When you think of Nepal – what do you imagine? The towering Himalayas? The incredible food? The temples that seem to be on every street corner?
Nepal is one of the most deeply spiritual countries I’ve ever visited. Immediately upon touching down in Kathmandu, I knew I needed to learn as much as possible about the history, culture, and heart of the “Roof of the World” – as Nepal is affectionately known.
Urban Adventures runs an incredible tour out of Kathmandu called Spiritual Nepal: Kathmandu Culture Tour. This tour gives you guided access to a couple of the most spiritual locations in the world and gives you a real peek into what spirituality means to the Nepali people.
About the Tour
The tour is led by a very knowledgeable local guide. After meeting at the Urban Adventures office in the heart of the Thamel District, everyone hops on local transportation to head to the first stop.
The day of my tour, there was a bus strike in full effect! So they had to arrange for a private driver to take us to our destinations. I was warned that this happens more often than you’d think!
Note: since this is a religious tour that includes a lot of walking and entering temples – so dress conservatively and wear comfortable shoes!
This is one of the holiest Hindu temples in the world – the entire area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site! It’s located along the banks of the Bagmati River, which was historically connected to the River Ganges in India (beware of the monkeys – they are vicious).
While non-Hindus are not allowed near the temple, you can see it clearly from the visitors’ area across the river. One of the first things you’ll see upon entering the temple complex are cremation platforms. Cremation is an integral part of the Hindu religion, and you’ll be able to see at least one cremation during your tour.
You tour several different parts of the temple complex and get the chance to interact with Sadhus – Hindu holy men. (FYI: the Sadhus at Pashupatinath are accustomed to being tipped if you’re taking photos of/with them.)
This is one of the largest Stupas in the world! And it’s quite the sight to see – especially considering its recent renovation following the devastation 2015 earthquake. The dome itself is massive, the mandala and spire on top of it are incredible. And the entire structure is draped with countless prayer flags.
Visitors are supposed to circle the Stupa clockwise at least 3 times, stopping at the prayer wheels along the way. Here you’ll have the change to chat with a Buddhist monk and learn all about the Buddhist realms of existence and other philosophies.
Depending of the time of day of your tour, there may be a stop for lunch!
Have your future read by Nepalese astrologer
The last stop on the tour is an optional session with an astrologer. Unlike psychics, astrologers rely on both “myth and math” – using your birth chart – to deduce what is going to happen in your life. If a little mysticism is something that interests you, it’s an experience worth shelling out for!
A Spiritual Experience
This tour provides a peek into a world that I am not personally a part of. It gave me the chance to learn and ask questions about Hinduism, Buddhism and Nepalese spirituality. It was a great kick start to my time in Nepal, too – I felt like I had a much better understanding of the culture and people that I interacted with.
To be frank, it was a lot to take in in a 4-hour tour. Watching a public cremation for the first time was a little overwhelming – but I am grateful for the opportunity to be present. I could feel a shift in understanding happening within me right then and there.
The entire tour was an enlightening experience – and Urban Adventures has opportunities like this one available all over the world!
Have you been to Nepal? How much of the sporitual culture of Nepalese were you able to experience on your trip?
Disclaimer: The Kathmandu Tour was offered to me courtesy of Urban Adventures but all opinions expressed in this article are my own.