KNOW NEPAL BEFORE YOU ENTER IT:
Nepal is a country of vast diversities that is linked to different cultures & traditions within its landlocked geographical boundaries. Thousands of holiday makers from around the world note Nepal as their primary destinations to enjoy its famous mountains, hence, keeping this in mind, its wise to know Nepal in a nutshell before you enter its domain; the following information will enlighten you about Nepal before you visit this amazing this country:
Nepal's Geography, its unique flora & fauna
Nepal's geography is as unique as its landscapes which are primarily featured on its vast Himalayas that stretch from north to south & east to west. Sandwiched between the Asian giants of China & India, this landlocked country occupies a total surface area of 147,181 sq. km from the Himalayan range in the North to the Indo-Gangetic lowlands in the South at the latitude 26°12' to 30°27' North and the longitude 80°4' to 88°12'. Topographically, Nepal’s teeming Terai Region in the south, central lower mountains and hills in the middle and Mountain Region in the north creates the total physical layout of the country. The dissimilar ecological settings & its regions have been divided into Terai, Siwalik, Middle Mountain, High Mountain and High Himalaya. The Terai is based on the northern part of Indo-Gangetic plain extending nearly 800 km from east to west and about 30-40 km from north to south occupying 17% of the total land area with average elevation below 750m including Terai region, Bhavar Terai and Inner Terai. Siwalik is also called Churia Hills and the altitude ranges from 700 to 1,500m. Middle Mountain is also referred as Mahabharat range which stretched on 65% of the total land area with elevation ranging from 1,500 to 2,700m. Kosi, Gandaki, Karnali and Mahakali Rivers collide with the middle mountains at many junctions. The High Mountains range from 2,200 to 4,000m and are resourcefully rich with phyllite, schist and quartzite. The soil hereabouts is shallow & prevents weathering. Where as High Himalayas occupy 16% of the total land area of Nepal with elevation ranging from 4,000 to above 8,000 m. This region accommodates the eight of the highest peaks in the world; Mt. Everest [8848m], Kanchanjunga [8586m], Lhotse [8516m], Cho Oyu [8201m], Dhaulagiri [8167m], Mt. Makalu [8463m], Manaslu [8163m] and Annapurna I [8091m].
People in Nepal & their interesting customs
Nepal’s deep Ethnicity with the variety of traditions & customs immediately captivates visitors entering Nepal, making this Himalayan country a magnetic destination for vacationers; current statistics of Nepal’s population is around 27 million & this includes more than 60 ethnic groups speaking 70 different languages and dialects. The Northern Himalayan People, Middle Hills and Valley People and Terai People make up the total populations of the nation. Sherpas, Dolpas, Lopas, Baragaonlis and Manangis come under Northern Himalayan People. Magars, Gurungs, Tamangs, Sunuwars, Newars, Thakalis, Chepangs and majority of Brahmans and Chhetris are regarded as Middle Hills and Valley People. The eastern Terai belt are made up of People who are Tharus, Darai, Kumhal, Majhi and some migrants from India. Nepalese society is traditionally an influence of caste hierarchy inherited from its past, its history. Caste system comprises of Brahmin, Chettri, Vaisya and Shudra. Nepali is the official language. Nepal is a secular country. Hinduism and Buddhism are the two main religions. Official statistics shows that 89.5% of the population is Hindu, 5.3% Buddhist, 2.7% Muslim, 2.4% Shamanist and Animist, 0.1%Jain and 0.04% Christian. Whatever the ethnic background or religion, Nepalese people are the most hospitable and friendly people you could ever wish to meet. It is said that Nepalese revere their guests as gods. You could only know the real Nepal by visiting this amazing country…FATE will escort you on all your sojourns in Nepal.
Awesome places to visit in Nepal:
Each part of Nepal is a cornerstone of historical, geographical, & cultural significance; the abundance in biodiversity and ethnic varieties makes Nepal a prime destination for tourists from all walks of life. The mystical aspects of Nepal make this Himalayan nation absolutely exciting and wonderful for tourists & trekkers; with the massive Himalayas hypnotizing holiday makers Nepal has become a literal magnet for one & all. Hordes of tourist visit the country at any given time; some enjoy cultural tours while most come as trekkers to enjoy the lovely mountains down here; some of the mountains in Nepal are the highest in the world. Nepal is home to unbelievably exotic locales. Nepal’s Cultural heritage which includes the royal palace with intricately carved doors and windows and beautiful courtyards adorned with exquisite icons, temples built with excellent artistic craftsmanship, art pieces designed in stone, metal, terracotta ivory etc makes Nepal like an open museum for those who come to visit this country…
Kathmandu, capital of Nepal, is home to 16 million people approximately & is a mixing bowl of different castes, cultures & traditions with temples found on almost every turn you make in this city said to be the largest in Nepal. The term ‘Kathmandu’ has been derived from the combinations of two Sanskrit words, ‘Kaasth’ meaning wood and ‘Mandap’ meaning beautiful shade. Situated at the elevation of approximately 4,265 ft, Kathmandu sits in a valley with the two other cities of Patan and Bhaktapur; Since 1960s, Kathmandu has become much popular with western tourists. Thamel, situated at the heart of the city, is a tourist hub and a favorite hang out place for Nepali youths. 130 historic monuments, temples, monasteries, palaces and other cultural structures of great heritage showcase the finest display of architectural skills that include: intricately carved windows, intrinsic roof struts, statues of gods and goddesses, temples designed in pagoda style with erotic carvings and repoussé metalwork facades. UNESCO World Heritage Sites include Durbar Squares of Hanuman Dhoka, Patan, Bhaktapur, the Buddhist stupas of Swayambhu and Boudhnath, and the Hindu temples of Pashupatinath and Changu Narayan and Lumbini as the eight cultural heritages found in the Kathmandu Valley alone.
Centered in Kathmandu, Hanuman Dhoka a well known tourist spot in the valley is known for its religious history which goes back to the Shah dynasty that ruled Nepal for over 200 years. Hanuman Dhoka stands proudly in the vicinity of Degutale Temple, Taleju Mandir, Nasal Chowk, a nine storey Basantapur Tower, Panch Mukhi Hanuman Temple, Mul Chowk, Mohan Chowk, Sundari Chowk, Tribhuvan Museum, King Mahendra Memorial Museum and Kal Bhairab temple. Hindu Mythology says that if a person interprets 17th century stone inscriptions written in 15 different languages on the walls of the palace, there would be instant flooding of milk from its wall. Hanuman Dhoka was the former Royal Palace of the Malla kings and later was passed onto the Shah dynasty. The Royal family lived in the Hanuman Dhoka palace till 1886 and thereafter shifted to the Narayanhiti palace located at Durbar Marg. However, the palace is still used for ritual and ceremonial occasions. In the years gone by, New Kings were crowned inside this palace. The palace has a 17th century statue of Hanuman to the left of the palace entrance and amazing sculpture of Lord Narasimha. The palace bears the historical hallmarks of Royal family, culture and religion of Nepal. Museums inside the palace lets one explore the culture, religion, customs, tradition, architecture, history of Royal palaces etc. An entrance fee has been set for entering into the museums. International tourists are charged Rs. 250 for the entrance. Museums remain open for 7 days in a week with the exception of Tuesday from 10.30 am to 3 pm in the winter and from 10.30 am to 4 pm in the summer. On Friday one must visit the museums from 10.30 am to 2 pm.
Boudhanath stands as a symbol to Buddhism in Nepal, where the Buddha was born. It lies 8 km East of Kathmandu and was built by Licchavis King Man Dev in the 5th century A. D. Its colossal and ancient stupa is regarded as one of the world’s biggest stupa and has been built on a stepped octagonal base and inset with alcoves representing Buddha and his teachings. After Chinese invasion in 1959, Tibetans in thousands came to this famous Buddhist Chaitya and energized the stupa. The stupa is surrounded by various temples or 'gompas'. The atmosphere of the whole place lightens up with zest as fragrance of incense drifts through the air. Bouddhanath is well known for its chanting monks and creaking of prayer wheels that can be heard while strolling around the base. This stupa is a hot spot for Buddhist devotees & tourists throughout the year.
Pashupatinath temple is the temple of the marijuana smoking lord Shiva who is known for his forays into the jungles with his female consorts, and is a sacred spot for Hindus. The old temple lies on the banks of the so-called Bagmati River 5 km east of Kathmandu city. Non-Hindus are strictly prohibited from entering the temple. It has two-tiered roof and four silver doors. Devotees from all over the world come here to pay their homage to Shiva. During shivaratri, a hindu festival, the women hereabouts worship Shiva’s phallus or penis in the hopes of finding a good fertile husband
Swayambhunath (popularly known as monkey temple because of the hordes of monkeys that hang around here} is 3 km away from the West of Kathmandu. Stories of myth say that thousands of years ago Swayambhunath was an island. Later a stupa was built. King Manadeva contributed in the making of the stupa in 460. After the invasions from the Mughal it was damaged and had to undergo renovation in the 14th century. King Pratap Malla in 17th century further enhanced the architecture and also added a stairway to get to the stupa. At present, the stupa is a solid hemisphere of brick and clay, supporting a lofty conical spire capped by a pinnacle of copper gilt and has Lord Buddha’s all seeing eyes adorned on all the four sides of the spire base. Buddhists regard it as the holiest place. Swayambhunath also offers a majestic view of the entire Kathmandu valley.
Kumari is assumed to be the living Virgin Goddess of Hindu religion. Kumari temple is situated inside the Basantapur Durbar built by King Jaya Prakash Malla near Hanuman Dhoka. Kumari is chosen from a Newari Shakya family after meeting up with all the criteria. She must not bear any body marks or injuries and when she reaches puberty, she is replaced by another Kumari. Non-Hindus are now allowed into the temple and photographing the temple is strictly prohibited.
Kasthamandap is also known as Maru Sattal and lies next to Kumari temple. Mythological stories say It was built in the 14th century by King Laxmi Narshingh Malla from the wood of a single tree and therefore was named so.
Two-tiered Changunarayan temple is 15 kilometers away from Kathmandu city. Since this is the temple of Lord Vishnu, also called Narayan and is situated near Changu, the temple has been named so. Stone inscription of 464 A.D and other architectural master piece featured in the temple showcase ancient history of Nepal. The temple also bores the sculptures of Vishnu’s ten incarnations; Vishwaroop, Vishnu Vikranta, Vishnu riding Garuda, Nar-Singha Vishnu etc. Temples of Kileswar Shiva, Chinnamasta Devi and other gods and goddesses are also present in the vicinity of Changunarayan temple. The temple provides an awesome view of Manohara River cascading through lush vegetation.
Situated at an altitude of 2175m to the east of Kathmandu, Nagarkot stands proud as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Nepal. It offers incredible panoramic Himalayan views which includes Mt. Everest, Manaslu, Gauri Shankar and many others. It also promises the most glorious unparallel sunrise views of some of the highest peaks in the world. Its favorable climatic condition makes it the very ideal getaway for holidaying and honeymooning. It has best resorts, cafeterias and restaurants & is known as a famous spot for honeymooners from all over Asia.
The pert little sleepy hamlet of Dhulikhel is bound to Kathmandu from the East by a distance of 30 km. Traditional heritage, unique cultural setting and breathtaking views of the snowy Himalayas makes Dhulikhel one of the favorite tourist destinations in Nepal. Nothing can be more fun and adventurous than taking short treks on its routes. The local inhabitants called ‘Newars’’ are known for following ancient traditions that go back over a thousand years.
Connected to the valley 5 km south-east over a bridge by Bagmati River, 459 hectares of Patan is bounded by 4 stupas built by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC as recorded in history. Patan is also known as Lalitpur. There are several legends attached to the origin of the term, Lalitpur. One such legend says that in the ancient times Kathmandu was engulfed with severe drought and three people were assigned to summon God Red Machhendranath from Kamaru Kamachhya, a place in Assam, India, into the valley for rainfalls. Among the three people one was a farmer named Lalit who believed to have contributed more.
When rain finally poured into the valley, people as a sign of gratitude sanskritized the valley after his name and the term ‘pur’ meaning township and was finally named as Lalitpur. Another tale boasts that the valley was named after king Yalamber. Patan people refer to Patan as Yala. History has it that Patan was founded in the 3rd century by the Kirat dynasty and later was modeled into perfection by Lichhavis in the sixth century followed by Malla dynasty. At present Lalitpur sub metropolitan city has been categorized into 22 wards. This city presents a potpourri of finest traditional crafts and rich artistic heritage. Patan Durbar Square, Mahaboudha Temple, Kumbeshwor temple, Krishna Temple, Golden Temple or Hiranya Varna Mahavihar, Mulchowk, Jagat Narayan Temple, Big Bell, Pillar of Yognarendra Malla, Hari Shanker temple, Vishwanath temple, Bhimsen temple, Marga Hiti, Mani Mandap, Café Pagoda, Rato Machhendra Temple, Minnath, Rudra Varna Mahavihar etc are the major attractions of Patan. Take an Inteactive 3D Tour of Patan Durbar Square
Bhaktapur lies on the Eastern part of Kathmandu valley. Also known as Bhadgaon or Khwopa, Bhaktapur is regarded as the abode of ancient Nepali culture, custom and alluring arts pieces of excellent craftsmanship. Each historical monument represents medieval culture, religious and custom of Nepal. Newari populace has largely dominated Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur is the only place in Nepal which has remained untouched by western culture. Lion Gate, Golden Gate, Art Gallery, Statue of King Bhupatindra, Nyatapola Temple and fifty-five windowed Malla palaces are the living prides of Bhaktapur. The place houses finest restaurants and hotel to cater to the needs and requirements of tourists. For entering into Bhaktapur Durbar Square, foreign tourists have to foremost pay $10 as an entry fee and only Rs 50 for nationals from SAARC-countries and China.
Lumbini is geographically placed in the southern Terai plains of Nepal and is about 300 kilometers Southwest of Kathmandu. This town is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautam Buddha and is therefore regarded as a sacred pilgrimage site for Buddhists. In 250 BC, Emperor Ashoka built a large stone pillar containing an inscription about the birth of the Buddha. Lumbini bears not only historical and religious significance but also cultural significance. Lumbini Garden, Maya Devi Temple, Tara Foundation, World Peace Pagoda, China Temple, Thai Monastery, Burmese (Myanmar) Temple, Nepal Buddha Temple and Dharmaswami Buddhist monastery are the major attractions of Lumbini. There is a museum and a research center for Buddhism. It is also considered an ideal birding destination as it houses variety of rare bird species. Many high quality hotels, restaurants and lodges are available in Lumbini. Lumbini is said to be the Mecca for Buddhists from all over the world…
Jomsom is the gateway to the ancient kingdom of Mustang known for its mystical history & stark landscapes. You can either walk or fly to Jomsom. Either way promises you a dramatic fun-filled journey. You can reach Jomsom by crossing the challenging Thorong La on the Annapurna Circuit or by trekking up the extraordinary Kali Gandaki from Pokhara. Pokhara-Jomsom flight gives you the most thrilling panoramic views of the Himalayas and different rivers. Some of the major attractions of this area include Muktinath, a very sacred temple for hindus seeking salvation for their sins. Travelling to Jomsom will take you down to memory lane of stories of the ancient kingdom of Mustang.
Pokhara is 200 km away from Kathmandu and is a major holiday destination for both domestic and international tourists. It is most popular for its lakes Phewa, Begnas and Rupa. Exploring the deep-seated mysteries of intriguing caves like Mahendra Gupha will further heighten your spirit of adventure. The David’s Fall and the gorge of the Seti River are the other dotted places for sightseeing. After entering Pokhara you will be totally captivated by the true ambience of nature in all its natural forms and its exquisite beauty.
Pokhara is also the junction to some of the most famous treks in the world.
The Chitwan National Park stretches across an area of 932 sq. kilometers and lies in the inner Terai belt of Chitwan. The park offers a very thrilling excursion through jungle safari. With nature at its best you will come across the rarest species of eco-systems available in this green belt of eastern Nepal. Canoeing through the lakes of the park will have you encounter crocodiles and other fun-filled adventures that include elephant back rides. During your stay in one of the resorts of the park, you will be guided on a cultural tour that will introduce you to flora, fauna & bird species of the rarest kind found nowhere else in the world. In the evening and at nights you can indulge in the most exotic events of your choice. Chitwan is the base for adventures of a unique kind different than that of the Himalayas.
SAGARMATHA NATIONAL PARK
Sagarmatha National Park situated at the foothills of Himalayas has occupied an area of 1,148 sq. kilometers. It offers the most magnificent views of rugged mountains, glaciers, valleys and river. The park houses an amazing array of plant species, birdlife and exotic animals. Plant species like blue pine, silver fir, rhododendrons, birch etc have glorified the beauty of the park. On venturing into the park, one may encounter rare species like snow leopard, pandas, lynx etc. Birdwatchers can have the best sightseeing experience while viewing rare bird species like snow cock, pheasant, snow pigeon etc. In a nutshell, Sagarmatha National Park is a storehouse of Himalayan natural resources.