INFORMATION ON KATHMANDU, NEPAL
AND NAMO BUDDHA SEMINAR
(updated October 2009)


ABOUT THE KATHMANDU VALLEY
The Kathmandu Valley is a major place of pilgrimage for Buddhists. Around the city of Kathmandu are ancient Buddhist stupas such as the Great Boudhanath Stupa. The area surrounding the stupa which is known as “Boudha” has over sixty Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. There are many teachers and high lamas, either living in Boudha or visiting.
Due to this, many students of Buddhism from all over the world come to stay in here to receive teachings. Some monasteries provide situations for study in Higher Buddhist Philosophy. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche’s main monastery known as Thrangu Tashi Choling is located in Boudha close to the Boudha Stupa.
In the hills nearby Boudha, Phullahari Monastery, the seat of HE Jamgon Kongrul Rinpoche is located.
In the area of Swayambunath, is the Swayambunath Stupa also known as “The Monkey Temple”. Located on top of a hill, the whole hill itself is considered to be a self arisen stupa. According to legend, Lord Manjushri cut into the lake that was once the Kathmandu Valley and as the water was set free the hill rose up simultaneously. Thrangu Tara Abbey, Thrangu Rinpoche’s nunnery for Buddhist nuns is in Swayambu. There are many monasteries in the Swayambu area including Benchen Monastery, the home of Tenga Rinpoche and Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche.
Among the many places of pilgrimage is Namo Buddha, one of the most important, where, in a previous life as a prince, the Buddha gave his body to a starving tigress and her cubs. At Namo Buddha, Thrangu Rinpoche has a temple, school for young monks and other projects.
Other pilgrimage sites include Pharping, a Guru Rinpoche place, many places where Milarepa and other yogis stayed and many Vajrayogini and Chakrasamvara places.

CURRENT CONDITIONS
There is no longer civil war with the Maoists. It has been always been quite safe in the Kathmandu Valley and many other places. Many people have gone trekking with no problems. If there are any changes in the situation that make travel unsafe, they will be announced.

HOW TO GET THERE
Some airlines fly into Kathmandu directly from Europe such as Austrian Air and from Europe and the USA through the Middle East, such as Etihad, Gulf Air, Quatar Air (then directly to Kathmandu- daily). Thai Airways flies into Kathmandu from Bangkok daily. Many airlines fly into Bangkok from Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. There’s a direct flight to Bangkok from New York and also from Los Angeles. From South America many people go through South Africa or to Delhi via London (British Airways is one airline). There are many flights daily between Kathmandu and Delhi. Many airlines fly directly to Delhi from London, New York, and many points in Europe. From Canada, Singapore Air flies from Vancouver to Singapore/Bangkok and Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and Bangkok.
When reaching the Kathmandu airport, there’s a pre-paid taxi service outside the “Arrivals” and also many taxis. You should not pay more than 350 rupees to go anywhere in Kathmandu or Boudha from the airport although due to the fuel shortage the airport taxi may be more expensive these days.


THRANGU TASHI CHOLING MONASTERY
Thrangu Rinpoche’s monastery is located very close to the Boudhanath Stupa. There is a map of the monasteries on a wall located on the other side of the Stupa from the main entrance into the stupa. There is a walking lane leading to the monastery from where the sign is located. The monastery is less than ½ block from there.

MONEY
On arrival, there’s a bank in the airport where you can exchange money into Nepalese Rupees. The rupee is now approx. 72 rupees to the US dollar, 102 rupees to the Euro and 116 to the English pound and 74 rupees to the Canadian dollar. That will have changed somewhat by March 2012.
There are ATM machines everywhere where you can use your bank debit card or credit card. In Boudha, there’s an ATM machine near the stupa on the main road. Traveller’s checks are a hassle these days. It’s better to have some cash to have on hand and us the ATMs. All convertible currencies can be exchanged at the bank or money exchanges.

VISA
Entry visa can be obtained upon arrival at the airport. The cost is $30-one month visa or $100 for a three month visa. One can get additional months up five months at the immigration office. A 15 day transit visa is available You can also get a visa from a Nepalese Embassy or Consulate in your country. This seems like a lot of trouble considering you can get it at the airport. To get the visa at the airport, you need one passport size photo. There is an instant photo place at the airport if you don’t have one. The visa regulations change from time to time but at the airport there is not much variation.

WHERE TO STAY

HOTEL NGUDRUP

Thrangu Tashi Choling Monastery’s hotel. The hotel is four years old with 25 nicely furnished rooms and one suite with attached bathrooms and phones and wi-fi. Seven of the rooms have attached kitchenettes. There’s a meditation room, dining room/kitchen, roof top garden and private compound with garden.
Rates (includes breakfast): Single 620 ($9) / Double 840 ($12) including tax
Phone: (00977-1-)447-6206 Email: ngdrup@yahoo.com or gene@mail.com.np
Email: ngudrup@yahoo.com or gene@mail.com.np
Managers: Gene Kudirka and Nyima Dorje

Cyber Guesthouse
Located near Thrangu Monastery. It has attached bathrooms.
Rates: Single 500 ($7)/double 600 ($8.50)
Phone: (00977-1-) 447-2800
E-mail: cyberghouse@yahoo.com

Rabsel Guesthouse
The guesthouse of Sechen Monastery. Located about 3 blocks from the stupa and Thrangu Monastery. Has good rooms with bathrooms and a restaurant. Private compound with garden. However it’s usually booked solid.
Rates (including breakfast): Single 680 ($10)/ Double 925 ($13)
Phone: (00977-1-) 447-9009 E-mail: rabsel@mos.com.np

Lotus Guesthouse

The guesthouse of Dabzang Monastery. About 3 blocks from the stupa. Simple but clean rooms. Located in private compound with garden.
Rates: Single 250 without attached bathroom/ 350 with attached bathroom
Double: 390 / Special room: 690
Manager: Mr. Wang. For reservations he can be reached by phone (977 1 4472432 or 4472320) between 8:30 - 9:30 AM Nepal time.

There are many other guesthouses in Boudha.

Hyatt Regency Hotel
A beautiful luxury hotel in Boudha in a huge compound with a view of the stupa, restaurants, health club, swimming pool. Rates depend on who you book with. Rates are better if booking through a travel agent.

RESTAURANTS
There are restaurants of almost every type in Kathmandu. . Next door to Thrangu Monastery is The Garden Café (clean and good food). In Boudha, around the stupa, there’s the Sakura Japanese Restaurant, The Stupa View (vegetarian), the Little British Café, My Three Sisters and The Saturday Café. Attached to Rabsel Guesthouse (Sechen Monastery) is a restaurant that has very good vegetarian food. And of course, there’s the Hyatt which has lovely restaurants with western prices. There are others but these are the ones I can recommend.

WEATHER & CLOTHING
It depends on the season. Mid-November to end of February is the cold season where one would need warms clothing, warm jackets and long underwear (especially as many places are not heated). March to May is generally warm to hot but there can be rainy weather. End of May or mid June to end of September (generally) is rainy season but it’s mostly warm to hot. October is warm and it starts to cool down around end of October. Hiking boots and gear are unnecessary unless you plan to go trekking. There’s no snow in the Kathmandu Valley.

OTHER TRAVEL
There are many pilgrimage places and other places of interest in the Kathmandu Valley
Outside the valley, are many places in the mountains for trekking. The northern areas have many monasteries as the people are primarily Buddhist. In the south are jungles, protected wild life parks, rivers for rafting. There are many travel agents and trekking agencies in Kathmandu.
Regarding travel to India: Many airlines fly to Delhi daily. Indian Airlines flies to Calcutta and Varanasi several times a week. Bangkok, Thailand is a 3 hour flight from Kathmandu.

COMMUNICATIONS 
There are communications shops everywhere that have fast e-mail, fax and international telephone service.

MEDICAL CARE
Kathmandu has quite good medical facilities. There are several international clinics including CWIC Clinic with western doctors and facilities for lab tests and vaccines immunization. But there’s also many good labs and cheaper clinics for these facilities.
What is exceptional in Kathmandu is the number of good doctors in alternative health care such as Homeopathy, Aryuveda, Tibetan Medicine, Chinese Medicine etc. In Boudha there is Sechen Medical Clinic which is run by Sechen Monastery and has many facilities including dentists, lab tests, a very good Homeopathic doctor, Tibetan doctor and doctors of western medicine. There’s an excellent eye hospital near Boudha. Kathmandu is also a good place to buy reading glasses. Bring your prescription, in case.
Make sure that you are immunized against Hepatitus A and Tetanus shots are up to date.
Malaria prophylactic is not recommended as it has many side effects. There is no malaria in Kathmandu.

LAUNDRY
All hotels and guesthouses have an inexpensive laundry service.

WHAT TO BRING & WHAT TO BUY HERE

  • A small flashlight for power outages and walking at night
  • medicines and vitamins that you take regularly. Nutrobiotic (grapefruit seed extract) tablets or liquid are good to prevent and cure stomach problems
  • Hand wipes or liquid hand cleaner (Purell). You can also buy these here.

One can buy almost everything in Kathmandu. There’s supermarkets, pharmacies, stationary stores, good places to buy eye glasses, watches, cameras etc. Dharma goods and handicrafts are everywhere, statues, thankas, brocade, bells & dorjes, drums and all ritual objects used in Tibetan Buddhism.

Seminar Coordinator: Gloria Jones:
Send Email - Tel: 00977-1-214-0440


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