Nepal is a mountaineer’s dream and best known for its mountainous regions.
1. The above shown flag is the only flag in the world which is quadrilateral. It is made by attaching two triangles which can either represent the two religions of Hinduism and Buddhism and also the mountains of Nepal.
2. While you may have known about the country being home to Mount Everest and Mount Kanchenjunga, i.e., the world’s highest and third highest peaks but the country is actually home to 8 of the 10 highest peaks in the world! The other 6 are:
- Lhotse (8516 m)
- Makalu (8481 m)
- Cho Oyu (8201 m)
- Dhaulagiri I (8167 m)
- Manaslu (8156 m)
- Annapurna I (8091 m)
Think you’re a mountain child? Well, here’s your heaven!
3. And while we know the tallest peak of the world by the name of Mount Everest, this name was only coined for it by the Royal Geographical Society in 1865. The locals had always known it by different names. The peak has been the “Qomolangma” for Tibetans which means “The mother’s universe”, “Chomolungma” for the Sherpas which denotes “The mother goddess of Earth” and “Sagarmatha” for the Nepalese meaning “The heaven’s forehead”. The uniformity really is in how each name tries to put across the might of this mountain.
4.Although the mountains made the country as popular as it is today but this nation actually holds a lot more records, such as:
5. It is home to the world’s highest lake, Lake Tilicho which is found at a height of 4,949m. Adventurers can even trek to this high-altitude turquoise gem over a span of 8-12 days depending on the route they take.
6. But the country is not only touching great heights, it is also touching great depths! What I mean to tell you is that it is also home to the world’s deepest gorge, Kali Gandaki Gorge which has a depth of 5,572 m.
7. The capital was actually a lake! No no, we don’t mean it’s a floating capital. You and your imagination! As per mythology, Manjushri flew over Kathmandu and saw a huge lake. In order to allow a civilization to take place, Manjushri cut the crest of Chobham with his sword, allowing the waters to be drained and thus, resulting in the valley as it exists today! Meanwhile, geological evidence indicates that the water never got drained all at once but over a period of 15,000 years in phases.
8. The village of Lumbini is the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Siddharth Gautam who founded Buddhism was born in this Nepali village.
9. And despite the country being the birthplace of Lord Buddha, up until the year 2006 it was the only country across the globe to have Hinduism as its official religion.
10. No discussion about Nepal would be complete without mentioning the legend of the Yeti. The Himalayan Tibetans call Yetis “Jigou” which is a bipedal ape species believed to be found in this region. While monasteries claim to have some remnants of these creatures, scientists have stated that there is very little factual evidence to actually go on. Nevertheless, the folklore continues to give heed to the legend. Who knows maybe one day we’ll spot one?!
11. The small country blessed with rich history, culture and natural beauty has been regarded as the country with the greatest concentration of UNESCO sites because the Kathmandu Valley is packed with many wonders. For instance, there are 7 sets of monuments found in the region all representing the country’s history and artistic wealth.
12. Unlike its neighbours, the country of Nepal actually never came to be colonized. The country has always been independent and didn’t undergo any foreign invasion.
13. From the village of Gurkha hail the fierce warriors who during the British rule had left the East India Company. The Britishers then sought to acquire their services as mercenaries and the Gurkhas went onto serve fearlessly even in the Indian Armed Forces. They have rendered services in the British Army since 1815! The use of the traditional knife called khukuri is known to be practiced by them. These knives are even found to be on the person of the Nepal police.
14. The Nepalese calendar or the Bikram Sambat is not based on the Western Gregorian calendar but instead on the lunar and solar cycles. So, the year actually commences in April as per the local calendar! Thus, if you go by this traditional calendar it is the year 2077 in Nepal.
15. There was also a time when weed could be found in every village and town of Nepal, so, the enthusiasts would call the country the “Weed Capital”. Ahem, moving on.
16. The country is so rich in its cultural heritage that it is home to 80 ethnic groups and 123 native languages.
17. And the best part is that no ethnic, religious or caste-ist differences have led to any form of blood shed in Nepal. It is a very harmonious country even with the abundance of cultural differences.
Trip Leader Niyati’s Recommendations:
1. Nepal is first and foremost a trekker’s paradise and there are many treks that an avid adventurer can undertake here depending on the availability of time and the fitness level, such as:
i. the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) – 4,130m, 7-12 days
ii. the ABC Circuit, 15-20 days
iii. Upper Mustang, 14 days
iv. Lake Tilicho (aforementioned) 8-12 days
v. Poon Hill, 4 days
vi. Nagarkot, one day trek
While Everest Base Camp is of course the most popular, the above are not as crowded (yet) and still allow you to get breath-taking views of the Himalayas. Although if your heart is set on Everest the Gokyo Lake trek takes about 14 days and lets you see the mighty Mount Everest with the stunningly blue lake in front of you.
2. And if trekking isn’t something that thrills you but you do want to see these natural gems up close the country offers panoramic flights. These sure cost a bomb but allow you to see Mt. Makalu, Mt. Gosaithan, Mt. Dorje Lhakpa, Mt. Gauri-Shanker, Mt. Pumori and of course, the Mount Everest!
3. For the culturally curious, the Boudhanath Stupa and Swayambhunath Stupa are a chance to get up close and personal with the essence of Buddhism in this country, seeing as it took birth here.
4. The Hindu temple of Pashupatinath is also famous and sees throngs of visitors coming down to pay their respects. An exemplary example of Hindu architecture, this temple has been around since 400 AD. The temple aarti in the evening is also a serene experience.
5. The Durbar Squares of Kathmandu indicate the kingdoms of Bhaktapur, Patan and Basantapur that had ruled here in the ancient years. Each square has a range of temples, idols, structures, statues and carvings that take you through the way of life at that time.
6. Chitwan National Park with more than 500 species of migratory birds and animals such as tigers, elephants, leopards and one-horned rhino, etc., this national park is a must visit for the wildlife lovers. You can explore the typical Tharu village also nearby. Bardia National Park is another point of interest for such travellers.
7. Pokhara is where the life of a hill station can be enjoyed. With the views of the close yet far mountains, the scenic landscapes and the Pewa Lake where on clear days the Annapurana ranges reflection can be glimpsed.
8. For other thrilling activities you could go river rafting at Bhote River, kayaking at Seti River or simply go mountain biking around Kathmandu.
How to Reach:
There are direct flights to Kathmandu, so, you can reach your destination within 2 hours from Delhi!