For centuries Mount Kailas is known as the most sacred pilgrimage destination in Asia. It is common for pilgrims to circumambulate the sacred mountain, commonly called Kora (Pilgrimage Circuit) or Parikrama. Often pilgrims encompass both the Mansarovar Lake and Mt. Kailas in a quest to wash away the sins of their life time.
Mt. Kailas, at 6714m, stands tall and unique from the rest of the mountains. It is accessed via the small town of Darchen, the starting point of the kora.
The mountain is known in Tibetan as Kang Rinpoche or ‘Precious Jewel of Snow’. It has major beliefs for different religions. Hindus believe Mt. Kailas to be the abode of Lord Shiva and Lake Mansarovar to be a creation of Brahma. To the Buddhists, it is home to Demchok, an infuriated manifestation of Sakyamuni.
Lake Mansarovar is considered one of the most sacred lakes in the world. According to ancient Hindu and Buddhist cosmology, the four great rivers of the Indian subcontinent, the Indus, Ganges, Sutlej, and Brahmaputra, arise from Mansarovar. Pilgrims circumambulate the lake and bathe in its holy waters. Legend has it that the mother of the Buddha, Queen Maya, was bathed at Mansarovar by the gods before giving birth to her son. Following the edges of the lake, the kora offers brilliant hues at this high elevation. The journey is enlivened by a series of monasteries along the way.
For centuries, this sacred mountain has witnessed pilgrims and adventurous visitors, although it is still amongst one of the less travelled areas. Due to the remoteness of this region of Western Tibet, travelers hesitate to undertake this route. However, in recent years, there have been more people keen on visiting.
Pokhara is the second largest city of Nepal and tops the list of must visit places. With its bewitching beauty extended in forms of snow-capped peaks, tranquil lakes, greenery, adventure sports and trek trails, Pokhara is a place for anyone and everyone. With the magnificent Annapurna range forming the backdrop and the serenity of three major lakes – Phewa, Rupa and Begnas – Pokhara is the ultimate gateway for relaxation. While most famous treks begin here, Pokhara also offers adventure activities like paragliding, ultralight flight, and the world’s longest and fastest zip line.
Nepal is widely known for its vast trekking trails and spectacular views, however, there are many short trails as well that offer views equally stunning and splendid. Ghandruk, a beautiful Gurung settlement, takes you through rhododendron forests and rural areas, giving you an insight into the conventional lifestyle of the locals with glimpses of Machhapuchhre and Annapurna.
A good three hours of bumpy ride, about 75 km north from Kathmandu, driving over a hill after another through the meandering Trishuli River brought us to the hills of Nuwakot. Embellished with rich history and traditional royal architecture, Nuwakot was once the capital of the valley. It is here that King Prithivi Narayan Shah, the unifier and the first king of Nepal formulated his strategy to conquer Kathmandu.
For the four of us, this was our first time to Nuwakot. Stories of the first king of Nepal and his beautiful palace, the famous Saat Tale Durbar, a seven-storey fortress built in 1762 were little details we had grown up hearing about. When we finally made it there last weekend, we were saddened to see the catastrophe caused by the April 2015 earthquake. While the seven-storey fortress still remained put, entering it was prohibited because the structure looked fragile. Little village houses and temples around the area were in ruins; and though slowly, there were signs of restoration. Big pictures of pre, and post-earthquake that now adorned the area gave us an idea of what life would have been here before.
With a heavy heart, we drove to our overnight destination, The Famous Farm which was a stone’s throw away from the durbar. At first glance, The Famous Farm was simply an oasis of tranquility. Built in a 100-year-old mud house, this place is an amalgam of old and modern. The Famous Farm beautifully combines village life with modern facilities like a clean bathroom, comfortable bed, hot shower and a scrumptious cuisine. We spent the night warm and cozy in the open courtyard by the fire as we sipped wine and sang along to old country songs. Later we walked to our rooms through small wooden stairs and doors and hopped into our bed waiting for dawn.
We watched the sun rise over the hills as we sipped coffee from our wooden balcony. The ambiance was spectacular as we breathed clean fresh air that is difficult to find in Kathmandu. Quickly we realized that day light accentuated the beauty of The Famous Farm as blooming bright pink bougainvillea adorned the building. Breakfast in the garden was a delight, one could spend hours simply basking in the sun or enjoying a drink but we wanted to make the most of our short trip so we decided to go for a quick hike around the village.
We walked through patchy settlements and terraced farms as little children waved at us while others went about their daily chores. We passed old men and women basking in the sun, looking up to smile at us before getting back into conversations that eluded us. The view from our highest trek point was exceptional as we overlooked hills of dense forests and the meandering Trishuli River flowing smoothly below.
As we returned from the hike, we had a chilled jar of lemonade waiting for us at the hotel. A surprise treat after the hike! Quenching our thirst and thanking the staff for their wonderful service, it was time to say goodbye. As much as we wanted to stay, we left The Famous Farm with tons of stories to tell and a promise to visit again.
Later we stopped at the bazaar for a hearty Nepali meal and left Nuwakot with bellies full and lots of memories to share.
This tour takes us on a wild journey through jungles of central India which was Rudyard Kipling’s source of inspiration for his “Jungle Book”. We visit both Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks, being rated as the best for tiger spotting the world over. Later we fly to Nepal and into Chitwan, a place rich in flora and fauna and famous for its wildlife and jungle activities. In March / April the days start getting warmer; most water sources start to dry up and the game is concentrated around the few remaining water sources, making this period the best time to photograph and observe tigers of central India and one-horned Rhinoceros in Nepal.
Highlights of the tour:
• Most comfortable way to see tigers in the wild
• Visit best Tiger Habitats
• Stay in first class award-winning boutique jungle lodges
• Exclusive vehicles for game drive with English Speaking Naturalist
• Fly between the parks in charter planes maximizing game viewing time
• Fully accompanied by expert naturalist
• One horned Rhinoceros
Bandhavgarh National Park: Bandhavgarh is set among the Vindhya hills of Madhya Pradesh, India. It is large in biodiversity and densely populated with tigers. With tigers at the apex, it is also rich in birdlife and other wide range of game. The elephant and jeep safari is an exhilarating experience that takes you through the lush greenery and natural habitat of the varying wild species. It is a safe trip to get a closer look at all the imperial creatures including the royal tigers.
Kanha National Park: Kanha National Park is spread across the Maikal chain of hills, Madhya Pradesh, India. It is popular as a tiger reserve and for preservation of the rare Swamp Deer (Barasingha). Conservation programs for the overall protection of the Park’s fauna and flora, makes Kanha one of the finest National Parks in Asia. The safari takes you on an amazing journey into the wild offering excellent outlook for keen photographers.
Chitwan National Park: Chitwan National Park – ‘the Heart of the Jungle’ is situated in the mid-southern Terai, Nepal. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is regarded as one of the best wildlife- viewing national parks in Asia. Home to rich flora and fauna, the park boasts one – horned rhinos and other alluring species like bengal tigers, leopards, asiatic elephants, wild boars, sloth bears, gharial crocodiles, monkeys, deer and more than 600 species of birds.
Trident Gurgaon Hotel, Delhi:
Trident Gurgaon Hotel is a five-star hotel owned and managed by the Oberoi Group. It has a resort-like ambience with the designs influenced by Moroccan, Mughal and Rajasthani architectural styles. The rooms represent graceful style and sophistication in every detail with touches of traditional artifacts and elegant furnishing. It welcomes in its warm embrace with magnificence and style accompanied with modern amenities ensuring a comfortable stay.
Kings Lodge, Bandhavgarh:
Situated in an incredible location between the Sal forested hills of Bandhavgarh National Park, Kings Lodge assures a great wildlife experience, outstanding hospitality and an experienced team of naturalists. Its air-conditioned cottage rooms with a large verandah offering views of the forest, are well appointed with wood furniture in honey hues and inviting crisp cotton linen. They have a multi-cuisine dining hall with a fire place overlooking the wild grasslands back dropped by Sal forested hills. They offer an experienced naturalist team with focus on birding tour and an overall holistic wildlife experience. An eco-friendly construction with eco-sensitive waste disposal systems, the units are designed to blend with the surrounding landscape.
Kanha Earth Lodge:
Kanha Earth Lodge lies in the natural forest, tucked away in a small hamlet bordering Kanha’s buffer zone. The luxury bungalows with en suite bathrooms and open verandahs have been inspired by Gond tribal architecture which offers environmentally sensitive, low-impact accommodation through designs and use of local stone and waste wood. It creates an ideal setting for nature walks, birding and cycling trips through the surrounding forest. Earth Lodge offers a variety of Indian and Continental cuisine; all dishes served are prepared from local sources of fresh products.
Barahi Jungle Lodge, Chitwan:
Barahi Jungle Lodge is situated on the banks of Rapti River in Chitwan reflecting the tranquility of the National Park. It offers a refined luxury experience with excellent services and amenities. The hotel assures to be an ideal place of stay for those seeking charm, comfort and convenience in Chitwan. The ambience, architecture and interior style, blends with the jungle giving a stunning insight into the Tharu culture of Nepal mixed with wilderness, strengthening the bond of nature and mankind. The lodge offers authentic Nepalese, Continental, Indian, Thai and Chinese Cuisines. In the evenings, the Tharus perform a cultural show making the environment lively and vigorous.
An amalgam of culture, history and nature, Everest from Tibet takes you amidst a wild and uncompromising landscape, through soaring snow-capped mountains, freshwater lakes and glided temples to the very heart of Tibet.
Call it The Roof of the World, The Forbidden City or the Third Pole – so magnetic is its fame that a mere mention conjures up images of grandeur and spirituality. It has the earth’s highest ecosystem and is one of its last remaining wildernesses with its lush forests supporting abundant wildlife. Its many mountains feed some of Asia’s most revered rivers and Mt. Kailash is the most sacred mountain in the world. Its people are some of the most resilient in the world and through their richness and deep religious convictions, were built many captivating monuments.
It is one of the most fascinating places to visit in Asia.
• Everest Base Camp with the spectacular view of the North Face of Mount Everest.
• Dalai Lama’s summer and winter retreats, The Potala Palace and Norbulingkha.
• The sacred Yamdrok Lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
• Witness monks in philosophical debates.
• Tread the path of Lhasa’s pilgrimage route to experience the firsthand religious fervor of Tibet.
This year National Geographic asked 20 outdoor luminaries—from trail runners to CEOs to beloved authors—about the trails they dream about. Here are their picks for the world’s best hikes.
1. Everest Base Camp, Nepal
Follow the footsteps of legends like Messner, Bonington and Hillary, up to Everest Base Camp (EBC) and experience how they felt during their quest to Everest. Home of the renowned Sherpas, the mountain hardy people and the realm of Everest, this region needs no introduction. Itinerary in detail
Listed as one of the most difficult treks of the world, the spectacular Snowman trek takes you into one of the country’s most remote valleys. Bhutan’s pristine landscape, friendly people and fascinating Buddhist culture provide the ingredients for a memorable journey into one of the world’s most remote kingdoms. Itinerary in detail