Nepal is great Himalaya country. It is known as a home to Mt. Everest, the highest peak on the earth. It has been an independent and sovereign nation since its prehistoric period. It lies between India in the south, east, and west and China in the north and on a lap of majestic Himalaya was once called land of Himalaya. A closer look however reveals the country as a dynamic blend of a vast array of exotic nature and culture. Nepal is one of the richest countries in the world in term of bio diversity. Because of its unique geographical position, it is a land of scenic beauty with unrivaled attraction. The elevation range is to60 m to 8848m from sea level. It has an area of 147818 sq km. the land expends 880 km east to west and 145km to 241 km north to south. Because of its geographical variation it divided in to three main geographical region as Himalayas, hilly and Tarai, due to the country’s endowed with vast mass of natural resources making it affluent with varieties of flora and fauna.
For centuries, the kingdom of Nepal was divided in to many principalities until 18th century. The country took full shape only after 1768 A. D. when prithvi narayan shah, king of gorkha, conquered and united all the small states in to the great Nepal. Kathmandu is capital of Nepal. It is a huge showcase of colossal and miniature master pieces of stone work. There are three age- old durbar square, named kathmandu durbar square, patan durbar square and bhaktapur durbar square in the three city of Kathmandu valley. Also there is some museum, patan museum; Durbar palace museum, swoyambhu museum etc. pokhara is another best destination in Nepal and get way to annapurna trekking area. Chitwan national park is Nepal’s biggest and popular national park for jungle nature lover. Nepal is one of the best tourist destinations. It offers many things to travelers. Trekking, Mountaineering, river rafting, hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, rock climbing, bunji jumping, jungle safari, bird watching are most popular tourist activities in Nepal. Pashupatinath temple, shyambhunath stupa, Lumbini janaki temple, manakamana temple, gosainkunda and muktinath temple are most visited religious places in Nepal.
Geography of Nepal
Situated between longitudes 80 deg. 4 min. to 88 deg. 12 min. east and latitudes 26 deg. 22 min. to 30 deg. 27 min. north, Nepal is a landlocked country encompassing an area of 145,391 square kilometres. The country is almost rectangular in shape with its 120 to 240 kilometres width and nearly 900 kilometres length and lies wedged between the two Asian giants, China and India.
Within this small area lies one of the most diverse topographies and varied plant and animal life to found in the world. This is but to be expected in a country where the land rises from a lowly 67 metres above sea level all the way to the top of Mount Everest at 8,848 metres in a distance of 100 kilometres or so. Geographically, Nepal can be divided into seven regions going east to west. Although these divisions have mainly to do with altitude, they are equally different in the physical terrain as well.
Nepal has a population of more than 23 million consisting of more than 103 ethnic groups having different cultures and speaking above 93 languages. According to some recently calculated figures 86% of the people are Hindus, 8% are Buddhists and around 3 % are Muslims. The rest are divided into other religions. Whatever might be the figures, the perfect harmony maintained beautifully by people despite the religious differences is truly remarkable in Nepal. Some of the main groups are such: Gurungs and Magars who live mainly in the western region; Rais, Limbus and Sunwars who live in the eastern mid hills; Sherpas, Manangis and Lopas who live near the mountains of Everest, Annapurna and Mustang respectively; Newars who live in and around the capital valley of Kathmandu; Tharus, Yadavas, Satar, Rajvanshis and Dhimals who live in the Terai region; and Brahmins, Chhetris and Thakuris generally spread over all parts of the country. The population comprises various groups of different races which are further divided into different castes.The four main divisions of castes in Hindu Nepal are Bahun, Chhetri, Vaishya and Shundra. The family names of some Hindu castes may reflect locality as well as caste specific occupation. For instance, in Newari society potters are known as Kumal (kumale), while masons are kown as dakarmis. The common surnames of east and central Nepal are Gotame, Sharma, Regmi, Acharya, Nepal, Upadhyay, Aryal, Bhandari, Adhikari and Paudyal; those from west Nepal include Pant, Joshi, Bishta, Bhatta, Pandey, Awasthi, Lohani. Nepali is the official language, spoken and understood by 100 percent of the population. Multiple ethnic groups speak more than a dozen other languages in about 93 different dialects. English is spoken by many in government and business offices. It is the mode of education in most private schools of Kathmandu and some other cities.
Traditions & Cultures
Nepal is full of cultural wonders. Some of these cultural practices might seem strange to a person without prior knowledge about what one should expect to see. So, we now see some general cultural practices practiced in Nepal.
Tika and Kohl lined eyes
Tika, a mark on the forehead, symbolizes the blessings of god. The colors of the tika vary according to the occasion and type of temple one visits. The black gajal or kohl is used to line the eyes of children to keep away evil eyes.
Child marriage, polygamy and polyandry, though illegal now, once fed Nepali newspapers with interesting stories. The marriageable age has been legally set as 18 years for women and 22 years for men. Even today, most people do not have love marriages; the decision is usually made by the parents. Yet, the divorce rate is considerably low.
The pasni (rice – feeding) ceremony is the child’s next important occasion. In the presence of family and priests, the seven month old child is dressed in finery and fed rice presented on a coin by all members of the family. He is shown several objects on a tray: a heap of earth, paddy (un-husked rice), bricks, toys, ring, a pen, ink-pot and a book. It is said his parents can tell the child’s future profession from the object he first picks up.
Since Nepal is a country rich in ethnicity, there are different costumes worn by different ethnic groups. But generally, the men wear Daura suruwal’s and women wear sari’s.
Nepal is one of the most peaceful multi-religious countries in the world. Here, we find more than 103 ethnic groups with their own religious cultures, languages and lifestyles and yet there has been no ethnic violence or war caused for religious reasons. Hinduism is among the oldest faiths in the world, deeply rooted in the Vedas (the holiest among the Hindu scriptures) whose antiquity goes back to 2000 B.C.) According to Hindu Philosophy the ultimate goal of one’s life is to attain Moksha or liberation. There are three paths recommended to attain the goal; Artha (economic efficiency), Dharma (righteousness) and Kama (devotion to family). The three paths are designed to gradually lead one from Bhakti, to Mukti or Mokshya, the state of supreme bliss and detachment.
Rituals are another aspect of religion in Nepal as most Nepalese people are religious. For them rituals elevate them spiritually and help them to maintain solidarity among each other.
The recorded history of Buddhism in Nepal began with the Buddha himself. Many archeological ruins found in Kapilavastu and the vicinity indicates that many historical buildings are built there, 600 years before Christ. With the passage of time Buddhism underwent many socio-religious upheavals and Vajrayana and other sects were also introduced.
In Nepal, Hinduism and Buddhism are the two main religions. The two have co-existed down the ages and many Hindu temples share the same complex as, Buddhist shrines. Hindu and Buddhist worshippers may regard the same god with different names while performing religious rites.
Weather in Nepal
Nepal climate varies according to its season. Autumn and spring are the two most favorable seasons for visiting Nepal. Autumn starts from early September to early December and brings in clear weather with sunny days and warm nights. Whereas spring starts from the beginning of March to the end of May with occasional rain falls. From June to September, is the monsoon season. Trekking is generally difficult and uncomfortable as the climate of Nepal at this time of year brings about hot weather and rain falls almost every day. The trails become muddy and are often leech-infested. Moreover, the mountains are usually obscured by cloud. There are, however, possibilities for summer trekking in the trans-Himalayan regions of Mustang, Dolpo and Tibet. These regions lie in a rain-shadow and therefore receive significantly less precipitation than the more southerly areas.