Nepal - occupying only 0.1% of the earth - is home to:
Population: 23 Million people live in Nepal.
Climate: Nepal has four major seasons, namely, (1) Winter: December-February, (2) Spring: March-May, (3) Summer : June-August, (4) Autumn : September-November. Nepal can be visited the whole year round.
Main Language(s): Nepali is the national language. However travel-trade people understand and speak English as well.
Few destinations in the world can match Nepal in the variety of adventure tourism: be it mountaineering, trekking, mountain biking, nature tours, culture tours, pilgrim tours, white-water-rafting, kayaking, canoeing, mountain flights, hot air ballooning, pony trekking, jungle safaris, bird watching, fishing, hang-gliding, ultra-light aircraft ride, etc. In addition, we have several special interest tours like orchid tours, culture trek, honey hunting, village tours, fossil hunting, meditation courses and seminars, Shamanism-Panimism tour, cave culture, snow leopard and blue sheep trek and many more that take place throughout the year.
Trekking: Nepal is the ultimate destination for the trekking enthusiast - offering a myriad of possibilities from the short and easy to the demanding challenges of the snowy peaks. Easy, moderate or rigorous - there is something for every palate. Nepal has aptly been called "A Trekkers' Paradise" as her terrain - mountains, hills and the Terai - offers some of the most spectacular trekking routes in the world. The immense contrasts in altitudes and climates found here support an equally spectacular mix of lifestyles, vegetation and wildlife. Trekking in Nepal is as much a cultural experience as a Himalayan adventure. In the shadows and foothills of the icy pinnacles of the Himalaya, one passes picturesque charming villages inhabited by diverse ethnic groups. Treks vary from expeditions, high altitude treks to simple easy paced walks.
Mountaineering: With eight of the highest peaks in the world, it is hardly surprising that Nepal has been the stage for some of the most outstanding achievements in the world of mountaineering. The dauntless icy peaks have since decades challenged the bodies and spirits of those daring enough to want to conquer the hulks. All inquiries and arrangements for expeditions have to be made well in advance at the Ministry of Tourism & Civil Aviation, Mountaineering Section, Bhrikutimandap (Tel. 256234, Fax. 227281) where the guidelines have been laid down.
River Rafting/Kayaking: Few rafting rivers in the world can match the thundering course of the rivers of Nepal originating from the snow meltdown of the Himalayan terrain. The rivers gush through the twisted canyons, winding through calm valleys where small settlements are perched on the banks, taming out only as they spill out into the Indian plains to merge with the Ganges. A river-trip is one of the best ways to explore the typical cross-section of the country's natural as well as the ethno-cultural heritage with massive doses of adrenaline buzz on our world caliber white-water thrills.
Jungle Safari: Chitwan offers exciting safari destination in the world. Jungle activities here include venturing into deep jungle on elephant back or four wheel drive to view wild animals in their natural habitat, canoe rides on the jungle rivers, nature walks, bird watching and village tour excursions
Sight-seeing: For those who can not withstand the rigorousness of mountain climbing there are mountain flights which fly around Mt. Everest and other summits providing a close-up of the top of the world. On a clear day, the hill resorts of Nagarkot (32 km East of Kathmandu), Dhulikhel (32km) and Daman (80 km southwest of Kathmandu) afford magnificent views of Mt. Everest and the entire Himalayan range.
For the less adventurous, Pokhara, the lake city of Nepal provides ample opportunities for fishing, swimming, canoeing and boating along with majestic panoramic views in its background.
A rich cultural heritage: Nepal offers an incomparable scope to connoisseurs of art and culture to see and study the different aspects of the fine arts in its painting, sculpture, woodcarving and architecture. The three main historic cities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur with numerous historical monuments, old palaces and palace squares, shrines and temples, ageless traditions and legends make it a veritable living museum. The Kathmandu Valley boasts seven World Cultural Heritage Sites all within a radius of 20 km
World Heritage Sites (Cultural):
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square
Lumbini (Birthplace of Lord Buddha in southern Nepal)
A rich natural heritage: Thanks to Nepal's extensive and effective Parks and Reserves system, the country has managed to preserve more endangered species of flora and fauna than any other area in Asia. Nepal has nine National Parks and three Wildlife Reserves, which include areas in the highest mountains in the world as well as sub-tropical lowland of the plains.
World Heritage Sites (Natural):
Everest National Park
Royal Chitwan National Park
Other National Parks:
Royal Bardiya National Park
Langtang National Park
Shey - Phoksundo National Park
Rara National Park
Khaptad National Park
Sukla Phanta Reserve
Koshi -Tappu Reserve
Here is a surprisingly wide variety of restaurants in Kathmandu, serving everything from bratwurst to pizza to sushi. Most are found in the Thamel district, while a few more upscale eateries are located in the shopping plaza known as Baba Mahal (which few people can afford to visit and which is therefore rarely crowded). Pie shops abound - most were started by cooks who formerly served in British colonial households. They used to be concentrated on a rather dirty lane called Pie Alley, but they're now found almost anywhere.
For a true Nepali meal, order dal bhat - spiced lentils and rice - often served with curried potatoes. The Tibetan momo dumpling is available in areas where many refugees have settled, notably in Bodhnath. "Buff" on a menu indicates water buffalo meat. Cows are seen as sacred to Hindus, so don't expect to find a true hamburger anywhere. A handful of restaurants, however, import beef from nearby non-Hindu countries, such as Bangladesh. The cooking of the Newari people (who are found in the Kathmandu Valley) is also popular with visitors. Try the Newari-style duck or wild boar. Outside Kathmandu, Pokhara, jungle lodges and organized treks, there is a very limited choice of food. Try chang at your own risk: The home-brewed alcoholic beverage has been known to upset the stomach of many a trekker.
Be aware that because of sanitation standards, it's very easy to get very sick on very appealing food. We urge you to do your experimenting after your trek, or you may not get to go.
Nepal has two different cuisines – Nepali food and Newari food. One cuisine belongs to the Newars who were the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley. They still live there today. Nepali food belongs to the majority of the country and even though Nepal is quite small in relation to the rest of Asia, there can be some very noticeable differences between both foods.
Nepali food can be quite bland with soup, rice and vegetables featuring in a lot of the main courses. As many Nepalese are vegetarians, meat doesn’t feature frequently. The main dish is called ‘Daal Bhaat Tarkaari’ which consists of lentil soup, rice and curried vegetables.
Newari food on the other hand is a bit more eventful for your taste buds with spices and meat which is taken from buffalos. That means you can have buffalo soup, buffalo steak, buffalo meatballs, buffalo mince - it is very popular. Their main dish is called ‘Momo’ (momocha) which is made of meat-filled steamed dumplings.
Tipping: In Kathmandu and Pokhara restaurants only, tip 10% (if a service charge is not already on the bill). If you go trekking, tip porters and guides (consult with the trek organizer for the proper amount).
Mata Tirtha Snan (Mother's Day)
This is one of the widely celebrated festivals that falls on the first month, Baisakh (April/May), of the Nepali Year.It is also called Mata Tirtha Aunsi as it falls on a new moon night.
This day is celebrated to mark the birthday of the Lord Buddha which dates back in about 543 BC.It falls on Jestha Purnima (Full moon night-May/June).
Ghanta Karna Chaturdasi
This festival celebrates the exorcism of the mythical demon Ghantakarna.It is also called Gathemangal festival which falls on trayodashi of the month Shrawan (July/August).
Janai Purnima,Rakshya Bandhan,Khumbeshwor Mela Patan
Janai Purnima is the festival of Sacred Thread.On this day every Hindu ties a sacred thread on the wrist.It is also called Rakshya Bandhan.On this day, there is a big Mela (fair) at Khumbeshwor, Lalitpur.It is again on a full moon night.
The festival of "Gai Jatra" (the procession of cows) which is one of the most popular festivals, is generally celebrated in the Nepalese month of Bhadra (August-September).This festival has its roots in the belief that the god of death, Yamaraj, must be feared and hence worshipped.
Shree Krishna Janmastami
Sri Krishna Janmastami marks the celebration of the birth of Lord Sri Krishna. This festival is also known as Krishna Jayanti or Janmashtami. Lord Krishna is regarded as the 8th avatar or 'incarnation' of Lord Vishnu.It falls on Saptami of Bhadra (August/September).
Teej Ko Darkhane Din
"Teej" is the fasting festival for women. Through this religious fasting, hindu women pray for marital bliss, wellbeing of their spouse and children and purification of their own body and soul. It takes place on Tritiya of Bhadra (August/September).
During the month of Kartik in the Bikram Sambat calendar (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.
Tihar, the festival of lights is one of the most dazzling of all Hindu festivals. In this festival we worship Goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth. It heralds the month of Kartik (October/November) starting with Kukur Puja-Narak Chaturdashi.
This festival falls in mid Magh (January/February).It is celebrated as the birthday of Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. She is the lily-white daughter of Shiva and Durga in spotless white robe and seated in a full-blown lotus.
This day is also dedicated to the martyrs of Nepal and hence celebrated as Martyr's Day.
Maha Shiva Ratri
This day is the celebration dedicated to the Lord Shiva which falls on the Trayodashi of the month
Fagun Purnima (Holi)
The ancient Hindu festival of Holi falls on late February or on early March. Allegedly named after the mythical demoness Holika, it is a day when the feast of colours is celebrated. The festival is of a week. However, it's only the last day that is observed by all with colours.
Ghode Jatra, the Horse Racing Day falls on Darhsa Shrad Aunsi of the month Chaitra (March/April). A grand horse parade takes place at Tundikhel, the central point of the city reputed to have been in the former days the largest parade ground in Asia.
Shree Ram Nawami
Ram Nawami is celebrated in the mid of Chaitra (March/April) as Lord Ram's Birthday. It is celebrated with much pomp at Janaki temple in Janakpur city, which lies in southern Nepal.
The Bagh Jatra of Pokhara is another cultural baggage brought by Newars from Kathmandu, celebrated in early august. The festival has been celebrated in Pokhara for about 150 years. It expresses the people's joy at their deliverance from a marauding tiger. On the first day, people dress up like hunters and make an appearance accompanied by musical bands. The next day is an interlude devoted to the showing of comic programs. For three days,the hunting party parades through different parts of the town before "slaying" the beast to end the festivities.
Bhairav Kumari Jatra
This is one of the major religious celebrations in Dolkha, an historic town in north-eastern Nepal (133 km from Kathmandu off the highway to Tibet). The festival falls on early August; and consists of masked dances that go on non-stop for five days. Escorted by musical bands, dancers representing the deities Bhairav and Kumari and other gods and goddesses swirl and sway through Dolkha, visiting its many temples. On the occasion, devotees also undergo fasting and worship Bhairav and Kumari. The ceremony has a history going back more than five centuries.
Chaite Dasain used to be the original day of the grand Dasain festival (which takes place exactly six months later now), but because people got their stomachs upset after feasting on spicy food during the warm month of Chaitra, the grand celebration was shifted to the cooler season. But the religious fervor is still evident in the celebrations of the day.
Gaura Parva is another celebration honoring Lord Krishna's birthday. It is celebrated in far western Nepal with much gusto for two days (August/September). Apart from the many ceremonies that happen during this festival, it is the occasion for married women to put on the sacred thread. The deuda dance is a major part of the festivities in which participants hold hands and form a circle as they step to traditional music.
Gunla is a sacred month dedicated to Lord Buddha. This festival commemorates the auspicious "rains retreat" when the Buddha, over 2,500 years ago, led his close disciples into solitary meditation and preached to them the essence of his principles.
Teachers come second (after the gods) in the Hindu hierarchy of respect. The full moon day of the month June/July is set aside for students to pay homage to their teachers and receive blessings from them in return. At a place called Vyas on the Kathmandu-Pokhara highway, special worship is performed to Maharishi Vyas, the saint who wrote the great Hindu epic, Mahabharat. For Buddhists, the occasion (Dilla Punhi) is sacred as the day when the Buddha-to-be entered the womb of Queen Mayadevi. Religious functions are held at monasteries and temples to commemorate the event.
Lhosar is the Tibetan New Year which falls on February/March. This festival is mast impressively observed by all the Tibetan-speaking populations. They organize folk songs and dances on this occasion. These dances can be seen in Khumbu, Helambu and other northern regions of Nepal and also at Boudhanath in Kathmandu.
Rato Macchendranath Jatra
(Begins on the full moon day of Baisakh)This is the longest as well as the most important festival of Patan. It begins with several days of ceremonies and the fabrication of a wooden-wheeled chariot at Pulchowk, near the Ashoka Stupa.
(Full moon of the 9th Tibetan month) Mani Rimdu is the biggest event of the year for the Sherpas of the Khumbu region. Sherpas from the Khumbu region congregate at Thyangboche Gompa, the picturesque monastery situated on a spur at 3,870 meters from where both Mt. Everest and Ama Dablam can be seen.
Celebrated in mid-August Mata-yaa is one of Patan's popular festivals. It consists of a day-long procession of devotees going around the Buddhist courtyards of the town and offering worship at the shrines there. Carrying lighted tapers and joss sticks in their hands, Mata-yaa participants rush in a meandering file and visit the hundreds of Buddhist sites scattered all over Patan. They toss rice grains, flowers and coins at the shrines as they pass by. Some devotees wear elaborate and amusing costumes. Musicians also take part in the parade.
Neel Barahi Pyakhan
Neel Barahi Pyakhan is a sacred masked dance which is shown over four days(August/September)in different parts of Bode. Nineteen persons representing the town's guardian pantheon take part in the dance performance. Music is provided by a 27-piece traditional orchestra. The ceremony invokes peace and harmony, and is dedicated to the deity Neel Barahi whose temple is located in a jungle outside Bode. Bode adjoins Thimi which is 8 km east of Kathmandu.
Biratnagar in south-eastern Nepal brings out a spectacular chariot procession to mark Lord Krishna's birthday (August/September). The parade sets out from the Radha Krishna temple and goes around the town. The six-meter tall chariot carries the images of Krishna and his consort Radha and is drawn by hordes of devotees. The annual chariot festival was started in 1932 to commemorate the building of a temple dedicated to Krishna.
Sita Vivaha Panchami
This festival, commemorating the marriage of Sita to Ram, is particularly celebrated in Janakpur. Each year in Janakpur, idols of Ram and sita are brought out in bright processions and their Hindu wedding ceremony is enacted.
Tamu Dhee (also known as Trahonte) is a Gurung holiday (august). Ceremonies are performed to purge the neighborhood of evil spirits and to safeguard one's farm and farm animals from hostile elements. The festival can be observed in Pokhara. Groups of people beating on different kinds of drums form a colorful procession and make house-to-house visits. Participants with their faces smeared with soot and wearing feather headdresses parade through the town to drive away negative influences and ensure peace and security.
The hilltop town of Tansen in central Nepal exults in a week-long festive spree beginning with Janai Purnima, when Hindus change their sacred threads. The next day, Gai Jatra is marked by parading figures of cows made of bamboo and cloth. Ropai Jatra is the rice planting ceremony and participants perform plowing and planting acts on the streets. During Bagh Jatra, actors dressed up like tigers and hunters march through town. Then there are the parades. Images of Ganesh, Bhimsen and Narayan are placed on palanquins and carried around Tansen. The celebrations climax on August 12 with Bhagawati Jatra, the procession of the town's protective goddess.
The Taya Macha dance is shown in different parts of Pokhara as part of the Gai Jatra observances. The five dancers, four dressed up as angels and one as a clown, are accompanied by a group of traditional musicians. It is believed that the performance will bring peace to the souls of those who have passed away during the previous year. The festival has its roots in the Kathmandu Valley. It was brought to Pokhara by Newars who migrated here centuries ago.
Yomari Punhi is one of the popular Newar festivals observed every year during the full moon of December. A yomari is a confection of rice-flour (from the new harvest)dough shaped like fig and filled with brown cane sugar and sesame seeds, which is then steamed.
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