Nepal is a country of contrasts, astonishing nature, rich culture and countless tourists’ attractions. Ranging from Himalayan peaks to lowlands, from bustling Kathmandu to Chitwan jungle, Bhaktapur, Pokhara, Annapurna, Nagarkot , the country is a colourful mixture of old cultures, traditions, religions and way of living with modern (not necessarily better) trends….
Nepal – Uniqueness of the country
Nepal is landlocked between Himalayas and vast planes of Indian Peninsula. This geographical location along the world’s tallest mountain range on the north, valleys carved by glaciers in the center belt and lowlands formed by three major rivers Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra on the south determines the landscape.
The north encompasses eight of world’s ten tallest mountains (shared with China) including the Mother of All Mountains since the beginning of time called Chomolungma (in Sherpa’s language) or Sagarmatha (in Nepalese).
Then in 1865, upon the recommendation of the Royal Geographical Society – Great Britain and soon after “The West” adopted the name Mt. Everest.
For the record – keeping the company are (westward) Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Manaslu, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri.
The territory of northern Nepal contains more than 2400 peaks exceeding 20,000ft/6,100m. For tourists it is one of the most appreciated trekking areas with famous Annapurna Base Camp circle (North-eastern Nepal) and Mt Everest Base Camp circuit (Central-north).
The last one is often called Southern Everest Base Camp to not be confused with the (Northern) Everest Case Camp on the Tibetan side.
Image from NASA Landsat 7 (country name and border added for convenience)
Source: Wikimedia Commons
The central part of the country represents Himalayan foothills. It’s the mountainous belt of hills and valleys rising up to 4000 m/13,000ft above the sea level, fast running rivers cutting through deep gorges and life encroaching to every inch of available soil. Terraced rice fields, small settlements attached to the hills, villages spread along the roads make the typical scenery.
Conceptual division based on topography. From north to south:
Yellow: Midlands (Region of hills between 2,300ft/700m and 13,000ft/4,000 meters altitude). It includes the Kathmandu Valley.
Magenta: Western Terai (mostly jungles, grasslands; includes Chitwan and Bardiya National Parks
Green: Eastern Terai (densely populated area with Biratnagar (2nd largest city in Nepal,
The belt of Terai along the border with India consists of hills, low-lying valleys, and lowlands composed of sediment from the erosion of the Himalayas.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
The southern part of the country lies at the altitude of mere few hundred meters (2,300ft -to- 1,300ft). It is densely populated area with very fertile soils thanks to massive alluvial deposits by waters washing southern slopes of Himalayan range. Here the climate is subtropical, humid, hot and really wet during monsoon time (typically June- August).
This dramatic shape of terrain dropping in a short horizontal distance of about 60 miles /100 km from the peaks reaching 29,029 ft/8848m (Mt. Everest) to the plains at an altitude of mere 1300ft/400m is one of the most important elements shaping the country and spirit of its population.
Nepal climate closely follows the shape of the landscape with five distinctive zones – Arctic, Subarctic, Cold, Temperate and Tropical. Similarly Nepal experiences five seasons – well known winter, spring, summer separated by monsoon from the subsequent autumn.
View on the city and Kathmandu Valley from the Swayambhunath Temple (it is also called Monkey Temple due to hoards of rhesus macaques claiming the hill as their "home"
Nepal - Few words about the people
No wonder that these unique geological and climatic conditions left strong traces on souls of Nepalese inhabitants. Despite these very harsh living conditions imposed by Mother Nature, typical Nepalese are very social, friendly and full of joy and optimism.
Precious "Family Time" :-)
Scenes from the streets of Kathmandu ...... Despite the fact that Kathmandu is the bustling city with hectic life there are also enclaves of "laziness" or let's call it "siestas"
These elements of human behavior (on top of attraction to mysticism of Buddhism mixed with Hinduism “a la Nepalese”) were probably one of the main reasons that Kathmandu for long has been enjoying the crown of the World’s Center of Hippie movement.
And although these times are now gone, the Freak Street in downtown Katmandu still keeps its name! It is reminiscent of an époque marked by symbols of love and peace (flowers) and journeys from the life heavily tainted by brutality of wars to that of illusions (drugs)…. Although the values represented by flowers seem to gain roots (the mission of this website is to spread this message), till these days not much changed regarding wars and illusions…
Kathmandu - with its world class monuments
Hindu "burial" site along the river
Kathmandu - and its busy streets (taxi)
Overwhelming majority of the population are followers of Hinduism. As the matter of fact Nepal is a kind of Mecca in the world of Hinduism. Being home to holiest Shiva temples it is the destination for pilgrims from all over the world.
But Nepal is also is the Motherland of Buddhism. Buddhism was founded on teachings of the spiritual leader - Siddhattha Gotama (born in holly site Lumbini in central Nepal next to the border with India). At first it may be surprising that in the country of his birthplace Buddhism does not have as many believers as Hinduism. But the truth is that in Nepal the differences between these two great religions are very minimal. It is the effect of centuries of mutual interference and partial assimilation of these two beliefs. And it’s an example of religious co-existence, mutual respect and tolerance others may only envy.
As the matter of fact Buddhism gained much stronger influence across populations living north-east of the Himalayan Range (Tibet and mainland China, Mongolia, Japan…) where Buddha is known as Shakyamuni.
Nepal Tourists' Destinations
Annapurna Range is one of the most popular trekking destinations in Nepal
The beautifully sounding sacred name “Annapurna” can be translated from Sanskrit as “The Goddess of the Harvests” or “Provider” reflecting the old Hindu beliefs. Literally the word “Anna” means “food” in Sanskrit and “Purna” stands for “full” or “completely filled”.
But this magnificent mountain seems to have little to do with food and prosperity; it reflects rather old Hindu’s devotion to the goddess Annapurna. She was invited to the world by Shiva to ensure that no one goes hungry......
To read more and appreciate breathtaking vistas captured on pictures, please click on the photo or follow the link: Annapurna Range
Pokhara with its numerous trekking circuits, Phewa Lake, World Peace Pagoda, Devi's Fall.... is one of top tourist destinations in Nepal.
.....In the south, the city of Pokhara touches the calm waters of the Phewa Tal (Lake), the second largest lake in Nepal. Seen from the top of Sarangkot (a 1600m summit on the north side) the lake greatly adds to the harmony of the Pokhara Valley’s landscape encompassing all major relaxing elements. Peaceful Phewa Lake waters dotted with small islands, enormous “rocks” of the Annapurna massif closing the valley with the imposing Fishtail peak in the first plan and the abundant lush vegetation generously fed by rains. What else you may need? .... to read more about Pokhara and its attractions and see it on pictures please click on the photo or follow the link: Pokhara and surroundings...
Top of the hill is home to one of several World Peace Pagodas – a huge brilliant-white Buddhist stupa erected by Japanese monks from Nipponzan Myōhōji organization.
You may also want to visit the nearby: World Peace Pagoda
Wild rhino grazing on grasslands in Chitwan National Park
Elephant-ride Safari is another apparently safe way to “touch” and gasp the wilderness of the Chitwan National Park. Thankfully these giants gained lasting respect even from tigers (unlikely to meet during the tour) and rhinos (almost certain to see few on the way).
to live the experience of this safari please click on the photo or follow the link: Chitwan Wild Safari
Tharu Village - Typical house
The only inconvenience is a “bumpy” road ahead, but hey, you consciously left the highway to be in the jungle.
And actually the bumpy road throughout the jungle may be still a smooth trip compared to driving on Nepalese roads.....
You may also visit the nearby Tharu village by selecting the link: Chitwan Tharu Village
Nagarkot - fabulous view on the valley and sky covered by clouds with Himalayas on the background...
.... there is nothing more memorable than sitting on the terrace in an open air restaurant, sipping a strong-tasting espresso stimulating your sense of smell or having a glass of wine…... provided that… Yeah! at the same time in front of you like in an old kaleidoscope, through the “windows” of the low moving clouds and misty air opens the heavenly mountainous landscape..... to continue please click on the photo or follow the link: Breathtaking vistas in Nagarkot
Being already in a kind of "spiritual" state of mind thanks to fairy-tale like scenes, you may also like to admire the sky in the area of Nagarkot:
Sky in Nagarkot
Most of Nepalese cultural sites, monuments, shrines (both Buddhist and Hindu) are concentrated in the Kathmandu Valley.
Out of four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nepal, two represent the cultural sites. These are – Lumbini (birthplace of Buddha) and the complex of monuments within 12 miles/20km circle around the Nepalese capital.
The latter includes three palaces – Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur Durbar Squares; two Hindu Temples – Pashupatinath and Changu Narayan; two Buddhist stupas – Swayambhunath and Boudhanath.
The World Natural Heritage Sites are Chitwan and Sagarmatha (Everest) National Parks.
Durbar-Square area (Kathmandu) – a large complex of royal palaces, temples, shrines and courtyards is one of the most renowned and visited sites in Nepal.
The city of Bhaktapur (in Nepalese “City of Devotees”) located at about 7 miles/12km east of Kathmandu is another magnet for tourists. It is renowned for its art, culture, festivities and architectural marvels (shrines, temples, palaces). As it was written by Alexander Powell in his 1929 novel “The Last Home of Mystery”:
….”were there nothing else in Nepal, it would be amply worth making a journey halfway round the globe to see Bhaktapur …”
Well, this page does not aim at providing all you may want to know about Nepal. It offers Nepal's maps and basic information about this unique country. It should also serve as the "gateway" for virtual trips to the tourist destinations in Nepal, Chitwan National Park, Pokhara, Annapurna, Nagarkot, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and more (last two is work in progress).
Lhasa-Kathmandu by Friendship Highway (5 pages)
Kathmandu Garden of Dreams (2 pages)
Nagarkot (3 pages)
Annapurna (2 pages)