Nepal

Know about Nepal

Nepal - Land of the Himalayas

Nepal – Land of the Himalayas

 Introduction of Nepal

The Democratic Republic of Nepal is a landlocked country located in Southern Asia, bordered by Tibet in the north and India in the south. The landscape is made up of the Terai or flat river plain of the Ganges in south, the central hill region and the rugged Himalayas in north. Nepal’s population is estimated to be 27,676,547 (July 2005). The Nepalese people mainly follow the Hindu religion (80.6%) followed by Buddhism (10.7%) and then Muslim (4.2%) the remaining population follows minority religions.  Nepal is best known for the world’s greatest mountain range – the Himalaya, which consumes most of the land that falls within its border. Nepal boasts eight of world’s 10 highest peaks, including Mount Everest – the world’s tallest peak.

History of Nepal

History-of-Nepal

History-of-Nepal

For centuries the Kingdom of Nepal remained divided into many principalities. Kirats ruled in the east, the Newars in the Kathmandu Valley, while Gurungs and Magars occupied the mid-west. The Kirats ruled fom 300 BC and during their reign, emperor Ashoka arrived from India to build a pillar at Lumbini in memory of Lord Buddha. The Kirats were followed by the Lichchhavis whose descendants today are believed to be the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley. During this period, art thrived in Nepal and many of the beautiful woodcarvings and sculptures that are found in the country belong to this era. With the end of the Lichchhavi dynasty, Malla kings came to power in 1200 AD and they also contributed tremendously to Nepal’s art and culture. However, after almost 600 years of rule, the kings were not united among themselves and during the late 18th century, Prithvi Narayan Shah, King of Gorkha, conquered Kathmandu and united Nepal into one kingdom. Recognizing the threat of the British Raj in India, he dismissed European missionaries from the country and for more than a century, Nepal remained in isolation. During the mid-19th century Jung Bahadur Rana became Nepal’s first prime minister to wield absolute power. He set up an oligarchy and the Shah kings remained figureheads. The Ranas were overthrown in a democracy movement of the early 1950s.

Geography of Nepal

Nepal is a multi-geographic country. It is located in the southern Asia, between the two large countries, China and India. Hence called ‘Nepal is a yam caught between two rocks’. The total area of Nepal is 1, 47,181sq.km, where 92.94% is covered by land and the rest 7.06% is covered by water. It has 2, 926km total land border, where China touches1,236 km and India touches 1,690km. The climate varies from cool summers and severe winters in the north, to subtropical summers and mild winters in the south.

The highest point in the country is Mt. Everest (8,848 m) while the lowest point is in the Terai plains of Kechana Kalan in Jhapa (60 m).

The Terai region, with width of ranging 26 to 32 km and altitude ranging from 60 -305 m, occupies about 17 percent of total land area of the country. Kechana Kalan, the lowest point of the country with an altitude of 60 m, lies in Jhapa district of the eastern Terai.The southern lowland Terai continues to the Bhabar belt covered with the Char Kose Jhadi forests known for rich wildlife. Further north, the Siwalik zone (700 – 1,500 m) and the Mahabharat range (1,500 – 2,700 m) give way to the Duns (valleys), such as Trijuga, Sindhuli, Chitwan, Dang and Surkhet. The Midlands (600 – 3,500 m), north of the Mahabharat range is where the two beautiful valleys of Kathmandu and Pokhara lie covered in terraced rice fields, and surrounded by forested watersheds.

The Himalayas (above 3,000 m) comprises mountains, alpine pastures and temperate forests limited by the tree-line (4,000 m) and snow line (5,500 m). Eight of the 14 eight-thousanders of the world lie in Nepal: Sagarmatha or Mount Everest (8,848 m), Kanchenjunga (8,586 m), Lhotse (8,516 m), Makalu (8,463 m), Cho Oyu (8,201m), Dhaulagiri (8,167 m), Manaslu (8,163 m) and Annapurna (8,091 m). The inner Himalayan valley (above 3,600 m) such as Mustang and Dolpa are cold deserts sharing topographical characteristics with the Tibetan plateau.Nepal holds the so called “waters towers of South Asia” with its 6,000 rivers which are snow-fed or dependent on rain. The perennial rivers include Mahakali, Karnali, Narayani and Koshi rivers originating in the Himalayas. Medium-sized rivers like Babai, West Rapti, Bagmati, Kamla, Kankai and Mechi originate in the Midlands and Mahabharat range. A large number of seasonal streams, mostly originating in Siwaliks, flow across the Terai.

Of 163 wetlands documented, the nine globally recognized Ramsar sites are: Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Beeshazarital (Chitwan), Jagdishpur Reservoir (Kapilvastu) Ghodaghodi Tal (Kailali) in the Terai, and Gokyo (Solukhumbu), Phoksundo (Dolpa), Rara (Mugu) and Mai Pokhari (Ilam) in the mountain region.There are more than 30 natural caves in the country out of which only a few are accessible by road. Maratika Cave (also known as Haleshi) is a pilgrimage site associated with Buddhism and Hinduism. Siddha Cave is near Bimalnagar along the Kathmandu-Pokhara highway. Pokhara is also known for caves namely Bats’ shed, Batulechar, Gupteswar, Patale Chhango. The numerous caves around Lo Manthang in Mustang include Luri and Tashi Kabum which house ancient murals and chhortens dating back to the 13th century.

Religions of Nepal  

Nepal is a multi religious country. Different religious aspects exist here and a strong tolerance between all of them. For instance, Hindu people are often seen praying at the Buddhist shrines as well as Buddhists at the Hindu temples. At one time, Nepal was worldwide known as the Hindu kingdom. Hindu religion is based around a trinity of three deities- Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver) and Shiva (the Destroyer).  Although Hindus in Nepal may pay an equal respect to all of these three gods as part of their religion, some may profess to follow either Vishnu or Shiva.

Nepal was a Hindu Kingdom until 2008 reflecting the predominant influence of Hinduism in Nepal. However, the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautam, was also born in Kapilvastu of Nepal – thus molding the culture of Nepal in its own unique Hindu-Buddhist blend. Muslims constitute the second largest population by faith. Then come the Christians and others like Sikhs, Roman Catholics, & the followers of new religions like Baha’i, etc. Thus, Nepal is a diverse country from religion’s point of view as well.

The regions and monuments like the Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, the Pashupatinath, & the Buddhist monasteries Swoyambhu & Bouddhanath of Kathmandu have also been declared world heritage sites by the UNESCO.

Religion Quick Facts:

  • Hindu 6%
  • Buddhist 7%
  • Muslim 2%
  • Kirat 4%
  • Christian 4%
  • Jains, Sikhs, Bahais 1%
  • Not related to religion 6%

Culture and Custom of Nepal

Nepalese are highly cultural people – with systematic & organized calendar for the rituals, ceremonies, festivals. Especially the Kathmandu Valley is famous for its own unique way of celebrating different Jatras or Festivals since the earliest history.  The distinct festivals of Nepal give a new dimension to Hindu & Buddhist religions.

Nepalese are still deeply religious people – often to the extent of superstitions. A prominent Nepali anthropologist even blames the religious attitude of accepting all difficulties as divine will as the real cause behind Nepal’s underdevelopment. Whatever, Nepalese would like to see their culture respected by the foreigners who visit Nepal.

Marriage between two people is also a ritual affair. Most of the marriages are arranged & conducted during November & December, the harvest time in Nepal. It takes chanting of sacred mantras for whole the day to ritualize the marriage. Still, many foreigners find it romantic to wed in the Nepalese style.

Greetings: People fold both palms in front of their face, and say “Namaskar” or “Namaste” to formally greet others. The juniors by relation, age, or status are supposed to do a “Namaste” first to their seniors, & the seniors respond in the same manner. You also do the “Namaste” while saying bidding goodbye. However, these days the western or international custom of handshaking is getting increasingly popular especially among the younger generation.

Being vegetarian is not a problem as they are also well catered. In the big towns and cities, you can get virtually any kind of food you like in one of many restaurants, though western food is more expensive than local food.

The diversity in everything makes Nepalis are generally tolerant of others’ ways. However, sex is still a taboo subject in all cultures in Nepal. Baring one’s body in the public especially by the women is considered indecent behavior. Similarly, one’s expected to put off the shoes before entering the room. Public display of affection like kissing & hugging is also avoided.

People of Nepal

The population of Nepal was recorded to be about 26.62 million according to a recent survey done by the Central Bureau of Statistics, Nepal.  The population comprises of about a 101 ethnic groups speaking over 92 languages. The distinction in caste and ethnicity is understood more easily with a view of customary layout of the population. Though, there exist numerous dialects, the language of unification is the national language, Nepali. Nepali is the official language of the state, spoken and understood by majority of the population. Multiple ethnic groups have their own mother tongues. English is spoken by many in Government and business offices. It is the mode of education in most private schools of Kathmandu and some other cities.

Northern Himalayan People:

In the northern region of the Himalayas are the Tibetan-speaking groups namely Sherpas, Dolpa-pas, Lopas, Baragaonlis, Manangis. The Sherpas are mainly found in the east, Solu and Khumbu region; the Baragaonlis and Lopas live in the semi-deserted areas of Upper and Lower Mustang in the Tibetan rain-shadow area; the Manangis live in Manang district area; while the Dolpa-pas live in Dolpa district of west Nepal.

Middle Hills and Valley People:

Several ethnic groups live in the middle hills and valleys. Among them are the Magars, Gurungs, Tamangs, Sunuwars, Newars, Thakalis, Chepangs, Brahmins, Chhetris and Thakuris. There are also occupational castes namely: Damai (tailor), Sarki (cobbler), Kami (blacksmith) and Sunar (goldsmiths).

Ethnic Diversity in the Kathmandu Valley:

Kathmandu Valley represents a cultural cauldron of the country, where, people from varied backgrounds have come together to present a melting pot. The natives of the Kathmandu Valley are the Newars. Newari culture is an integration of both Hinduism and Buddhism. The Newars of Kathmandu Valley were traders or farmers by occupation in the old days.

Terai People:

The main ethnic groups in Terai are Tharus, Darai, Kumhal, Majhi and other groups. They speak north Indian dialects like Maithili, Bhojpuri. Owing to the fertile plains of Terai, most inhabitants live on agriculture. There are, however, some occupational castes like Majhi (fisherman), Kumhal (potter) and Danuwar (cart driver).

Flora & Fauna of Nepal

Nepal is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of bio-diversity due to its unique geographical position and altitudinal variation. The elevation of the country ranges from 60m above sea level to the highest point on earth, Mt. Everest at 8,848 m, all within a distance of 150 km resulting into climatic conditions from Sub-tropical to Artic. Nepal, occupying only 0.1% of the earth is home to 2% of all the flowering plants in the world, 8% of the world’s population of birds (more than 848 species), 4% of mammals on earth, 11 of the world’s 15 families of butterflies (more than 500 species), 600 indigenous plant families, 319 species of exotic orchids.

Nepal’s flora and fauna can be divided into four regions:

Tropical Zone (up to 1000m)- This region includes the Terai (lowland) and the large valleys or Duns found between successive hill ranges. The main tree species of this area are Sal, Semal, Asna and many more and Pinus Rosburghi occurring on the higher ridges of the Churia hills, which reaches an altitude of 1800m. Two-meter high elephant grass originally covered much of the Dun valleys but now it has been largely replaced by agricultural settlements. This tropical zone is the richest area of Nepal for wildlife such as gaurs, buffaloes, leopards, four species of deer, tigers and some other animals like rhinoceros, swamp deer and hot deer. Not only these, one can find two species of crocodile and the Gangetic dolphin in the rivers. The major birds are the peacock, jungle fowl and black partridge, while migrated duck and geese swarm in the ponds and lakes in Terai.

Subtropical Zone (1100m-2400m) –This region includes the Mahabharat Lekh, which rises to the height of about 2400m and involves the outer wall of the Himalayan range. Great rivers such as the Karnali, Narayani, and Sapta Koshi flow through this area into the broad plains of the Terai. The trees one can finds in this region are Acer oblongum, various species of oak and rhododendron which cover the higher slopes where deforestation has not yet taken place. Orchids clothe the stems of trees and gigantic climbers smother their heads. The variety and abundance of the flora and fauna increase progressively with decreasing altitude and increasing luxuriance of the vegetation. This zone is generally poor in wildlife. The only mammals, which are at all widely distributed, are wild boar, barking deer, Srow, Ghoral and bears. Different varieties of birds are also found in this zone and different varieties of birds are also found in this zone.

Temperate Zone (2500m- 4000m) – Northward, on the lower slopes and spurs of the great Himalayas, oaks and pines are the dominant species up to an altitude of about 2400m above which are found dense conifer forests including Picea, Tusga, Larix and Abies-spp. The latter is usually confined to higher elevations with Betula typically marking the upper limit of the tree line. At about 3600 to 3900m, rhododendron, bamboo and maples are commonly associated with the coniferous zone. Composition of the forest varies considerably with coniferous predominating in the west and eracaceous in the east. The wildlife of this region includes the Himalayan bear, serow, ghoral, barking deer and wild-boar, with Himalayan thar sometimes being seen on steep rocky faces above 2400m. The red panda is among the more interesting of the mammals found in this zone; it appears to be fairly distributed in suitable areas of the forest above 1800m. The rich and varied avifauna of this region includes several spectacular and beautiful pheasants, including the Danfe pheasant, Nepal’s national bird.

Sub alpine and Alpine Zone (More than 4000m)- Above the tree line, rhododendron, juniper scrub and other woody vegetation may extend to about 4200m.This continues up to the lower limit of perpetual snow and ice at about 5100m. The mammalian faun is sparse and unlikely to include any species other than Himalayan marmots, mouse hare, thar, musk deer, snow leopard and occasionally blue sheep. In former times, the wild Yak and great Tibetan sheep could also be seen in this region and there is possibility that some of them may still be survived in the areas like Dolpa and Humla, and birds like lammergeyer, snowcock, snowpatridge, and bunting, with redstarts and dippers often seen along the streams and rivulets. Yaks are the only livestock, which thrive at high altitude. They serve both back and draught animals.

With these wonderful flora and fauna, Nepal has been known to be the paradise for wildlife, animals and bird lovers and it is the best destination for the naturalists and foresters.

Arts & Architecture of Nepal

Nepalese traditional arts and architectures are totally dominant of Hindu and Buddhist religion philosophy which are reflected by various kind of painting images, statue sculpture of deities, temples, monasteries, old squares and other monuments. In general traditional arts and architectures can be remarked as a fusion of both Hindu and Buddhist religion in Nepal. Especially Kathmandu valley’s squares, monasteries, surrounding areas’ various pilgrimage places, Lumbini, Janakpur and, world heritage spots are main evidences of Nepalese traditional arts and architectures. There are also several authentic and traditionally unique arts and crafts are produced commercially. In Kathmandu valley both neighboring ancient cities Patan and Bhaktapur are well renowned due to its wonderful tradition in subjects of Nepalese traditional arts and architectures ever outstanding. In generally Nepalese traditional arts and architectures can be categories in three different respect architectures – Pagoda pattern, Stupa Pattern and Shikhar pattern as well arts are Buddhist Thanka paintings and Hindu arts of deities.

Pagoda Pattern

The pagoda pattern of monuments and buildings are styled several layers roof with broad space of carved wood struts. The roof of this style of building typically crowned by triangular spires surrounding and lattice windows are used which gives look in outermost real bell shape. The several storied pagoda style historical remaining of Nepal are almost constructed during Malla Dynasty period which is impressively represents Nepalese an authentic fine artistic architectural design of nation. The most popular sites to observe these pagoda patterns are Kathmandu’s Basantapur Durbar Square area, Taleju temple of Basantapur, Kashthamandap and temples of around, Patan Durbar Square area, Kumbheswor temple, and many temple of around, Bhaktapur Durbar Square area, popular Nyatapola temple and Datatraya temple, others Pashupatinath and Changu Narayan temples.

Stupa Pattern

The Stupa Pattern of monuments and buildings are styled mainly hemispherical round shape in bottom and segmented part to part round up to top and decorated with images pattern of different sects of Buddhism atop. The main base of ground is always in mandala shaped of every Buddhist stupas and pair of big eyes in square of main body which can be observed from all side easily. There are also several monasteries where monks and nuns are practically educated about Buddhism and all the monasteries inside are panted very authentic style of arts which based on Buddhism philosophy. Nepal’s most popular sites to see stupas are Bauddhanath, Swoyambhunath and many other stupas or Chhortens of Kathmandu valley.

Shikhara Pattern

The Shikhar Pattern of architectural temple is very common monuments of Hindu shrine. In Nepal this type of patterned construction can be seen at Patan Durbar Square area which is known as famous Krishna temple as well some are at Pashupatinath temple area and some Hindu temples of Kathmandu valley. The Shikhar Pattern of architectural temples are consists of five to nine vertical sections forming a high pyramidal or curvilinear tower like structure and atop decorated by beautiful gajur.

Thangka Painting

Thanka paintings are very authentic traditional Buddhist cultural and religious artistic hand work of Nepal which reflects real Buddhism philosophy by its unique arts. There are many different variety and qualities of thangka paintings available in the Kathmandu Valley’s thank shops as well in Pokhara. Some expensive and master piece images painted with the color mixed of gold and silver as well long time hard work. Travelers can enjoy shopping this beautiful souvenir to find out some antique paintings at major Thanka galleries of Patan, Bhaktapur, Jhonchhe (Freak Street) Thamel and Hanuman Dhoka areas of Kathmandu Durbar Square. More about Nepal

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Museums & Galleries of Nepal

Kathmandu valley is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site and has well planned and well exhibited displays in museums and art galleries spread all over the Metropolitan area and also in its neighboring cities of Patan and Bhaktapur. The museums display unique artifacts and paintings from 5th century AD onwards to date, including archeological exportations of Nepal’s rare historical, cultural and religious monuments.

The Museums and galleries in Nepal are-National Museum, Natural History Museum, Hanumandhoka Palace Complex’s Tribhuvan Museum, Patan & Bhaktapur Durbar Square Museum and Mountaineering International Museum of Pokhara are the main preserved show case of the country. Travelers can observe several unique Nepalese historical, cultural and religious monuments by visiting these sites.

Due to Nepal’s amazing socio-culture diversification it has very unique artifacts tradition which made well renown to world as one of the best human creation for its antique color paintings. Some of the most popular galleries in Nepal are given here to travelers can enjoy by seeing it. National Art Gallery, NAFA Gallery, Srijana Contemporary Art Gallery, J Art Gallery, NEF-ART (Nepal Fine Art) Gallery, Nepal Art Council Gallery are the main among of them.

Festivals of Nepal

Festival-of-Nepal

Festival-of-Nepal

Nepal is not only the land of mountains; it is also the land of festivals. There are more than 50 festivals celebrated in Nepal every year. While the national festivals have fixed dates, religious festivals are set by astrologers following the lunar calendar. The best part about the festivals in Nepal is that all the events are celebrated with the same enthusiasm and galore the way it used to be hundreds of years ago when people had no other means of entertainment.

New Year

It is known as “Navavarsha” in Nepal. Nepal has its official calendar that begins from the first day of the first month Baisakh. This very first day is observed as Nepali New Year which usually falls in the second week of April. People go for picnics, have get-togethers and celebrate the day socializing in various ways as this day is also a national holiday.

Lhosar (Tibetan New Year)

This is the New Year of the Tibetans and Sherpas of Nepal which falls in February. The Buddhist monasteries in Kathmandu like Boudhanath and Swayambhunath are decorated with eye catching colorful prayer flags pulling the crowd. The people perform their traditional dances and welcome their New Year with feasts and family gatherings wearing all the new clothes and finest jewelries and exchanging gifts.

Saraswati Puja

Saraswati Puja or Shree Panchami is a day to celebrate the birthday of Saraswati – the Goddess of Learning. This is a day when people from school students to scholars worship their pens and books to please the Goddess and expect her favor in their studies so they become wise and knowledgeable. People also throng around the idol of Goddess Saraswati, especially in Swayambhunath and offer flowers, sweets, fruits, etc. On this day, small children are taught to read and write and people write on the stones and slabs with chalks and pencils. This day which falls between January/February is regarded as a very auspicious day for marriages too as it is believed that Goddess Saraswati herself blesses the couples. Normally it is the astrologers who fix the marriage date and time in Nepal.

Shivaratri (Maha Shivaratri)

Shivaratri or the night of Lord Shiva that falls sometime between February/March is one of the major festivals of Nepal. This day is dedicated to the Lord of the Lords – Lord Shiva or Mahadev who lived in Mt. Kailash in the Himalayas. Lord Shiva is the most worshipped God in the Hindu religion. More than 100,000 of Hindu devotees from India and Southeast Asia throng weeks ahead of the festival and gather in and around Pashupatinath temple – one of the holiest shrines of the Hindus in Kathmandu to pay their homage to Lord Shiva on his birthday. “Pashupatinath” literally means “the Lord of animals” as Lord Shiva is considered as the guardian and protector of everything that exists in the Himalayan Kingdom. On this holy day, worshippers take dip and bath in the holy river at early dawn and fast for the whole day and stay around fire to keep them warm as it is still winter in Nepal. The devotees also freely indulge in using marijuana and other intoxicating substances as these things are believed to please Lord Shiva and marijuana use is legal only on this sacred day. More …

Holi

This festival of water and colors that falls between February/March is also known as “Phagu” in Nepal. This day is observed to rejoice the extermination of female demon Holika who together with her King brother conspired to kill his son Pralhad, an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. This day, playful people especially the young ones wander through the streets in groups on foot or vehicles with various colors smeared all over them and the people in houses make merry throwing colors and water balloons at each other and also to these people on the streets.

Ghode Jatra (Festival of Horses)

This festival takes place between March/April and a grand horse parade takes place at Tundikhel. Although this festival does not have much of religious aspects, a large number of people, even from outside Kathmandu flock around Kathmandu to witness the horse race and other exciting sports activities performed by the Army in the presence of the King and the Royal family.

Buddha Jayanti: Buddha’s birth anniversary is celebrated every year during May in Nepal. On this day people swarm in Swayambhunath and Boudhanath to pay homage to Lord Buddha and also visit Buddha’s birth place in Lumbini and chant prayers and burn butter lamps. Lord Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha Gautam but he abandoned his luxurious life when he realized the misery of mankind and went in search of enlightenment.

Gai Jatra (Cow Festival)

This festival of cow is celebrated every year in August/September. This is one of the most popular festivals in Nepal as it is full of humor, satire, comedy, mockery and shades of sadness too at the same time. And on this day satires and jokes on anybody is legal. As per the tradition, the family who has lost a relative during the past one year must take part in a procession by sending young boys in cow like attire and walk through the streets of Kathmandu lead by a cow. Cow is regarded as a Goddess and it is also the national animal of Nepal. This festival also purges many who have lost their loved ones as they get to console themselves as to they are not the only ones who have been bereaved and it also teaches to accept death as a part of life.

Krishna Janmastami

The birth anniversary of Lord Sri Krishna, believed to be the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu falls sometime in August/September. All the devotees assemble in Krishna Mandir, the ancient Krishna Temple in Patan Durbar Square and other temples with the idol of Sri Krishna and offer prayers, flowers, food, sweets and chant hymns too.

Teej

This is a Hindu married woman’s day for her man. This festival is celebrated in August/September. Women clad in beautiful red saris with shining potes (glass beads), singing and dancing is the sight almost everywhere in Nepal during the festival of Teej. On this day women observe a fast and pray Lord Shiva for the long, healthy and prosperous life of their husbands and their families. The unmarried women also observe this festival with unabated zeal with the hope that they will get to marry good husbands. From early dawn, women queue up in the multiple lines in Pashupatinath to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva.

Indra Jatra

This festival named after Lord Indra- the God of Rain and also the King of Heaven is celebrated by both the Buddhists and Hindus in Nepal in August/September. This festival lasts for eight days with singing, mask dancing and rejoicing. The chariot of Kumari – the Living Goddess is taken through the main streets of Kathmandu with much fanfare. On the first day, the King of Nepal also pays homage to Goddess Kumari. The crowd of excited people from performers to spectators engulfs the streets of Kathmandu during this festival. People get to enjoy various classical dances like elephant dance, lakhe – a very popular dance of a man with a mask.

Tihar (Festival of lights)

This festival of lights that falls between October/November is the second biggest festival after Dashain. This festival lasts for five days and people worship Laxmi – the Goddess of Wealth. All the houses are cleaned and decorated with the belief that Goddess Laxmi will enter the house that is the cleanest and people lit candles, oil lamps and other lights and the whole place looks illuminating. During the five days, crows, dogs and cows are worshipped and honored with vermilion, garland and delicious food for what they have done in the lives of humans. Crows are regarded as the messenger that brought news even during the times when there were no postmen and no postal services. Dogs are the most obedient animals and they guard our house as true guardians. Cow is also a symbol of wealth in Hinduism and she is also the national animal of Nepal. During Tihar, the Newari community in Nepal also observes Mha puja – a ritual of worshipping one’s own body and life. On this very day, the Newari New Year which is also known as Nepal Sambat begins. The festival ends with Bhai Tika – brothers’ day when his sisters worship him for his long and healthy life to safeguard the lives of his sisters. This is also a gambling time in Nepal as gambling is not illegal during this festival.

Dashain (Bijaya Dashami)

During the month of Kartik (late September and early October), the Nepalese people indulge in the biggest festival of the year, Dashain. Dashain is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese of all caste and creed throughout the country. The fifteen days of celebration occurs during the bright lunar fortnight ending on the day of the full moon. Thorough out the kingdom of Nepal the goddess Durga in all her manifestations are worshiped with innumerable pujas, abundant offerings and thousands of animal sacrifices for the ritual holy bathing, thus drenching the goddess for days in blood. Read more about Dashain festival…

 Nepal Travel Information

Getting Nepal

 International flights to Nepal

Nepal Airlines is the national flag carrier of Nepal with flights to/ from Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Bangkok, Doha and Hong Kong. Other International airlines operating from and to Kathmandu are Air Arabia (Sharjah), Air China (Lhasa, Chengdu), Bahrain Air (Bahrain), Biman Bangladesh (Dhaka), China Eastern Airlines (Kunming), China Southern Airlines (Guangzhou), Dragon Air (Hong Kong), Druk Air (Delhi, Paro), Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi), Flydubai (Dubai), GMG Airlines (Dhaka), Gulf Air (Bahrain), Indian Airlines (Delhi, Kolkata, Varanasi), Indigo Airlines (Delhi), Jet Airways (Delhi, Mumbai), Jet Lite (Delhi), Korean Air (Seoul), Pakistan International Airlines (Karachi, Islamabad), Qatar Airways (Doha), Silk Air (Singapore), Spicejet (Delhi), Thai Airways (Bangkok)and United Airways (Dhaka).

Airport Tax:

Airport tax is already included in the international air tickets, therefore, passengers departing for international destinations from the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu do not need to pay airport tax at the airport during departure. However, for domestic travel within Nepal one has to pay airport tax at the domestic airport before departure

Travelling by Road/Entry Points

All visitors entering Nepal by land must use these designated entry points and may not enter from any other point:

  • Nepal-India border
  • Kakarbhitta
  • Belahiya, Bhairahawa
  • Nepalgunj
  • Dhangadi
  • Mahendra Nagar, Kanchanpur (Recently named as Bhimdutta Nagar)
  • Kodari, Nepal-China border

Overland tourists entering Nepal with their vehicles must possess an international carnet.

 Nepal Visa Information

What are needed to get a visa?

A valid passport and one passport size photo with a light background. Immigration Department has not specified the size of the passport-size photo. Visa can be obtained only through payment of cash in the following currency: Euro, Swiss Franc, Pound Sterling, US dollar, Australian dollar, Canadian dollar, Hong-kong dollar, Singapore dollar and Japanese Yen.

Credit Card, Indian currency or Nepalese currency are not accepted for payment of Visa fee.

  1. Tourist Visa

Visa Facility Duration Fee

Multiple entry 15 days US$ 25 or equivalent convertible currency

Multiple entry 30 days US$ 40 or equivalent convertible currency

Multiple entry 90 days US$ 100 or equivalent convertible currency

  1. Gratis (Free) Visa

For first visit in one visa year (January to December) , gratis visa for 30 days is available only for nationals of South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. However, visa can be extended from the Immigration Department on payment of visa fee as specified above.

Indian nationals do not require visa to enter into Nepal.However, nationals of the following countries will not get visa on arrival at the immigration entry points of Nepal:- Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Cameroon, Somalia, Liberia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan. They need to obtain visa from Nepalese Embassies or Diplomatic Missions in their respective countries prior to their visit to Nepal.

For Visa Extension: Tourists can stay for a maximum of 150 days in a visa year (Jan 1 to Dec 31) .

FOR INDIAN NATIONALS:

As per the Nepalese Immigration, Indian Nationals Traveling to Nepal must possess any One of the following documents-

  • Driving License with photo
  • Photo Identity card issued by a Government Agency
  • Ration Card with Photo
  • Election Commission Card with Photo
  • Identity Card issued by Embassy of India in Kathmandu
  • Identity Card with Photo issued by Sub- Divisional Magistrate or any other officials above his rank
  • However, please check with your nearest travel agents for documents required by the Indian Immigration for Indians traveling to Nepal.

Climate

Nepal’s climate varies with its topography and altitude. It ranges from the tropical to the arctic. The low-land Terai region with its maximum altitude to approximately 305m, which lies in the tropical southern part of the country, for instance, has a hot and humid climate that can rise above 45 Degree Celsius (113 Degree Fahrenheit) during summer. The mid-land regions are pleasant almost all the year round, although winter nights are cool. The northern mountain region, around an altitude above 3,300m has an alpine climate with considerably lower temperature in winter as can be expected.

Seasons

Nepal has four climatic seasons.

Spring (between March –May): The temperature is mildly warm in low lands while moderate in higher altitudes with plenty of opportunities to have tryst with the mountain views. It is also the time for flowers to blossom and the national flower of Nepal – rhododendron sweeps the ascending altitudes with its magnanimous color and beauty.

Summer (between June – August): This is also the monsoon season in Nepal. The weather is hot and wet at times. It rains almost everyday with occasional thunderstorms in the evening. The rain spreads the pleasantness around with lush green vegetation.

Autumn (between September – November)

This is the best tourist season in Nepal with the summer gone by and the winter to set in. The weather is highly pleasant so are the mountain views. This is the peak season for trekking as mountain views are guaranteed so better book your flight in advance. This is also the season of festivities as Nepal celebrates the biggest Hindu festivals Dashain followed by Tihar.

Winter (between December – February)

The weather is cool and the sky is clear with occasional snowfalls at higher elevations. This season is good for trekking in lower elevations. The morning and night is cold and the days are warm when sunny.

Temperature & rainfall

Nepal is the country of extremes. The low-land plains of the Terai can have tropical temperatures and also the mosquitoes. The Himalayas can get to sub-zero temperatures, but the sun blaze can bring some warmth during the day, even in the mountains. The temperature of Kathmandu goes below 1 Degree Celsius (34 Degree Fahrenheit) in winter and rises to an average of 25 Degree Celsius (77 Degree Fahrenheit) in summer.

The average temperature in Kathmandu during the four seasons:

* Spring season ranges between 16-23 Degree Celsius (61-73 Degree Fahrenheit)

* Summer season ranges between 23-25 Degree Celsius (73-77 Degree Fahrenheit)

* Autumn season ranges between 15-24 Degree Celsius (59-75 Degree Fahrenheit)

* Winter season ranges between 9-12 Degree Celsius (48-54 Degree Fahrenheit)

During the rainy monsoon season between June to August, it rains to an average between 200-375 millimeters in Kathmandu. There is occasional rainfall during the other seasons too. In an average, 1300 millimeters of rain falls in Kathmandu every year.

Travel Tips:

Monsoon in Nepal is not the typical monsoon of Asia. Rains usually occur during the night-time leaving the sky clean and clear by the morning making the Himalayan view even more dramatic. Some parts of the Himalayas in Manang, Mustang and Dolpo are in rain-shadow areas; the mountains are high enough to block the clouds. Tibet’s high travel season also corresponds to Nepal’s monsoon.

Transportation of Nepal

Planes

Planes are the best way to reach remote parts of the mountainous country. Royal Nepal Airlines operatess air services in the interior parts of the country. Besides it airlines like Nepal Airways, Everest Air, Necon Air And Asian Helicopters also provide air services, both regular and charter, to various destinations in Nepal. Most widely known tourist flight is Everest Experience which takes one above the marvellous snow capped mountains. One can even have a look on Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, from the sky. Everest Experience is definitely an experience one never forgets

Helicopters

Helicopter charters are becoming increasingly popular in Nepal, especially in tourism sector for sightseeing. Helicopter journey is very useful for tourists who desire to drink the tourism cup in Nepal but don’t have much time to spare. The helicopter journey is very thrilling and rewarding. Experience of looking at snow-capped peaks from sky is unforgettable. Lots of domestic airlines provide helocopter services.

Buses

Buses are the cheapest means of transport in Nepal. They ply for both long and short journeys. While bus journeys one gets chance to freely interact with the locals and taste indigenous dishes on the way. Tourists who have sufficient time must definitely try local buses. Tourist buses are also run by private bus companies and travel agencies.

Cars & Motorbikes

Cars and motorbikes can be rented in Kathmandu, Pokhara and other prominent towns. For driving a bike, you are required to have a driving license and passport from your home country. Riding a bike in old parts of Kathmandu is a relishable driving experience. Cars and vans usually come with drivers, but you can drive them yourself also. Car hire can make your tour very comfortable and faster.

Rickshaws

Rickshaws (two-seater tricycles) are very useful for short trips. They can ply easily even in narrow lanes and crowded markets. One is advised to negotiate the fares beforehand. Many tourists find rickshaw trips very enjoyable.

Three-wheeler Autorickshaws

Autorickshaws are used to travel to various corners of the towns, although finding them after sunset is a bit difficult. Numerous taxi companies operate in Nepal. All these autorickshaws, cabs and tempos carry black plates with white numbers, for it has been mandatory by the authorities.

Accommodation of Nepal

Hyatt-Regency-Kathmandu

Hyatt-Regency-Kathmandu

Nepal has every category of accommodation facilities that range from the international standard star hotels to budget hotels and lodges. In order to have an assured quality service, it is advisable to use the facilities and services of government registered hotels, lodges, travel agencies, licensed tour guides only and engage an authorized trekking guide or porter only through a registered travel and trekking agency.

In the last few decades Kathmandu and Pokhara with the rest of Nepal has seen mushrooming of world class hotels. During spring and fall, the better hotels work at near full capacity and are booked well in advance. There are, however, plenty of less glamorous but decent hotels to suit everyone’s fancies and finances. Most hotels offer choice of: bed and breakfast; bed, breakfast and one other meal; or

room and full board. Rates listed however, are for room only, unless otherwise indicated. Besides officially recognized hotels, there are a number of small lodge accommodation available between US $5 and $10 a night depending on facilities; toilets and showers are generally communal and heating is extra. These small hostelries are located in the old parts of Kathmandu and in the Thamel district.

Even in remote parts of Nepal, the coming of tourists over the years has led to the local population paying attention to tourist facilities, hence making accommodation and meals for tourists more easily available than before.

Communication

Telephone Services:

Landline and mobile phone services are available in Nepal. Network covers Kathmandu, major cities and towns and most of Nepal, except some rural Himalayan places. Nepal Telecommunications Corporation at Tripureshwor, Kathmandu, is the national service provider. There are also private service providers. Hotels and private communication centers also provide long distance telephone and fax facilities.

For calling from outside, country code for Nepal is 977 and the area code for Kathmandu is 1. For other city codes are:

To call Nepal from other countries:

00 + country code (977) + city code + telephone number

Example to call Pokhara: 00-977-61-421123

Example to call from North America : 011-977-61-421123

Internet Services:

Internet is widely accessible in Kathmandu. There are countless Internet cafes and communication centers in the Valley and around the country. Wi-fi services are also provided at various hotels and restaurants. Visitors only have to find a place they are most comfortable in to use the facilities to keep in touch with home. Internet services are also offered by hotels.

Postal Services:

The Central Post Office located near Dharahara Tower, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday. The counters are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and provide stamps, postcards and aerograms. Post Restante is available from Sunday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Express Mail Service (EMS) is available at GPO and at Thamel, Basantapur and airport postal counters.

Foreign Currency and Credit Cards

Payment in hotels, travel agencies, and airlines are made in foreign exchange. Credit cards like American Express, Master and Visa are widely accepted at major hotels, shops, and restaurants. Remember to keep your Foreign Exchange Encashment Receipt while making foreign exchange payments or transferring foreign currency into Nepalese rupees. The receipts may be needed to change left-over Nepalese Rupees into hard currency before leaving the country. However, only 10 percent of the total amount may be converted by the bank. ATM is widely in use in Kathmandu.

Major banks, hotels and exchange counters at Tribhuvan International Airport provide services for exchanging foreign currency.

Exchange rates are published in English dailies such as The Rising Nepal, The Kathmandu Post and The Himalayan Times. Nepalese Rupees are found in denominations of Rupees 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are found in denominations of Rupees 5, 2 and 1. One rupee equals 100 paisa.

Time and Business Hours

Nepal is five hours 45 minutes ahead of GMT.

Business hours within the Valley:

Government offices are open from 10 am to 5 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday and close at 3pm on Friday in the Kathmandu Valley. During the winter, they close at 4 pm. Most Business offices are open from 10 am to 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday. Embassies and international organizations are open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. Most shops open after 10 am and close at about 8 pm and are usually closed on Saturdays.

Business hours outside the Valley:

Government offices outside Kathmandu valley open from 10 am to 5 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday. On Fridays they remain open until 3 pm. Banks are open from Sunday through Thursday from 10 am to 3 pm. On Fridays, banks remain open until 12 pm only. Business offices are open from 10 am to 5 pm Sunday through Friday. Recently many private banks have re-organized to have different branches open at various different times making banking hours longer. If one branch is closed another will be open.

Holidays:

Nepal observes numerous holidays, at the least a couple in a month. So please check the holiday calendar. The longest holiday in Nepal is during the Dashain festival in late September or October. Government offices observe all the national holidays and banks observe most of them. Businesses observe major holidays only.

Responsible Tourism

Please be a responsible tourist. Like someone said, we request you to, “Leave only footprints, and take only photographs.”

1.Use designated routes, campsites and resting places to reduce trampling and other negative environmental impacts.

2.Respect local culture and traditions, use homestays, locally owned hotels/ lodges or campsites as much as possible to support the local livelihood.

3.Avoid/ minimize using firewood. Use common space for heating. Opt for alternatives to minimize deforestation.

4.Maintain cleanliness and hygiene. Use the litter box locally available. Carry back your own garbage while traveling through ecologically sensitive areas.

5.Encourage to place mobile toilets at a considerable distance from sources of water, river banks and springs while camping along the river sides.

6.Use the services of local guides and porters as much as possible to explore more about local environment and culture.

7.Money spent here will contribute directly to the local livelihood, women’s empowerment and environmental conservation.

Before you begin your journey we request you to abide by the above guidelines in order to safeguard the nature and culture of the area and be a responsible tourist.

 Health Guide

Health care services in Kathmandu Valley are sound. All kinds of medicines, including those imported from overseas are available in Kathmandu. Kathmandu Valley also offers the services of major general hospitals and private clinics. Health posts have been set up by the Government in different parts of rural Nepal. For major health crisis or emergency, one may have to be evacuated to Kathmandu.

Useful Tips:

1.A travel insurance policy that covers medical treatment is recommended for all tourists.

2.Similarly, we recommend you to make sure that the insurance covers activities such as trekking, rafting etc. that you will be undertaking during your stay in Nepal

3.Getting special vaccinations are not necessary when visiting Nepal.

4.We still recommend that you consult with your physician regarding special immunizing against any tropical disease.

5.It may be a good idea to get a complete check up before departure.

6.We recommend that you undertake training programs to be physically fit if you plan to go high-altitude trekking or mountaineering when you’re visiting Nepal.

7.Please read up on altitude sickness (AMS), diarrhea, Giardia, Dysentry, Cholera, Hepatitis, Rabies, Typhoid, Tetanus, Meningitis, Diptheria, Malaria and HIV/ AIDS. Information and little precautions can often save lives.

8.Please make sure that food is thoroughly cooked and served hot when eating out.

9.Please make sure that salads and fruits are washed with purified water or peeled when eating out.

10.Beware of food that has been kept out in the open for long.

11.Always make sure that your water is clean by opting for boiled and then cooled water, treated water or sealed water from reputed brand.

12.Always carry a bottle of water when trekking or venturing off away from the city/ town.

13.Do not walk bare feet on damp mud and grass in unknown areas.

14.Please do not swim in lakes and water bodies, especially where depth and vegetation are not known.

15.Always carry and use mosquito repellant when in Terai region or during summers.

16.Please have a handy medical first aid kit ready for any situation.

Medical Kit:

A simple but adequate medical kit can be very useful while traveling. The following items are recommended: Aspirin of Panadol, for pain or fever; Antihistamine, as a decongestant for colds, allergies and to help prevent motion sickness; Antibiotics, useful if traveling off beaten track but they must be prescribed; Kaolin preparation (Pepto-Bismol), Imodium or Lomotil, for upset stomach; Rehydration mixture – for treatment of severe diarrhea; Antiseptic, mercurochrome and antibiotic powder or similar dry spray- for cuts and grazes.

Other things to be included are: Calamine lotion to ease irritation from bites or stings; bandages and band aids for minor injuries; scissors, tweezers, thermometer, insect repellent, sun block lotions, chopsticks, water purification tablets, throat lozenges, moleskin, Sulamyd 10 percent eye drops, paracetamol and antacid tablets.

Permits/ Fees etc.

Heritage Sites/ Museums / Zoo

Entrance fees must be paid before touring heritage sites around Kathmandu Valley like Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Bauddhanath, Swayambhunath and Changu Narayan Temple.Entrance fees must be paid before touring Lumbini Gardens, the sanctuary of the Mayadevi Temple, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, in Lumbini, Rupandehi.Entrance fees must be paid before touring the Central Zoo in Jawalakhel, Lalitpur, and museums in Kathmandu Valley. Entrance fees must also be paid before touring local museums in different parts of Nepal.

Trekkers’ Information Management Systems (TIMS)

Trekkers must acquire Trekkers’ Information Management Systems (TIMS) Card before the onset of their trek. TIMS Card has been mandatory to control illegal trekking operations and ensure the safety and security of the trekkers in the general trekking areas.TIMS Card helps to store the database of trekkers recording their would-be whereabouts for safety of tourists. Fees, passport copy, and passport size photograph are required to obtain TIMS Card from Tourist Service Center, Bhrikutimandap, and Trekking Agencies’ Association Nepal (TAAN) Office in Maligaon and Government registered trekking companies in Kathmandu and Pokhara.Under the new rule, all visitors who go trekking through a trekking company must pay US $ 10 and fee individual trekkers (FIT) US $ 20 per trekking route per person per entry in equivalent Nepali Rupees only. Part of the collection will go into maintaining the trekkers’ database and in the rescue of trekkers in need of emergency services.

Trekking Permit

Special trekking permit must be acquired from the Department of Immigration, Kalikasthan, Kathmandu, for trekking to areas that fall under the Restricted Zone.

Mountaineering

Mountaineering royalties must be paid at the Tourism Industry Division, Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu or at the Nepal Mountaineering Association at Naxal, Kathmandu, before starting on a mountaineering expedition.

Please click here for details: Royalty for Mountaineering Royalty

National Parks/ Wildlife Reserves/ Conservations

Entry fees must be paid to enter the 20 Protected Areas in Nepal that have been divided into National Parks, Wildlife Reserves, Conservation Areas and Hunting Reserve. One must also obtain hunting license to hunt in the Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve. Please note that Dhorpatan is the only protected area where hunting is licensed.

Do’s and Don’ts

With its diverse ethnic groups and traditional beliefs, Nepal has numerous cultural practices that may appear unusual to a person on his/her first visit to the country. However, to enjoy your stay in this remarkable country of white Himalayas and sparkling rivers it is important to take into consideration the different cultural aspects of the country. Here is a list of things, which may be helpful to you.

  • The form of greeting in Nepal is “Namaste” and is performed by joining the palms together.
  • Before entering a Nepalese home, temple, and stupa remember to remove your shoes.
  • Be careful not to use your spoon, fork or a hand being used for your eating to touch other’s food, plate, cooking utensil or the serving dish. Do not eat from other people’s plate and do not drink from other people’s bottle or glass. It is considered impure by the Nepalese.
  • Never touch anything with your feet. This is considered an offence among Nepalese.
  • While travelling dress appropriately. Women should specially avoid dressing in skimpy outfits.
  • Seek permission first before entering a Hindu temple. Many Hindu temples do not allow westerners or non-Hindus to enter.
  • Leather articles are prohibited to be taken inside the temple precinct.
  • Walking around temples or stupas is traditionally done clockwise.
  • Take photographs only after receiving permission for the object or person being photographed.
  • Public displays of affection between man and woman are frowned upon. Do not do something that is totally alien to our environment.
  • Remember, many times, when a person shakes his head from left to right, he may mean “Yes”.
  • Develop a genuine interest to meet and talk to Nepalese people and respect their local customs.

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