Pay A Visit to Nepal
Nepal is one of the most beautiful countries and perhaps the most frequently visited countries of the world. A one hour journey from Siliguri brings you to Nepal’s bordering hamlet Kakarvetta. Is a landlocked Himalayan country in South Asia, bordered by the People's Republic of China to the north and India to the south, east and west. Nearly 80% of its people follow Hinduism yet they are liberal towards all religion. For a small country like Nepal, the landscape is diverse, ranging from the Terai in the south to the lofty Himalayas in the north. It is notable that within a very small geographical area, the elevation of Nepal increases from the plain terrain to the tallest Himalayas leading to great vegetation. Nepal also boasts of harboring eight of the world's ten highest mountains, including Mount Everest. Kathmandu is the capital city and is known for the famous Pashupati temple. It has a captivating landscape with an incomparable diversity of flora and fauna. Visitors are mesmerized by its pristine look, the awesome architecture and the charming people. It is the ultimate destination for trekking, offering everything from easy and short excursions to the long challenges of the snowy peaks, invoking visions of the spectacular Himalayas. Nepal is a country with vast diversity, the lush meadows, green woodland, fragrant orchards and high altitude lakes that make this place a paradise for nature lovers. Nepal is the most spectacular in the world offering neat and clean views of the Himalayas, Mount Everest, Mount Kanchendzonga and its range. The country is known for religion tour, Buddhism tour, trekking, hiking, camping, mountain biking, national parks & wildlife safaris, river rafting and for its beautiful temples.
Places of Interest
Kathmandu – the capital city
Being the capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu is home to most of the government offices, embassies, corporate houses, and the palace. A golden heaven to the artists in the world, it houses the old palace of Newar kings. The Kathmandu Durbar Square, which is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, is in Basantapur, next to Freak Street, which was a popular hippie spot during the seventies. The Shah King's Palace stands right next to Thamel - the tourist hub of the country.
A small world within itself, Thamel is famous for the most attractive hotels and shopping centers in the world. It consists of two parallel streets just to the west of the palace. It is home to world famous hotels, ranging from different stars. The palace is at the head of Durbar Marg, a street lined with various shops. The largest city in the country, Kathmandu is in shape of a Khukuri knife and its glorious history dates back to two thousand years. Located in the bowl shaped Kathmandu Valley, the city is the cultural hub of the country and probably the most sought after tourist destination. The home town of Newars is the meeting point of various ethnic groups. Kathmandu city is the conjecture to the major routes within and outside the country. Most of the trekking expeditions and tours start from Kathmandu. The city itself is home to the historical monuments, cultural groups, architectural wonders and exotic tourist destinations. The famous Durbar Square of Kathmandu is world famous for its seemingly uncountable monuments.
Biratnagar – the economic hub
Biratnagar is Nepal's second biggest city that is located on the southeastern border with India. For years, this city in the Tarai region has been linked with cheap Chinese and Japanese electronics products. Lately, the city has turned itself as one of the largest commercial and industrial hubs in Nepal. In a way, it is a transit point for all kinds of legal and illegal trades with India. The very few manufacturing industry that Nepal has, is located in an around Biratnagar. It also acts as a way for tourists to get an entry into Indian hill stations such as Gangtok and Darjeeling. From there, the mountaineers and hikers proceed for Kanchenjunga, the second highest Himalayan Peak. It is also a gateway to the Tea estates of Nepal that are confined in the districts of Illam and Dhankuta. Biratnagar has also evolved itself to become the melting pot of the various religions and cultures in the Tarai. The place is known for its vibrant culture activities.
Among the places worth visiting, Kosi Tuppa is your best bet. The place is just 2-hours away from the heart of the city. This wetland is heaven for the bird watchers and runs almost parallel to the Sapta Kosi River and attracts a lot of migratory birds. In fact, it is one of the best wetlands in Asia in terms of a number of species of birds they attract. Close to this place is the Kosi barrage. This is the largest barrage in Nepal and a bone of contention with its neighbor, India. The spectacle of thundering Kosi river finding its way to India is breathtaking.
Birgunj – a major stop-over destination
Birgunj is situated about 3 KM away from the Indian northern border Raxaul. It is the main entry point to Nepal from India for routes such as Calcutta and Patna. Majority of all the foreign goods shipped to Nepal by sea go through Calcutta-Haldia Port to Raxaul and Birgunj then reach to main cities like Kathmandu. Hence Birgunj is an important land entry point for goods to Nepal.
Apart from a few tourists who actually go to Birgunj to see the city, the city is simply taken as a stop over place for travelers, businessmen, and pilgrims going to other destinations in Nepal. But spending a day or two at Birgunj is recommended, and is worth it, to discover another taste of Terai of Nepal! The population of Birgunj is about three hundred thousand (300,000). Many multi lingual and multi ethnic groups can be found in this city. People here speak many languages such as the Nepali, Maithili, Newari. Hindi (Indian language) is also quite common here.
Janakpur – associated with myth
Janakpur or Janakpurdham, historically called Mithila, is a city in Nepal; it is the center of the ancient Maithili culture, which has its own language and script & also nearly 400 km east of Kathmandu indisputably the Tarai’s most fascinating city. Janakpurdham is one of the fast developing cities of Nepal and is on the way to meet the criteria for being the seventh Sub-Metropolitan city of Nepal. The city enjoys good transportation facilities including road and air connectivity with other cities of Nepal as well as India. Janakpurdham is also the only city in the country with railway access. The city has better health facilities than others in Nepal, as well as good private schools and colleges.
The center of Janakpurdham is dominated by the impressive Janaki Mandir to the north and west of the bazaar. This temple, one of the biggest in Nepal, was built in 1911 (1968 in the Nepali calendar) by Queen Brisabhanu Kunwar of Tikamgarh. It is also called "Nau Lakha Mandir" after the cost of construction, The oldest temple in Janakpurdham is Ram Mandir. Pilgrims also visit the 200 sacred ponds in the city for ritual baths.
Pokhara – the city of lakes
Pokhara, the city of lakes, is blessed with extreme natural beauty. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Nepal. It is also called the Switzerland of Nepal It is located at an altitude of 827m, 200 km west of the Kathmandu valley. The best viewpoint of Pokhara is obtained from Sarangkot (1600 m) and Thulakot in Lekhnath, a part of famous Royal Trek from where four lakes - Phewa, Begnas, Khaste and Dipang and whole Annapurna range is seen to the west of the city.
The city is famous for the adventure opportunities it offers that include sightseeing, white water rafting, kayaking, and mountaineering.
Most of the visitors are here to the start or end the trek to the Annapurna Base Camp and Mustang. It is considered by many to be the most beautiful place in the whole wide world.
Nepalgunj – a true glimpse of Nepal
Nepalgunj is a town in Nepal, located in the Banke district of the Bheri zone (Terai), near Nepal's southern border with India. Nepalgunj is famous for the exciting treks to the Dopolo plateau and Jumla region. Bageshowri temple in Nepalgunj is one of the most important temples for Hindus. At the temple can be found a statue of Shiva, which possesses a mustache. Known as the industrial and transport hub of the country, Nepalgunj has various attractions: Gharbaritole, Ganeshpur and Sadar Line to name a few. The border crossing, 6 km south of Nepalganj, is one of a limited number of places where non-Indian foreigners are allowed to cross the border with India.
Mahendranagar – the border town
Mahendranagar is named after King Mahendra Bir Bikram Saha of Nepal with the main area of the town named King Mahendra Square. The town or city is situated about five kilometers to the east of the Indian border and is regarded as a 'border town'.
Mahendranagar is naturally enhanced by the beautiful Mahakali River that runs in between Nepal and India. It is here that you will find two of the main tributaries that filter into the Mahakali River, namely: Limpiyadhura and Chamelia. The Mahakali River's namesake belongs to the Hindu goddess of ‘courage and rage’. It is interesting to note that the name is not commonly used amongst the Nepalese people who generally refer to it as 'Kali', while in India it is known as ‘Sharda’. If you wish to cross the border you can do this anytime during the day as a pedestrian, however, this does not apply to vehicles which are restricted on the Indian side allowing them access only from 7 am – 8 am, 12 pm – 2 pm and lastly from 4 pm to 6 pm. This must be kept in mind while planning any excursions across the border, as gate only reopens between 7 am - 8 am the following day.
Chitwan – blessed with natural beauty
Royal Chitwan National Park covers about 932 sq. kilometers as a successful research center of wildlife and nature conservation. The Park is situated in the tropical and sub-tropical lowland of the mid-southern part of Nepal. The Park has a large area of low, heavy-forested hills bordering India on the south, which is also known as a haven for wildlife. The Park has been covered by the different varieties of vegetations. The Shorea Robusta, that is known as a Sal tree in Nepali, covers around 70% of the area, with grasslands covering 20% and others 10%. Commonly seen animals in the park are the Royal Bengal tiger, one horned rhinoceros, wild boar, gaur, Neel Gai, wild elephant, striped hyena, pangolin, chital, wild dog, langur etc.
The Park also contains more than 450 species of birds. Some birds are listed as rare birds. The rare birds found in the Park are the bangle, the horizon, giant hornbill, and lesser florican, black and white stock. The other birds are the peacock, fowl kingfisher, woodpecker, flycatcher, and toucan.
Pashupatinath – the holiest shrine of Nepal
The temple of Pashupatinath is Nepal's most sacred Hindu shrine and one of the subcontinent's greatest Shiva-dedicated sites. Pashupatinath, beside the sacred Bagmati River, is the holiest place in Nepal. Pashupatinath's supreme holiness has two major parts. One is the Shiva Linga enshrined in the main temple and its location on the banks of Bagmati. Hindu devotees plunge into the holy Bagmati River daily and recite the verse from the ancient Vedas. It is believed that plunging or bathing in the holy river releases one from the endless cycle of rebirth.
Lumbini – where Buddha was born
Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, is the center of holy faith for the millions of Buddhists all over the world. Located in southwestern Nepal, Lumbini is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Kapilavastu district of Nepal, near the Indian border. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi is said to have given birth to Siddhartha Gautama, who in turn, as the Buddha Gautama, gave birth to the Buddhist tradition. Lumbini has a number of temples, including the Mayadevi temple. Also, here is the Puskarini or Holy Pond - where the Buddha's mother took the ritual dip prior to his birth and where he, too, had his first bath. The most significant spot of the palaces is the eastern gate from where Prince Siddhartha Gautam departed on his Quest for 'Essence for human life'.
Attaining great heights of civilization and prosperity then, many people and dignitaries came to the sacred site for pilgrimage. Evidence even shows the great Indian emperor Ashoka Maurya visited the sacred garden in the 250 BC. And to commemorate his pilgrimage, he erected a monolith known as the Ashokan pillar which stands till today.
Dhulikhel – a pristine little province
A 45-minute drive from Kathmandu to Dhulikhel offers the best views of the north-eastern Himalayas. Dhulikhel is situated at the foothills of the Panchkhal Valley, about 21 miles east of Kathmandu on the Chinese-built Arniko Highway which leads to Tibet. On the way, one passes Banepa, another former medieval city-kingdom that once boasted of diplomatic relations with China's Ming dynasty. Old Dhulikhel is a closed traditional Newar settlement of remarkable architectural consistency with its four to five-storeyed brick mansions built in an almost Victorian style. Newari woodcraft is also kept alive at Dhulikhel's resorts such as the Dhulikhel Mountain Resort and Himalayan Horizon. Both incorporate the traditional style of architecture along with modern amenities. The Dhulikhel resorts offer panoramic vistas of the snow-capped central Himalayas in contrast to the temperate and lush valley below. Dhulikhel is also a good base for a number of excursions. Most popular are the all-day hike leading to the sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site of Namo Buddha. For centuries Namo Buddha has drawn pilgrims to the sacred spot where, according to legend, Lord Buddha is said to have sacrificed his own flesh to feed a starving tigress and her cubs. A carved stone slab depicts this Buddhist tale of selfless compassion and sacrifice.
Gorkha – the land of royals
Gorkha, situated at the west of Kathmandu at an altitude of 1,135 meters, is the ancestral hometown of the Nepal's ruling royal family. Gorkha is only 18 km up a paved road of the Pokhara-Kathmandu Highway. A brief visit on the way to or from Pokhara would provide more insights into Nepal than one is likely to get at lakeside in Pokhara.
Gorkha's small town is perhaps the most important historical town of Nepal. From its hilltop fortress, King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the ninth generation paternal ancestor of the present King, launched his lifelong attempt to unify the independent states of Nepal, a wildly ambitious project which succeeded due to his brilliance, and the effectiveness of his locally recruited troops. The British term "Gurkha" evolved from the name Gorkha, referring to the famed fighting soldiers of the region.
Gorkha's centerpiece is the magnificent Gorkha Durbar with a fort, a palace and a temple with excellent views of the surrounding valleys, and the Manaslu range.
Nagarkot – the mountainous paradise
Among all the places for mountain viewing in the Kathmandu Valley, Nagarkot is usually considered to be the best. The views go from Dhaulagiri in the west to Kanchenjunga in the east. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Everest (Sagarmatha). You can also see Manaslu (8,463m), Ganesh Himal (7,111m), and Langtang (7,246m). Many people go up to Nagarkot in the afternoon, stay in a hotel in Nagarkot, and then get up at dawn to see the Himalayan Mountains during the sunrise.
Nagarkot is 32 kilometers east of Kathmandu, on the northeast edge of the Valley at an elevation of 2,175m. It is best to view the mountains in the early morning because it is more likely to be clear. There is a viewing tower next to the Club Himalaya Resort, where you get good views from a coffee shop where you can sit inside. Many of the hotels also have good views.
There is a lookout tower south of the village where you can get a 360° view of the scenery. It is an easy one hour walk from the main hotel area. To get there, you have to pass an army checkpoint, and they will only let you pass in the morning.
You can go to Nagarkot in the afternoon and stay over night and view the mountain at sunrise.
Mukti Nath – an ultimate trek destination
One of the holiest shrines of Lord Shiva. Reached by air up to Jomsom; Mustang, and then trek (pony) two days to Mukti Nath Temple. This also covers the route for the world famous Thorung-la trek. If you walk all the way from Pokhara, it takes about six days to get there. Ever burning lamp on the water just beneath the shrine, shows the mystery of almighty God.
Mustang – the forbidden land
The upper reach of the Kali Gandaki valley is known as Mustang. A trek to Mustang, which is also known as "Forbidden Land", is a journey of remarkable contrasts. Another side of the Annapurna Himalaya is a stark Tibetan landscape, with cliff hanging monasteries, which stands at a contrast with lush rice field and Hindu shrines.
Climate – The country experiences five major seasons that are summer, monsoon, autumn, winter, and spring. It has a unique topography ranging from lowlands with sub - tropical jungles to arctic conditions in the Himalayan highlands. The Himalaya range blocks cold winds from Central Asia in the winter. The range also acts as the barrier to the monsoon wind patterns and the rainfall is reasonably high leading to flash floods. The period that lies between mid-October to mid-December and mid-February until mid-April experiences clear skies. Summer monsoon lasts from June to the beginning of October. During winter, snow may occur even at lower altitudes.
There are five official entry points to Nepal other than the Tribhuvan International Airport. They are Biratnagar, Birgunj near Raxaul in Bihar, India, Kodari on the Chinese border, Bhairahawa and Kakarbhitta which connects Nepal with Darjeeling, Sikkim, and Bhutan. Birgunj is the most popular entry point for visitors. Entry into Lhasa in Tibet through Kodari is possible for visitors who possess visas for China. Visitors to Nepal except Indian nationals must hold valid passports and visas. The Royal Nepalese Embassies, Consulates abroad or Immigration Offices at entry points provide a one month visa upon the presentation of a valid passport, two passport size photos, and a payment.
Passport / Visa Note
Tourist visas are issued on arrival to most nationalities with fees/prices according to visa duration. Tourist visas are valid for Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara Valley and Tiger Tops in Chitwan. Tourist intending to trek or visit other areas should obtain a permit from the Central Immigration Office.
Airport tax of Rs. 60.00 per passenger is levied on departure to S A A R C (South Asian) Countries and Rs. 700.00 to other international destinations. Flying within Nepal is possible after the payment of Rs. 20.00 for remote districts and Rs. 50.00 for other airports. Prices are subjected to change hence please check the same before traveling.
Tourists will have to present their passports at the point of exit.
Most of the countries' baggage must be declared and cleared through the customs of the port during entry. With most countries, the duty on articles brought by the visitor varies according to the volume and value of the goods.
Please Note - In the present scenario, passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Guests and travelers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate or online.
The people as general are brave hearted and God fearing in nature. The most prominent part is its multilingual, multireligious and multi ethnic society. The major languages spoken are Nepali, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Tharu, Tamang, Newari / Nepal Bhasa, Magar, Awadhi, Rai and Limbu. The linguistic heritage is assumed to evolve from four major language groups i.e. Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman, Mongolian and various indigenous language.
Hinduism is practiced by a greater majority of people. Shiva is regarded as the guardian deity of the country with the famous Pashupatinath temple being the largest in the world. A minority faith in the country is Buddhism. Lumbini is a town of historical importance in the country. It is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautam who gave birth to the religion of Buddhism. Other religion does coexist and the people are tolerant. Religious festivals are colorful and are celebrated with much zeal, the music and dance being the highlights. Some of the festivals are attended by tourist due to its popularity.
Though all types of international food are available in this country due to the large tourist inflow. The standard Nepalese meal is dal – bhat - tarkari. Dal is a spicy lentil soup, served over boiled rice (locally known as bhat), served with tarkari (curried vegetables) together with pickles (locally known as achar) or spicy condiment made from fresh ingredients (chutney) . Most dishes are flavored with mustard oil, clarified butter/ghee and sometimes Yak butter and the spices commonly used are garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, chilies, onions, cilantro, and scallions. Momo, sweets, and tea are served by all restaurants other than the standard dishes. Rakshi, a local alcoholic brew is quite popular among the locals.
Geographical Information about Nepal
Nepal, unlike all other Himalayan kingdom, is a country of highly diversified nature. Within a length of 150 kilometers, the land rises from near sea level in the south to over 8000 meters in the North. The country can boast of the eight of the world's ten highest mountains including the highest Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Kanchenjunga, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, and Manaslu. The country can be subdivided into three physiographic regions called the Mountain, Siwalik region, and Terai Regions which are intersected by three major rivers like the Kosi, the Narayani and the Karnali flowing north to south. The lower Terai region is fertile and is urbanized. Deforestation is leading to erosion and is the major worry for the country.
Political Scenario of Nepal
The country of Nepal had sported monarchy since 1768. It was King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who unified the many small kingdoms. From then onwards, the country had been ruled by kings. Over the last two decades, there was People's Revolution by the Communist Party of Nepal popularly known as the Maoist along with mass protests by all major political parties of Nepal in 2006 which resulted in a peace accord. The election was called for and constituent assemblies voted overwhelmingly in favor of the renunciation of the last Nepali monarch Gyanendra Shah. The other move was the establishment of a federal democratic republic on May 28, 2008. Dr. Ram Baran Yadav was sworn in on 23 July 2008 as the first President of Nepal. Nepal has good relation with both of its neighbors India and China.
General Information on Nepal
|Area||:||147,181 square kilometers / 56,827 square miles|
|Anthem||:||Sayaun Thunga Phool Ka|
|Latitudes||:||27°42' N / 20; 27.7° N|
|Longitudes||:||85°19' E / 85.317° E|
|Recognized languages||:||Maithili, Nepal Bhasa, Bhojpuri, Tharu, Gurung, Tamang, Magar, Awadhi, Sherpa, Kiranti, 10 others|
|Kingdom declared||:||December 21, 1768|
|State declared||:||January 15, 2007|
|Republic declared||:||May 28, 2008|
|Density||:||184 per km2 / 477/sq mi|
|Time zone||:||NPT (UTC+5:45)|
|Summer (DST)||:||Not observed (UTC+5:45)|
|Drives on the||:||Left|
|Major River||:||Kosi, Narayani, Karnali|
|Major Cities||:||Kathmandu, Pokhara, Biratnagar|
|Major Airport||:||Kathmandu, Bhadrapur|
|Major Peaks||:||Mount Everest (Sagarmatha in Nepali), Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Kanchenjunga, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, and Manaslu.|
Animals like swamp deer, musk deer, black buck, blue bull, the royal Bengal tiger, gharial, leopard, sloth bear, wild bison, marsh mugger crocodile and Asiatic wild buffalo can be spotted. Birdlife is also diverse with more than 400 species of birds including a variety of babbles, Orioles, drongos, peacocks, floricans, and a large number of wintering wildfowl.
National Park, Reserve, and Sanctuary of Nepal are-
- Langtang National Park
- Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park
- Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve
- Mustang Conservation Area
- Royal Chitwan National Park
- Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
- Shey - Phoksundo National Park
- Parsa Wildlife Reserve
- Rara National Park
- Royal Bardia National Park
- Khaptad (Baba) National Park
- Royal Suklaphant Wildlife Reserve
- Makalu - Barun National Park and Conservation Area
- The Annapurna Conservation Area
- Manaslu Conservation Area
- Kanchenjunga Conservation Area