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Nepal

Nepal at a Glance!

NEPAL 

History

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.

Geography

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.


Climate

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

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.

People

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.

Eating

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".

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, the country of high Himalayas, majestic mountains, strange wildlife and diverse cultures is a world in itself. Nepal has a unique landscape stretches from the pinnacle of Mt. Everest to the Terai low lands where diverse human cultures and natural habitats can be found. Nepal is the birth place of Lord Buddha. Roughly rectangular in shape, Nepal is sandwiched between China in the north and India in South. The length of the kingdom is approximately 885 km east to west, and breadth 193 km north to south.

 

The total area of the country is 147, 181 sq.km. Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal. Basically the visitors come to this country seeking yetis, others for tigers, some are in search of nirvana and many come to trek on ancient trail. Nepal is rich in terms of bio-diversity due to its unique geographical location variation in altitude. Within a distance of 150km, the elevation of the country ranges from 60 meters above sea level to the highest point on earth, Mt. Everest (8,848m.).

 

The climate is also diverse in nature ranging from Sub-tropical to Arctic due to country's altitudinal variation. Nepal has occupied only 1% of the earth but it is a home to 2% of all the flowering plants in the world, 8% of the world's population of birds, 4% of mammals on earth, 11 of the world's 15 families of butterflies, 600 indigenous plant families and 319 species of exotic orchids. The national language of Nepal is Nepali, however; the people engaged in travel-trade understand and speak English fluently. The major seasons of Nepal are –Winter (December-February), Spring (March-May), Summer (June-August) and Autumn (September-November). No doubt, Nepal can be visited the whole year round.



Area:147,181 Sq. Km
Capital:Kathmandu.
Time:Nepal time is 5 hours 45 minutes ahead of GMT
Climate:Kathmandu-summer 15-280c, winter 0-200s., Terai-summer 21-390c, winter 9-300c.
Population:23.1 Million
Language:Nepali is the national language. However travel-trade people understand and speak English as well.
Location:Situated between China in the north and India in the South, East and west.
Currency :Nepali Rupee (approximately US$ 1 equals Rs. 65.19 as of Oct 2007)
Political System:Multy-party Democracy.
Religion: Nepal is a secular state with a pre-dominance of Hindus and Buddhist Population.
Climate :Nepal has four major seasons, namely, (1) Winter: December-February, (2) Spring: March-May, (3) Summer: June-August, (4) Autumn: September-November. Nepal can be visited the whole year round.
People :Nepal has more than 101 ethnic groups and 92 spoken languages.
What to wear : Light weight clothing is recommended for May through October. Warm garments are required in October-March. An umbrella or a raincoat is a must for the rainy season.


Culture
Nepal is a Himalayan country with cultural diverity. It is the holy land of Lord Pashupatinath and Gautam Buddha where the people of all religions have been living in harmony for centuries. The sacred Hindu shrine, the Temple of Pashupatinath is one of the important temples in the world among Shiva worshippers. Nepal is also a sacred pilgrimage destinations for Buddhists as Lord Buddha, the light of Asia, was born in Lumbini in Nepal's southern plains. Patan, Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, the three ancient cities of Kathmandu Valley symbolize an epitome of harmony in urban design, elegant architecture and refined culture. These cities domicile a concentration of religious monuments found nowhere in the world. The seven monument zones enlisted in the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO are situated within the small limit of the Valley.



The landlocked country is also a land of festivals. On an average, at least one festival is celebrated per day in a traditional manner throughout the year which adds dazzling color to Nepal's myriad attractions, enduring customs and beliefs. In Nepal, one can easily enjoy village tours and visit the multi-ethnic groups to obtain first hand experience of their customs and lifestyles. Eating is a special affair in Nepal. vriety of food are served for each occasion and festival. Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, offers an incredible selection of dining opportunities.

Nature
Nepal is a wonderful land conidering its its unique but vried lndcape and ntural beauty. It is a world in itself. Nepal offers an amazing topographical variation with altitude ranging from 70 m to 8,848 m just within a span of 193 km. Thus, due to its topographical variation, Nepal boasts all kinds of climate ranging from alpine, temperate to tropical. Similarly, the flora from tundra-like vegetation to desert-type cactuses and rainforest are found in this highland. In the same way, fauna from prairie dog-like Marmot to snow leopard to dolphin are available in Nepal. It is a mater of pleasure to mention that Nepal is also a home of countless river, glacial lakes, lakes, and creeks with their common origin in the Himalaya. Nepal holds more than 70 ethnic groups, each with its own unique culture and language. These people are basically spreading in hamlets, villages and shantytowns. Temples, shrines, all year long festivals, etc. add additional beauty to this paradise.



Of the total of 14 peaks above 8,000 metres, Nepal is hoe to eight of the world's highest mountains, including Mt. Everest (8,848 m). Nepal's geography holds an exceptionally varied landscape. Hence, this wild variation fosters an incredible variety of ecosystems. Nepal has nine national parks and three wildlife reserves ranging from the highest mountains in the world as well as tropical lowland of the plains.

It is recommended to explore the exotic Himalayan nature and culture of Nepal by walking through the villages and meeting the charming people.



People & Customs
The total population of Nepal is about 23.1 million (Population Census 2001). About eighty six percent of Nepalese follow Hinduism; eight percent Buddhism and the rest three percent follow Islam. The population comprises various groups of different races with diverse culture, languages and dialects. Some of the main groups are Gurungs and Magars in the western region; Rais, Limbus and Sunwars in the eastern mid hills; Sherpas, Manangpas and Lopas in the northern part, Newars in and around the capital valley of Kathmandu; Tharus, Yadavas, Satar, Rajvanshis and Dhimals in the Terai region; and Brahmins, Chhetris and Thakur are generally spread throughout the country.

History:
Nepal has always been an independent and sovereign country with glorious history, culture and tradition that date back to times immemorial. The people of Nepal are popular for their bravery in warfare, mountaineering, hospitality and sincerity since history. Before the campaign for national unification, this small kingdom was divided into smaller states. Kathmandu valley was ruled by the Malla Kings. They focused on promotion and development of Nepali arts and crafts. Thus, their contribution to art and culture are indeed great and unique. In 1768 A.D., the Shah dynasty ascended the throne of unified Nepal. The different cultures of this Himalayan country reflect harmonious blending of Hinduism and Buddhism. It is worthy to mention that Nepal is one of the founder members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).


Physical Feature
Nepal is a landlocked country with its total land area of 147,181 sq kms. It has the autonomous region of Tibet to the north and India in the south, west and east. The country is divided into 3 geographical zones – theHimalayan Region, the mountain Region and the Terai Region.



The Himalayan Region lies in the northern part occupying 23% the total land area. The altitude ranges between 3000 metres to 8848 meters extending to the north from west to east with world famous peaks of Mt. Everest (8848m), Kanchenjunnga (8586m), Makalu (8464m), Dhaulagiri (8167m) and Annapurna (8091m) with many other majestic mountains.

The Mountainous Region occupies over 60% of the total land of the country. It is formed by the Mahabharata range in the north (4877m) to the Churia range (1524m) in the south. This region is suitable for cash crops production like orange, zinger, cardamom, etc.

Terai Region occupies approximately 17% of the country's total land with altitudes of between 70m to 300m. This region is also called the "Food Basket" of Nepal due to its fertility and productivity.



Art
It is a matter of fact that Nepali art has been deeply influenced by religion since immemorial past. Nepali art was rapidly developed during the period of Malla Kings. Much focus was given for stone sculpture and temple architecture in the early days. Newari Paubha and Tibetan Thanka paintings, wood and metal crafts, ceramics and clay pots, textiles, paper, Tibetan carpet, music and literature are some other famous arts of Nepal. Traditional idealistic paintings and the contemporary western style works are the two distinct segments of contemporary Nepali art. The contemporary painting is basically based on either nature based compositions or compositions based on Tantric elements or social themes. Kathmandu Valley boards plethora of art galleries and museums galleries exhibiting artwork of ancient past and present. The National Museum at Chhauni, Museums at Kathmandu Durbar Square, Museum of Natural History at Swayambhu, National Library at Puchowk, Kaiser Library at Thamel, National Birendra Art Gallery at Naxal, Asa Archives at Tangal, National Art Gallery at Bhaktapur Durbar Square, National Woodworking Museum at Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Bronze and Brass Museum at Bhaktapur, Nepal National Ehnographic Museum at Bhrikuti Mandap are some of them in the valley. Dhakuta Museum, Hattisar Museum in Bhimphedi, Mustang Eco Museum in Jomsom, Tharu Cultural Museum in Thakurdwara and International Mountain Museum in Pokhara are some of the museums outside the Kathmandu Valley.