||Nepal is a country of amazing extremes. There are the world's highest mountains including Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) towering above populated valleys and forested plains in which the lordly tiger and trudling rhinoceros live. Enchantment is everywhere, be it on the shoulders of high mountains on terraced ridges like stairways to the sky, in the bustle of the cities, on quiet or rushing rivers, or in forests full of wild life, flowers and birdsong. Something for everybody-tourists, trekker, river runner, wild life enthusiast, poet, artist, writer, scholar, or the weary in search of a personal Shangrila.
|In Kathmandu, the capital, or in its suburbs, to cross a street is to travel across centuries. Shrines, temples, palaces, palace-squares, ageless sculptures and legend that are parts of every brick and stone and gilded masterpiece, make living museums of Kathmandu Valley.
Nepal, a sovereign independent Kingdom, lies between 80° 4' and 88° 12' east longitude and 26° 2' - 30° 27' north latitude. It is bounded on the north by the Tibet region of the People's Republic of China, on the east by Sikkim and West Bengal and on the south by Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and on the west by Uttar Pradesh (India) alone. The length of the Kingdom is 880 kms. east-west, and its breadth varies from. 144 to 240 kms. north-south. It lies in the temperate zone with the added advantage of altitude. Except for the Tarai on the south, even the valleys, with some exceptions, are seldom less than four thousand feet above sea-level. All this adds up to one interesting fact. There is no seasonal constraint on travelling in and through Nepal. Even in December and January, when the winter is at its severest, there are compensations bright sun and brilliant views. Winter days often begin in mist which can last until noon. Then suddenly, by magic as it were, the fog disappears to bring to view snowy peaks, glistening white and fresh against the large blue sky. All seasons are good for travelling. Each has its own unique charm.
Nepal has a long glorious history. Its civilization can be traced back to thousand of years before the birth of Christ. Modern Nepal is an amalgamation of a number of principalities which had independent entities in the past before the campaign of national integration launched by Prithvi Narayan Shah the Kathmandu Valley was ruled by the Malla kings, whose contributions to art and culture are indeed great and unique. As the popular legend goes, the original settlers of the Kathmandu Valley were the Gopalas, Mahisapolas and Kiratas, later succeeded by the Lichhavis, who in turn were succeeded by the Thakuris Mattas.
In 1768 the Shah dynasty ascended the throne or the unified Kingdom. The present King of Nepal, His Majesty King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, is the tenth King in the Shah dynasty. The period between 1846 and 1951 is generally described as the dark period in the history of Nepal, the period when the hereditary Rana prime-ministers ruled the country despotically. As a result of the popular revolution of 1950-51, headed by the then reigning monarch. King Tribhuvan, with the active support of late King Mahendra (then Crown Prince) and other members of the Royal family, the Rana autocracy was wiped out and a democratic system of government was introduced. On December 15, 1960, the partyless Panchayat system, which evolved from the historic traditions of Nepal, was introduced. In the wake of this political system came social reforms, economic progress and stability in the country.
|Nepal has a population of around 17 million, made up of different races and tribes, living in different regions, wearing different costumes and speaking different languages and dialects. The Gurungs and Magars live mainly in the west and on the southern slopes of Annapurna, Himalchuli and Ganesh Himal. The Rais, Limbus and Sunwars inhabit the eastern mountains. The Sherpas, "the Tigers of the Snow" live in the Himalayan region up to an altitude of 1 5,000 ft. The Newars constitute the most important ethinic group in the Kathmandu Valley. There are Tharus, Yadavas, Satars, Rajvamsis and Dhimals in the Tarai region. The Brahmins, Kshetriyas and
|Thakuris inhabit the most parts of the Kingdom. All these races and tribes live together peacefully to form and integral whole. They are tied up together by their common ideals of peace, democracy and nationalism.
RELIGION AND CULTURE
Hinduism and Buddhism are the two major religions of Nepal, the only Hindu state in the world. Hindus and Buddhist live together in a friendly way. They worship both Hindu and Buddhist deities and celebrate festivals of both religions. The Kumari, or virgin goddess of Kathmandu, for instance, is a Hindu goddess, but selected from a Buddhist clan for worship.
A remarkable feature of Nepal is thus the religious homogeneity that exists, particularly between the Buddhist and Hindu communities. The People are extremely religious and observe from day to day the traditional customs and rites that both religions command. The rich cultural heritage of Nepal can be seen in the diverse social customs and frequent socio-religious festivals which spill into the streets and squares of the cities and villages. There is hardly a day or a place where one can not see the celebration of some sort of festival, however small. You can see that it has its root in distant history.
The exquisite architecture and artistic embellishment of the Nepalese pagodas that enshrine the bronze and stone images of great beauty and, more often than not, great antiquity, are a unique feature of Nepal. The temples and stupas are rich repositories of wood carving, metal work, teracotta and stone sculpture. In their uniqueness they add glory and grandeur to the cultural scene of the Kingdom and tell of a long history of native genius.
Different ethinic groups have their own languages. However, Nepali, the national language, serves the purpose of the lingua franca in Nepal. It is written in Devanagari script. The educated people speak and understand English as well.
CLIMATE AND CLOTHING
Nepal's climate varies with its topography. The climate ranges from tropical to arctic varying with the altitude (29,028 ft. to a little below 1,000 ft. above sea-level). The Terai region, which lies in the tropical section of the country, has a hot, humid climate. The mid-land regions are pleasant all the year round, although winter nights are cool. The northern region, at an altitude above 1 1,000 ft., has an alpine climate with a considerably lower temperature in winter.
Seasons & Clothing
Nepal has four seasons: (a) March-May - Spring, (b) June-August - Summer, (c) Sept-Nov. - Autumn, (d) Dec-Feb -Winter.
Clothing depends on place and time. It is recommended that one have both light and warm clothing. For summer in the Terai or Kathmandu, only light clothes are needed.