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Heart of India 2014

Post-trip: Kathmandu, Nepal

Experience the diversity and the magic of Nepal amid an unforgettable world of profound and ageless beauty. At the ancient crossroads of Asia, an enchanting kingdom gilded in Hindu and Buddhist culture nestles beneath the rugged peaks of eight of the world’s ten highest mountains. In Kathmandu, the capital, pilgrims make their way to local shrines as merchants sell their brightly colored and fragrant wares. Artisans gifted in their ancient techniques display woven fabrics and ceramic bowls made for temple offerings. In Bhaktapur, prayer flags adorn lively temples that reveal colorful ancient scrolls and exquisite carvings, offering intimate views of Nepali life. And mighty Everest climbs ever higher in the background, stretching eternally toward heaven through a white halo of clouds.

It's Included:
Roundtrip international airfare between India and Nepal
Accommodations for 4 nights in Kathmandu and 1 night in Delhi
9 meals—4 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 4 dinners
5 small group activities
All land transportation
Services of our own resident OAT Trip Leader
NEW for 2015: Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
All transfers
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    On Day 16 of the main trip, fly from Varanasi to Kathmandu, Nepal, where we’ll check in to our hotel and meet our local Trip Leader. Tonight enjoy a Welcome Dinner with fellow travelers, followed by chance to meet a local Nepali woman who has reached the summit of Everest three times and have the opportunity to talk with her about her experiences.

    Please note: Travelers on festival departures will fly to Kathmandu on Day 18.

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    After breakfast this morning, we’ll explore the holiest temple in Nepal, the Boudhanath Stupa. Like Mecca is to Muslims, Boudhanath Stupa, standing 36 meters high, is the main pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists. Tens of thousands of pilgrims make the journey each year. The temple’s hemispherical dome represents the emptiness from which everything begins; rising above the dome, the harmika shines the Buddha’s eyes in four directions that symbolize his total awareness. When Tibetan refugees entered Nepal, they settled around the Boudhanath Stupa, creating a small village that elicits the holy atmosphere of Tibet’s sacred city, Lhasa.

    Eager to introduce us to the captivating hub of activity that is Kathmandu, our Trip Leader will then lead us on a walking tour of the city.

    Kathmandu (4,265 feet) is the capital and largest city of Nepal. It is a bustling epicenter filled with spice sellers and artisans, rickshaws and sacred cows. Pilgrims make their way to local shrines as merchants sell their brightly colored and fragrant wares. Artisans gifted in their ancient techniques display woven fabrics and ceramic bowls made for temple offerings. The “old” city is filled with Buddhist and Hindu temples dating back to the 17th century; these shrines are well worn by time while still vibrant in energy and spirit.

    After the tour, you’ll head to Thamel, where you’ll have lunch on your own, and enjoy extra time for exploring the shops of this popular Kathmandu district. We return to our hotel and enjoy an included dinner at a local restaurant this evening.

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    At dawn, you may elect to enjoy an optional flight to Everest, known in Nepal as Sagarmatha or “Goddess of the Sky.” Avid climbers call this mountain “the ultimate climb,” and with its astounding summit height of 29,029 feet above sea level, Mount Everest earns the title of the tallest peak on Earth. Rising majestically out of the Himalayan range, its snowy peak and intricate geography offer us breathtaking views from the air.

    After breakfast we’ll journey to the Newari village of Khokana, and enjoy a tour to learn more about the ancient culture and heritage that is still prevalent today. Next we’ll drive to Patan, which sits across the Bagmati River from Kathmandu. Patan was developed on relatively thin layers of deposited clay and gravel in the central part of a dried ancient lake known as Nagdaha. The city was designed in the shape of the Buddhist Dharma-Chakra (Wheel of Righteousness). The four thurs, or mounds, located on the perimeter of Patan are known as the Ashoka Stupas, named for Emperor Ashoka who visited Kathmandu with his daughter, Charumati, in 250 BC and erected the five stupas. These mounds are joined by more than 1,200 Buddhist and Hindu monuments of various shapes and sizes located throughout the city. Patan is known for its art and artisans—the region has produced the most artists and finest craftsmen in Nepali history, and their devotional artwork gives us stunning displays of Nepal’s fused cultures.

    After lunch on your own, we’ll explore Patan Durbar Square, one of the seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nepal that are preserved within a protected Monument Zone. Within the square, we visit the residence of the medieval Malla rulers of Patan, which is now an historical art museum. The Patan Durbar Square is reputedly the most picturesque of all the ancient Malla cities with its intricately carved architecture, delicate wind chimes, and ornate fountains.

    Then we’ll head back to our hotel, and the evening is at leisure for you to explore as you like.

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    After breakfast this morning, travel overland to Bhaktapur (Bhagdaon). The “City of Devotees,” Bhaktapur is a UNESCO World Heritage Site spanning four square miles. With its historic Durbar Square, ancient courtyards, and holy temples, the city was the crown jewel of the Malla Empire 700 years ago.

    Next we’ll travel to the village of Nagarkot for lunch, known for its scenic views of the Kathmandu Valley. After returning to the hotel, you’ll have time to relax before we gather for a Farewell Dinner.

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    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:

    Enjoy some free time to revisit some of your favorite sites in Kathmandu, or discover some new treasures on your own. Perhaps you’ll find a street artist painting intricate thangkas—Buddhist art for meditation—and reminisce about the Summer of Love on Freak Street, a former Bohemian mecca. Or simply relax over strong jasmine tea and savor the bustle of an exciting city culture much unchanged by the hands of time.

    After lunch on your own this afternoon, we fly to Delhi, India, for a final night to rest before returning to the U.S.

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    Arise very early this morning, and depart for the Delhi airport and our flight to the U.S.