The neighbouring Himalayan kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan are renowned worldwide for their incredible landscapes, history, nature and local people with simple lifestyle and faithful beliefs. These landlocked nations, with exotic cultures have been cloaked in secrecy and mystery from the rest of the world by the massive Himalayas for centuries. Home to iconic constructions – be it temples or palaces, these chaotic yet captivating countries offer varied and unique experiences.
Explore the two Himalayan Kingdoms, one Buddhist and the other Hindu – Bhutan and Nepal, and fall in love with their different worlds! Here, experience great moments with surreal mountain views and be privy to their matchless natural beauty and longstanding cultures.
Nestled between India and Tibet, Nepal is a landlocked nation of assortment, with its physical landscape being as varied as its cultural one. With an enviable geography to boast, stretching from soaring Himalayan Mountains to low-lying wetlands that are home to numerous endangered species like the Indian Rhino and the Bengal Tiger, it is truly a picturesque country.
Nepal is a must visit destination for people of all ages and tastes, being everything from an adventurer’s paradise, nature lover’s delight to cultural and history buffs’ heaven. What’s more, you’ll find exceptional cultural diversity in this land of monasteries, snow peaks, yaks, yetis, sherpas and mantras. It is a nation with profound ethnic or national pride; an amazing flair for pageantry and festivals; and a dominant attachment to traditional ways. People here speak diverse languages, belonging to distinctive ethnic groups. They display a notably magnetic blend of friendliness and independent-mindedness, courtesy and toughness – qualities that have renowned them internationally as people with whom it’s always a pleasure to travel or work with. These people reside everywhere from upland settlements bunched around small monasteries; villages rested on dizzying spans of rice-farming terraces to crowded ancient cities bursting with pagoda-roofed Hindu temples. You’ll even witness religious practices ranging from Buddhism to Hinduism and from shamanism to nature-worship.
With its gate open to foreign tourists since 1950 only, the kingdom still maintains an air of mysticism amongst the travelling community. Nevertheless, the country lures in a huge tourist crowd every year that comes to explore its rich traditions of culture, art and heritage.
Where to Go
Start your exploration with the Kathmandu Valley, home to well-preserved medieval cities of Bhaktapur and Patan and the capital city, Kathmandu; three historic cities with medieval labyrinth of alleys and fascinating relics of Buddhist stupas, Hindu temples and intricately carved wooden architectures. Visit the magnificent Pashupatinath Temple situated on the bank of the river Bagmati; behold the 16th century’s pagoda style royal palace in the Bhaktapur Durbar square; see the bastion of Tibetan culture, the Bodhnath Stupa; experience the uniquely relaxed nightlife here and do stay overnight at Nagarkot, one of the mountain view-points. Visit Pokhara, a winsomely leisurely resort town in the Western Hills, positioned alongside a lake and beneath towering white peaks; take in Pokhara’s views; hang out in bars; hike or go for a bike ride in the mountains; take a yoga and meditation class; paraglide or take a microlight flight.
Further explore the impressive fortress in Gorkha town; visit the wish-fulfilling Manakamana temple; stroll in the old-world bazaar in Bandipur and experience history, culture and quaint scenery. Do stopover at the UNESCO declared World Heritage Site, the Royal Chitwan National Park located in inner Terai and spot the endangered Asian one-horned rhinos. Don’t forget to visit Janakpur, a Hindu holy city situated in the east, a foremost pilgrimage site, as is Lumbini, Buddha’s birthplace situated in the Western Terai.
If you are an adventure enthusiast then Nepal, home to the world’s loftiest peak - the Mount Everest, is the ideal place for you. Culturally rich and beautiful, Everest and Annapurna regions are most suitable for trekking. When here, trek or hike in its diverse landscapes, lush valleys and grand mountains; raft down Nepal’s rivers; or mountain bike.
When to Go
The best time to visit Nepal is in autumn season (late Sept to late Nov), when the weather is dry, mountains are clearly visible and it is neither too hot in the Terai nor too cold in the high country. As the monsoon rains wash away bugs, dust and pollution, it is the perfect time for trekking. What’s more, two main festivals, Tihaar and Dasain, also fall during this period.
Nepal is easily accessible through direct one-hour and 2 hours flights from Delhi and Mumbai, respectively to the Tribhuvan airport in Kathmandu, Nepal’s only international airport. Some of the important airlines that serve the airports of Delhi Indira Gandhi and Chhatrapati Shivaji are Jet Airways, Spice Jet, Indigo and Air India.
Tour Duration: 6 nights/ 7 days
Tour Route: Kathmandu – Pokhara – Chitwan
This is a compact and popular tour through beautiful Nepal for travellers who want to experience the best of the country in a short span of time.
• Day 1 Kathmandu: After you arrive in Kathmandu, check in to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Kathmandu.
• Day 2 Kathmandu: After breakfast get ready for a full-day tour of Kathmandu. Visit the Durbar Square and its old Royal Palace, several attractive temples, and the Kasthamandap. Next visit the oldest Buddhist shrine, Swayambhunath Stupa and the Pashupatinath Temple. Later, visit Bouddhanath temple. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Kathmandu.
• Day 3 Pokhara: After breakfast drive to Pokhara (approx 6 hrs for 210 kms) and transfer to your hotel. Visit the lovely Phewa Lake that has its source in the glacial Annapurna Range. Next, take a cable car ride up to Manakamana Temple. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Pokhara.
• Day 4 Pokhara: After breakfast proceed for a tour of Sarangkot. From here, you can have a panoramic view of the Himalayan peaks. Drive through Pokhara valley and watch the beautiful lakes here. Then proceed to the World Peace Pagoda, located on the hill top, which has four images of Buddha facing in four directions and later stroll around the delightful Old Bazaar. Then take a 4 hrs drive to the Royal Chitwan National Park. Transfer to your hotel. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Chitwan.
• Day 5 Chitwan: After breakfast start your elephant safari and get a close up view of the endangered one-horned rhinoceros. You might even catch a glimpse of the Bengal tiger. Later, take a tour of the Rapti River on a wooden canoe and watch the crocodiles sunbathe on the shores. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Chitwan.
• Day 6 Chitwan: After breakfast check out, drive back to Kathmandu for approx 5 hrs and transfer to your hotel. Enjoy Shopping and Casino. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Kathmandu.
• Day 7 Onwards: After breakfast proceed to the airport to board the flight for your onward destination.
The remote Kingdom of Bhutan, concealed away in the eastern Himalayas, is a nation of magnificent towering cliffs, rolling hills, dense forests, pure air, inspiring architecture, superb art and delightful people who follow an exciting religion. Renowned as the “last Shangri-La”, inaccessible to foreign tourists until 1974, Bhutan continues to preserve its cultural integrity and identity even today. In fact, this amazing country still forbids independent travellers, with the exception of Bangladeshi, Indian and Maldivian nationals, and allows only a set number of discerning travellers so as to preserve its fragile culture and environment in its magical purity.
Ancient monasteries, stupas and temples, holy lakes, grand markets, glorious fortresses – Dzongs, sacred mountains, rich flora and fauna, a vibrant Buddhist culture, make Bhutan a unique tourist ‘must visit’ destination. Travellers here encounter the full glory of this ancient kingdom, with wild animals abounding in dense forests, prayer flags fluttering along the high ridges, frothy white waterfalls falling like ethereal showers and the warm and friendly people welcoming them with huge smiles on their faces.
Where to Go
Start your adventurous and cultural tour of Bhutan from Thimpu valley, the capital city. Experience the city’s old-world charm; behold the Taschichho Dzong that houses the throne of the King of Bhutan; play golf in the scenic nine-hole circuit, Bhutan’s only golf course; visit the Thangka painting school; discover ancient records of Bhutanese religion, philosophy and history at The National Library; go for an excursion trip in the Tango and Cheri Monasteries, situated to the north of Thimphu; catch a glimpse of rural life at The National Folk Heritage Museum; comprehend the 13 traditional arts of Bhutan at The Zorig Chusum School of traditional arts; and do get some exquisite tailor-made jewellery made by the abounding silversmiths and goldsmiths available here. Visit the Dochu-la Pass and take in the breathtaking sight of the valley and the Himalayan mountain range; also see the 108 stupas built for peace and prosperity of Bhutanese people.
Next, make your way to Bhutan’s most developed city, Paro. Visit the Rinpung Dzong, built in 1646, one of the many secular and religious places; discover some of the rare masterpieces of Bhutanese paintings, art and bronze statues at the National Museum of Bhutan situated in Ta Dzong castle; trek to the Taktshang Monastery, the sacred worship place of all Buddhist pilgrims and catch a sight of the spectacular Tiger’s Nest from top of the mountain, as tourists are forbidden from going inside the temple; also trek to the Punakha Dzong to witness the spectacular panoramic view; do visit Kichu Lhakhang , one of the most sacred and the oldest temple in the region; and don’t miss checking out the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, home to over 391 bird species, numerous reptiles and animals, snow-clad peaks and broadleaf and low conifer forests. Finally, do taste Bhutan’s speciality dish, the buckwheat pancakes and the Swiss cheese.
When to Go
Just like Nepal, the best time to visit Bhutan for travelling and trekking is also in autumn season (late Sept to late Nov), when the skies are usually clear and the high peaks rise to a bright blue sky. However, in Bhutan, no matter what season it is, there are always chances for rain showers, so it’s always advised to have an umbrella at hand. What’s more, the colourful and popular dance festival, Thimphu Tsechu, also falls during this period.
Bhutan is easily accessible via national airline Drukair that flies directly from Delhi to Paro International Airport, Bhutan’s only international airport. Drukair has also introduced twice-a-week direct flights from Mumbai to Paro from 1st May 2014. The flight to Paro is truly a flight into fantasy as you get a close up view of Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Everest, and other illustrious peaks of the Himalayan range.
Tour Duration: 7 nights/ 8 days
Tour Route: Paro – Thimphu – Punakha/Wangdue – Paro
• Day 1 Paro Airport – Thimphu: Arrive at Paro Airport and after a 2-hr drive from there, reach Thimphu. Transfer in your hotel. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Thimphu.
• Day 2 Thimphu: After breakfast visit Kuensel Phodrang, place with a huge Buddha statue; Folk Heritage Museum and National Memorial Chorten. Later visit Changangkha Monastery, Sangaygang View Point and Taking Preserve Centre. See Bhutan’s talking national animal at Tashichho Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion). Overnight in Thimphu.
• Day 3 Punakha/Wangdue: After breakfast, drive to Punakha / Wangdue. On the way stop at Dochu-La-Pass and view the higher Himalayas. Check-in at your hotel in Punakha. Visit Punakha Dzong, Palace of Great Happiness, then visit Chhimi Lhakhang, ‘The Temple of Fertility’. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Punakha / Wangdue.
• Day 4 Punakha/Wangdue: After breakfast, get ready for full day tour to Gangtey, a beautiful valley of Bhutan. Visit the Gangtey Gompha and then return in the evening. Overnight in Punakha / Wangdue.
• Day 5 Paro: After breakfast drive to Paro. On the way, visit Royal Botanical Park located at Lamperi. On arriving Paro, check-in at your hotel. Visit Ta Dzong – National Museum. Evening free for leisure. Overnight in Paro.
• Day 6 Paro: After breakfast visit Drukgyel Dzong, famous Taktsang Monastery and Kitchu Monastery. Overnight in Paro.
• Day 7 Paro: After breakfast, proceed for Chele-La-Pass, the highest road in Bhutan. Enjoy the scenic beauty and unforgettable landscapes. Drive back to Paro. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Paro.
• Day 8 Onwards: After breakfast proceed to the airport to board the flight for your onward destination.
About Odyssey Travels
Odyssey Travels is a leading IATA accredited Travel Company, established in 1992. We specialize in planning customized holidays in India and abroad for our clients which includes air ticketing, worldwide hotel reservations, inclusive tours, sightseeing activities, visa assistance & travel insurance services. For further information or to make a booking contact 020-66442929 or visit http://www.odysseytravels.net/