Nepal: The Jewel of the Himalayas

Nepal: The Jewel of the Himalayas





INTRODUCTION:

Nepal is a stunning nation endowed with the most breathtaking natural features that make it a veritable treasure trove. It is, in fact, a wonderful location with a lot to offer tourists, including abundant flora and fauna, ancient Buddhist Monasteries and Hindu Temples that reveal Nepal’s rich history and culture, high mountain peaks covered with snow, tranquil lakes, and cascading waterfalls. 

The Tourism Industry of Nepal is the largest contributor to the country’s economy as it is the major source of foreign exchange. The nation's numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, festivals, dance, music, and art all showcase the rich cultural legacy of Nepal making it a destination worth visiting at least once in a lifetime. 

LOCATION OF NEPAL:

Nepal, officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a South Asian country located primarily in the Himalayas and stretching up to some parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plains. It is a small country that is landlocked with Tibet towards its northern border and India covering its eastern, western, and southern borders. 

Nepal, the most prominent democratic state of the Himalayas, and Kathmandu being its capital city, is divided into 7 states that are further divided into 77 districts. The country boasts of its varied terrain that comprises eight out of the ten highest mountain peaks in the world, including Mount Everest - the highest point on Earth, as well as fertile plains and subalpine forests. 

HISTORY OF NEPAL:

The History of Nepal officially began in the 18th century, when the nation unified as one. This Himalayan country has a unique past that existed even before its union. The region was divided into numerous smaller kingdoms, the most illustrious of which was ruled by the regal Malla ruler of the Kathmandu Valley. The valley was first exposed to art and architecture by the Lichhavis, but it was the Mallas who brought in the golden era of creativity in 1200 A.D. Much of the cultural legacy that exists in Nepal today is due to the Malla dynasty. The Mallas constructed countless temples and magnificent palaces with charming squares throughout their 550-year reign. Additionally, under their administration, religious festivals were instituted, literature, music, and the arts were promoted, and society and the cities were well-organized.

The 240-year-old monarchy was overthrown on May 28, 2008, when the recently elected Constituent Assembly proclaimed Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic. In Nepal today, the Prime Minister leads the government while the President serves as the Head of State.

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE 2015:

Nepal experienced 2 major earthquakes back to back in 2015 that were a major setback for Nepalis. The country was vastly hit as there was destruction everywhere. The regions that were majorly affected were the Gorkha, Langtang, and Manaslu districts along with the Kathmandu Valley. Many temples and historic buildings collapsed in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. There were avalanches at Everest Base Camp and in the Himalayan region. However, the country revived with international aid and support and the local government soon started with the reconstruction and preservation work. Nepal reopened its border for tourism within two and half weeks after the earthquake. 

BEST TIME TO VISIT NEPAL:

Nepal is a country that can be visited all year round. However, the months of October through February offer ideal weather conditions for discovering Nepal’s natural beauty and tranquility. During this time, the sky is clear, providing breathtaking vistas of Nepal’s mountain ranges. When visiting Nepal you will get a soul-awakening experience and an incredible insight into former kingdoms, unique architecture, isolated mysticism, Himalayan mountains, adrenaline-rich adventure sports, spirituality, and exotic jungles.

TRAVELLING FROM INDIA TO NEPAL:

The friendly relationship between India and Nepal benefits Indian nationals to visit Nepal without a VISA. The open border between India and Nepal offers completely independent travel as nationals of both countries can cross borders freely. 

Direct flights between Delhi and Kathmandu - the capital cities of India and Nepal respectively are frequently available. One must possess a valid Indian Passport or Voter ID while boarding a flight from India to Nepal.

Traveling Overland from India to Nepal is a hassle-free journey yet a long one. The various borders between India and Nepal are the Sunauli (Uttar Pradesh) and Raxaul/Birganj (Bihar) borders to the Southern side of Nepal, the Panitanki (West Bengal) border to the Eastern side of Nepal, and the Banbassa/Mahendranagar (Uttarakhand) border to the Western side of Nepal. 

CURRENCY IN NEPAL:

The economy of Nepal relies heavily on cash exchange. When in Nepal, the safest and easiest way to pay is in cash. Some of the sellers accept Credit cards but with an additional 3% to 7% transaction charge, hence it is advisable to check with the seller before paying via credit card. ATMs are commonly available throughout Nepal, however in most cases, only a National Debit card is accepted. Some of the ATMs accept an International Credit card but with extra transactional charges and put a limit on the amount that can be withdrawn on a single transaction. Hence it is advisable not to rely on ATMs and carry enough cash with you. 

INR 100 note is widely accepted in Nepal. The official exchange rate between the Indian Rupee and the Nepalese Rupee is 1.60 but due to the increasing influence of the Chinese in Nepal, the locals accept INR at an exchange rate of 1.50 or 1.55.

MOBILE NETWORK IN NEPAL:

Although the telecommunication infrastructure of Nepal is not the most effective and reliable one, you can still make and receive calls both locally and internationally with perseverance.  There are 2 main mobile network companies in Nepal namely Nepal Telecom (NTC) and Ncell that offer GSM Data packages. The Nepali Simcard is easily available outside the Kathmandu Airport and in local shops, you need to present your Voter ID/ Passport for it. The majority of Tourist places across Nepal provide WiFi, however, extremely slow speeds can be expected. Alternatively, you can get International roaming activated on your Indian sim card from your service provider while traveling to Nepal. 

PLACES TO VISIT IN NEPAL:

Whether you are seeking wildlife, adventure, pilgrimage, culture, or simply a place to relax and unwind, Nepal has something in store to offer to all kinds of tourists visiting it. The scenic beauty and favorable climate make Nepal a perfect holiday destination. A trip to Nepal will be incomplete without visiting the following places:

1. Kathmandu Valley

Kathmandu Valley, formerly known as Kantipur, is divided into the following 3 administrative districts: Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Lalitapur. Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal. The rich history that blends trade with mythology, royalty, unity, and culture offers some of the best examples of old Newari architecture in the valley. The numerous  Hindu temples and Buddhist stupas and monasteries together jewel up the Kathmandu Valley. Absolute grandeur and solitude can be found in Kathmandu, where tradition and modernity coexist. 

Attractions of Kathmandu:

  • Pashupatinath Temple
  • Jal Narayan Vishnu Temple (Budhaneelkanth)
  • Boudhnath Stupa
  • Durbar Square
  • Thamel Market
  • Swayambhunath Stupa
  • Kopan Monastery

Also check: Places to visit in Kathmandu

2. Pokhara

Pokhara is considered to be the second most visited city in Nepal after Kathmandu. Located on the bank of Phewa Lake, Pokhara offers stunning views of three out of the ten highest peaks in the world namely: Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, and Manasalu. Pokhara is endowed with breathtakingly beautiful surroundings. The mountains and outdoor adventure activities are the main attractions of Pokhara.

Attractions of Pokhara:

  • Phewa Lake
  • Taal Barahi Temple
  • World Peace Stupa
  • Bindhyabasini Temple
  • Gupteshwor Cave
  • Davi’s Fall
  • Manakamna Temple

Also check: Places to visit in Pokhara

3. Lumbini

The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word “Lumbini” is “Lovely” and so is this city. Lumbini is renowned as the birthplace of Lord Buddha, who was formerly known as Siddhartha Gautam. The city is a popular destination for Buddhist pilgrims as it is home to monasteries of numerous countries such as China, Sri Lanka, Japan, Myanmar, etc. With their exquisite murals and facades, each and every monastery is unique in its own way. Lumbini is visited by travelers from all around the globe in search of inner peace. 

Attractions of Lumbini:

  • Museum of Lumbini
  • Ashokan Pillar
  • Maya Devi Temple and Pond
  • Pilgrim’s Market
  • Bodhi Tree
  • Sacred Garden

4. Chitwan

Chitwan, which is tucked away at the base of the Himalayas, boasts an exceptionally diverse range of flora and fauna and is the last remaining example of the natural ecosystems of the "Terai" region. It is also the last existing habitat for Bengal tigers and single-horned Asiatic rhinoceroses. Established in 1973, Chitwan National Park (CNP) is known as the first national park in Nepal and later was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. The area was once a hunting ground for the royal families of Nepal. 

Attractions of Chitwan:

  • Tharu Village
  • Bishazari Tal
  • Jeep Safari
  • Jungle Walk
  • Elephant Breeding Center
  • Gharial Breeding Center

5. Nagarkot

Nagarkot is one of the best places that offers a peaceful environment away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The serene view of the mountains and forest walks are a great way to relax and rejuvenate. On a bright and clear day, one can expect a panoramic view of various Himalayan ranges including the majestic Mt. Everest, Annapurna, Manaslu, Langtang, Jugal, Ganesh Himal, and the Rolwaling ranges. This quaint village near Kathmandu has served to be a summer getaway for the royal people of Nepal, India, and Britain in the past. 

Attractions of Nagarkot:

  • Nagarkot View Tower
  • Himalayan Mountain Ranges
  • Nature Walk
  • Mahakali Shrine
  • Changunarayan Temple
  • Kailashnath Mahadev Statue

6. Sarangkot

Sarangkot is a charming village situated a short drive from Pokhara. It is a picturesque destination popular for offering views of the Annapurna ranges and is known for its stunning sunrise and sunset. The sun's rays falling on the mountain reflect striking shades of pink and orange which is a dazzling view to watch. 

Attractions of Sarangkot:

  • Sarangkot View Point
  • Mahendra Caves
  • Paragliding Point
  • Bat Cave

7. Mustang Valley

Located in the Gandaki province of Nepal, Mustang Valley is divided into Upper Mustang and Lower Mustang. The Upper Mustang is widely renowned for trekking, monasteries, and caves whereas the Lower Mustang is popular for natural splendor. Mustang Valley is well known by the name Mini Tibet in Nepal as one can experience the combination of Tibetan tradition and Nepalese lifestyle. It has been an important center for trade between Nepal and Tibet in ancient times. Today, Mustang is famous among Hindus for Muktinath Temple - dedicated to Lord Vishnu. 

Attractions of Mustang:

  • Marpha Village
  • Muktinath Dham
  • Gandaki River
  • Kagbeni
  • Dhumba Lake
  • Damodar Kund
  • Thorong La Pass
  • Lomanthang

Also check: Muktinath Dham

8. Rara 

Rara is situated in the Jumla and Mugu Districts of Karnali Province of Nepal. It is known for its flourished biodiversity including rich vegetation and a diverse species of animals and birds. The Rara Lake is the largest lake of Nepal and the Rara National Park is the smallest National Park of Nepal. The Rara National Park is a paradise for bird watchers along with some of the other vulnerable species of animals. The Rara Lake is located inside the national park and is known for its crystal clear water and serene environment.

Attractions of Rara:

  • Rara lake
  • Rara National Park
  • Chuchemara Hill
  • Murma Top
  • Ghorosingha Temple
  • Swargadwari Temple

9. Annapurna Base Camp

The trek to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) or Annapurna Sanctuary is one of the most popular treks in Nepal that falls in the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP). The Annapurna Mountain range is a group of over 20 mountain peaks ranging from 6000 metres to 8000 metres. The Annapurna Mountain is the 10th highest mountain peak in the world and one needs to climb a height of 4130 meters to reach the Annapurna Base Camp. The ABC trek is moderately difficult and requires the trekkers to have good physical fitness and knowledge of prior trekking skills. A Permit is required to enter the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP).

The starting point of the ABC trek is Nayapul. One needs to trek a distance of about 110 km to reach the Annapurna Base Camp and the time required to cover this distance is at least 8 to 10 days. 

10. Everest Base Camp

The trek to Everest Base Camp (EBC) is a dream for all trek and adventure enthusiasts and is considered as a Milestone by Mountaineers. Mt Everest is the highest mountain peak in the world with a height of 8850 meters. The EBC trek is said to be one of the most difficult treks in the world. The trekkers get to feel a sense of natural thrill while trekking through the breathtaking landscape and high-altitude mountain peaks. 

The Everest Base Camp is located at a height of 5364 meters. Lukla is the starting point of the EBC trek. The total distance that needs to be covered to reach Everest Base Camp is 130 km approx. The time required to cover this distance is at least 12 to 14 days. 

NEPAL TOUR PACKAGE:

Trip To Temples offers some of the most amazing tour packages for Nepal. One can expect best-in-class services at the most competitive rate in the industry. 

For more information on the Nepal Tour Package, visit https://triptotemples.com/package/nepal or call/sms Nepal on 7303195210.

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