Nepal Travel Guide

Nepal, now officially named as federal democratic republic state, has become a republic states at 2008 once the kingdom is over in Nepal from the people’s peace movement, then officially declare as as republican state at 28th May, 2008.

Nepal is a small Himalayan country (Landlocked country) that lies in south Asia in between two massive countries, China and India. Nepal border China in a north and India at other three direction of South, West & East.

Nepal is the world’s 93rd largest country by land mass and the 41st most populous country in the world.

Nepal is one of the richest countries in geography, country of the great Himalayan range and the birth place of Lord Buddha.

Identification-Nepal is named for the Kathmandu Valley, where the nation's founder established a capital in the late eighteenth century. Nepali culture represents a fusion of Indo-Aryan and Tibeto-Mongolian influences, the result of a long history of migration, conquest, and trade.

SOME QUICK FACTS

Name   -  Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
Area      -   147181 sq km
Geography   -   Nepal is a landlocked country located between China, in the North and India in East, West and South.
Elevation   -   60m from sea level to the Highest point Mt. Everest (8,848m)

Capital   -    Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal. Kathmandu is a valley surrounded by four hills- Fulchowki, Chandragiri, Shivapuri and Nagarjun. Kathmandu valley has three major cities Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. Situated at the altitude of 4,500 feet above sea level, Kathmandu is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage sites. Before the unification of Nepal in the 18th century, the three cities were independent stages ruled by the Malla Kings.

Population    -    Approx of 30 million- by the survey of the department of statics of Nepal
Language    -     Nepali is the National language. However, different ethnic group’s people speak Newari, Gurung, Magar, Thakali, Tamang, Bhojpuri, and Maithili and many more among others as ethnic’s mother tongue. People in the urban areas understand English quite well.

Climate    -     Nepal has four seasons, namely, (1) Winter (Dec-Feb), (2) Spring (Mar-May), (3) Summer (June-Aug), (4) Autumn (Sept-Nov). Nepal can be visited around the year.

Political System   -    Multi-Party Democracy
People/Religion      -    Nepal has more than 101 ethnic groups with diverse culture, traditions and lifestyle. Nepali people can be divided into two distinct groups: Indo-Burman and Mongoloid. Nepal is a secular state with majority of people following Hinduism and Buddhism. However, people practicing Christianity and Islam among others live in a good harmony.

Administrative Division     -    Though Nepal is a republican state, federal states are yet to be carved. But currently, Nepal is divided into five development regions, 14 Zones and 75 Districts.

Geographical Division      -   Geographically, Nepal is divided into Himalayas, Mountain Hills, and Tarai regions.

Location and Geography- Nepal is a roughly rectangular country with an area of 147,181 square miles (381,200 square kilometers). To the south, west, and east it is bordered by Indian states; to the north lies Tibet. Nepal is home to the Himalayan Mountains, including Mount Everest. From the summit of Everest, the topography plunges to just above sea level at the Gangetic Plain on the southern border.

This drop divides the country into three horizontal zones: the high mountains, the lush central hills, and the flat, arid Terai region in the south. Fast-moving, snow-fed rivers cut through the hills and mountains from north to south, carving deep valleys and steep ridges. The rugged topography has created numerous ecological niches to which different ethnic groups have adapted. Although trade has brought distinct ethnic groups into contact, the geography has created diversity in language and subsistence practices.

CLIMATE

In Nepal, climatic conditions vary from one place to another in accordance with the geographical features. In the north summers are cool and winters are severe, while in south summers are tropical and winters are mild. Nepal has namely five major seasons: spring, summer, monsoon, autumn and winter.

An average temperature drop of 6°C occurs for every 1,000 m gain in altitude. In the Terai, summer temperatures exceed from 35° C and higher in some areas, and winter temperatures range from 5°C to 18°C.

In mountainous regions, hills and valleys summers are temperate while winter temperatures can fall under sub zero.

Kathmandu Valley has a pleasant climate with average summer and winter temperatures of 19°C – 32°C and 1°C – 12°C respectively.

The Himalayas act as a barrier to the cold winds blowing from Central Asia in winter, and forms the northern boundary of the monsoon wind patterns. Eighty percent of the precipitation is received during the monsoon (June-September). Winter rains are more pronounced in the western hills. The average annual rainfall is 1,600 mm, but it varies by eco-climatic zones, such as 3,345 mm in Pokhara and below 300 mm in Mustang. An interesting fact is that there is no seasonal constraint on traveling in and through Nepal. Even in December and January, when winter is at its severest, there are compensating bright sun and brilliant views. As with most of the trekking areas in Nepal, the best time to visit are during spring and autumn. Spring is the time for rhododendrons while the clearest skies are found after the monsoon in October and November. However, Nepal can be visited the whole year round.

NATURE

Nepal has one of the best natural characters in Asia. Nepal has 10 national parks, three wildlife reserves, six conservations areas and one hunting reserve cover various geographical locations from the sub-tropical Terai jungles to the arctic Himalayan region and it covers almost of 23.23 percent of the total land.

Two of Nepal’s natural areas are listed by UNESCO as Natural World Heritage Sites. They are: Chitwan National Park in south and Sagarmatha National Park in a north Himalayas.

Comprising only 0.1 percent of the total land area on a global scale, Nepal possesses a disproportionately rich biodiversity. Of the total number of species found globally, Nepal possesses 2.80 percent plants, 3.96 percent mammals, 3.72 percent butterflies and 8.9 percent of birds. Of 6,391 species of flowering plants recorded in Nepal, 399 are endemic. Among the 399 endemic flowering plants in Nepal, 63 percent are from the high mountains, 38 percent from the mid hills, and 5 percent from the Terai and Siwaliks. Similarly, the central region contains 66 percent of the total endemic species followed by western (32 percent) and eastern regions (29 percent).

Nepal’s wildlife belongs to the Palaearctic and Indo-Malayan realms. The 136 ecosystems are confined to 11 bio-climatic zones and 9 eco-regions that are defined by ecological features, climate and plant and animal communities. The endemic fauna are: Himalayan field mouse, spiny babbler, Nepali kalij, 14 herpetofauna, and six types of fishes. Wildlife also include like endangered animals like the Royal Bengal tiger and the one-horned rhinoceros. Nepal is home 850 species of birds and more than half of these are found in the Kathmandu Valley. The natural resources of Nepal are water, hydropower, scenic beauty, quartz, timber, lignite, copper, and cobalt and iron ore. Vast expanse of land in the country is used for agriculture with about 16 percent of total arable land.

PEOPLES

Accordingly to the Central Bureau of Statistics, Nepal, currently recorded population of Nepal is almost of 32 million. The population comprises of about a 101 ethnic groups speaking over 92 local languages. The distinction in caste and ethnicity is understood more easily with a view of customary layout of the population. Though, there exist numerous dialects, the language of unification is the national language, Nepali. Nepali is the official language of the state, spoken and understood by almost of every majority of the population.

Multiple ethnic groups have their own mother tongues. English is spoken by many in Government and business offices. These days, as English has become mode of education in most private schools of Kathmandu and some other cities, thus it is widely spoken in the cities areas.

Northern Himalayan People: In the northern region of the Himalayas are the Tibetan-speaking groups namely Sherpas, Dolpa-pas, Lopas, Baragaonlis, Manangis. The Sherpas are mainly found in the east, Solu and Khumbu region; the Baragaonlis and Lopas live in the semi-deserted areas of Upper and Lower Mustang in the Tibetan rain-shadow area; the Manangis live in Manang district area; while the Dolpa-pas live in Dolpa district of west Nepal.

Middle Hills and Valley People: Several ethnic groups live in the middle hills and valleys in Nepal. Among them are the Magars, Gurungs, Tamangs, Sunuwars, Newars, Thakalis, Chepangs, Brahmins, Chhetris and Thakuris. There are also occupational castes namely: Damai (tailor), Sarki (cobbler), Kami (blacksmith) and Sunar (goldsmiths)

Terai People:

The main ethnic groups in Terai are Tharus, Darai, Kumhal, Majhi etc. They speak north Indian dialects like Maithili, Bhojpuri. Owing to the fertile plains of Terai, most inhabitants live on agriculture. There are, however, some occupational castes like Majhi (fisherman), Kumhal (potter) and Danuwar (cart driver).

Ethnic Diversity in the Kathmandu Valley: Kathmandu Valley represents a cultural cauldron of the country, where, people from varied backgrounds have come together to present a melting pot. The natives of the Kathmandu Valley are the Newars. Newari culture is an integration of both Hinduism and Buddhism. The Newars of Kathmandu Valley were traders or farmers by occupation in the old days.

CULTURE

Nepal customs and traditions differ from one part to another. A conglomeration lies in capital city Kathmandu where cultures are blending to form a national identity. Kathmandu Valley has served as the country’s cultural metropolis since the unification of Nepal in the 18th Century. A prominent factor in a Nepali’s everyday life is religion. Adding color to the lives of Nepalese are festivals the year round which they celebrate with much pomp and joy. Food plays an important role in the celebration of these festivals.

Religion:

Nepal was declared a secular country by the Parliament on May 18, 2006. Religions practiced in Nepal are: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism, Bon, ancestor worship and animism. The majority of Nepalese are either Hindus or Buddhism who have co-existed in harmony through centuries.

Lord Buddha is widely worshipped by both Buddhists and Hindus of Nepal. The five Dhyani Buddhas; Vairochana, Akshobhaya, Rathasambhava, Amitabha and Amoghasiddhi, represent the five basic elements: earth, fire, water, air and ether. Buddhist philosophy conceives these deities to be the manifestations of Sunya or absolute void. Mahakaala and Bajrayogini is Vajrayana Buddhist deities worshipped by Hindus as well.

Hindu Nepalese worship the ancient Vedic gods. Lord Bramha the Creator, Lord Vishnu the Preserver and Lord Shiva the Destroyer, are worshipped as the Supreme Hindu Trinity. People pray to the Shiva Linga or the phallic symbol of Lord Shiva in most Shiva temples. Shakti, the dynamic element in the female counterpart of Shiva, is highly revered and feared. Mahadevi, Mahakali, Bhagabati, Ishwari are some of the names given. Kumari, the Virgin Goddess, also represents Shakti. Other popular deities are Ganesh for luck, Saraswati for knowledge, Lakshmi for wealth and Hanuman for protection. Krishna, believed to be the human incarnation of Lord Vishnu is also worshipped widely. Hindu holy scripts Bhagawat Gita, Ramayan and Mahabharat are widely read in Nepal. Vedas, Upanishads and other holy scriptures are read by well learned Brahmin Pundits during special occasions.

Customs:

The diversity in Nepal in terms of ethnicity again makes room for various sets of customs. Most of these customs go back to the Hindu, Buddhist or other religious traditions. Among them, the old rules of marriage are particularly interesting as traditional marriages call for deals arranged by parents after the boy or girl come of age but these days, it has no strong following of traditional marriages are happening in cities, but in very rural mountains, it still exist.

Nepalese do not eat beef. There are several reasons for this, one being that the Hindus worship cow. Cow is also the national animal of Nepal. Another interesting concept among Nepalese is division of pure and impure. “Jutho” referring to food or material touched by another’s mouth directly or indirectly, is considered impure by Nepalis. Nepalis consider cow dung to be pure for cleansing purposes. During menstruation women are considered impure and hence, are kept in seclusion until their fourth day purification bath.

Nepal is a patriarchal society. Men usually go out to work while women are homemakers. However, in cities, roles can differ. Most Nepalese abide by the caste system in living habits and marriage. Rural Nepal is mostly agrarian, while some aspects of urban life carry glitz and glamour of the ultra-modern world.

Nepal Time- Nepal is 5 Hours and 45 minutes ahead of GMT standard time so please set your time different with Nepal before travelling for your easy and comfort.


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