About Nepal

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It is hardly to find any other country that comes alive and becomes colourful every month at major festivals. Most of them that shouldn’t be missed by guests are celebrated from August to November. Nepal is a wonderful guide for your exploration of the meditation techniques, Yoga postures and therapies that are found in both Hinduism and Buddhism.

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Nepal, officially called the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is situated in South Asia and borders China in the north and India in the south, east and west. The distinctive feature of the country is the greatest variation in altitude on the earth: from the lowland Terai to Mt. Everest, the highest point in the world (8848m). The land is noted for its rich geography. Except of four wonderful valleys there are eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains in the north. Nepal stretches about 800 km in length and ranges from 90 to 230 km wide.


Climate

Nepal is a country of climatic contrasts: summer temperature on the plains can rise above 40°C. At the same time highlands features hurricane winds and the temperature here can drop below 20°C. Nepal has four seasons: winter (December-February), a cool and dry season with temperatures ranging from 3 to 19°C, spring (March-May) when the average temperatures range from 10 to 29 °C, hot and humid summer (June-August) with temperatures of 19 - 30 °C and hot and dry autumn (September) with temperatures of 12 - 26 °C. Monsoons last from June till mid-September.

Nepal has rich flora and fauna. More than 848 species of birds or 8% of the world’s population and 11 families of butterflies inhabit the country. Nepal is home to 319 species of exotic orchids, 600 indigenous plant families.


The best way to get acquainted with amazing and bright representatives of wildlife is visiting national parks and sanctuaries. Nepal possesses nine national parks, three wildlife reserves, one hunting reserve and three conservation areas. Most of guests can’t miss visiting such protected areas as Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park, Royal Chitwan National Park and others. Among them Everest and Royal Chitwan are included in UNESCO’s World Heritage of Mankind list.

The best place to watch migratory birds is situated along the Kosi River, one of three major rivers of Nepal, and is called Kosi Tappu Wildlife Reserve. The area, noted for water buffaloes, is also a home to spotted deer, wild boar, bison, crocodile and dolphin. Shukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve is a great chance for those who want to spot the largest herd of swamp deer in the world as well as wild elephants, Royal Bengal Tiger, chital and wild boar.

Royal Bardia National Park like Royal Chitwan National Park attracts visitors by possibilities to view rhinos, tigers as well as leopard, black bull, spotted deer, hog deer, bark deer and wild elephant. Khaptad National Park welcomes guests who wish to be captivated by a great variety of Himalayan flora and fauna (black bear, musk deer, wolf and langur monkey). Snow leopard and blue sheep are the major attraction in Shey Phoksundo National Park. Enjoy the scenic views of Rara Lake and hills of the far west Nepal in Rara National Park.

Population
Population of Nepal is 28.58 million. About 1 million live in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu. Due to the country’s location Nepal is an amazing mixture of different races and nations speaking various languages and dialects. More than 101 ethnic groups populate Nepal. The indigenous inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley are the Newars. They played an important role in developing of art and architecture. Native dwellers of the Terai Valley are Tharus. Thakuris along with Chhetris and Brahmins tried to spread Nepali language in the country. Tamangs are known as farmers and craftsmen live around hills north and south of the Kathmandu Valley. You can’t find best mountaineers as ones of Sherpas ethnic group who inhabit the south-west of Mt. Everest. The Gurungs, living in the north of Pokhara, as well as Magars in the western and central hills have won fame as excellent Gurkha soldiers.

Each of these ethnic groups follows its customs and way of life. For example, Brahmins don’t drink alcohol, a man of Brahmins first meet his wife on the day of marriage and so on. Polygamy and polyandry (the custom of wife having more than one husband) are still practised in some areas of Nepal.

If you want to discover the Hindu epics revealed in dance performance you can visit Kartik Dance organised in Patan Durbar Square in November.


Language
Nepali language spoken by more than 90% of population is the national language in the country. Mongoloid people also speak Tibeto-Burmese languages called “Janjaatis”. In the Terai you can hear Maithili, Bhojpuri and Awadhi dialects as well as radio news that are broadcasted in such languages as Tamang, Gurung and Magar. 


Religion
Two beliefs predominate in Nepal – Hinduism and Buddhism. But at the same time Nepal is officially a Hindu country where more than 86% of population are Hindus. However, Nepal’s valleys are adorned with fabulous and majestic Buddhist temples too, for example, the temple of Swayambhu in Kathmandu and the “Golden Temple” in Patan. They attract many Buddhist devotees. Besides, Nepal is a country of mixed Hinduism and Buddhist philosophy. It is known as Vajrayana and is spread in the Kathmandu Valley. Muslims and Christians have also an opportunity to worship saints and follow religious doctrines at several shrines.


Art

It is popularly believed that Nepal is the birthplace of the pagoda style of architecture represented by such famous structures as the Pashupati temple and Nyatpola. If you want to discover the Shikhara style you can visit Krishna Temple in Patan. Even nowadays guests have a chance to enjoy works of art dating back to the 5th, 14th-18th centuries at temples and other buildings situated mostly in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur.


Cultural programs
If you are more interested in Nepalese music and dance you shouldn’t miss various shows organised at hotels in Kathmandu during the peak season. The most popular are such hotels as Soaltee Holiday Inn, Yak n Yeti, as well as the Newari cultural program of Hotel Vajra, Nepalese folk singing at several restaurants in Thamel.       


Yoga
Nepal is a wonderful guide for your exploration of the meditation techniques, Yoga postures and therapies that are found in both Hinduism and Buddhism. We recommend you perfect destinations where you can learn Yoga and meditation. For example, the best place to practice different postures including standing on head, Pranayama and Hathayoga is Arogya Asharam at Gaushala near the Pashupati Temple. If to talk about Buddhist mediation there are no better places to learn it than at Kopan monastery north of Bodnath and Vipasana Yogic Centre at Budhanilkantha. Kathmandu Buddhist Centre, which is located at Hotel Ganesh Himal at Chhetrapati, welcomes guests for introductory courses and for retreats aimed for more advanced students.



It is hardly to find any other country that comes alive and becomes colourful every month at major festivals. Most of them that shouldn’t be missed by guests are celebrated from August to November.

In January locals celebrate Maghe Sankranti by organising different fairs and taking bath in the holy rivers.

In February enjoy watching colourful ceremony held at the temple of Pashupati dedicated to the birthday of Lord Shiva. This festival is known as Shivaratri.

Enjoy the Holi or Fagu festival in March during which people throw coloured water and red powder on each other. It symbolizes the sacred flame, where a fierce goddess demon Holika was burnt in.

April is marked by celebration of Chaitra Dasain when many goats and buffaloes are sacrificed to the goddess Durga at Kot Square in Kathmandu. Bisket Festival in Bhaktapur is a great chance for guests to see a wooden pillar erected and chariots being pulled to the temple of Bhairabnath. This festival lasts for a whole week.

None of pilgrims can avoid visiting Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha, especially on Birthday of Buddha in May celebrated at Swayambhu and Boudhnath with special pomp.

Atmosphere in Bhaktapur and Kathmandu during Gai Jatra or Cow Festival in August is sacred and symbolic. Hundreds of costumed people walking in a long procession accompanied by cows symbolize people who have died in their families in the previous year. Besides, stick dancing and music in different floats in Bhaktapur make the procession more colourful and exciting.

Married women who want to live a happy life with their husbands come to Pashupati Temple in August at Teej Festival dressed in bright saris with red marks on foreheads and bathe in the holy waters of the rivers.

The biggest festival in Nepal is Bada Dasain celebrated in October. It includes different festivities held during fifteen days. Those are a procession of government officials, sacrificing of goats and buffaloes, Sword Festival, gambling and many people with red marks.

Another festival which honours memory of dead relatives is Bala Chaturdashi celebrated in December. It especially attracts guests by breathtaking views of the illuminated temple of Pashupati and exciting ceremony of scattering seeds and burning candles.

The most popular items that could be bought in Nepal are Tibetan-Nepali carpets, wool jackets, bags, shawls made of Pashmina wool and Nepalese tea.
Art connoisseurs shouldn’t miss buying thangkas or paubas, traditional painting of deities in paper or silk and papier-mâché masks which depict deities and are widely used at dance festivals.

Nepalese traditional handicrafts and bronze works as well as Tibetan items including musical instruments, charm boxes, bracelets and so on are still popular among guests. In Kathmandu, Patan or Thamel you can afford to buy jewellery at inexpensive prices. In shops you can find silver jewellery, such stones as lapis lazuli, topaz, ruby, garnet and sapphire.

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