Nepal at a Glance!
Nepal is one of the unique countries in terms of biodiversity, in terms of ethnic and cultural diversity and in terms of geographical diversity. Abundance flora and fauna are scattered in its most protected national parks and wildlife reserves. One horned Rhino, Royal Bangle tiger, an expensive herbs Yachargumba etc are found in Nepal. This small country within the frame of just 800X150 KM has world’s highest point Mt. Everest including other 7 highest mountains among 14 of the world.
You might be thinking that Nepal has only mountain, but it is not true. The southern part of Nepal which is called terai - plain has dense tropical forests in the altitude of just 150 meter from the sea level. This fact proves that Nepal has amazingly varied landscapes which provide diversities in all aspects from vegetation to people’s life style.
Apart from Natural diversities, Nepal is also famous for artworks and paintings. The art crafted in wood, metals and stone in many temples and monuments reflects the thousands of years old culture, history and civilization. Three cities in the Kathmandu valley namely: Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan (Lalitpur) are very much rich in artworks. Kathmandu Darbur Square, Bhaktapur Darbur Square and Patan Darbur Square are the galleries of such artworks. Apart from this; Thanka painting which depicts various facets of life are very popular among the people from all around the world.
Nepal is a country of ancient civilization which can be traced thousand of years before the birth of Christ (B.C.). In its along and glorious history Nepal has remained always sovereign and never bowed to any foreign power. Although Nepal was modernized by King Prithivi Narayan Shah of present dynasty after consolidating number of principalities and conquering the Kathmandu Valley in 1768 A.D., there were many glorious dynasties who contributed a lot to its sovereignty, In fact most of the monuments, Pagodas and Stupas, Monasteries which stand as an example of our glorious past orginated from the Mall dynasty i.e. from 12 to 18 century.
With the fall of Rana regime in February 1951 after a popular revolution, Nepal saw the dawn of democracy. A democratic revolt of 1990 has restored the Multi-Party-Democratic Country with constitutional monarchy according to the new constitution of November 1990.
Nepal lies between 80° 4' and 80° 12' East Longitude and 26° 22' and 30° North Latitude. The total area of Nepal consists of 147181 s1.km. It borders with Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China to the north and Indian States of Sikkim and West Bengal to the east, Bihar and U.P. to the South and U.P. to the West. It has a long rectangular shape with almost 885 km. east-west length and its breadth varies from 145 to 241 km. north-south. Within this narrow breadth it has got a dramatic diversification in topography as well as in climate. It' average altitude from the sea level varies from the south to above 8,000m. in the North. According to the altitude this country can be divided into three regions
Himalayan Region: This region lies between 4,877m., and 8,848 m. with snowline running around 4877m. It includes 8 of the existing 14 summits in the World which exceed an altitude of 8,000m. They are (1) Mount Everest-(Sagarmatha) -8,848m.; (2) Kanchenjunga -8,586m. (3) Lhotse -8,416m. (4) Makalu -8,463, (5) Cho Oyu -8201m. (6) Dhaulagiri -8167m. (7) Manaslu -8163m. and (8) Annapurna I -8091m.
Mountain Region: This is the most populated and cultural part of the Nepalese topography. It covers about 64% of total land area and inhabitated by 55% of the total population. Its terraced land cultivation adds the charm of the beautiful landscape of the Himalayas. The altitude of Churia range varies from 610 m to 1524 m. and the Mahabharat mountain region varies from 1524 to 4877m. The most famous Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara Valley lies in the altitude of 1350 and 850m. respectively.
Terai Region: This narrow stripe of low land Terai Region lies on the southern most part of the country, running from east to west with the varied breadth of 26 to 32 Km. and with average altitude of 300m. above sea level. This region lowers about 17% of the total land area comprising to dense forest and most fertile farming land.
Variation of its topography has a great impact on its climate. The southern most part, Tarai region lies in the tropical section of the country having a hot and humid climate, where as the other region has typical sub-tropical climate. The Himalayan Region above 4,000 meters has an alpine climate, with considerable lower temperature in winter.
The climate of Nepal can be classified as follows,
Spring: March-May [25 °C Days, 10 °C Nights, Occasional Rain
Summer: June-August [30 °C Days, 20 °C Nights, Wet
Autumn: September-November [25 °C Days, 10 °C Nights, Dry
Winter: December-February [18 °C Days, 4 °C Nights, Dry
The best season to come to Nepal are October-December and February-April. October is post monsoon time, thus the countryside is lush green, with excellent visibility and generally balmy temperatures. In February, temperatures area little cooler, particularly at the higher altitudes. The land is dryer and the visibility may not be quite so good, but flowers are in bloom adding wonderful colour to the landscape. The temperature can change very quickly at any time of year when the sun goes behind a cloud, and certainly in the evenings it can be cold. The weather can vary significantly. July-September is monsoon season.
Clothing depend on place and time, however, it is recommended to have both light and warm clothing in the mountain areas or in the Kathmandu Valley. Warm clothes are generally a must. Bring warm clothes (Nov-Feb) specially for the groups going to higher altitude. The best advice is to take clothing that will layer to cover all eventualities. Try to bring khaki or green \beige \brown clothing, as this will greatly enhance the chances of seeing wildlife in National Parks, for spare clothing several, thinner layers are better than one thick layer, rain gears, sun protections. Flat soled shoe for city sight seeing, and walking boots with good tread & ankle support, no transparent clothes or shorts for women are acceptable in this society, shorts are acceptable for men when out walking. But going without a shirt is not.
Religion & Culture
The major religions in Nepal are Hinduism and Buddhism, besides that a very small percentage of Muslims, Christians and Janis live in Nepal. The religious tolerance which is a remarkable feature of Nepal is expressed by the peaceful co-existance and co-operation among the different religions. The Official census of Hindus, Buddhist, Muslims, Jains, Christians and other are repesented by the following percentage respectively 89.5%, 5.3%, 0.1% and 0.23%.
The unique features of Nepalese culture are represented by the majestic temples of exquisite and artistic architecture of Nepali Pagodas. Whether it is temple, stupa or shrine the perfection of art has been featured by intricate woodcarving super metal work and artistic terracotta and stone sculptures.
Nepalese are generally very welcoming the visitors, and will make allowances, but it will be appreciated if you make an effort to respect certain customs. Some people, particularly women, prefer not to shake hands with opposite sex, and you should always use the right hand when shaking hands or even when passing and receiving anything. Footwear should be removed before entering places of worship and temples. You should always walk clockwise around temple, and you may have to remove items made of leather, never touch or point at anything with your feet, which are spiritually the lowest part of the body.
Begging is relatively common, partly because both Hinduism & Buddhism encourage the giving of alms, it can be very difficult to assess whether someone is genuine or not - see if any Nepalese are giving. Around the main religious shrines there are long lines of beggars, to whom-pilgrims normally give a coin each. But some are professionally beggars mostly from India should be discouraged. Westerners are not really expected to give here.
Nepal has a population of about 22 millions which consists of different ethnic groups, races and tribes. They are mainly derived from Indo Aryans, Tibetans, Mongolians and Tibeto - Burmese origins migrated in different course of time. They are divided into different ethnical groups and sub groups living in different regions wearing different costumes and speaking different languages and dialects. The Indo Aryan people have been found mostly in Terai and lower mountain regions whereas Mongolians and Tibeto Burmese are found in the valley and mid Himalayan region. The Tibetan origin people are found mostly in Himalayan region. All of them are known by different surnames like Gurungs, Magars, Rais, Limbus, Sherpas, Newars, Tharus, Yadav, Rajbhangsi, Brahamins, Chettris, Thakuris, Ranas etc., but are proud of being called a Nepali. The average density of People is 132 per sq. kms. average live expectation is 54.2 years and average birth rate 2.47 per annum, infant mortality at birth 107 per thousand.
Nepalese food generally consists of vegetables, rice lentils pickles & meat from different he-animals, i.e. water buffalo, goat, chicken, pork etc. Religious vegetarianism is often not strictly followed, but cows, being holy, are definitely not for eating, beef are imported. In major tourist areas a large variety of meals available in restaurants.
Major Places of Interest
Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is also known as Kantipur. It is named after Kasthamandap, an imposing Pagoda near Hanuman Dhoka Palace. Kasthamandap, supposed to be made from a single tree, along with Durbar Square is one of the ancient palace of Kingdom. The Kumari Bahal, the House of the Living Goddess, is the mid-18th century stucco temple on the left. The Kumari is considered to be the incarnation of the "Taleju Bhawani".
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