Shoton Festival 2020

8th August - 26th August  19 Days

As the monks of Drepung monastery emerge from weeks of quiet meditation, and pilgrims gather in their thousands, mulberry smoke rises, horns reverberate throughout the valley, and the best of Tibetan history and culture comes to life.

Beginning and ending in Nepal, this amazing journey across the roof of the world peaks with four full days in Lhasa, where you will breathe in the energy of the centuries-old, Buddhist Shoton festival

For three months in the Tibetan spring and summer, as the weather warms and the insects awaken, the monks of Drepung stay indoors to avoid stepping on tiny new lives and pray for prosperity.  When they emerge, the lay people give thanks for the monks' blessings and protection, and feed them sho (yogurt).

Over 900 years, Shoton has evolved into a week-long celebration and Wanderlust Journeys places you right in the middle of the inspiring religious ceremonies and high-spirited festivities.  

Join family picnics in the park, wander the local markets, assault your ears with Tibetan opera accompanied by traditional dancing and walk the kora around the Barkhor with pilgrims from all over Tibet .  Partying groups gather to feast on barley wine, butter tea and home-made desserts, spinning their prayer wheels and counting their mala beads, as celebrations continue long into the night around large bonfires.

 

The highlight of Shoton, is the annual unfurling of the giant thanka.  Gather with all of Lhasa in the early morning, high on the hillside at Drepung Monastery, as a procession of over one hundred lamas, slowly open the 500-square-metre painting of Sakyamuni Buddha.  The air fills with Khada (white scarves) thrown by pilgrims wanting to purify their spirit and soul.  We have our turn at redemption and the energy is palpable.  Even if you are not a Buddhist, you will be touched by the worshipping and festive atmosphere.

Before Shoton, we journey around central Tibet, exploring Tsedang, the cradle of Tibeten civilisation, and the time-worn towns of Gyantse and Shigatse.  At 4,794m, savour the majestic views of the turquoise Yamdrok-tso Lake and Mt. Nojin Kangsang (7,206m) and travel next to the holy Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) which flows 2,900km to the Bay of Bengal, India.

Nepal is our gateway to Tibet and, while waiting for Visas and on return from Lhasa, we will stay in gorgeous, boutique accomodation and explore the extraordinary, medieval city of Bhaktapur and walk the 'kora' with the faithful, around the stunning Boudhanath stupa.

Itinerary Outline

 

Day 1    

Depart Australia

Day 2   

Arrive Nepal and transfer to Boudhanath which once lay on the ancient trade route between Lhasa and Kathmandu and is now the Tibetan quarter of town

Day 3 - 4

Mixture of guided walks and free time in and around Boudha, its shops, monasteries.  Situated at its centre is the giant Boudhanath Stupa, built around the 14th century, it stands as a beacon of Buddhist belief

Day 5

Transfer to Pullahari Gumba, a Tibetan monastery in the hills surrounding Kathmandu.  Learn about Tibetan religion and cultural heritage from the monks and spend a peaceful night in their pilgrims accomodation, rested for the adventures ahead

Day 6    

Fly to Tibet, drive to Tsedang birthplace of Tibetan civilisation

Day 7    

Visit Yumbu Lhakhang built in 2nd century BC and Samye Monastery 77AD

Day 8 

Drive over Khamba & Karo La pass, past Yamdrok-tso Lake to Gyantse

Day 9    

Explore laid back Gyantse.  Visit Khumbum Stupa, Rabse Nunnery, and surrounds

Day 10    

Drive to Shigatse, visit Tashilhunpo Monastery, founded in 1447 and explore town 

Day 11    

Drive beside the Yarlung Tsangpo river to Lhasa 

Day 12   

First day of Shoton Festival.  Early morning start for the annual unfurling of 500 square-metre thangka at  Drepung Monastery, then join the feasting at the Norbulingka, the Summer Palace.

Day 13  

Over the next few days visit the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor and Sera Monastery

Day 14

Visit a local village, share butter tea with a local family then join the monks in their temple

Day 15

Learn about 2,330 years of Tibetan medicine, traditional dress for final Tibetan dinner

Day 16  

Fly back to Kathmandu, transfer to Bouda, explore Boudnath Stupa, galleries monasteries & shops 

Day 17  

Free day.  Can join the Kora, walk to Kopan Monastery or Pashupatinath, visit local monasteries, shop around the Stupa and in the Main Rd.  Farewell dinner.

Day 18

Last morning Kora.  Transfer to airport, depart Nepal

Day 19  

Arrive Australia

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All photos by Wanderlust Journeys unless otherwise credited.

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