From the birth of the Buddha in 623 B.C. in Nepal to present day practice of the religion, buddhism has come a long way through the generations with over 350 million followers all over the world. While the religion has branched out into various sects, the Buddhism followed in Nepal largely follows into broad sects, that of Tibetan Buddhism and of the indigenous Newar buddhists of Kathmandu. Nepalis are deeply religious people and religion pervades almost all aspects of the daily lives. The latest census places 10% of Nepal's 25 million population as buddhists.
On this tour we will have a buddhist monk, Lama Dendhup who will walk you through the most sacred buddhist site in Kathmandu, Swoyambhunath stupa complex (aka Monkey Temple). Not only will he shares in in depth knowledge about the various monasteries and their religious significance but he will also show you around his quarters in the Sangey Choeling Monastery where he has been practicing his faith for over 27 years now - you will essentially have inside access into how the monks in Kathmandu go about their daily lives. Here you are just as likely to run into little youngster monks in training to highly revered monks conducting sacred sermons.
Hereon to rest your tired feet, we will head over to the house of one of our hosts, Purna Maharjan, who will have prepared a sumptuous meal of momos for you. In fact, you will even get quick crash course on how to fold these little bundles of joy before you devour the one's that Purna will already have prepared for you. Trivia: Did you know the momos that Nepalis call their own is actually a culinary import from Tibet? Yes it is, while there is no evidence to prove this but it is said that pilgrims from Tibet brought with them their faith and their food habits, both which the Nepalis have enthusiastically adopted.
With your belly full and energy recharged, the next step will be to walk over to the workshop of Hom Basnet, a master stone mason, where he will teach you how to carve a buddhist symbol of your choice on stone slates. Before you start doubting your masonry skills, let us assure you that stone carving is actually not as difficult as many people think! While they used to be the exclusive domain of imperial scribes and the sages who read the stars, now they're as accessible to everyone. And if you ever run into difficulty during the workshop then Hom will gladly step in and help you out. :)
Once you have your DIY souvenir, we'll head over to a nearby cafe, Pumpernickle Bakery, for light drinks and snacks to close off the day. We will then drop you back to your respective hotel.
9:00: You will be picked up from your hotel and head to Sangye Choeling
9:30 - 10:30 Lama Dendhup will meet you at the Monastery
9:30 - 9:45 Brief introduction by Lama Dendhup about himself and the monastery
9:45 - 10:15 Lama Dendhup will show around the monastery quarters (If you're lucky and the high monk is around during your visit, Lama Dendup has promised to try his best to arrange for an audience)
10:15 - 10:30 You will get to practice an ancient buddhist tradition of lighting butter lamps in the monastery
10:30 - 11:30 Walk to the main complex of Swayambhunath Stupa and the surrounding temples
11:30 : Leave for Purna Maharjan's house for lunch
12:00 - 13.00 Learn to fold momos and Lunch
13:00: Leave For Stone Carving Workshop on foot. (15 mins walk )
13:15 - 17:00 Carve your own Buddhist Symbol on a stone slate at Hom's workshop
17:00 - 17:30 Coffee and Light snacks at Pumpernickle Bakery
17:30 - You will then be dropped back to your hotel