridi is situated at the confluence of two rivers - the Kali Gandaki and the Ridi Khola - in mid-west Nepal. Devotees from Nepal as well as India throng here on Makar Sankranti for a ritual dip in the water. A 50-km dirt road links Ridi with the hill resort town of Tansen, where accommodation is available.

Swargadwari  Khaptad Ashram in West Nepal.

Nepal is also the Gateway to Kailash Manasarovar, the mythical abode of Lord Shiva. Devotees from various parts of Nepal and India throng the temples during special festivals. Even though weak infrastructure renders some places hard to reach, Expedia has being promoting and developing some of these popular sites. Pilgrimage sites of Nepal like Muktinath and Gosainkunda make popular destinations. Tours to these sites are encouraged for the novelty they provide in terms of nature and culture.

Muktinath (Salvation-Land)

Pilgrimage to Muktinath, in the Nepal Himalaya near Tibet, is a richly symbolic event in all its expressions—social and religious, in legend, myth and fable, in history and in its spatial or geographical dimensions. High mountain sacred sites, like Muktinath, are all the more efficacious because they are so much closer to God. The precise way in which Muktinath was designated as an especially holy space by Hindus, over two thousand years ago, is not known. The clues, however, are still present and obvious. The historian of religions Mircea Eliade postulates that the choice of holy space is not random but is found and identified by the help of mysterious signs. In Muktinath some of the signs are its high mountain location and its headwaters site, and the presence of certain natural elements such as fossils and fires; these have tempted Man, in the search for god on earth, to create a supernatural field, a sacred world where Vishnu and other deities are believed to abide. It is not natural features, however, but anomalies in nature that give Muktinath a special sanctity and attraction. At Muktinath, these include such wonders as fire burning on water and the fossils of primitive sea creatures (ammonites) found high in the mountains, many thousands of metres above sea level and thousands of kilometers from any contemporary ocean. These are some of the ‘mysterious signs’, rare and sacred that Hindu devotees seek in the religious field of which Muktinath is the central feature. It is clear that several of the natural features found at Muktinath and within its larger sacred field are imbued by its devotees with supernatural characteristics. It is safe to say that in the overall sacred environment, these natural-supernatural elements take on prime importance and are of considerable attraction to all pilgrims, Buddhist and Hindu alike. Alongside, the three natural elements at Muktinath -- the spring water, natural gas fires and fossils, there is also a sacred grove of poplar trees of the species Populus ciliate, locally called lekh pipal or bhot pipal

Location

Muktinath is situated on the upper part of the river Kali of Buri Gandaki on the north side of the main Himalayan rang and south of Lo-Manthang or Mustang. Its precise location is 29° 11’ N. latitude and 83° 53’E. Longitude at an elevation of 3,8000m (or approximately 12,500 ft) on the western slopes of the Damodar Himal, northern extension of the Annapurna Himalayan massif.

Muktinath is in the high Himalayan arid zone bordering China’s Tibetan Autonomous Region (Xizang). This northern region of Nepal is often called Bhot (Tibet), and its inhabitants ‘Bhotia”. Muktinath shrine is near the headwaters of the Jhong River, a tributary of the Kali Gandaki in the north-eastern corner of Thak Khola, a dry trans-Himalayan valley in Nepal’s Mustang District.

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