This study tour will take you to the most exotic part of the world - the foothills of the Himalayas, fascinating travellers, writers, painters and scholars with their timeless traditions, unique architecture and stunning mountainous landscapes. For centuries the monarchic rule was shaping the political and cultural traditions of these three bordering countries.
Today the monarchic system is existing only in Bhutan. The country has never been colonized in its history. Since 2006 it is ruled by the king Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who is 38 years old and known as the "Dragon King". Nepal was ruled by various dynasties from times immemorial till 2008. The Constitution of Nepal, adopted in 2015, declares the country as a secular parliamentary republic. Sikkim is a multiethnic and multilingual Indian state, second smallest among the Indian states. The Sikkimese monarchy was abolished by a local referendum in 1975.
Our itinerary is rich and intensive. We will explore the such important cities like Thimphu and Paro in Bhutan, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan in Nepal, Gangtok and Darjling in Sikkim. The royal palaces, national museums, Buddhist monasteries, Hindu temples and workshops of the local craftsmen will open the doors to us.
The Himalayan societies have developed their distinct national identities on strong religious traditions. The orientation courses will introduce the students to the fundamental tenets of Hinduism, Buddhism and native shamanic beliefs. We will learn about the unusual social patterns such as casteism and polyandry, and unique culture forms like stupa architecture, shamanic masks and thangka painting. And of course there will be enough time for visiting colourful market places, gardens and plantations, shopping handicrafts and tasting local cuisine.
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Dr. Valery Efimenko graduated from the Oriental Department of St. Petersburg State University. For over thirty years, his academic interests were focused on East Indian studies. He has taught for Continuing Education since 2004.