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Introduction of Nepal
1. Location, Geography, & Climate
Nepal, home to Mount Everest, is dominated by the world's most imposing mountains. Although the country is relatively small (147,181 square kilometers), 80 percent of its territory is occupied by the dramatic peaks of the Himalayas.
Nepal can be divided into three geographical regions, each stretching from east to west across the country. The southernmost strip of land, the Terai, is bordered to the north by Himalayan foothills and to the south by the Ganges River.
The central section of Nepal is formed by the Mahabharat Chain, a range of mountains that reach modest altitudes of 2,000-3,000 meters. The Kathmandu Valley, a stretch of green in the middle of the Mahabbarat, is home to Nepal's capital and other historic cities.
The Himalayas stretch across the northern section of Nepal. Eight of the ten highest peaks in the world are located here, and most are covered with permanent snowfields. The area is sparsely populated, with little vegetation above the tree-line (4,200 meters).
The climate varies considerably with elevation. May to October is monsoon season, when rain soaks the Terai and snow falls on the Himalayan peaks. Mid-October to mid-December is prime mountaineering weather: the skies are clear and sunny, temperatures range from warm in the lowlands to crisp in the mountains. March and April are also good months for mountain treks, although temperatures in Kathmandu and the Terai tend to be steamy.
I. Nepal as seen by world.
Wanderlust Travel Award 2001, UK
Second Position in the Top Country Category
Modern Maturity (Sep/Oct 2001), America's largest circulated magazine
The Annapurna Trail-one of the best 12 walks in the world
Observer Travel Award 2002, UK
Favorite Long Haul Destination, Second Position
Draped along the greatest heights of the Himalaya, the Kingdom of Nepal is a land of sublime scenery, time-worn temple, and some of the best walking trails on earth.
BBC Holiday-50 place to see before you die
The heights of the Himalayas got Nepal a number 30 ranking.
II. History and People
Neolithic tools found in the Kathmandu Valley indicate that people have been living in the Himalayan region for at least nine thousand years. It appears that people who were probably of Tibeto-Burman ethnicity lived in Nepal two and half thousand years ago.
Nepal is of roughly trapezoidal shape, 800 kilometers (500 mi) long and 200 kilometers (125 mi) wide, with an area of 147,181 Sq.km (56,827 Sq. mi). Nepal is commonly divided into three physiographic areas: the Mountain, Hill, and Terai region. The Mountain Region contains the highest region in the world. The world's highest mountain, Mount Everest (Sagarmatha in Nepali) at 8,850 metres (29,035 ft) is located on the border with China. Nepal experiences five seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. The Himalaya blocks cold winds from Central Asia in winter, and forms the northern limit of the monsoon wind patterns.
Although Nepal shares no boundary with Bangladesh, the two countries are separated by a narrow strip
Agriculture sustains 76% of the population and accounts for about 39% of the GDP; services comprise 41% and industry 22%.
V. Government and politics
Until 1990, Nepal was an absolute monarchy running under the executive control of the king. Faced with a people's movement against the absolute monarchy, King Birendra, in 1990, agreed to large-scale political reforms by creating a parliamentary monarchy with the king as the head of state and a prime minister as the head of the government.
VI. Foreign affairs
Nepal has close ties with both of its neighbors, India and China. In accordance with a long-standing treaty, Indian and Nepalese citizens may travel to each others' countries without a passport or visa.
Nepal has a total population of 27,676,547 as of July 2005, with a growth rate of 2.2%. 39% of the population is up to 14 years old, 57.3% are aged between 15 and 64, and 3.7% above 65.
1. 1Tourism in Nepal & its prime attractions
I. Rural Tourism
Nepal where major chunk of area is occupied by villages has tremendous potential in rural tourism. Its main aim is to link Village Development and Sustainable Tourism through the generation of income, employment and local markets for agricultural products and handicrafts.
II. Prime attractions of rural tourism in Nepal
Nepal is basically known for its altitudinal variations, ranging between 73 m above the sea level to pinnacle of the Earth, the Mt. Everest. This fact describes Nepal as the mountainous country encompassing many sky-penetrating mountains with lush green meadows, serene hills and deepest gorge. Notable among hill stations include: Bandipur, Nagarkot, Dhulikhel, Tansen, Gorkha amongst others.
Bandipur is an ancient trading town of quaint streets and charming atmosphere, which lies 135 km out on the Kathmandu -Pokhara highway. Bandipur retains its age-old cultural attributes. Nagarkot, located 32 kilometers east of Kathmandu, is one of the most scenic spots in Bhaktapur district and is renowned for its spectacular sunrise view of the Himalaya when the weather is clear. Nagarkot has become famous as one of the best spots to view Mount Everest as well as other snow-topped peaks of the Himalayan range of eastern Nepal. Dhulikhel is a scenic and ancient town situated 30 kilometers east of Kathmandu on the Arniko Rajmarg (Kathmandu Kodari Highway). From here one has a panoramic view of the Himalayan range. Tansen is on the way from Pokhara to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, and it is not too far from the Royal Chitwan National Park and located 4,300 meters above sea level, on the south flank of Srinagar Hill.
Nagarkot, located 32 kilometers east of Kathmandu, is one of the most scenic spots in Bhaktapur district and is renowned for its spectacular sunrise view of the Himalaya when the weather is clear. Visitors often travel to Nagarkot from Kathmandu to spend the night so that they can be there for the breathtaking sunrise. Nagarkot has become famous as one of the best spots to view Mount Everest as well as other snow-topped peaks of the Himalayan range of eastern Nepal. It also offers an excellent view of the Indrawati river valley to the east. With an elevation of 2,195 meters, Nagarkot also offers a panoramic view of the Valley and is described by visitors as a place whose beauty endures year round.
Many visitors prefer to visit Nagarkot in the spring when surrounding valleys break out in a rich kaleidoscope of different coloured flowers. The flowers are beautiful against the serene backdrop of the snow-covered mountains. Ever popular among the tourists are the short treks and picnics which Nagarkot offers. Treks from Nagarkot are unique and delightful. For anyone who wants to have an adventure without exerting much efforts, a hike to Nagarkot's surrounding areas would be a good option. One can traverse short distances on trekking trails and come close to nature's wonders such as the outer of verdant forests, flower-covered meadows and unusual rock formations.
Dhulikhel is a scenic and ancient town situated 30 kilometers east of Kathmandu on the Arniko Rajmarg (Kathmandu Kodari Highway). From here one has a panoramic view of the Himalayan range. From the main town, a short visit to Namobuddha, with the stupa and Buddhist Monastery, is highly recommended. Panauti, a village noted for its numerous temples with magnificent woodcarvings, is a short distance from Dhulikhel.
Kakani is another good location for viewing the mountain scenery. Only two hours north-west of Kathmandu, one can see the mountain landscape of central Nepal, a vast collection of majestic peaks stretching from Ganesh Himal to the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. There is an unusually perfect blending of the imposing mountain scenery with the more sylvan environment of the lower valleys. Rhododendrons growing wild on the mountain slopes begin to bloom in late winter and stay in bloom for several months, giving the village even more charm.
For a view of the breathtaking grandeur of the world's highest peaks from the far west of Dhaulagiri to the east of Mt. Everest, there is no better place than Daman. It lies eighty kilometers south-west of Kathmandu on the mountain highway known as Tribhuvan Rajpath and has a view tower fitted with a long range telescope.
Ilam is the far eastern district of the country, inhabited by people of different colors living in peace and harmony. Neighboring the famous Indian hill town of Darjeeling, it is situated on the foothills of Mount Kanchanjunga, The third highest peak in the world. Ilam is adorned with an almost limitless range of lush-green tea gardens. The rolling hills covered with tea leaves are simply majestic. The thick white fogs alternatively descend to veil the gardens and then suddenly vanish. Greenery prevails all over the hills of Ilam all around the year.
Ilam Tea Garden located near Ilam Bazaar and Kanyam Tea Garden located halfway between Terai plain and Ilam Bazaar are the major gardens of Nepal.
Antu Danda: Antu Danda, situated at an altitude of 1677m in Ilam District, is famous for its unique views of Everest and Kanchanjunga. It is the best vantage point for viewing sunrise and sunset. There is a motorable road from Ilam to Chhipitar from where one can read Antu Danda on foot. This exhilarating trekking along the lush green hills takes about 3 hours.
Mai Pokhari: Situated at an altitude of 2438 meters, Mai Pokhari is a famous place of pilgrimage in Ilam district. Lying at about thirteen kilometers north of Ilam Bazaar, this beautiful place consists of the pond whose circumference is more than one kilometer. Altogether there are nine ponds in the area some of which are large enough for boats. This place becomes alive every year during 'Harisayam Ekadashi' when a one-night fair is held. This place is a famous picnic spot for nearby people Mai Pokhari can be reached in four hours from Ilam Bazaar in jeep. On the way are the villages of Chureghanti, Bakhaute, Dharapani and Hasbire Bhanjyang, which offer commanding views of the snowy peaks towards north.
Getting There: Ilam is linked by a fine metalled road with the East-West Highway of Nepal. Pashupatinagar, situated at northern boarder of Ilam, is an important entry point for travelers from Sikkim, Darjeeling and Mirik. Darjeeling, a famous hill station of India, is just two hours drive from Pashupatinagar. There are regular bus services to Pashupatinagar and Ilam from Kathmandu and Biratnagar.
Accommodation: There are a number of hotels and lodges in Ilam.
Dharan lies right at the foot of hills, but the transformation when coming from Terai is dramatic. It is a hill town with hill people. Dharan is also the gateway to such towns in eastern hills as Dhankuta which are being developed as regional center for the whole area. Until 1989 there used to be a British Gurkha Camp in Dharan which was used to recruit Gurkha soldiers from the eastern hills. Rais and Limbus from eastern Nepal used to constitute the major portion of Gurkha soldiers. Dharan is now a bustling bazaar town that has grown rapidly. Temples of Dhantakali, Buda Subba and Singha Bahini in Dharan are unique and famous.
Getting There: This hill town is linked by a metalled road with the East-West Highway of Nepal. It takes two hours in bus to reach to Dharan from Biratnagar.
Accomodation: There are a number of standard hotels and lodges in Dharan
Hile is situated about 13 km north of Dhankuta Bazaar. The panorama of the major peaks of eastern Himalaya including Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest), Makalu, Lhotse and Kumbhakarna can be enjoyed from Hile.
Getting There: There are plenty of bus services operating between Dhnkuta and Hile. In fact most buses to Dhankuta continue as far as Hile.
Accommodation: Hile is facilitated with a number of hotels and lodges for average to luxurious accommodations.
III. Pilgrimage sites
Nepal has several ancient pilgrimage sites. Each temple is attached to a legend or belief that glorifies the miraculous powers of its deity. Kathmandu Valley is home to the famous Pashupatinath Temple, Swayambhu Stupa and several other famous temples. Hundreds of famous temples are located in and around the Kathmandu Valley. Some well-known pilgramage sites are: Baraha Chhetra, Halesi Mahadev, Janakpur, Pathibhara, Tengboche in East Nepal; Manokamana, Gorkha, Lumbini, Muktinath, Gosainkunda, Tansen, Kathmandu Valley in Central Nepal; and Swargadwari, Khaptad Ashram in West Nepal. Pashupatinath, Swoyambhunath, and Boudhanath are the sites that are also listed in the UNESCO Heritage Sites.
Nepal is also the Gateway to Kailash Mansarovar, the mythical abode of Lord Shiva. Devotees from various parts of Nepal and India throng the temples during special festivals. Even though weak infrastructure renders some places hard to reach, efforts are being made on national level to develop and promote some popular sites.
Pilgrimage sites of Nepal like Muktinath and Gosainkunda make popular trekking destinations. Tours to these sites are encouraged for the novelty they provide in terms of nature and culture.
Pashupatinath: Pashupatinath is one of the four most important religious sites in Asia for Shiva devotees. Pashupatinath, dedicated to Shiva the Destroyer, is the holiest Hindu pilgrimage destination in Nepal. Although the Pashupatinath Temple was only built in the fifth century and later renovated by Malla kings, the holy site is said to have existed from the beginning of the millennium.
A gold-plated roof, four silver doors, and wood carvings of the finest quality decorate the pagoda temple of Pashupatinath. Temples dedicated to several other Hindu and Buddhist deities surround the temple of Pashupatinath. Nearby is the temple of Guheshwori dedicated to Shiva's consort Sati Devi. Behind the temple is the River Bagmati. On the banks of Bagmati are raised platforms used as cremation sites for Hindus. Only Hindus are allowed inside the Pashupatinath courtyard.
Pashupatinath is the other popular name of Shiva. Shiva in the form of Rudra was imagined by the early Aryans and later was worshipped in the form of a Linga, a Phallus, a vertical piece of stone placed in an upward position on a round pedestal. The Indus Valley civilisation in Pakistan has shown that the peo- ple there worshipped Shiva in the form of a Linga in about the 3rd century BC. Besides south Asia, archaeological excavations in some ancient cities of Europe have revealed that the linga-worship cult ex- isted there too.
Pashupatinath, in a limited sense, literally means the Lord of the Animals. But animal is also a term that denotes the animal like instincts in human beings. Capable of destroying instantly every evil force either with his trident or the third eye, when it comes to his devotees, the Lord Pashupatinath destroys their igno- rance. Be it an issue of material gain or release from the cycle of mortal existence he is the height of compassion, generosity, as well as consciousness.
Shiva has been worshipped in Nepal from the beginning of the Neolithic civilisation in the Kathmandu Valley, with scientific archaeological studies and findings around the temple proving that the god Pashupatinath was worshipped here from about the beginning of the Christian era. From about the 7th century onwards it became the first and foremost temple of Nepal, with kings, aristocrats and the rich offering a great deal of wealth and land in trust to the god, making it one of the richest temples in Nepal. Many temples and stat- ues around the temple were added making it a big complex rather than just a temple. The main God or the Linga of Pashupatinath is carved on a blackish stone, with four faces engraved on four sides of the Linga.
Nepal is constitutionally a Hindu kingdom so non- Hindus cannot enter the temple, although Buddhists can. But no one is allowed to enter the inner sanctum except the Bhattas, the main priests who come from the south of India. The temple starts swarming with devotees around 4am every morning. However the top of the hill to the east of the temple is the ideal place for the non Hindu visitor to view the temple, its rich surroundings, and below on the edge of the Bagmati river the ghats where the dead are brought to be cremated Situated on the top of a small hill about 15 kilometers east of Kathmandu and only a few miles north of Bhaktapur, the temple of Changu Narayan is perhaps the best and oldest in the context of Nepa- lese art and architecture. Built around 239 A.D., it s not only the temple but the whole complex which is an open air museum - breathtaking and bewildering in character.
Swoyambhu literally means 'Self-Existent One.' Swoyambhunath is believed to have been established more than 2,500 years ago. An inscription dated 460 A.D. states that the construction was carried out by King Manadeva. By the thirteenth century Swoyambhunath had developed into an important Buddhist learning site.
The history of Kathmandu Valley is said to have started with the beginning of Swoyambhu. The largest image of the Sakyamuni Buddha in Nepal is in a monastery next to the stupa. Behind the hilltop is a temple dedicated to Manjusri of Saraswati - the goddess of learning. Statues and shrines of Buddhist and Hindu deities dot the stupa complex.
Large numbers of Buddhists and Hindus alike visit Swoyambhunath. Swoyambhu is perhaps the best place to observe the religious harmony in Nepal. The stupa is atop a hill, and requires considerable walk. There is also a road that leads almost to the base of the statue.
Baraha Chhetra: Located at the confluence of the Saptakoshi and Koka rivers, is 20km away from a town in eastern Nepal-Dharan. Baraha-chhetra is among the four great Hindu pilgrimages. Here, the Boar-Baraha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu is said to have killed the demon Hiranakshya. Apart from the main shrine dedicated to Baraha, there are many other temples with images of the Baraha in Baraha-Chhetra. Every year on the first Magh (November), a religious fare takes place here.
Manakamana: The temple of Manakamana, a very popular pilgrimage in Nepal, is a temple of one of the manifestations of the Hindu goddess Bhagwati. Bhagwati is believed to have the power to fulfill wishes. It lies 125km to the west of Kathmandu. It is a steep three hour hike from Abu Khaireniion Kathmandu-Gorkha Highway. Cable-cars also take travellers to Manokamana
Gosaikunda: A lake is believed to have been created by Lord Shiva when he thrust his Trishula (trident) into a mountain to extract water so that he could cool his stinging throat after he had swallowed poison. there is a large rock in the center of the lake, which is said to be the remains of a Shiva shrine. People often claim that they see Shiva lying in the water. Devotees gather here in hordes on the full moon night of August to take holy dips in the lake.
Gosaikunda is situated at the altitude of 4380m to the north of Kathmandu on the Langtang trekking trail. The holy lake is a two day long trek from Dhunche, which can be reached through an adventurous 118km mountain road from Kathmandu via Trishuli Bazaar. Small hotels and pilgrim shelters are here for travellers.
Balmiki Ashram: The Balmiki Ashram is situated in a forest on the banks of the Tribeni river, at the south- western corner of the Chitwan National park. It was a retreat used by the great Hindu sage, Balmiki. This is where Sita is said to have lived with her two sons, Labha and Kusha, after separating from Rama. Various statues were unearthed in this area during an archeological excavation in the late 60's. Recently, a Temple of Sita has been built here.
Devghat: Devghat is situated 6 km to the north of Bharatpur, the gateway to the Chitwan National Park. On the day of the Makar Sankranti festival in January pilgrims come here to take holy dips in the Narayani, formed by the meeting of the Kali gandaki and Trishuli. There is a settlement of a community of elderly, retired people here. Devghat can be reached by taking a daily flight or bus service.
Dhanushadham: Dhanushadham, a historical and religious site, dates back to the time of the great epic- Ramayana. It is located 18 km north-east of Janakpur in the south- central region of Nepal. Dhanushadham was the place where Lord Rama had broke Shiva's divine bow, a condition for winning the hand of Sita in marriage. According to the epic, one of the three pieces of the bow fell in the present day Dhanushadham.
Ridi: Ridi is among the most popular religious places in Nepal. Rikeshwor Narayan mandir, situated here, is the local version of the Pashupatinath temple with its auspicious Ghats (cremation grounds). It is situated at the confluence of The Kali Gandaki and the Ridi Khola, linked by a 50 km dirt road to the hill resort town of Tansen. During the Makar Sankranti festival, hundreds of devotees from different parts of the world throng the Dhanusha temple to worship the fossilized bow fragments and to take ritual dips in the river. Here, there are other temples dedicated to Ram and Ganesh too.
Simraugadh: The capital of the former kingdom of Tirahut, is the seat of a rich civilization, which peaked between the 11th and 14th centuries. The ancient city suffered terrible devastation in the hands of invaders but its cultural glory remained in the archeological treasures that are found here. There many Hindu temples that draws people to this place in large numbers. Simraugadh is situated in the Terai plains to the south of Kathmandu. The most convenient access to this place, by air, is from Birgunj (270 km away from Kathmandu). Another route to Simraugadh is a Flight to Simara (15 minutes) and then a drive to Birgunj (25 km) from where it is 45 km to simraugadh.
Muktinath: You are sure to become enchanted by the sight of the bewildering Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges as you approach the Pokhara Valley by air or surface. The next morning when you discover the sky clear and the mountains in view, you then know you are on your special journey to Muktinath.
Once the flight takes off you are flying between the ranges with the river below in the deepest gorge on earth. It is a spectacular sight way beyond your expectations. Just under the Dhaulagiri icefall the riverbed widens, and you get your first glimpse of the stone houses with juniper and firewood stacked on the flat roofs. In no time you are landing on the runway on the banks of the Kali Gandaki River, leaving the Hindu sub-continent behind and entering the world of the Thakalis, Gurungs, Managis and the Tibetan Khampas.
The people of Jomsom, the Thakali tribe, have been traders for the past two thousand years trading salt from Tibet for rice and flour from the lowlands, of this trade the people of the upper Kali Gandaki were influenced by the Bon Po doctrine of Tibet as early as the 12th century. A new faith known as Lamaism, which was influenced by Tantric Mahayana Buddhists on the Bon Po, is now more popular in the upper Kali Gandaki region, and its influence can be seen in several village monasteries as well as in the houses.
Hanging demon traps in the doorways and at the corners of the houses in the form of sun crosses, dead rabbits and peh moussas hanging just inside the door, and skulls and horns placed on the roof - all offer protection to the inhabitants. Combined with this are the religious wall murals and the prayer flags flying on the house roofs.
Leaving Jomsom you follow the vastly wide Kali Gandaki River passing traders coming from Tibet and local village people who may have already walked two or three days to come to Jomsom to buy and sell goods. Dressed in traditional chuba (Tibetan dress) with colourful scarves wrapped around their heads and beautiful turquoise and coral necklaces hanging around their necks they remind you of the Tibet of the past.
A half hour walk out of Jomsom you will see three chortens hugging the cliff covered with small juniper bushes and hundreds of white kartas left as offerings hanging from the branches. Behind the juniper there is a small cave where Guru Rinpoche stayed the night on his journey through the Upper Kali Gandaki.
The way continues on the rocky river bed until you come to a somewhat smaller river entering the Kali Gandaki from the right. Take this river bed trail to the Bon Po village of Lumpra - seldom visited by tourists. Behind a chorten you will find a path lined with poplar trees leading up to the village. The Gompa sits a little bit away from the village, and the main sight will be many village women doing Kora at all times of the day. There is a trail going straight across the river that then climbs up to high pastures. This will bring you down into the small village of Eklai Bhattai where there are four houses all providing food and lodging.
The Kagbeni trail veers to the left just after the last guest house - the right trail leads directly to Muktinath. Just a few minutes on the trail on the right you will see a very large Om mani carved into the boulders and if you look further you will see the irridescent green fields and the walled village and red gompa of Kagbeni. (of course it does depend on what time of the year as to whether you see the green fields).
Behind the gompa stands the turreted palace and within the walls of the village are very old whitewashed houses inter-twined between small alleys that seem to lead everywhere but nowhere. Kagbeni is one of the palace forts and is constructed like a fortress to ward off spirits and bandits during the bygone trading era. The monastery has been well cared for in the past 570 years, with a collection of rare statues and other rare ritual artifacts, and until the middle of the 18th century housed over 100 monks from five villages, now there are only about 5 monks in resi- dence.
Kagbeni is an oasis with apple and apri- cot orchards, and barley fields standing against the vast landscape of silver grey river stones and shale cliffs of brown. There are guest houses and good food, and it is a restful place to stay before the steep climb begins to Jarkot and finally Muktinath.
Jharkot is on a prominent spot overlooking the Kali Gandaki, with a crumbling fortress wall the only remaining evidence of an original palace. At the other end of the village there is a beautifully maintained monastery, and also the Jharkot Tibetan Medicine Hospital and school, well worth a visit to see the bherbs collected and dried, and a diagnosis from the Tibetan doctor is quite a special experience.
From Jharkot it is two hours to Muktinath - the place of 108 fountains, with the sacred temples of Muktinath just below Thorung La in a grove of trees. Every tree is laden with prayer flags, and here you could build your own chorten. Here in the early 19th century the Hindus consecrated a Vishnu temple and named is Muktinath - Lord of Liberation. Against a backdrop of incredible starkness you can sit and stare to the south the snow covered Annapurna range, or to the north the Tibetan plateau.
Janaki temple: Janakpur in the eastern Terai is one of the oldest and most famous cities of Nepal. Mithila was the capital of the Videha (bodyless) spiritual Janakas, the rulers who were the embodiment of spiritual attainment. Janaki, Sita was born to Sivadhwaga Janaka and was married to Rama, the King of Ayodhya the legendary hero of the great epic Ramayana. A great centre of learning for scholars in ancient times, Janakpur once had hundreds of sages who contributed substantially to Hindu philosophy, with one of their oldest works being the famous Upanisad Brihadarandyaka written in the form of a dialogue which deals with the gods, the nature of Brahma, the supreme reality and the introduction to the self.
Predominantly inhabited by Maithilis, it has its own language, script and a rich artistic tradition and culture. The religious Mithila art is well known in the local and international art world.
Janakpur is a city of dozens of holy pools, with a number of ancient sites, some of which have yet to be identified. The really famous object for adoration in Janakpur is the Janaki temple which is some times compared with the Taj Mahal of India. A simple construction to start with, the present structure owes its existence to King Pralapa Singh and his consort who donated hundreds of thousands of silver coins when they were blessed with a child by Sita, enshrined within the temple. Started about 1895, it took a number of years to evolve into its present shape and was completed in 1911.
Constructed in an area of 4,860 sq. feet in a mixed style of Islamic and Rajput Domes the temple is 50 metres high; a three storeyed structure made entirely of stone and marble. All its 60 rooms are decorated with coloured glass, engrav- ings and paintings, with beautiful lattice windows and turrets.
Thousands of pilgrims visit the temple in November/December for Vivah Panchami (marriage over 5 days), the town s major annual festival, when the marriage of Sita and Rama is celebrated with various re-enactments. A popular time too for modern day weddings.
2.1 Natural attractions of Nepal
1. Trekking in Nepal:
Nepal has only been opened to the West since 1951 and despite the veneer of westernization in the cities; by and large it remains a very traditional, religious and tolerant society. As guests, one must respect this and respond sensitively. Whilst the Nepalese will never rebuke for unknowingly offending them, it is always desirable to respect as many of their customs and beliefs as is possible.
Most trekking in Nepal does not require any climbing experience. Anyone with good health and a love for the outdoors can go trekking. Though a day's trek can involve a fair amount of uphill trails & descents, the trekkers are free to set their own pace walking along well established village paths, enjoy a close contact with mountain people, breathe the crisp mountain air & view the magnificent Himalayan peaks. There are many trails, many of them are old trade or pilgrimage routes, leading through terraced hillsides, forested ridges, river banks, paddy fields, forest covers, connecting picturesque hamlets & mountain villages. This is actually the best way to see and know Nepal.
Most of the trails are well maintained; many trails up steep slopes are often paved with stones by villagers. Trekking in Nepal entails walking up and down countless times. Most treks go through areas between 1,000m-3,000m. The Everest Base Camp & Round Annapurna treks which are the most popular trek routes reach over 5,000m.
I. Best priod for trekking in Nepal.
Although trekking in Nepal can be organized throughout the year, October through May are considered to be the best months for trekking. Summer months of the year, which coincides with monsoon, begins in mid-June and drains in mid-September making travel wet and warm. The mountain views may not be at their best as rain clouds and haze over hang the mountains occasionally obscuring the enchanting views. These times are blessed for the keen botanist as the higher valleys and meadows blossom with flowers and lush vegetation. During monsoon it does not mean that it will rain every day. Besides, some of the most frequented trails will not be crowded and some people like it that way. It can actually be enjoyed in the upper part of the Annapurna circuit around Marfa, Jomsom and Muktinath as the monsoon does not get in this trans- Himalayan are because they fall into rain shadow area. Note: - It is recommended to carry insect repellent when trekking during summer months.
Autumn being the best season for trekking, affronts excellent weather and tantalizing mountain views January and February are noted for cold weather with occasional snowfall at higher elevations. Again, excellent views are common. These months are popular and ideal for trekking for those who are well equipped or who remain at lower elevations below 3,000 meters.
Late February brings spring in Nepal and offers exhilarating trekking for those who are interested in flowers, birds and natural grandeur. Different varieties of wild flowers, specially the rhododendrons make the hill side above 8,000 ft haunting paradise during this season.
April and May are the expedition season and the best time for climbing the high peaks . It is mildly warm at lower elevations but occasional haze mars beautiful view of mountains. At higher elevations over 4,000 meters the mountain views are excellent and the temperature is quite moderate even at night.
II. MEDICAL MATTERS & ADVICE
Trekking in Nepal need not be considered risky affair as far as your health is concerned. But very little medical care along the trail is available, so make sure you are physically fit and healthy before departing. In case of serious illness or injury, prompt evacuation to Kathmandu is the best remedy. Helicopter rescue service is extremely expensive. Neither the Nepalese government, your embassy or the trekking agency ( if you are trekking with one) is responsible for the bill. Therefore, trekkers are requested to insure for rescue operation also.
Altitude sickness: - Often known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is particularly a important medical consideration while trekking in Nepal. Altitude sickness means the effect of altitude on those who ascend too rapidly to elevation above 3000 m. The initial symptoms of AMS are as following: Nausea, vomiting; Loss of appetite; Insomnia / Sleeplessness; Persistent headache; Dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion; Disorientation, drunken gait; Weakness, fatigue, lassitude, heavy legs; Slight swelling of hands and face; Breathlessness and breathing irregularity; Reduced urine output. These symptoms are to be taken very seriously. In case of appearance of any of the above symptoms any further ascent should be reconsidered, otherwise more serious problem can occur which can even cause death sometimes within a few hours. The only cure for the altitude sickness is to descend to lower elevations immediately and it has no other cure or substitute. Acclimatization by ascending to no more than 300 to 500 meters per day above 3000 meters and the proper amount of rest are the best methods for prevention of AMS. Literature and pamphlet published by "Himalayan Rescue Association" consists of detailed information on AMS .The central Immigration office and all trekking agencies in Kathmandu distribute this pamphlet free of cost. Since these documents also give information on the list of suggested medical supplies for trekkers it is a compulsory item for every trekkers' medical kit.
Climate & average monthly Temperature & Rainfall
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Kathmandu Max ºC 19 20 25 30 32 31 30 29 27 24 20 20
Min ºC 1 4 8 11 16 20 21 20 19 15 8 1
R.F MM 17 21 16 54 81 270 384 338 164 80 15 3
Pokhara Max ºC 20 21 27 31 32 31 30 30 29 27 23 21
Min ºC 8 8 11 16 19 20 21 21 20 18 11 7
R.F MM 20 31 55 116 352 620 908 797 573 217 22 12
Max ºC 24 26 33 35 35 36 33 33 32 31 28 24
Min ºC 7 8 12 18 20 23 24 24 22 18 12 7
R.F MM 1 20 1 45 85 291 390 443 201 112 1 54
AIRFARES (subject to change)
Domestic sector (Y class) (excl. airport taxes)
Sector Airfare Insurance surcharge Fuel Surcharge
Everest experience flight US$ 176 US$ 140 US$ 36
Kathmandu/Pokhara or v.v. US$ 100 US$ 86 US$ 14
Kathmandu/Bharatpur or v.v. US$ 90 US$ 78 US$ 12
Kathmandu/Lukla or v.v. US$ 91 US$ 2 US$ 2
Pokhara/Jomsom or v.v. US$ 61 US$ 2 US$ 1
Kathmandu/Nepalgunj or v.v. US$ 162 US$ 137 US$ 25
Kathmandu/Biratnagar or v.v US$ 128 US$ 108 US$ 20
Kathmandu/Bhadrapur or v.v. US$ 160 US$ 137 US$ 23
Trekking permit fee for different trekking areas are fixed as follows:
S.no. Area Fee (Per person)
1 Dolpa and Kanchenjunga Equivalent to US $ 10 per week for the first four weeks and US $ 20 per week thererafter
2 Manaslu US $ 75 (December, August) per person per week. US $ 90 (September, November) per person per week.
3 Simikot US $90 per person per week. Extra US $ 15 per day per person
4 Mustang and Upper Dolpa US $ 700 per person for the first 10 days and US $ 70 per person per day thereafter.
Note: Trekking to Dolpa, Kanchenjnga, Manaslu and Mustang can be undertaken through registered trekking agencies only.
a. 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
b. Gratis (Free) Visa
Gratis visa for 30 days is available only for nationals of SAARC countries. However, for extension of visa for SAARC nationals, the rule is same as that of other nationals.
Indian nationals do not require visa to enter into Nepal.
For Visa Extension:
Tourists can stay for a maximum of 150 days in a visa year (Jan 1 to Dec 31) extending the visa at the rate of 2 US $ per day. However, a minimum amount of 30 US$ has to be paid for a period of 15 days or less.
Nepal Entry Point:
Foreigners not allowed to enter and stay in Nepal without valid visa. Tourist entry visa can be obtained for the following duration from Nepalese Embassy or Consulate or other mission offices located on entry points in Nepal.Visa can get from following immigration offices in Nepal:
(i) Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu on your Arrival Day, Easy process you may need 2 passport size photo with 6 months valid passport.
(ii) Kakarvitta, Jhapa (Eastern Nepal)
(iii) Birganj, Parsa (Central Nepal)
(iv) Kodari, Sindhupalchowk (Northern Border)
(v) Belhiya, Bhairahawa (Rupandehi, Western Nepal)
(vi) Jamuna, Nepalgunj (Banke, Mid Western Nepal)
(vii) Mohana, Dhangadhi (Kailali, Far Western Nepal)
(viii) Gaddachauki, Mahendranagar (Kanchanpur, Far Western Nepal)
Important Information to Visitors:
1) People of these countries do not get visa on arrival at the immigration entry points of Nepal:- Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Cameroon, Somalia, Liberia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan.
2) All foreign visitors are requested to be mindful of the date of Nepalese visa and their passport number to avoid possible problems. As such, you are requested to apply for visa extension, if you wish so, apply within the valid period of Nepalese visa.
3) You are requested to get the arrival/departure stamps on your passport at the entry /exit points to avoid further legal complications.
4) Living in Nepal without passport or a valid visa is a punishable offense.
5) Deviation from the prescribed routes mentioned in the trekking permit will be treated as the violation of the law.
6) You are advised to be aware of brokers/cheaters or any counterfeit documents of visa/trekking permit to avoid legal complications.
7) Change of purpose of stay without permission is not allowed and employment or voluntary services while on a tourist visa is strictly prohibited. It will be a punishable offense.
8) Be sure to register at the police and Immigration check point along the trial. It will be wise for to register your trekking destination and schedule at your Embassy or Consulate.
9) If you encounter problems along the trails, inform immediately to the nearest police or Immigration post.
10) You are requested to change money with recognized dealers and do not forget to take formal receipts.
11) You are requested to inform the Immigration Office or Police Station for any changes in your address previously given in the visa application form.
12) You are advised to be mindful to contact the Dept. of Immigration for visa transfer in case of getting new passport or travel document from your embassy.
13) Passport and trekking permits should be kept by the trekkers while trekking.
14) Filming in restricted areas or notified areas without permission is strictly prohibited.
15) Please don't take out the visa stickers from your passport and do not try to change records printed in your passport.
16) We request for your co-operation to observe the following guidelines during your stay in Nepal. Respect local traditions, customs, values and sentiments, help to protect local culture and maintain local pride.
a) Respect privacy while taking photographs.
b) Respect holy places.
c) Refrain from giving money to the children since it will encourage begging.
d) Respect for local etiquette earns you respects.
17) If you make change in your address of residence mentioned in the visa application form or disembarkation card, must furnish to the Immigration Department, Immigration Offices or local police offices with a notice containing name, passport number and new address as well within seven days.
18) If your stay period as a tourist is more than 120 days in one visa year and wish to visit other places for spending more than 24 hours, you have to register in the local police office of such place with your name, passport number and address as well.
19) Let Himalayas change you - Do not change them, so remember, while you are on trekking.
a) Leave the camp site cleaner than you have found it.
b) no open fires.
c) Burn dry papers and packets in a safe place.
d) Keep local water clean and avoid using pollutants.
e) Plants should be left to flourish in their natural environment.
f) Help your guides and porters to follow conservation measures
20) Protect the natural environment.
a) Leave the camp site cleaner than you have found it..
b) no open fires.
c) Burn dry papers and packets in a safe place.
d) Keep local water clean and avoid using pollutants.
e) Plants should be left to flourish in their natural environment.
f) Help your guides and porters to follow conservation measures
21) Information for Indian Citizens
To allow Indian citizens to make travel on the basis of the following document:
Driving license with photograph, or•
Identity card with photograph issued by a governmental body, or•
Ration card with photograph, or•
Voter identity card with photograph, or•
Registration certificate issued by the Indian embassy to the Indian citizen staying in Nepal, or•
Ad hoc/temporary identity card issued by the Indian embassy to the Indian citizen in the event of exigency, or•
Document with photograph and setting out identity, issued by the sub-divisional magistrate or authority there above. •
For further information, please contact:
Department of Immigration
Tel: 00977-1- 4429660 / 4438862 / 4438868/ 4433934
Web site: www.immi.gov.np
Nepal - Entry and Exit Points
The following is the list of entry and exit points for the foreigners entering into Nepal and departing from the country. Upon entry, the immigration officials stamps on your passports with the permit to enter and explore the Himalayan Kingdom. But before you leave the desk of the immigration official make sure to check the stamp and the date. Usually, the immigration offices at these entry and exit points are open 24 hours.
International Airport, Kathmandu
Kakarbhitta, Jhapa (Eastern)
Birgunj, Parsa (Central)
Kodari (Northern Border, Central)
Belhia, Bhairahawa (Rupandehi, Western)
Jamunaha, Nepalgunj (Banke, Mid-Western)
Mohana, Dhangadhi (Kailali, Far Western)
Gadda Chauki, Mahendranagar (Kanchanpur, Far Western)
Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) is the only gateway to Kathmandu for the tourists who come by air. The Airport named after King Tribhuvan, the 8th Shah King of Nepal, is situated about 4.5 miles east of the city (about 25 minutes drive). TIA is also in between all the three major cities of Kathmandu Valley namely Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. Facilities of bank, duty free shop, restaurants and tourist information center is available at TIA.
Kakarbhitta, Jhapa is about 15-17 hours drive and 610 kilometers away from Kathmandu. This is a small town on the border between Nepal and India and foreigners can use this to cross the border. There are many hotels and lodges around the area to accommodate the tourists in moderate prices. Tourists can commute to Kathmandu or any other cities either by bus or air. The closest airport is at Bhadrapur, about 25km southwest of Kakarbhitta and it takes about 3 and half hours to land in Kathmandu domestic airport by flight.
Birgunj is the main entry point to Nepal for Indian tourists especially coming from Calcutta and Patna. Birgunj which is about 210 kilometers away from Kathmandu is also an important entry point for foreign goods to Nepal. Lots of tourists enjoy sightseeing in this flat land and low altitude city as well as the accommodation of varied choices. Birgunj has a railway to Raxaul. The nearest airport is in Simara which is about 20 km from Birgunj and it takes about 20 minutes to reach Kathmandu by air.
Kodari, about 6/7 hours drive from Kathmandu lies on the Nepal-China border. This border is still regarded as an important trading center between Nepal and Tibet. Apart from all this, Kodari is very famous for its magnificent rivers gorges and splendid scenes of mountains. The very famous hot water spring of Nepal called Tatopani is also very close to Kodari. There are quite few places to lodge in this area and regular buses are available to commute to Kathmandu.
Belhia, Bhairahawa which is also known as Siddharthanagar is about 8-9 hours drive and 280 kilometers away from Kathmandu. This city being close to the border of India is another important city in Nepal from the import and export business aspect. Bhairahawa is also the gateway to Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha. This place is also quite popular for shopping Chinese goods. It takes about 30 minutes to reach Kathmandu from Bhairahawa via plane and other local bus services are also available to travel to and from Kathmandu.
Jamunaha, Nepalgunj is about 12-13 hours drive and 530 kilometers away from Kathmandu. There are direct flights between Kathmandu and Nepalgunj everyday and the buses are also easily available. Nepalgunj is also one of the major trading centers of Nepal and it lies near the Indian border and well connected to all major Indian cities by road and railways.
Mohana, Dhangadhi which lies in far western region of Nepal is about 660 kilometers away from Kathmandu. Although this place does not have much to offer, it is used as an entry and exit point to and from Kathmandu mostly by the Indian tourists as the capital of India, New Delhi is just about 6 hours drive. Dhangadhi is also facilitated by decent stay in places in fairly cheap prices. 91/21205) is in the bazaar.
Gadda Chauki, Mahendranagar is a small town that lies in the far western region of Nepal. It is about 18-19 hours drive and 695 kilometers away from Kathmandu. There are some good hotels and lodges for accommodation. A visit to Royal Bardia National Park can be arranged while in Mahendranagar.