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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.
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Tourism in Nepal
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.
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PROSPECTS OF CULTURE TOURISM IN JANAKPUR
 
 
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Introduction:
Nepal is a tourist paradise with infinite fascinating things to see and do. Nepal has many things to adduce the visitors-Geography and Physical features, Natural features, Flora and Fauna, Glaciers rivers, Lakes, the flourishing of art and architecture as demonstrated in the temples of Nepal, the lifestyle of people, festivals, religions, art and culture and of-course the natural beauties of the soaring peaks of Himalaya including Mount Everest and others. The country provides rituals and festivals full of curiosity. Some scholars have rightly stated that there are more festivals than the days of the year.
 
Geographical Location:
 
The present Janakpur is situated on the southern border in the mid eastern Terai of Nepal and about 375 km from Kathmandu. Total Janakpur Zone covers the area of 9669 Sq. km and the population is 2526125. There are six districts in this zone. Dhanusa covers the area 1180 Sq.km. The population of Dhanusa is 671364 and 117417 households. Mahottari covers the area 1002 Sq.km. the population of Mahottari is 553481 and 94229 households1.
Historical Background:

Janakpur was the capital of ancient Mithila. Hindu literary sources like Satapath Brahmana, Vishnu Purana, Mithila Mahatma, Brihad Vishnu Purana, Markendeya Purana, Sangam Tantra, Ramayana, Mahabharat, Surichi Jatak, Gandhar Jatak, Bhagwat Puran, Vayupurana, describe Janakpur as a highly developed city both in materialism and academia.

According to the literary sources (Hindu, Buddhist and Jain) Janak was the King of Mithila and Janakpur was its capital. The King was the prestigious sage of his time. Janak contributed to promote the development of art, literature, culture and philosophy. As such, Mithila remained the center of Hindu culture and civilization for a long time. There were many other distinguished personalities like Astabakra, Gargee, Maitreyee, Sukdev, Mandevi, Yagnabalkya, Mahabir Jain, Trisala and Sita.

The historical records of Janakpur are identified with Mithila, the capital of King Janak. The prosperity of Mithila and the fame of the Janak dynasty reached the climax in the Upanisadic Period.

Regarding Janakpur Alexander Cunningham opines as “ In of the Buddhist legends, quoted by Burnouf, Buddha proceeds with Ananda to the chapala stupa, and seating himself under a tree, thus address his disciple: “How beautiful, O Ananda, is the city of Vaisali, the land of the Vrijis, etc”. In the time of Buddha, and for many centuries afterwards, the people of Vaisali were called Lichhavis; and in the Trikandasesha, the names of Lichhavi, Vaideha and Tirabhukti are given a synonymous. Vaideha is well known to the readers of the Ramayana as a common name of Mithila, the country of Raja Janaka, whose daughter Sita is also named Vaidehi. Tirabhukti is the present Tirahuti or Tirhut. Now the modern town of Janakpur, in the Mithari district, is acknowledge by the universal consent of the natives of the country, to be the same place as the ancient Janakpur, the capital of Mithila. It also corresponds exactly with the position assigned by the Hwen Thsang to Chen-shu-na, the capital of Vriji. M.Vivien de Saint-Martin reads the Chinese name as Che-thu-na, but M.Stanislas Julian renders it by Chha-su-na, and points out that the second character is found in Sukra, and I may add also in Sudra. The correct rendering of the name is doubtful; but if the bearing and distance recorded by Chinese pilgrims are correct, it is almost certain that the capital of Vriji in the seventh century must have been at Janakpur.2

But even today it has not been identified that where ancient Janakpur was? The renowned Scholars Alexander Cunningham, S.B.Chaudhary and B.C.Lal identify Mithila with the small town of Janakpur just within the Nepal border. The name “Janakpur” was given by Yogi Surkishordas and Yogi Chaturbuj Giri in the late 17th century AD

The Society and the Dialect:

Maithili is the second popular language of Nepal. The census of 2002 shows 27, 97,582.00 Maithili speaking people and in ratio it would be 12.3 percent of the country’s population (227, 36,934.00)3 . Dhanusa and Mahottari cover the 2,182.00 Sq.km, and have 2, 11,646.00 household and 12, 24,845.00 numbers of people4. Maithili literature has a history of over one thousand years. The Malla rulers of Kathmandu valley used to speak and composed songs and dramas5. The majority of Maithili people are Hindus. Originally, there were only four Varnas based on human virtue Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras. Later on, the Varna system was to be determined by birth. The main castes of Mithila are Brahmin, Bhumihar, Amat, Bin, Kayastha, Rajput, Yadav, Koiri, Tharu, Donuwar, Satar, Dhanuk, Pasi, Suri, Teli, Kalwar, Dhobi, Musahar, Chamar, Tatma, Dusadh, Khatwe, Dom, etc.

Archaeologically, Janakpur is the one of the most important district of Nepal. It has a great potential as religious and tourist center. Many archaeological ruins, icons, ring wells, ancient stupas, temples and many sites of historical importance are scattered all around waiting for the spade of archaeologist.

Tourist likes to travel to the areas where they can see, feel and participate in the new culture. The feature that attracts a visitor to a particular destination can be defined as attractions. It associated with tourist attraction and tourist activities. Activity is what the tourist does as the destination area6. The tangible and intangible culture of Janakpur has so many things to offer to the tourists. Among the tangible culture many shrines of various architecture and plans, different artistic sculptures, paintings, and the Maithili culture, songs, way of life, bathing in the ponds, a visit to mathas (a Hindu priest house )7 provide a glimpse of intangible culture. This city is famous for its ponds and the author of these lines would suggest adding an adjective to this as the paradise of ponds.

Prominent Temples:

The artistic temples of Janakpur attract many tourists. Many devotees or pilgrims visit Janakpur for various religious activities. The most large and artistic Mughal style temple of Janaki, popularly known as “Naulakha”. This temple was built by Queen Vrisha Bhanu of the Indian state of Tikamgarh in Feb 11, 1911 A.D. This temple gets its name as Naulakha because the Queen spent rupees nine lakhs (Rs.9, 00,000) on its construction. It is also believed that it took twelve years to complete the temple. The height of the temple is approximately fifty feet. This temple is a beautiful example of Mughal style architecture in Nepal.

The beautiful example of pagoda style architecture is “Ram Mandir”. This is two storied and square in style. In the Nepalese square pagoda temple, the sanctum (garvagriha) is on the ground floor. The approximate height of this temple is twenty five feet and the breadth is twenty three feet. Ram mandir was built by General Amar Singh Thapa in 1882 A.D. The shrine was specified by Sanyashi Chaturbhuj Giri under a big banayan tree. According to local belief, the Sanyashi dreamt an idol of God Ram in the same place where the present temple is located. This stores a master piece of black female sculpt from Pal period (9th to 11th century).
The historic record of Jaleshwor Mahadev lies in the city of Jaleshwor, the head quarter of Mahottari district. Jaleshwor Mahadev is regarded as one of the Nepal’s distinguished places of pilgrimage and is specified in Hindu literature (Padma Purana etc). According to myth a hermit named Jagdish arrived in the solitary forest of Jaleshwor and he had a dream instructing him to dig the spot. In accordance with the dream, he began digging and soon found the image of Jaleswor Mahadev. He then constructed a temple with some gold that he brought from a place called Sunukhadagars. During the festivals of Shivaratri thousands of pilgrims gather at Jaleshwor Mahadev.8

Ponds Paradise:
Janakpur is known as pond paradise. Janakpur Kshetra has glory of having seventy five ponds (Sagars, Sars and Kups). This district’s ponds are considered among the sacred ponds mostly visited by Hindus. These ponds are located in the Laghu Parikrama (Circumambulating of a sacred place of tirtha as a rituals performance) route of Janakpur. All the ponds have religious and mythological importance. For example: Agnikund Sar (place famous for Yagna and Haven performance during the period of Sirdhwaj Janak), Anurag Sar (Sita used to take her bath here), Baldeva Sar with 0.184 hectare area (named after Baldevji, one of the associates of Lord Krishna), Bishahara ( it is believed that if a snake bites a person then he/she would not be affected from the poison of the snake if the person plunge into the pond) Dhanush Sar covering 1.96 hectares (the king of Janak dynasty used to keep the sacred bow at this place / it is also believed that among the three bows, on of the bow landed in Dhanusha ), Gangasagar with 2.86 hectares area (here the body of King Nimi was agitated by the Munis and then the prince was produced from it whom was called Videha (Mithi), Janak Sar covering 4.065 hectares ( named after this dynasty), Manmath ( Also named as Kamdeva Sar. Kamdeva is known as the God of love and passion), Murli Sar covering 0.748 hectare (named after the sacred flute of lord Krishna), Padpralakshan Sar with 1.196 hectares area ( named after one of the marriage rites as gor-dhuai), Purandhar Sar with 2.128 hectares area ( named after God Purandhar), Taildrighik Sar covering 0.332 hectare ( a marriage ritual named as Danahi performance was performed here on the occasion of it’s marriage), Viruja Sar covering 4.065 hectares (name of an Agni supposed to be in water) and Taran Sar (to get salvation)9. During the Parikrama festivals, thousands of pilgrims assemble at these ponds. The ponds have big significance. Therefore, it would not be wrong to say that the culture of Janakpur is an “Aqua Culture.” The importance of ponds was realized by the people from the very beginning of the civilization. The ponds provided water to drink, cultivate the land, to support cattle and as such ponds became something like the life supporter culture and civilization of the Janakpur. Thus it is also known as city of ponds. The ponds are to be properly fenced and the Government must declare it as protected zone. The aquatic animals in the ponds would be an attraction to the visitors. Gardens around the ponds should be made to make the site attractive. The regular water treatment is also essential. Floating restaurants, small rowing, fishing and paddle boats if introduced on these ponds would check the encroachment upon the ponds. Moreover, income might also generate from tourist’s arrival. The government authority must take severe action against those found involved in encroachment upon the ponds and restore their traditional demarcation. This is inherent for rehabilitating the traditional religious sanctity of Janakpur.10
The Popular Festivals:

Janakpur holds a distinguished place as a religious and cultural center of Nepal. The town is constantly engaged with the activities of the people in celebrating religious ceremonies round the year.
Bibaha Panchami is a popular festival of Janakpur and celebrates marriage of the Hindu God and Goddess Ram and Sita. During this festival, thousands of pilgrims arrive in the city. In this festival the icon of the Ram is brought from Ayodhya. During first day of the festival, thousands of Hindu pilgrims set procession from the Ram temple, carrying the icon of Ram and process to the Janaki temple. The next day in an equally colorful procession, a figure of Sita is carried to Ram’s side thus re-enacting the ancient wedding of the divine couple. The sculpture of Ram and Sita and sometimes their human analogues are led in procession and the brimming ceremony of marriage is enacted by the ascetics with the help of Brahmin priests. This ritual exhibits some anthropomorphic looks and has become widely accepted with the propagation of Ramlila. In this festival, approximately two lakhs (2, 00,000) pilgrims visit this area11.

The Ramnavami is another popular festival at Janakpur. Name of the festivals suggest that it is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Ram on the ninth day of the bright half of the moon in the month of Chaitra (March-April). The sadhus of different schools and cult gather here on this occasion. Nearabout five lakhs (5, 00,000) pilgrims visit this place during this festival12.

The custom of circumambulation (Parikrama) round certain sacred centers of Hindu pilgrimage has been considered as the better method of blotting out all sins committed during one’s life time. That is why, it finds a prominent mention in the Hindu literature (purana) and sacred scriptures and a great impetus has been given to Parikrama by the Hindu devotees and other towering religious personalities from time to time. Each year over one hundred thousand pilgrims, participate in this festival. There are three different types of Parikrama - Brihad (long), Madhyam (middle) and Laghu (short). It has also been recorded that there are three month (kartik, Falgun and Bhaishak) Parikrama can be attempt. Nevertheless, the Parikrama of falgun is very popular. The Brihad Parikrama is of 268 km round the whole of Mithila. First it will be started from Kausiki and then the pilgrims reach near Singheshwor. From there they move towards Ganga and up to Saligramji. From here they turn towards north, reach near Himalayas and again take a turn towards south and reach near by Kausiki. From kausiki, again they reach Singheshwarji and then the Brihat Parikrama ends. It is believed Brihat Parikrama take about one year to complete around the whole of Mithila, but there is no hard and fast rule as to how much time it should take. At present, this Brihat Parikrama is attended only by ascetic people. According to Mithila Mahatma, those who are unable to attempt Brihat Parikrama shall participate in Madhyam Parikrama. The Madhyam Parikrama of Janakpur is 128 km. The orthodox Hindu pilgrims complete this Madhyam Parikrama within five days as only five days have been accepted for this type of Parikrama by Mithila Mathmya. Yet at present, the pilgrims complete this Madhyam Parikrama within fifteen days. It is performed either on the first day of the bright half of the moon in the month of Falgun or on ambavasya (last day of the dark fortnight) and come to an end of poornima, when pilgrims attend the parikama of Janakpur town known as “Antar-griha” Parikrama. In the course of these fifteen days of Madhyam Parikrama, pilgrims are received by the shrine villages that fall in the route of Parikrama with great peculiarity and reverence. It has been observed that each of the village eagerly awaits her turn to receive the Parikrama pilgrims and provide all kinds of facilities like fire-wood, rice, vegetables, milk, sweets, rice pudding etc. The rich offer charity feasting to the poor pilgrims. Most of the pilgrims make their own arrangement. The third type of Parikrama, which is called as Laghu Parikrama, is 8 km in length. This Parikrama is also known as Antar-Griha Parikrama which takes about 4 to 5 hours to complete13. There is no restriction of caste, sex and age of the pilgrims who undertake the Parikrama.

The performance of Jhulan, name of the religious festival observed with special worship, decoration and dramatic performances during the month of July/August is very common at the sacred centers in Janakpur. On occasion in most of the temples, Kutis (hermitage) and private household, Jhulan is performed with great pomp and show. The large number of pilgrims participate Jhulan in Ram Mandir. The sculpture of Ram and Sita are made to swing on a highly decorated hammock accompanied by religious music, chanting and dance overnight. Thee are other popular festival like Krishna Janmasthami, Mas, Guru Purnima, Raksha Bandhan, Naagpanchami, Satuaain, Turshital, Brisait, Madhusravani, Chaurchan, Devotthanekadashi (haribodhini), Tila Sankranti, Sripanchami, Ekadashi, Faguwa, Chhata etc.

Mathas or Kuti:
Mathas meaning a hut, cottage, hut for retired people, for students and an ascetic people, collage for young Brahmans was popular in India for pre Christian eras. In modern terms Mathas were established by Sankaracharya in the four corners of India to promote the religion and to provide the education. The system soon became popular in northern India also. Yaksha Malla (1429- 1482 A.D.) established many Mathas for various sects to provide education and shelter to the students and Sadhus. Mathas of Janakpur were raised for the same responsibilities. The Sen rulers of Makwanpur donated lands and other support for the same causes. The Mathas of Janakpur being rich from the land, serve the poor, guest and perform the daily and other rituals to support the Sadhus.

When the Buddhism declined, due to disharmony and divergence from the original dogma, Hinduism had its renaissance. The Brahmans, who for sometime had been relegated to the background were able to reestablish and further, improve their attitudes of influence over the people, and in particular the rulers by the eighth century14. It was also about this time that rest house for pilgrims were built at expressive site of well known centers for Hindu religions. These rest house, serve also as meeting place for Gurus and Sadhus and other learned men and in a short time became significant centers for Hindu learning. The proper data of the constructions of the first Mathas in Nepal is still a subject to research, but it can be assumed that the basic plan of the still existing Mathas was not built much before the mid fourteen century. Mathas is like the Buddhist education center (monastries) where Mahanta (chief priest) provide imparting education, shelter for an ascetic people and foods for them. The Mahanta of the Mathas are known as Mathadhis. In every Maths, there are cow so that the daily worship of the god can be performed. The visitors are provided with dairy product. Janakpur is a school of Hinduism where we find many Maths. The tourist can enjoy through the live activities going around the Math therefore this place area can further be promoted as the tourist centers by the concerned authority. To initiate such activities the tourists can be encouraged by providing certain facilities like package tour. There are many popular Maths like Janak Mandhir, Janaki Mandir, Ram Mandir, Jaleshwor, Mahadev Math, Rani Ratwara Mandhir, Matteyani, Swami Narayan Mandhir, Simardahimatha.
Arts and Paintings:

The women of Mithila have artistic skill by birth. They are engaged in making different types of artistic pottery, basketry, Supmauni, chanmgari, dhakki ,dhamia, chhiti, mujela, dagri ,changri ,kansupti, chalani, gurchall,etc.15 . Although the beauty parlor is extrinsic to the Maithali culture, the women are well skilled in the art of decorating their bodies. The women get artistic images Godana (tattoo) on their bodies. Years before, the females of Mithila used to have their forehead painted in a unique style though the painting differed from unmarried to married women. This type of culture does not prevail these days in Mithila, yet it would add an asset to our cultural heritage in the form of unique and special regional style. Women use tikuli (tika) on their forehead. Moreover, they shade their hands and feet with mehendi.

The women are engaged in making traditional paintings, mostly painted in the wall of their mud houses, on the ground and even on the pottery, dishes, pillow cases, bed sheets, handkerchiefs etc.

During marriages, the paintings are usually made on the walls in the Kobar, the room where the bride receives her husband and where the couple spends the first four nights by maintaining sexual abstention. The Kobar symbolizes the blessing for new couple and wish for protection against the evil forces and the anger of the gods. Numerous paintings of marriage proposals are depicted in the walls along with different paintings of the bride and the bride groom in their wedding palanquin. The women may also depict paintings showing the Lingam and Yoni motif as a prayer for union16.

Aripan, the floor paintings, are created on various occasions such as in tonsure ceremony, in marriage, and during death rituals, etc. The basic images of social life and cosmology appear in these paintings. The basic objectives of the Aripan are to purify the earth, so traditionally; the floor must be coated with cow dung before the paintings17. It is as symbolic as a Tibetan Mandala18.

Here the visitors can have a glimpse of art and iconography in the image of various gods and goddess at Janakpur and Mahottari.

People of Janakpur have experienced a historic adventure tourism sports event that started from April 29, 2000. The Trans Himalaya 2000, organized by Raid Gauloses, played an important role adding a new chapter in tourism industry. This type of sporting event must be encouraged to go on in future so that can be attracted towards the non mechanical sports. The thrilling experience of this sport would definitely attract more local as well as international tourists enhancing the development of tourism in Janakpur Dham, the land of Sita, a pride to all the Hindus of the world.

Domestic tourism is a significant means of extending benefits with a country as well as improving the balance of foreign tourism revenue and utilization of investment. In many countries, domestic tourism is much more significant than international tourism19.

With over six hundred millions Hindus in India should be encouraged to travel to Janakpur. This can be turned into the center of learning which was already started from Yagyabalkya, the pre Christian eras. If Janakpur can be turned into a center of spiritual education, it can attract millions of Hindus from all over the world. This is how we can fulfill both the goals. The promotion of tourism will help the continuation of glorious culture of Janakpur that once was. A proper planning is needed so that the pilgrims can visit Pashupatinath after Janakpur or vice versa.

Typical village very often are one of the main tourist attraction of a country, for their picturesque appearance and for new ideas, Janakpur provides for visitors the experience local traditions, way of life, their languages, dresses and ornaments, food habits, village structure and its type, housing pattern, family pattern, religious belief, cultural aesthetic values, rites and rituals, ethos, subsistence system, fair and festivals, priesthood, supernaturalism, faith healing system, handicrafts etc. Janakpur as is rich an all the above this city can be on of the potential areas for the development of Model Village of Cultural Tourism. To provide a glimpse of authentic heritage, Mithila culture village can be a model. It has to be planned properly with modern facilities preserving the traditional look.

The feasibility of hotels, restaurant, bars, shops, transportation should be properly arranged. Reassignment for tourist accommodations with careful internal remodeling and renovations, salvage of plants, reconstruction of remaining traditional building to protect various sites of traditional and cultural values also and help to develop the traditional craft industries. This certainly would turn Janakpur into living museum.

The inadequacy of sanitation and a clean environment in Janakpur including Mahottari is a major issue. Unavailability of toilets in every house compels the people to excrete on the road side contaminating the atmosphere. This indeed creates a problem to the visitors. Therefore, the government and other concerned authorities should launch a special campaign to maintain good provision for sanitation both at home and public places. Control of bacteriological quality, restriction on building and unsightly development around the area, strict control over water pollution from algae, mosquito’s etc is a necessity. Moreover, first aid and safety facilities, transportation and proper parking facilities, sports and recreation facilities help in the contribution to regional tourism, which should be the goal of every planner involved for the development of Shree Janakpur Dham.

 

1. HMG/N, National Planning Commission Secretariat ,CBS, p.8
2. Alexander Cunningham, The Ancient Geography of India, p. 375
3. HMG/N, National Planning Commission Secretariat ,CBS, p.23
4. Ibid. p.8
5. International Maithili Conference, Asmita, Janakpur,2054 B.S (1997 A.D) ,p.8
6. Christine N. French/ Stephen J. Craig- Smith & Alan Collier, Principles Of Tourism. pp.123-124.
7. Wolf Gang Korn,The Traditional Architecture of Kathmandu Valley, p.
8. Department of Tourism, Nepal, p.137
9. Makhan Jha, The Sacred Complex In Janakpur, pp. 126-129
10. Dr. Hari Bansha Jha, Empowering Women Of Mahottari District, p.55
11. Makhan Jha, The Sacred Complex In Janakpur, p.50
12. Ibid.
13. Makhan Jha, The Sacred Complex In Janakpur, pp. 55-57
14. Wolf Gang Korn,The Traditional Architecture of Kathmandu Valley, P.40
15. Dr. Hari Bansha Jha, Empowering Women Of Mahottari District, p.9
16.Ibid,13
17. Ibid.
18.Ram Dayal Rakesh, Folk Culture of Nepal, p.52
19. Manuel Baud-Bovy & Fred Lawson,Tourism and Recreation p.268

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Bibliography:
 

1. Baud, Bovy Mannel & Lawson, Fred. (1998). Tourism & Recreation. Planta Tree: Great Britain.

2. Cunningham, Alexander. (1990). The Ancient Geography of India. Nimri, Ashok Vihar: Delhi.

3. Department of Tourism. (1997). Nepal. HMG: Kathmandu.

4. French Christine N/Smith, Stephen J. Craig & Collier, Alan (1995). Principle of Tourism. Longman: Australia.

5. His Majesty’s Government, National Planning Commission Secretariat. (2002 B.S.). Central Bureau of Statistic. National Planning Commission: Kathmandu.

6. Jha, Dr. Hari Bansh. (1997). Empowering Women of Mahotari District: A Case Study of Selected Villages Development Committees. Centre for Economy and Technical Studies: Kathmandu.

7. Jha, Makhan. (1971). The Sacred Complex in Janakpur. United Publishers: Allahabad, India.

8. Korn, Wolf Gang. (1993). The Traditional Architecture of Kathmandu Valley. Ratna Pustak Bhandar: Banarasi, India.

9. Pro. Public. (2001). Digo Bikash Ra Staharia Samudaya. Pro. Public: Kathmandu.

10. Rakesh, Ram Dayal. (1990). Folk Culture of Nepal. Nirala Publication: Jaipur, India.

11. Samuel, Beal. (1981). Buddhist Records of the Western World. Motilal Banarsidass: India.

 
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  Untitled Document
 

Nepalese Culture, Society and Tourism
By: Diwas Dhakal

This book is a collection
of essays devoted to the
Nepalese Culture,Society and Tourism. A special
stress on Natural and
cultural Heritage of Nepal has been very carefully emphasised.
Diwas Dhakal, 2000 ISBN 99933-570-0-6,
First Edition 2000
Published by:
Mukta Dhakl
Read more
Contents:

Tourism in Nepal: A Critical Analysis

Ghandruk: A Socio-cultural Study

The Aqua Culture of Kathmandu

People, Nature and Wild Life in Makalu - Barun

Purnachandi Bhuja Jatra of Patan: A Protection from Lightening

Vajrayan Buddhism and Nepal

The Accumulate Stupa of Ramagrama

The Stupa of Boudhnath: A World Heritage Site

Pagoda Style Architecture and Nepal

Development of Architecture in Nepal

 
 
 
 
 
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