Nagi Gumba to Kopan Monastery Hike Overview
Nagi Gumba to Kopan Monastery Hike is one of the best opportunities to cover nature, culture, religion, and adventure of Nepal in one go. The trip is also called Monastery to Monastery hike because it begins with a visit to Nagi Gumba (monastery) in Shivapuri National Park and ends at the Kopan Gumba.
This Monastery to Monastery Hike (from Nagi Gumba to Kopan Gumba) is favorable to those visitors who wish to hike during their short stay in Kathmandu and are interested in exploring the Buddhists Monasteries. The journey is an easy 3-4 hours walk providing not only a Buddhist experience but also an insight into Hinduism.
Our Nagi Gumba to Kopan Monastery Day Hike begins with a short drive to Budhanilkantha where we will have a short break to explore the Budhanilkantha Temple. Budhanilkantha literally translates to "old blue-throat." The major attraction of the temple is the 5 meters long statue of sleeping Vishnu reclining in the center of a 13-meter-long pool. The statue is carved out of a single rock and is considered Nepal's largest and most impressive stone carving. The deity is portrayed lying on the coils of Shesha, the cosmic serpent. Vishnu's four hands are seen holding things that represent his divine abilities: A chakra, a conch shell, a lotus flower, and the club. This temple is sacred to Hindus, but it is also revered by Buddhists, and it is a wonderful example of religious peace in Nepal.
The hiking journey begins once we leave the Budhanilkantha Temple. A short walk leads to the entrance gate of the Shivapuri National Park where the hike inside the park begins. En route, hikers may encounter different species of local and migratory birds like common mina, Robin, Magpie, Treepie, bulbul, cuckoo, babbler, owl, and an equal number of butterflies. In fact, the national park is one of the best destinations for bird watching in Kathmandu valley. It is also the research hub for students.
During the walk, you pass through beautiful forests with wide varieties of trees such as pine, alder, hazelnuts, bayberry, yellow raspberries, Nepali plumps, and even medicinal plants. You will also see flower varieties like rhododendrons, blue mimosa, Gulmohar, jacaranda, and orchids.
After a couple of hours of uphill hiking, you will arrive at Nagi Gumba.
Nagi Gumba is also called Ani (Nun) Gumba because only nuns or female monks reside here. The monastery at 1650 meters altitude in Shivapuri National Park is both a monastery and a residential school for young female monks. As a result, the gumba is surrounded by rows of classrooms and residential quarters. The monastery is surrounded by colorful prayer flags, prayer wheels, prayer sounds, and the scent of incense where you will discover calmness. The surrounding area of the Gumba offers a beautiful landscape view and the view of the Yellow monastery.
Leaving Nagi Gumba, the hike continues further to Tarebhir Hill station. We will pass by a few national park streams, and local settlements of mostly Tamang communities decorated with colorful prayer flags. You can also taste the seasonal fruits en route, and take pictures of the beautiful seasonal flowers.
After about half an hour of a downhill walk, the monastery to monastery hiking trail makes its end in Kopan Monastery. Kopan Gumba is well-known among foreign visitors for its meditation retreats and Buddhism teachings under Mahayana tradition and Gelugpa Sect. The monastery atmosphere is tranquil and pleasant, with breathtaking views of the city below and the surrounding countryside and mountains. Over 350 monks, lamas, teachers, and workers reside in this holy area. There are colorful and wonderfully decorated rooms and gompas inside the monastery enclosure, as well as attractive grounds with colorful stupas and lodging for monks and visitors. It's a truly lovely, motivating, and fascinating place to be in.
After spending an ample amount of time at the monastery, we will drive back to Kathmandu which will take about 1 hour (In case there is no traffic jam).
1. If you want to extend the hiking hours or explore more of this trail, it can be extended as there are many wonderful sites that are worth the visit inside the National Park. It would also be beneficial as the same transportation and national park cost will cover the extended hours.
2. If the journey falls at the right time, i.e. on festival time, you can take part in celebrations and pooja ceremonies and have a different kind of experience.
3. The religious sites in our itinerary can be closed during special occasions depending upon their annual calendar, so hikers need to recheck their opening before departure.
4. If we get lucky and happen to be at the Nagi Gumba, we can interact with the female monks and learn about their lifestyle there.
Highlights of Nagi Gumba to Kopan Monastery Hike
- A short day walk through the jungles full of various species of flora and fauna
- An easy hiking trail along with small streams en route
- Nagi Gumba, the only monastery where only female monks reside
- Kopan Monastery, a famous Tibetan Buddhism site where Buddhism is taught
- Tarebhir, a famous viewpoint for a wonderful wider view of the Kathmandu Valley
- Budhanilkantha, one of the most important Hindu sites dedicated to Lord Vishnu
Best Time to do Nagi Gumba to Kopan Monastery Hike
Nagi Gumba to Kopan Monastery Hike can be done any time of the year as it is a day hike that requires a few hours to accomplish. However, spring and autumn are the best time for great weather and clear views. Winters are also enjoyable because the days are pleasant and sunny. The monsoon months of July, August & early September are recommended to avoid. The heavy rainfall in the forest makes the trail slippery and slick and you can attract leeches to you. However, daring adventurers can go for it. In fact, the views of the Kathmandu valley and the surroundings are best after the dust in the air is wiped off by the rain.