Jim has lived, studied, and traveled in South Asia for more than 25 years. He is an adjunct professor of Asian Studies at Castleton State College of Vermont. He has lectured in the U.S. and Europe on Buddhist art, architecture, meditation and philosophy. As a photographer, Jim’s keen knowledge of the Himalayan region and cultures has served him well as a location scout for commercial film productions. He has trekked extensively throughout the Himalayas. Personable and witty, Jim’s expertise has attracted travelers from around the world. Jim leads every tour the way he teaches — with passion and concern that each traveler has the experience of a lifetime!
Beena is an Associate Professor at the Central Department of Culture at Tribhuvan University of Kathmandu. She received her Ph.D. from Benaras Hindu University in India in 1991 in Nepalese iconography. Beena is an expert on Hindu sacred art, Nepalese architecture, history, culture, and religion. Her knowledge of Nepal’s rich cultural heritage and her warm friendly personality leave a lasting impression on anyone who participates in one of her cultural tours.
Namgyal is a fully ordained Buddhist monk. He has been a monk for more than 30 years and is a resident teacher for the novice monks at his monastery. Having been a monk for the majority of his life, Namgyal is an expert on Buddhist philosophy and spiritual traditions and shares this knowledge enthusiastically with others. He is our Buddhist guide and translator and often leads optional morning meditation. Namgyal’s radiant smile, genuine hospitality, and hearty laughter, always make you feel like family and not merely a visitor.
Kirti is a renowned Nepalese sculptor of sacred art. He has learned and perfected the lost-wax process of bronze casting from his father and grandfather who have been commissioned by many monasteries throughout India and Nepal for generations. Kirti’s excellent command of English and expert statue-making skills make a visit to his studio fascinating. There he explains and illustrates the process of statue making. Of course this means meeting his entire family and drinking many cups of Nepali tea – a Nepalese custom!
Surrendra is our local Nepali Tangka painting expert. Having been an artist for many years, he now operates a studio with many artists who create paintings in the ancient tangka painting traditions. Surrendra is fluent in English. One of the friendliest people in Nepal, he invites us into his studio where he explains the entire process of painting sacred images. There we observe artists creating images that can often take years to complete. After one of Surrendra’s insightful tours, it is easy to see why the Nepalese have become famous throughout Asia for their artistic traditions.