Monday, August 18, 2008
Nepal is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of bio-diversity due to its unique geographical position and altitude variation. The elevation of the country ranges from 60 meters above sea level to the highest point on earth, Mt. Everest at 8,848 meters, all within a distance of 150 kilometers resulting in climatic conditions from sub-tropical to arctic. This wild variation fosters an incredible variety of ecosystems, the greatest mountain range on earth, thick tropical jungles teeming with a wealth of wildlife, thundering rivers, forested hills and frozen valleys.
Within this spectacular geography is also one of the richest cultural landscapes anywhere. The country is a potpourri of 101 ethnic groups and sub-groups who speak over 92 languages and dialects. Nepal offers an astonishing diversity of sightseeing attractions and adventure oppurtunities found nowhere else on earth. And you can join in the numerous annual festivals that are celevrated throughout the year in traditional style highlighting enduring customs and beliefs.
Currency: Nepalese Rupee
Political System: Nepal was declared a Federal Democratic Republic state on May 28, 2008, during the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly. It was previously a multiparty democracy since 1990
National Bird: Impean Pheasant Danfe).
National Flower: Rhododendron Arboreum (Lali Gurans).
The most exhilarating titles with which Nepal has been admired and praised by various renowned travel writers in recognition of her cultural richness :
Living cultural Museum
Roof of the World
Birth place of the Apostle of Peace
Country of Living Goddess
City of Golden Pagodas and Parasols
Melting pot of Hinduism and Buddhism
A tiny Kingdom of 103 ethnic groups and 93 spoken languages
Birth place of Sita
Abode of Shiva
Land of Mysticism & Exoticism
Land of non-stop festivals are explicit and self-explanatory. They tell the world about our incomparable & prosperous cultural heritage.
The capital city, Kathmandu is enriched with temples more than homes and festivals exceeding the number of days in a year. The whole valley with its seven heritage sites has been enlisted in cultural World Heritage Site list. The place, which blends cultural vigor with modern facilities possible on earth is place liked by tourists been here. The place has more to offer and it is not only administrative capital of the country but to the fullest extend capital of traditional culture and physical resources. Three Durbar Squares - Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, Pashupatinath, Bouddhanath, Swoyambhunath and Changunarayan are the places most revered by the Kathmanduities and whole world.
Kathmandu is not big when one compares it to other cities in South Asia. Kathmandu is a fascinating old city today where pagodas, narrow cobbled lanes, old carved windows, and stone shrines are backdrops to the drama of life that continues unhindered. Here the experiences are amazing, views fascinating, and the climate charming.
There are living Goddesses whose smiles are a benediction. There are reincarnate Lamas who foresee the future with a roll of dice and scriptural reference. There are walks that lead the adventurous to legendary places where ogres once lived. There are hidden gardens behind palaces yet unseen and courtyards where miracles happen, and a city the Buddha visited.
The natural beauty of Pokhara in Midwestern Nepal is simply bewitching. Forming the backdrop are the spectacular Annapurna Mountains with the magnificent fish-tailed Machhapuchhre dominating the scene. Adding to Pokhara's enchantment are the three serene lakes of Phewa, Rupa and Begnas. Lumbini, in the southwest, is the birthplace of Lord Buddha and a World Heritage Site. An inscription on the Ashoka Pillar identifies the Sacred Garden as the place where the Buddha was born. Lumbini has a number of artistic temples and monasteries built through international support.
UNESCO recalls Chitwan as one of the few remaining undisturbed vestiges of the 'Terai' region, which formerly extended over the foothills of India and Nepal at the foot of the Himalayas. The Chitwan National Park has been enlisted in natural World Heritage Site. It has a particularly rich flora and fauna. One of the last populations of single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros lives in the park, which is also one of the last refuges of the Bengal tiger.
With eight of the highest peaks in the world, Nepal has been the focus of some of the most outstanding achievements in the world of mountaineering. For many decades the dauntless icy peaks have posed as challenge to those who dare. There are some 326 peaks in Nepal open for mountaineering today. Government of Nepal opened around 175 peaks in the last two years to mark the Mount Everest Golden Jubilee Celebrations.
Climbing permit to scale the Nepal Himalayas is issued in all seasons by the Mountaineering Section of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. Certain official documents are required to seek permission for climbing peaks. Around 121 peaks do not require liaison officer for expedition. Fees or ties depend upon the altitude of the peak starting at US $ 1,000 for peaks below 6,501 meters and rising by US $ 500 for every 500 meters.
Climbing gears and equipments can be bought or rented in Kathmandu. Many mountaineering and trekking agencies also offer packages that take care of needs like gear, food, transportation, guide and porter services. They also arrange insurance. Visitors should choose an agency that has good track record.
Nepal Himalaya is known as the rooftop of the world. The Himalayas are the highest mountains in the world. Their scenery is legendary. These mountains have had an air of mystery until recently. Even today, the vast area of the Himalaya is untouched. It has always remained a source of fascination and inspiration for people from all walks of life in the world. Himalaya ("Him" means snow and "Alaya" means abode), the abode of snow and the Gods, extends about 2500 Kilometers. The Brahmaputra (Assam) in the east and Indus river in the west demarcate the length of the Himalaya. It is 300 Kms wide and rises nine kilometers above the sea level.
The Nepal Himalaya is in the centre of the Himalayan range. Eight peaks that exceed 8000 metres including the world's highest peak Mt Everest are the prominent members of Nepal Himalaya. It has a convergence of 1310 magnificent peaks over 6,000 metres. Nepal has become famous through out the world due to these mountains.
It is a very interesting thing to know that there was a sea (the Tethys sea) between Indian Gondwana continent (Indian sub continent and Eurasian continent). Around 70 and 80 million years ago, the Himalaya began to come into existence. It is a peak of each evolution only about 10 to 20 million years back. Therefore, the Himalaya is extremely young and geologically active. According to geologists, mountains are growing at a rate of 15 cm (6 inch) a year as the Indian plate moving northward and forcing under the Eurasian plate. This process (plate tectonics) causes the earthquakes in this region. Geologists say that the collision of continents is squeezing up sedimentary rocks that were once below the sea. The mountains of Himalaya are the result of the collision of continents.
Nepal offers excellent trekking options to visitors from the easy walking excursions to the strenuous climb of the snowy peaks. The most rewarding way to experience Nepal's natural embellishment and cultural assortment is to walk through the length, breadth and the altitudes of the country. Trekking in Nepal is a big part of the ultimate Himalayan adventure and a majority of tourists have trekking as a part of their itinerary.
One can also trek on ponies in some remote places, which is equally enthralling for visitors. Pony treks follow nearly the same routes and are offered mostly in western region of Pokhara, Dolpo and Lo Manthang (Mustang).
Nepal has earned the reputation of one of the best destinations for white water rafting. Cruising down rushing rivers of crashing waves and swirling rapids can make up excitement of a lifetime. Rafting trips for some is the highlight of their stay in Nepal. The waters in Nepal offer something for everybody: Grade 5-5+ rivers with raging white water rapids for the adventurous, to Grade 2-3 rivers with a few rapids for novices. Rafters also have a choice ranging from two to three-week trips to trips of two or three days.
The options include paddling, oaring and kayaking. Paddling requires all on boat to participate with instructions from river runner. Luxury safari-style trips with full team are available too. In an oar boat, the guide rows alone giving participants a chance to observe the surroundings. Kayaking is another way to travel downstream. A few companies offer inflatable kayaks, or fiberglass kayaks for hire while some arrange for kayaks on their own.
A typical day in the river begins early morning when participants arrive at the site. Instructions on safety and emergency situation are given to participants before the event. Life vests and helmets are worn by participants at all times during the trip. Meals are provided during the trip. Some packages also provide river equipment and camping equipment. The best time for rafting is from October through mid-December and March through early May. In winter hypothermia may be hindrance to some. During monsoons months of June through September, the white water sections are dangerous, but gentler stretches are easy to raft on. So far the government has opened sections of 10 rivers for commercial rafting.