The learned author has missed many aspects of Nepalese culture.
The so called Virupakshya is described by him as a nobel man. If the author
had studied more carefully he would not have missed the third eye indicating
that the figure is one of the manifestations of Shiva and not a nobel man.
Nepal is a tourist's paradise with an infinite variety of
interesting things to see and do. Nepal has many things to offer the visitor
the flourishing of art and architecture a demonstrated by the temples of
Kathmandu Valley, the natural beauties of the soaring peaks of Himalayas
including Mountain Everest and others.
Potentials of Tourism in Nepal:
A Critical Analysis
Nepal is a tourist's
paradise with an infinite variety of interesting things to
see and do. Nepal has many things to offer the visitor - the
flourishing of art and architecture as demonstrated by the
temples of Kathmandu Valley, the beauties of nature by the
soaring peaks of Mountain Everest and other mountains, not
so high perhaps, but even more spectacular appearance such
as Machhapuchre and Amadablam. Besides these there is the
Mount Gauri Shankar, believed to be the home of Lord Shiva
and his consort, Goddess Parvati, the Ganesh Himal, referred
as the home of the elephant God Ganesh and the Mount Annapurna
named after the Goddess of Plenty. As a matter of fact, draped
along the greatest heights of the Himalaya, the Kingdom of
Nepal is the land of eternal fascination, a land of ancient
history, colourful cultures and peoples, superb scenery and
some of the best walking trails on earth.
on the lap of Majestic Himalayas and sandwiched between two
vast and most populous countries in the world - India and
China - Nepal is a tiny Kingdom of 147,181 sq. km. in area.
Roughly the shape of the jagged brick, the country is 885
Km long from the east to west and its width averages out at
193 Km from north to south. Nepal, a landlocked and hilly
country where 77% land is covered by rock, snow, barren mountains
and sloppy hills etc. while only 23% land is of plain type1
. Nepal's history is closely related to its geographical location
separating the fertile plains of India from desert like plateau
of Tibet. Culturally and linguistically the country formed
a boundary between the Mongoloid people of Tibet and their
Tibetan-Burmese language and the people of Indian plains and
their Indo-European languages.
Long before recorded history made its mark on the land, legend
recount that the Kathmandu Valley with its cultural heritage
and the main touristic attraction was a great lake and that
Manjushree came from his native land and with a magical sword
sliced open the valley wall to drain the water and create
the Kathmandu Valley. Manjushree then went back to his native
place leaving behind a follower to rule over the land. Geo-morphological
research has today proved that in the early post-glacial period
Kathmandu valley was a lake. This period corresponds in the
Hindu-Buddhist chronology to fifth millennium B.C. - the time
of Buddha Visuapi and Lord Krishna.
A great deal is not known about the ancient history of Nepal.
Nevertheless, the Kirata dynasty is believed to rule over
here long ago. Yalamber, one of its kings, had even said to
have fought in the famous battle of Kurukshatra (1000 BC).
If Nepal is not only the land of living cultural museum of
the world, non-stop paradise of festivals, the living goddess,
yak and yeti, ecologists dream, a Shangri-
1. Department of Information, Kingdom of Nepal, pg. no. 1.
La, it is also the land of the birth place of
Apostle of Peace - Lord Buddha. In 563 BC Gautam Buddha was
born into the Royal Shakya family at Lumbini grove, located
approximately 337 kms. from Kathmandu. Around the third century
B.C., the great Indian Emperor Ashoka visited Nepal and erected
a pillar at Lumbini. The tradition, of oral history credit him
for the construction of the four stupas around Patan City. The
same source informs that his daughter Charumati was said to
have founded Chabahil in Kathmandu.
With the end of Kirati
period at around the begining of Christian Era the Lichhavis
rose to power and established their regime.
At around 1200 AD with the advent of Malla Dynasty the Golden
Age was started which in one hand was the source of the flow
great wealth the valley had ever known along-with the wonderful
kingdom's architects in temples, pagodas, palaces, fountains,
public baths, etc. that can be seen till date and on the other
this period began to divide into numerous independent city
states with frequently feuding kings and princes.
After the unification of Nepal by Prithivi Narayan Shah in
the middle of 18th century the modern history begins. His
Majesty the King Birendra Bir Bickram Shah Dev, the present
H.M. the king of Nepal, is the tenth ruler of this dynasty.
With a population of about 21.8 million the people of Nepal
are as diverse as the terrain in the forms of language, customs
and culture. From mountain to mountain, valley to valley,
plateau to plains, the ethnic group vary as much as the climate.
Kathmandu Valley is the magical kingdom's capital having
seven world renowned heritage sites within a distance of 20
kms. radius. All three Durbar Squares, Kathmandu, Patan and
Bhaktapur, are full of art, antiquities and festivals. There
are more festivals than the days in our calendar. Corneal
W. Kirkpartick remarks Kathmandu Valley have "As many
temples as many houses and as many Gods as many people".
Majority of tourists and visitors are attracted by the cultural
potential of Kathmandu Valley which has made this country
as a destination of the cultural tourism resulting as one
of the major source of hard currency in Nepal. Cultural resources
of potential use for tourism exist - through in less spectacular
concentration- throughout the Kingdom which embrace a combination
of northern and southern Asian cultures, representing no less
than 60 ethnic groups2 , 11 major
languages, 70 dialects3 and two major
religion. One of the tribes group in western Nepal (Rana Tharus)
wear 32 types of ornaments which weight about 8 kgs. and they
wear colourful dress.
Although Nepal is officially a Hindu country two religions
dominate the life of the people here - Hinduism and Buddhism.
Here both the religions have coexisted amicably for centuries
and many people performs both religious festivals that spell
2. Dr. Ramesh Raj Kunwar, Ethnicity in South Asia, pg.
3. Ibid, pg. no. 30.
into the street of the cities and the valley accompanied
by great deal of fervour and gaiety. For each and every visitor
Nepal not only offers its ancient culture and architecture,
splendid mountain views, adventure opportunities through its
mountains, jungles and rivers in the area of trekking, jungle-safari
and rafting but it offers the easiest and the shortest route
to Tibet. Since the opening of Tibet, the route from Kathmandu
has become increasingly popular. There is no seasonal hazards
in travelling through this beautiful Himalayan Kingdom. This
makes Nepal a delightful visit one can come here in all and
The growth in international tourism has made
a great strides in Nepal during the last four decades. This
scenario has been reflected by the dramatic increase of tourism
in recent years. There were 4017 number of tourists in 1960
whereas it reached5 to a total of
463,684 tourists in 1998, indicating an increase of many folds
during 38 years (1960-1998)( Table - 1). Nepal received a
total number of 463,684 tourists in 1998 as against the 421857
of 1997 reflecting an increase of 41,827. Tourist arrivals
to Nepal for the year were recorded as follows: 51.9% from
Asia, 32.6% from western Europe, 9.3% from North America and
3.2% from Australia and Ocenia. The highest number of arrival
for 1998 was from India, comprising 30.9% of the total and
registering an increase of 7.3% over 1997. This percentage,
however, represents Indian tourists arrival in Nepal by air
only. The majority of tourist from overseas countries visiting
Nepal were from Japan (8.1%), USA (7.7%) and Germany (5.1%)
respectively. The arrival of overseas tourists recorded an
increase of (11.1%) in 1998 in comparison to 1997. Visitors
entering by air constituted 86.0% of the total arrivals where
14% entered Nepal by land6 (Table
- 2). A total of 141 expedition teams were granted permission
to scale different Himalayan peaks during 1998 out of which
only 57 teams were successful in their attempt. The number
of mountaineers was 974 while 6942 persons were employed by
the expedition teams. Foreign exchange earning from tourism
stood at US$ 152.5 million which represented an increase of
31.6% over the earnings of 1997. Contribution of tourism to
the GDP of the nation was 3.5% and it also provided 15.2%
of the total foreign exchange earnings during fiscal year
5. Arthic Unnati Ko Dasak Ko Udyog, Paryatan Ra Banijya Bikash
Karyakram 2028/29 Ra 2029/30, pg. no. 50.
6. Nepal Tourism Statistics 1998 - Annual Statistical Report,
pg. no. 13.
Ibid, pg. no. 14
- 2: Tourist Arrival by Major Nationalities (1998)
Sources: * Arthik Unnati
Kot Dasak Ko Udhyog, Prayatan Ra Banijya Bikas
Karyakram 2028/29 Ra 2029/30
** Nepal Tourism Statistics 1998
Tourism sector has been playing a vital role
in recent years to enhance the world economy. In addition
it creates a vital impact in the social aspects of a nation.
Likewise, this industry forms not only a major source of foreign
exchange to our country where exportable items are limited
but also creates employment opportunities and income. Besides,
tourism has been accepted in our country as a catalyst for
world peace, international friendship and understanding and
this enhances the image of Nepal.
The tourism sector has been contributing substantially in
the national income by way of earning convertible foreign
exchange. The total revenue from this sector has been reported
to be US $ 152.5m for the year 1998. There are 739 tourist
hotels with a total of 14,871 hotel rooms or 28,878 hotel
beds. In the Kathmandu Valley 338 hotels having 9150 rooms
or 17,417 beds were available at the end of the year 1998.
In outside the valley 401 hotels with 5721 rooms or 11461
beds were made available for the tourists in the same year.
Thus in 1998 an increase of 4.7% in the number of hotels,
4.6% in the number of rooms and 4.7% in the number of beds
was recorded7 (Table 3).
From the viewpoint of tourism in Nepal, the opening of Tibet
Autonomous Region of China, for international tourists has become
an added opportunity. Tibet still remains one of the most interesting,
remote and underdeveloped parts of the world. This legendary
land on the roof of the world which has been the long cherished
dream of many travellers lies at the north border of Nepal connected
by 115 Kms long all weather road, i.e. Arniko Highway (Kathmandu
- Kodari Rajmarg).
It is a geographical reality that Lhasa,
the capital of Tibet, is easily accessible from
Nepal than from the eastern gateways of Mainland China. This
reality has created a
tremendous potential to Nepal for expanding its tourism activities
and benefit more by attracting Tibet bound tourists.
tourism continued to remain the most important segment of
Nepalese economy in 1997, due the negative growth in other
industrial sectors of the country, the government has planned
receiving more and more international tourists in the future
years. 500,000 tourists were planned to visit the country
in the Visit Nepal Year 1998. Similarly, the total tourist
arrival targeted to reach 635,000 in the year 2000, 761,000
in 2005 and 952,000 in 2010. To absorb this level of growth
tourist traffic, certainly considerable investments
in hotels and resorts, infrastructures development, expansion
of international air services and strengthening of institutional
arrangements for tourism development would have to take place
simultaneously. In addition the country needs trained manpower
to keep pace with the growing international tourism industry.
Adventure- Tourism Sport event has started from April 29,
2000. "Trans Himalaya 2000" a great adventurous
sports organised by Raid Gauloses of France will give a picturesque
view of the natural, historical, cultural and other key parts
of Nepal by reinforcing to open a new chapter in tourism industry
to promote adventure tourism in the new millennium. It has
taken place in Nepal, the land of dreams. Many sportsmen of
the world have gathered in this beautiful country. The adventurous
programmes already started from April 29 to May 11, 2000.
It is a purely non-mechanical sports which includes Hiking,
Mountain Biking, White water sports (white water swimming,
canoeing, kayaking, rafting), Cannoning, Trekking on horse-back,
trekking on foot and adventurous raids. Around 800 participants
of 20 countries are competing the wonderful event. There are
70 teams each, team comprising of five participants including
one women. The team has to cross 700-800 km distance within
the specific period with the help of a guide map which is
provided to each team just 24 hours before the exciting journey.
The event started from Tibet, an autonomous region of China
to be ended in the religious and historical city of Janakpur,
Tourism in addition of being the most important segment of
Nepalese economy, has played a critical role for international
recognition of Kathmandu's cultural heritage, better appreciation
of Nepalese art and handicrafts production. It has helped
to create an increase in awareness of pollution problems.
In one hand tourism has added many positive aspects in the
world economy, in another it has brought with itself many
negative aspects also. Nepal is not an exception to this paradox.
We are facing with the change in the ethnic demography and
culture of Kathmandu, commercialisation in people's attitudes
and dealings, reduction of the leaving cultures to cheap,
sponsored shows for the pleasure of the tourists, unplanned
and uncontrolled expansion of carpet industry with the problems
of pollution in Kathmandu, voyeurism making everything in
the country look as if it is on sale9
. Besides, crime rate, art theft, street begging have increased
in recent years.
Due these negative aspects that the country has been facing,
despite the increase in foreign exchange, tourism industry
have more critics than admirers. Edmund Hillary, the hero
of Everest in 1953, nicknamed it "the world's biggest
junkyard." The problem of an increasing pile of non-biodegradable
litter and garbage in the Mt. Everest and Khumbu area, introduced
by trekkers and mountaineers has already become almost insurmountable.
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 the most challenging European peaks and were
eager to test their skills on the lofty summit of the Himalayas.
Lt. Col. Jimmy Robert, an officer, British India Army, was the
first to be interest in mountain tourism. He is the pioneer
of numerous first ascents of peaks in Nepal and Pakistan, and
had organised logistical support for major Himalayan expeditions.
In 1950's a strong French expeditions led by Maurice Herzog
reached the Annapurna submit from the north face. Bill Tilman
and Charles Houston traced a way to the foot of the Khumbu ice-fall
in 1950 and a year later Eric Shipton's team went through the
ice-fall to reach the western summit. In 1953 Tenzing Norgay
Sherpa and Edmund Hilary were the first people to stand on the
submit of the world's highest mountain- Sagarmattha. In 1970
Yuichiro Miura of Japan become the first to descend a large
part of Everest on Skis. 1975 Mrs Junko Tabei of Japan became
the first woman to reach the summit of Everest10
. Ang Rita Sherpa of Nepal became the first person in the world
to scale the Mt. Everest ten times. Likewise Appa Sherpa, 40,
has also climbed the Everest eleven times and had break 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 peak. In may 1973
Shambhu Tamang became the youngest to climb Everest at 17. Tamang
was also the first Nepali to climb Everest from Nepali as well
as the Tibetan side. There are about 14 mountain peaks (over
8000 meters) in the world, out of which 8 are in Nepal. Nepal
ha about 1310 mountains (6000 meters and above) whereas till
now only 142 mountains are allowed for expeditions11
According to the Nepal Tourism
Statistics 1998 mention that although the largest number of
tourists visited Nepal for recreational purposes (56.4%) adventure
tourists posted the highest average length of stay in the
country. In 1998 the average length of stay was recorded as
10.76 days(Table 4) .
Table - 4: Tourist Arrivals by Purpose of Visit
Source: Nepal Tourism Statistics 1998.
10. Lisa Choegyal, Nepal, pg. no. 169.
11. Diwas Dhakal: Kathmandu Post (The Sunday Post) August 16,
1998, pg. no. 2.
To sum up, what has been said above, Nepal is
a tourist paradise, a Shangri-La. The country offers varieties
of attraction to the tourists. Visitors from all over the world
have been visiting Nepal to experience it's cultural heritage,
world famous Himalayan peaks, unique architecture preserved
in ancient towns and the flora and fauna of this wonderful land.
Though it is a fact, but if Nepal has to achieve its tourism
industrial goal she must achieve the goal of Salzburg's tourism
promotion policy. The goal Salzburg's tourism promotion is not
any longer to increase the number of bed nights and arrivals
but it is to maintain the high standard of service and at the
same time protect the cultural heritage and the environment
and make sure that it is passed on intact to future generations.
Of course the situation of Nepal is very different with that
of Salzburg but there are also a lot of similarities. Tourism
in the Himalayas will only prosper for the long run if it
is not exploiting neither the environment, nor the cultural
heritage, nor the local people. We have to let as many local
people benefit from tourism as possible and spread the word
that tourists will only continue to come if the major environmental
and cultural challenges are met with proper understanding.
Thus the country as a whole needs to have that proper understanding.
And of course it is not a small challenge of our generation.
Easy to say but very difficult to achieve that goal unless
the country posses a very trained and experienced man power
who can not only see the national tourism with global prospects
but can visualise its future also.