Nepal is officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. It is a land locked country bordered at the north by China and by India at the east, west and south. Nepal proudly boasts of housing eight out of the ten highest mountain ranges in the world, the highest one being Sagarmatha, meaning Mount Everest. The people of Nepal speak Nepali language. The word came into existence from the word Sanskrit word 'Newa'. It was later modified into 'Nepa' and came to be known as Nepal in the present time. Yet another historical source says that the country was looked after by a local sage known as 'Ne' who lived in Kathmandu. The word 'pala' means place. So, Nepal means the area or 'pala' that was protected by 'Ne'. This is how the name was derived. Also, Nepal is associated with the birth of Prince Siddhartha Gautama who was born in the year 563 B.C. He later became famous as Buddha.
Nepal is home to numerous religious places and sites of ancient pilgrimage. In fact, each and every temple in Nepal is associated with history and myth. This religious feeling becomes intensified during the festivals in the country where you find the native people performing different types of rituals and customs. You can visit the famous Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu and the Swayambhu Stupa. In fact, there are plenty of temples in Kathmandu. Apart from these, you can also visit the following places of tourist attraction in Nepal:-
- Halesi Mahadev
- Barah Chhetra
- Kathmandu Valley
- Khaptad Ashram
It is interesting to note that Nepal is also considered to be the Gateway to Kailash Mansarovar. According to Hindu mythology, this place is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva. If you have a passion for trekking then Muktinath and Gosainkunda are excellent places for this purpose.
The largest share of foreign exchange and revenue in Nepal comes from the tourism department. Nepal is a country enclosed by land on all sides and it is the world's youngest republic. The main emphasis of the land is on the diverse and vast culture, tradition, ancient history and pictorial landscape of the Himalayan ranges and valleys. Nepal is a hotspot destination for various thrilling adventures like mountaineering, rock climbing, biking and jungle safaris. Tourism in Nepal is the biggest industry so far.
Climate in Nepal
There are four weather cycles in Nepal. These are spring (that ranges from March to May), summer (it ranges from June to August), autumn (it ranges from September to November) and finally, winter (which range from December to February). Nepal receives maximum amount of rainfall (around 80%) during the monsoon months. During winter, Nepal experiences snowfall and the temperatures dip to freezing point. So, ideally spring and summer are the best time for tourists to visit the country. Given below are the average temperatures in Nepal throughout the year:-
- Summer and late Spring in hill regions (28 degree C/87 degree F)
- Summer and late Spring in Terrai (40 degree C/104 degree F)
- Avg maximum temperature in Winter (7 degree C/45 degree F)
- Avg minimum temperature in Winter (23 degree C/74 degree F)
- Minimum temperature at the Central Valleys (12 degree C/54 degree F)
- Minimum temperature at the Kathmandu Valley (19 to 27 degree C/61 to 81 degree F)
People of Nepal
Nepal reflects diverse and complex culture. The country is inhabited by Indo-Aryan and Tibeto-Burman people. The natives who live in the Himalayan Zone are known as 'Bhote' in Nepali. The people who inhabit the eastern midlands region are of 'Kirati' origin and they are known as 'Rai' and 'Limbu' groups. These people speak in Tibeto-Burman language. Given below are the different castes of people in Nepal:-
The Brahmins are also known as 'Bahuns' in Nepali. By origin, 'Bahuns' are traditional Hindu priests. They are extremely orthodox about their religious views and observe the 'jutho' custom in which they do not allow anyone to touch their food or enter their kitchen. The Brahmins do not consume alcohol.
Chhetris are the secondary major Hindu caste in Nepal. They are farmers in the villages and are excellent soldiers as well. Thakuris form another important part of the Chhetris. It is interesting to note that the Thakuris trace their origin from the Rajputs in India.
The Newars are the native people inhabiting the Kathmandu Valley. They remain localized in the Kathmandu Valley, Kirtipur, Bhaktapur and Patan. Their religious faith includes both Hinduism and Buddhism.
The word 'Tamang' actually means 'horse soldier' and they are believed to come to Nepal as the cavalry troops of Genhis Khan. Tamangs are usually farmers but they are also good potters.
The Rais speak native Tibeto-Burmese language. They are not Buddhists or Hindus but they have a religious faith of their own.
Apart from these, some of the other important tribes in Nepal are;
Getting to Nepal
Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal has the only international airport which is known as the Tribhuvan Airport. You can access this airport from all the major parts of the world. Some of the important airlines that come to this place include Indian Airlines, Thai International, Pakistan Airlines, Sahara Airlines, jet Airways and a host of many other international flights.
If you are coming from India then you can come by road also. In that case, you have to pass through Mahendranagar, Dhangadhi and Nepalgunj in the west. In the east, you have to enter through Sunali, Birganj and Kakarbhitta. You have to change buses at the border no matter from where you are traveling from India. The direct buses to Nepal from India depart from Varanasi, Delhi, Kolkata, Darjeeling and Patna.
Through Tibet, you can enter Nepal via Kodari.
Tourist Destinations in Nepal:
Nepal is a beautiful country situated in the foothills of the Himalayas. There are plenty of tourist destinations around Kathmandu, the capital city of the country. Given below are the popular places of tourist attraction in Nepal:-
Baglung is situated on the western side of Pokhara. It is located on a terrace and it overlooks the Kali Gandaki River. You can watch the turbulent river which is well known for its sharp bends and turns. Baglung is actually known as merchant's paradise as you can find many traders here. Most of these people come from the Terai plains and the hilly areas. Do not miss to catch a glimpse of the Mount Dhaulagiri which is situated on the north.
Apart from these, you can also take a trip to the Annapurna Himal (located on the northern end) and the Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve. This Reserve is famous for the Blue Sheep. If you are interested in trekking then, you can start your trek from Baglung Bazaar to Dhorpatan. It will approximately take four days. Transportation will not be a problem here because you can avail daily bus service from Pokhara to Kathmandu. Also, you can find decent accommodation in some of the lodges at the Baglung Bazaar area.
Nepal's second largest city is Biratnagar. Over the years, Biratnagar has gradually gained immense importance in terms of business and industry. The roads are clustered on either side with big buildings. Do not miss to visit the 'haat bazaar' that takes place every Wednesday in one of the fields on the eastern side of the city. You can reach the city from Kathmandu via buses or even in a domestic flight. The airport is located at a distance of 4 km to the north of the city. Besides, the city provides you with decent accommodation and you can also find a few luxurious hotels here.
Chitwan is a beautifully designed and a well planned city. It is well known for the Royal Chitwan Park. You will find both cheap and luxurious hotels in the city. The park is undoubtedly one of the best national parks in the country. The park is famous for Royal Bengal Tigers, one horned rhinos, and many other herbivorous animals. A dam has been constructed over the Rapti River here. The dam has a man made lake which is known as 'Lamital'. You can also find a variety of birds in the park which include marsh mugger packers, water birds and a host of many other birds. Elephant grass found in the park is an excellent food for gaur (it is a local bison), rhino and other herbivores.
You can easily reach Chitwan from Kathmandu via the National Highway to Bhadrapur and Sauraha. Staying will not be a problem in Chitwan as you can find a number and resorts at fairly reasonable rates. You can also be a spectator to the Tharu dance which is performed by the local people in Chitwan.
Dhankuta is situated at a distance of 75 km and is well connected to Terai. The town provides excellent views of the surrounding hills. Besides, it was also an important part of the Gorkha regiment during the British rule. The scenic beauty of the place is truly fascinating and it captures some of the finest landscapes in the country. You can find nice accommodation facilities in Dhankuta.
Gorkha is a beautiful hill town stationed at an altitude of 1000 m and it provides excellent views of the snow-fed mountains. In fact, the kingdom of Gorkha was found by the king Drabya Shah in the year 1560 A.D. The dynasty became famous during the reign of Ram Shah during the period 1604 to 1641 A.D. It was finally unified by the king Prithvi Narayan Shah in the 18th century. Some of the popular places of tourist attraction in Gorkha include the following:-
- Gorkha Durbar
Gorkha is well connected with Pokhara and Kathmandu by road. A journey by bus to the city will take you around 6 hours from Kathmandu and 3 hours from Pokhara.
Lumbini is a very important place in Nepal because Shakyamuni Buddha was born here. Ever since his birth which was more than 2,500 years ago, Buddhism has spread in Nepal and the entire Indian sub-continent. There are a few places of tourist interest in Lumbini. These include a garden which has been restored along with some ancient stupas and protected monuments. You can also witness the large stone pillar which was erected by the Indian Emperor Asoka the Great in the year 250 B.C. It bears testimony to the fact that Buddha was born here.
You can also visit the temple of Maya Devi which has an important stone image that depicts the birth of Buddha while his mother Queen Maya Devi holds a branch in her hand. Apart from this, you can find here a garden, an artificial forest and other important structures. Lumbini is considered to be an extremely sacred place by the Buddhists. Do not forget to visit Kapilavastu which is situated close to Lumbini. This place has tremendous historical importance and is a favorite haunt for historians and archeologists. Kapilavastu is the place where Buddha had spent his initial years. You will find here the ruins of the ancient royal palace. Till date, archeologists have been able to discover 13 layers that reveal human habitation which dates back to the 8th century B.C.
Apart from the historical significance that is associated with Lumbini, the place has many other interesting activities in offer for you. To begin with, you can visit the Monday bazaar that takes place every week. This market is a meeting ground for different traders and customers who come from different places in order to buy spices, grains, pottery items, saris, jewellery and other items. The wooden carts driven by ox, tea stalls and the bustling streets give the impression of an oriental bazaar of the Middle Ages.
Lumbini provides travelers with quite a few good hotels, lodges and restaurants. You can stay here at a relatively cheap accommodation. Besides, the city has a good network of roads and has a domestic airport also.
Gosainkunda is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Nepal. The Gosainkunda Lake is situated at an altitude of 4360 m and is well protected by the mountains on its northern and eastern side. Apart from this, there are 9 other lakes including the Saraswati, Bhairav, Sourya and Ganesh Kunda. This place is an important meeting place for numerous Hindu pilgrims who come here every year during the 'Janai Purnima' in the month of August. It is believed that a holy dip in this lake will purge one out of his sins and prepare his soul for 'moksha' or freedom for the earthly bondage. You can also witness a large rock that is situated at the center of the lake. It is unanimously believed that the rock is the remains of the shrine of Lord Shiva.
If you want to come to Gosainkunda, then the best possible route will be from Dhunche. It is located at a distance of 132 km from Kathmandu. Besides, this route also serves as an excellent trekking point. You can stay at any of the tea houses, tourist inns or lodges that are found in plenty here.
Devghat is located at the meeting point of 3 rivers; Kali, Gandaki and Trisuli. It lies to the north of Royal Chitwan National Park. This place has religious importance because during the Makar Sankranti festival in January, numerous Hindu devotees come here in order to take holy dip into the rivers. You can also visit the Balmiki Ashram, Triveni Temple, Someswar Kalika Temple, the fort, Pandavanagar and the Kabilaspur fort. Plenty of buses ply between the two points of Narayanghat and Devghat. It is important to note that there is no facility for staying or lodging at Devghat.
Tansen is another important town in Nepal and is located at an altitude of 4300 m above the sea level and is stationed on the Srinagar Hill. The town is famous for its excellent mountains, scenic landscapes and lovely atmosphere. The people of Tansen were great warriors in the past. Their prolonged period of rule was brought to an end by the Gorkhas who unified the country. If you visit Tansen do not forget to tale a look at the pottery items that include jugs, basins and filters that are made of clay. Tansen is famous for pottery and metal works. The town is beautiful because it is free from the hustle and bustle of the city life. One of the advantages to be here is that the place is pollution free. On a bright sunny day, you can catch glimpses of the peaks of Anapurna, Manaslu, Dhaulagiri and Gauri Shankar.
Transportation to Tansen is not a problem as you can avail regular bus service from Kathmandu, Pokhara and other major places. There are plenty of hotels in Tansen that provide decent accommodation and lodging.
Apart from these, some other places of tourist destination in Nepal include the following:-
Adventure Activities in Nepal
There are a host of activities in Nepal that form an important aspect of adventure in Nepal. Given below is a list of these:-
Mountain Biking in Nepal
One of the most popular modes of transportation in Nepal is mountain biking. One of the advantages of mountain biking is that you can stop anywhere you feel like and explore any place according to your wish. These can include places where buses or cars don't reach. A trip to the Royal Chitwan Park amidst the majestic mountains and lush green landscapes will make you all set for enjoying a fabulous time in Nepal. You can also visit the wonderful stupas, towns, temples and a host of many other places. However, one of the prerequisites for mountain biking is that you have to be physically fir and healthy. This is absolutely essential because the trips and the routes covered by you will be rugged and mountainous and they require considerable amount of effort and energy.
Given below are some of the established mountain biking routes in Nepal:-
- Pokhara city area
- Kathmandu - Pokhara - Tansen - Bhairahawa - Chitwan
- Balazu - Kakani - Balazu
- Maharajgunj to Budhanilkantha
- Kathmandu - Bhaktapur - Patan
Mountaineering in Nepal
Mountaineering in Nepal is one of the most important activities. The country proudly boasts of having 8 out of the 10 highest peaks in the world. Mount Everest, the highest peak is in Nepal. This has given rise to numerous trekking expeditions in Nepal. There are actually 4 mountaineering seasons here. These are spring (the period is between March to May), summer (period between June and August), autumn (between the months of September and November) and winter (from December to January). You have to select the season which you want to go for. Tourists can climb 153 peaks in Nepal. For climbing permission and queries related to mountaineering, you have to contact the Ministry of Tourism & Civil Aviation (MOTCA) in Nepal.
You have to send all the application documents to MOTCA. Once they are accepted, you will be allowed to climb the peaks. It is interesting to note that permits for climbing these 18 peaks are issued by the NMA. The charges for trekking depend upon a number of factors that include the height of the peak and number of people in a group. It varies somewhere between US$ 1,500 to US$ 10,000. Please note that these are approximate charges and may vary from time to time. The actual prices are decided by the MOTCA and all payments should be made to them directly through bank drafts or bank transfer (only for convertible foreign money). For more details, you can consult the MOTCA.
Bunjee Jumping in Nepal
Bunjee Jumping is a popular activity in Nepal. Located at an altitude of 160 m on the Bhote Koshi River, this is Nepal's first bunjee jumping site. Ever since it was built, this has become extremely popular with tourists and visitors. You can try it out. It will be sheer fun and enjoyment.
Rafting in Nepal
If you have a passion for river rafting then Nepal is certainly one of the best destinations for you in Asia. With its semi tropical climate and soothing river waters, Nepal provides perfect material for this sport to the tourists. You can enjoy river rafting or kayaking on the waves and enjoy a fantastic time that is stitched with adventure from all ends. Some of the popular rivers where rafting can be done in Nepal are given below:-
It is interesting to note that Nepal is considered to be one of the best river rafting destinations in the world. You can witness the huge glaciers that descend down to the river from the majestic mountain ranges. It will undoubtedly be a fantastic experience.
Rivers in Nepal are graded on a 6 point scale. A river with point 1 on this scale means that it is as smooth as a swimming pool while, a river ranked point 6 means that it is exceedingly dangerous. For a beginner, a river with point 4 is ideal because it is challenging but not dangerous. A river with point 5 implies that it is meant for specially trained people who have some previous experience in river rafting in the past.
Hot Air Ballooning
This is a very interesting sport in Nepal and has become quite popular ever since it was started in the country. These rises up to the height of 6000 m and offer spectacular views of the Himalayan peaks. This form of flight is perfectly suited for young couples and the journey has a romance and charm of its own. You can perfectly relax as you will not have to hear the sounds of any engine or motor.
If you want to experience ballooning then the best possible time for this event is the period between October and November and March. One of the obvious reasons for ballooning flight is that they are dependent on the direction of the winds. The balloons start their flight from Thimi which is located near Bhakatpur.
The Terai region of Nepal has dense tropical forest and is a home to a wide variety of species from both the animal and the plant kingdom. This forest has some of the rarest species of animals like the one-horned rhinos, Royal Bengal Tigers, Gharials (a type of crocodile), butterflies and various species of birds. The parks and reserves in Nepal provide excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing. The natural beauty of the forests and the occasional glimpses of some of the animals will surely set your spirits free. You will definitely enjoy your forest safari here. Apart from this, jungle safari in Nepal also comprises a host of other activities. These are,
- Bird Watching
- Nature Walks
- Trips to the local Tharu Village
Some of the renowned national parks in Nepal are,
- National Park and Conservation fee
- National Park in Nepal
- Royal Chitwan National Park
- Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
World Heritage Sites in Nepal
Nepal is one of those countries which have still retained its ethnic culture and traditional practices even during the modern age of globalization in the present century. It is to be noted here that some of the people in Nepal still practices Shamanism, Animism and Witch craft and voodoo practices. Nepal is proud to possess some of the world heritage sites. The natural heritage sites include the Everest National Park which has the dimensions of 1148 sq. km and the Royal Chitwan National Park which has the dimensions of 923 sq. km.
The other World Heritage sites in Nepal are given below:-
Tour Operators in Nepal
There are numerous travel agencies that provide customized tours to Nepal. If you are traveling to the country during the off season, then you can also avail for discounts and rebates. However, these depend up on the travel agency that you select. Given below are some of the travel agents in Nepal:-
The travel agency will take you to different locales across the country and give you detailed information about the customs and traditions of the place.
Popular Tours in Nepal
Given below are some of the popular tours in Nepal:-
Hotels in Nepal
There are a host of hotels in Nepal that provide excellent services and facilities to the guests and travelers. These hotels work in a 24x7 environment and strive to fulfill the requirements and necessities of the clients to the best possible extent. Given below is a list of some of the renowned 5 star hotels in Kathmandu:-
Some of the popular 3 star hotels in Nepal are given below:-
2 star hotels in Kathmandu:-
Tourist Class Hotels in Nepal
Deluxe Hotels in Pokhara
Entertainment in Nepal
There are a few nightclubs and casinos in Nepal that provide fun and entertainment to the guests. The casinos in Nepal are favorite spots for gambling. These remain open round the clock and provide excellent entertainment facilities to the guests. Some of the popular games that are played at the casinos include poker, roulette, pontoon, baccarat, blackjack, card games and slot machines. You can buy the games either in US dollars or Indian Rupees. There are four renowned casinos in Nepal. These are,
- Casino Anna
- Casino Everest
- Casino Nepal
- Casino Royale
Apart from the casinos, you can also visit some of the cultural programs in Nepal. These give you fine glimpses of the country's rich and varied taste, culture and traditions. Musical performances and folk dances form a part and parcel of their routined life. Music is the eternal expression of joy and it soothes our soul and pacifies our emotions. The change of seasons is celebrated through different forms of music. You can also witness the village songs and songs that are meant for different festivals. These are equally good and melodious and they have a charm of their own.
Movies in Nepal
There are plenty of cinema halls scattered all through the country. The cinema halls screen Indian Bollywood movies and Hollywood movies along with local Nepali movies. In fact, the Indian movies are extremely popular with the crowd here and they are crazy over Indian film actors and actresses. If you plan to watch a show here then it will suit your budget because tickets are not expensive here. On weekdays, there are three shows and on Saturdays, you can find four shows being screened here.
Handicrafts in Nepal
Nepal is famous for its unique handicrafts that reflect a fine blend of art and culture. To begin with, Woodwork is a form of art that is patented by the Newar artisans who are inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley. This form of art includes statues of gods and goddesses, traditional figures and images, erotic carvings and a host of other carvings that form an excellent piece of art.
It is a treat for the eyes to witness the beautiful images crafted on metallic surface. These forms important showpieces and can be obtained at moderately reasonable prices. The images are first made of clay and then wax is melted and poured into the dried clay impression in order to form a solid shape. After this, molten metal is poured on the surface and this creates a fantastic metal image. One of the popular forms of art is the 'Gurkha Khukuri' is a beautifully decorated knife.
You can also find Tibetan carpets which are exported to Europe and other western countries. The designs on the carpets are made both in modern and traditional styles.
Gems & Jewellery
The Newer craftsmen in Nepal are some of the best goldsmiths in the country. These include exquisite and precious gems like sunset rose, peach, amber, green and golden stones, tourmalines (especially with a shade of yellow and limestone).
Some other important handicrafts articles include the following:-
- Thangkas & Paubhas
- Paper Products
- Handwoven Cloth
- Mithila Paintings
Cuisine of Nepal
Newari Cuisine: It includes the preparation of the meat of water buffalo. Some of the preparations are done by fermenting the meat along with some vegetables.
Khas or Pahari Cuisine: Traditionally, it is known as Dal-Bhat-Tarkari and is very similar to the dish that is often prepared in India. Some other variants of this meal include boiled rice and chapatti (or roti) along with 'ato' (it is a coarse cornmeal mush). The vegetables include potatoes, radish, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, squash and other vegetables. Sometimes, chicken, mutton and fish are also prepared along with these.
Apart from these, some other important cuisines include the following:-
- Himalayan Cuisine
- Terai Cuisine
Obtaining Visa in Nepal
Procuring Visa to Nepal is not at all difficult and it is usually given to every applicant without much trouble if he satisfies all the legal obligations and terms and conditions perfectly. Some of the prerequisites for obtaining Visa in Nepal state that the applicant must have a valid passport, no criminal background, attested documents, clearly stated purpose of visit to Nepal and some other necessary notifications.