Tihar, or the Festival of Lights, is a five-day Hindu festival in the autumn that celebrates the intimate relationship between animals and people. It also worships Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, culminating in Laxmi Puja when rangoli patterns are made with colored powder and flowers. This trip will take you on a journey from Kathmandu to the old Malla kingdoms of Bhaktapur and Patan, and the lakeside city of Pokhara. Along the way, you will stay with local families to enjoy the full flavor of this magical festival.

Highlights

  • Pay hommage to dogs in the medieval city of Bhaktapur
  • Celebrate Laxmi Puja in the old city of Patan
  • Take part in  Bhai Tika (Brothers' Puja) with a Nepali family
  • Go on a boat ride on Phewa Lake in Pokhara

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 2 Discover the medieval city of Bhaktapur on Kukur Tihar Kathmandu
Day 3 Explore Patan during the Festival of Lights Kathmandu
Day 4 Worship the self on Mha Puja  Kathmandu
Day 5 Celebrate Bhai Tika with a Nepali family Kathmandu
Day 6 Drive to Pokhara  Pokhara
Day 7 Explore the lakeside city of Pokhara  Pokhara
Day 8 Drive back to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 9 Free day in Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 10 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu

Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu
Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu

On arrival, you will be met at the airport in Kathmandu and transferred to your homestay. Today is Kag Puja (Crows' Day), the first day of the Tihar Festival, and each member of the family takes the first portion of their meal outside on a platter and offers it to the crows. In the evening, enjoy a welcome dinner with your host family. 

Day 2: Discover the Medieval City of Bhaktapur on Kukur Tihar

World Heritage Listed Bhaktapur
Bhaktapur

Today you will visit Bhaktapur, one of the most important UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nepal. Bhaktapur was once a kingdom in its own right (one of three kingdoms in the valley) and is still inhabited by the indigenous Newari people. See the Palace of 55 Windows, the Golden Gate, Nyatapola Temple, Siddhi Laxmi Temple, and Vatsala Durga Temple. Today is Kukur Puja (Dogs' Day); people offer flower garlands and food to their dogs for their honesty and loyalty. Overnight with your host family in your homestay.

Day 3: Explore Patan During the Festival of Lights

Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square

After breakfast, you will be taken on a guided tour of Patan, the city of the arts. Visit Patan Durbar Square, Patan Museum, the Golden Temple, and the Kumari, the "Living Goddess" of Patan.  Today is Laxmi Puja, the third day of Tihar, which falls on Purnima (full moon). Today the cow, which is believed to embody the goddess Laxmi, is worshiped. In the evening, rangolis of colored powder and flowers are festooned with candles and strings of lights hung off every home to attract Laxmi. Groups of singers and musicians go door-to-door. Overnight at your homestay in Kathmandu.

Day 4: Worship the Self on Mha Puja

A Brahmin priest doing a Hindu puja in Kathmandu
A Brahmin priest doing a Hindu puja in Kathmandu

Today is Gobardhan Puja (Oxen Day) and Mha Puja. In the morning you can relax or take one of the optional tours. In the evening, celebrate Mha Puja with the Newari community. It is a day of purification, strengthening, understanding oneself, and worshipping and blessing oneself to achieve unselfishness and generosity. Overnight at your homestay in Kathmandu.

Day 5: Celebrate Bhai Tika with a Nepali Family

The colored pigment used to make tika in Kathmandu
Seven colors are used to make the tika on Bhai Tika

Today is Bhai Tika, the last and most important day of Tihar. On this day, sisters place tika (a mark of powder or paste) on their brothers’ foreheads, thank them for their protection and wish for their prosperous and long life. Along with the tika, sisters offer garlands of marigolds and chrysanthemums, sweets, and special dishes. Experience this ceremony with your host family. Tonight enjoy a delicious festival feast included in the package. Overnight at your homestay in Kathmandu. 

Day 6: Drive to Pokhara 

Lake Phewa, Pokhara
Lake Phewa, Pokhara

Today you head to the lakeside city of Pokhara by tourist bus. Enjoy the rural landscape and spectacular vistas of the Annapurnas. Upon arrival at Pokhara bus station, you will be transferred to your hotel in Lakeside, Pokhara. Rest at the hotel or go boating on the lake. 

Driving Time: 5–7 hours

Day 7: Explore the Lakeside City of Pokhara

The view of Pokhara from Sarangkot
The view of Pokhara from Sarangkot

Early in the morning, you will be taken to Sarangkot for sunrise. From here you can see Pokhara and the Annapurna range. Then enjoy a guided city tour of Pokhara including the  International Mountain Museum, Devi’s Falls, and Gupteshwore Cave. Overnight at a hotel in Lakeside, Pokhara.

Day 8: Return to Kathmandu

Kathmandu
Garden of Dreams, Kathmandu

After breakfast, take the tourist bus back to Kathmandu. Enjoy the view of the Trishuli River as you climb up the winding road into the valley. Upon arrival in Kathmandu, relax, do some shopping, or visit the Garden of Dreams. Overnight in a hotel or homestay (optional) in Kathmandu.

Driving Time: 5–7 hours

Day 9: Free Day in Kathmandu

Shop for exotic trinkets in Kathmandu  

Today is a free day for you to shop or sightsee in Kathmandu. Visit the Monkey Temple (Swayumbunath), Boudhanath Stupa or Pashupatinath. Overnight at your hotel or homestay (optional) in Kathmandu.

Day 10: Departure

Tea lights at Boudhanath, Kathmandu
Tea lights on the Festival of Light

Today bid farewell to Nepal. You will be transferred to Tribuvhan International Airport for your flight. Namaste.