Nepal has many things to offer to the visitors-the flourishing
art and architectures to the natural beauties of the soaring
peaks of Himalayas. Kathmandu, the magical kingdom’s
capital, alone has 7 UNESCO-rated World Heritage Sites within
a distance of 20 kms radius. They include three Durbar Squares
(palaces) of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhadgoan plus Changu Narayan
Temple, Pashupatinath Temple, Boudhnath Stupa and Swambhunath
Stupa. As per Mr W.Kirkartik, “Kathmandu valley has
as many temples as houses and as many gods as people”.
Some scholars emphasize that there are more festivals than
the days in a calendar of year.
Worlds’ only Hindu Kingdom and birthplace of Lord Buddha,
Nepal has 60 ethnic groups, 11 major languages, 70 dialects.
One of the tribal groups from western Nepal, Rana Tharus,
wears 32 different types of ornaments which weigh about 8
kilos. It’s a paradise for anthropologists!
The north-south distance of 150 km in some place reflects
varied temperature from tropical to frigid. And cultures and
lifestyle too varies. The people in higher mountain region
may not take shower/bath for three months whereas in Terai
people may opt for three times a day due to climatological
difference. During 1950’s, trekking was quite popular
here; today mountaineering has gained momentum.
Until 1949, Nepal was closed to foreign visitors. However,
a few were invited by the Rana rulers and allowed to enter
the Valley. Traveling to Kathmandu was restricted to any person
without Visa and a special approval required even to Nepalese
and Indians. Expedition was not permitted from Nepal and it
was possible only via Tibet, until China Red Army invasion
in Tibet after which the door was closed.
After Democracy in 1950, Nepal gradually opened itself to
foreigners, contributing to tourism development. Many a tourist
and travel writers were influenced and impressed by the Nepalese
culture, where even the beggars smiled.
Although the door was opened, it was the largest inhabited
country yet unexplored by Europeans. The restrictions were
specially disconcerting to alpinists who had climbed all of
the most challenging European peaks and were eager to test
their skills on the lofty summits of the Himalayas. Lt. Col.
Jimmy Robert, an officer, British India Army, was the first
to be inspired to play at a trade from the booming interest
in mountain tourism. He is the pioneer of numerous first ascents
of peaks in Nepal and Pakistan, and has organized logistical
support for major Himalayan expeditions. In 1950’s a
strong French expedition led by Maurice Herzog reached the
Annapurna summit from the north face. Bill Tilman and Charles
Houstan traced a way to the foot Khumbu ice-fall in 1950 and
a year later Eric Shipton’s team went through the ice
falls to reach the western summit. In 1953 Tenzing Norgay
Sherpa and Edmund Hillary were the first people to stand on
the summit of the world’s highest mountain- Sagarmatha.
In 1970 Yuichiro Miura of Japan become the first descend a
large part of Everest on Skis. In 1975 Mrs. Junko Tabei of
Japan became the first woman to reach the summit of Everest.
Ang Rita Sherpa of Nepal became the first person in the world
to scale the Mt. Everest ten times. Likewise Appa Sherpa,
38, has also climbed the Everest nine times and has an ambition
to break the world record. A 17 year old French student succeeded
to step the top of Everest along with his father in October
1990. Thus he has been the youngest one to climb the highest
peaks (over 8000 meters) in the world, out of which 8 are
in Nepal. Nepal has about 1310 mountains (6000m and above)
whereas till now only 142 mountains are allowed for expeditions.
Himalayan White River Rafting tour is also getting popular
in recent days. The river starts from the glaciers of the
high mountains. The people do fun and safety trips too. No
other countries could perhaps offer such multi-days choices,
away from roads, in such magnificent mountain surroundings.
Rafting is the best way to explore a typical cross section
of the country’s natural as well as ethno-cultural heritage
in a land where river is regarded as goddess and used for
the purpose of various religious rituals such as cremations.
Besides Nepal is also home to animals like Asiatic elephant,
one–horned rhinoceros, Gaur, tiger, leopard, clouded
leopard, sloth bear, deer, languor, snow-leopard, red pandas,
pigmy hog, black buck, wild yak, wild water buffalo, Tibetan
wolf, swamps deer, swamps deer, gangetic dolphin, brown bear,
gharial, Asiatic rock python, golden monitor lizard, and 840
different species of wet land migratory and residential birds.