Unquestionably, the landlocked, mountainous, small yet sovereign nation is well known by plenty, by the number 8848.86 meters- Yes, the Mount Everest! Also known as Sagarmatha locally. This holds true for the majority of the population of the world. But, for those few, who still are trying to figure out where Nepal is, this article will just manage to enlighten you with the same.
Sandwiched between 2 giant countries- India and China, Nepal is a country of diversity in every aspect; so unique that hundreds of people flock into this country and are in absolute awe. When you put foot in this country for the first time, you will have an absolute feeling that you are in a totally different world. With 147,181 square kilometers of area, Nepal occupies 0.3 and 0.03 percent of land area of Asia and the world respectively. Nevertheless, so unique that most people will have “travel to Nepal ” on their bucket list in their lifetime for once, at the least. Nepal is a very blessed country in terms of phenomenal landscapes, uncompared beauty of himalayas, bewitching mountains, breathtaking trekking trails and hypnotic lakes. The amazing fact that makes Nepal even more popular as a country of himalayas is that 8 of the 14 eight thousanders are located here, either in whole or shared across a border with the neighboring countries. And of course, the highest mountain in the world being “the ” Mount Everest. The tropical lowland called Terai and the hilly midlands with much higher population density. This uniqueness in the geographical aspect also summons distinctive culture and tradition followings. The beauty of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious can be witnessed. Home to nearly 30,131,715 people divided into 103 ethnic groups, Nepalese believe in “Unity in Diversity ” for the world to see. We live together in peace and utmost respect is bestowed upon each others’ cultural and traditional values, and that, we are also taken as the most hospitable people. Nepalese, be from any culture, caste or religion, have the ability to appreciate spiritual values, beliefs and practices which are different from our own. Nepal is primarily a Hindu country. with maximum adhering to the religion but has influences of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam et cetera. In fact, many Nepalese people combine Hindu and Buddhist practice; many temples and shrines are shared between the two, and some same deities are worshiped by both Hindus and Buddhists. A complete religious tolerance can be seen in the temples, mosques, and Gumbas where everyone is treated with respect.
With a majority of Hindu population, Nepal has uncountable temples that tell stories of its history, the holy shrines, the stupas, and various other icons, sculptures, statutes, and pictures that people worship. The processions and devotional music sends in a different vibe altogether. The daily practice of the rituals and worship from the people which have been passed from generation to generation is a common yet enthralling sight.
Most of the temples in Kathmandu, Capital of Nepal hold centuries of history and information, making them a valuable part of national heritage. For e.g the Pashupatinath Temple,on the banks of Kathmandu’s Bagmati River, the holiest Hindu temple in Nepal, the Swayambhunath Stupa, located on a conical shaped hill popularly known as the ‘Monkey Temple’, one needs to ascend 365 steps to reach the destination. The list of famous temples in Nepal will be incomplete without Bajrayogini or Gum Bihar. The temple located on the banks of Sali Nadi in Sankhu valley of Kathmandu. Thereafter, Budanilkantha – where Lord Vishnu resides amidst lotus in an open air pool and of course, Nyatapola temple: the tallest pagoda style temple of Nepal. And there are other uncountable ones with significant importance. Nepal has been ruled by many kings over the centuries before democracy. Each regime has yielded its own cultures, tradition, lifestyles and mainly architecture that has been a legacy for the people of Nepal and bewilderment for the foreigners.
One of the most distinctive things which one will notice about Nepal that is different from the rest of the world has to be its flag. Unlike every other country’s flag, it’s not rectangular in shape but triangular with a combination of two pennons with Sun and Moon drawn on each of the pennons.The color on the flag too holds a special notion. The crimson red on the body represents the war victory and national flower “Rhododendron”.The blue color border means peace with white moon symbolizing Nepalese to be very soothing and calm, while the sun symbolizes fierce resolve. Also, the moon symbolizes the shades and the cool weather of the Himalayas, whereas the sun symbolizes the heat and the high temperature at the lower part of Nepal. This one and only flag is believed to be more than 2000 years old in the history of Nepal.
Ever heard of a living god? Yes, the living one, whose feet don’t touch the ground outside her palace. A tiny toddler, dressed in all red and bedecked in gold jewelry from head to toe, carried everywhere but never by her own feet. Chosen from hundreds of other girls to get to this final test prescreened for 32 qualities of “Perfection” through a zodiac birth chart, by the highest priest in the land. Left in a horrific “dark place” filled with something terrorizing-on the eighth day of the biggest festivals of Nepal- The Dashain. If she cries, she’ll be sent home. But if she braves the horror in silence without being scared or even nervous, she’ll be initiated as a “living goddess” called the Kumari, worshiped by Nepal’s Newari people in a tradition stretching back 300 years until she hits her adolescence and back to her normal life again. No-one really knows what happens on the induction day, not even the Kumari herself, being too young to even remember. It is believed the Royal Kumari’s blessing maintains the peace and prosperity within the country.
The land of mountains is also well known for being the land of festivals. There are more than 50 festivals celebrated in Nepal every year. While the national festivals have fixed dates, religious festivals are set by astrologers/pandits following the lunar calendar. And the best part of it is people here in Nepal who celebrate each and every festival with the same enthusiasm and galore the way it used to be hundreds of years ago. So much has changed but something remains constant for years to come too. No matter which time of the year one visits Nepal, there will be a certainty to encounter at least one of the country’s festivals. Celebrations vary from legendary masked dances which have amused foreigners from all around the world to the grand national tugs of war; a splendid feast for the eyes.Then comes the impressive chariot parades, which remains the most amused, happening, and invigorating events for both locals and foreigners like, Bisket Jatra, Indra Jatra, Rato Machhendranath, etc. Here you’ll see hundreds of Nepalese devotees of the Newar community drag the chariots through the crowded streets of the country and the sight- mesmerizing that it engulfs every being.
Yes, a country so rich in its culture, tradition, norms, values hasn’t been untouched by the outside world. Today, Nepal has seen many influences from around the world for the way of living and lifestyle. Urbanization holds the presence of wide big malls, however, at the side, there will be temples, the shrines, the holy chants. The juxtaposition shall feel just as right: The modern with the ancient and medieval Nepal, a perfect combo to the modern world to see. This sets off a rare sight. However, Nepal has managed to balance it in a way that whoever still puts foot on this very land, everything is, always, on the skin- very profound in nature, the land of wonders, culture, history, adventure, people, festivals, and altogether the excitement. Some places have more culture than nature, others have more history and art, others more of nature and others more of traditionals norms of living.
If not for these definite uncountable reasons, Blockbuster Hollywood movies like Dr. Strange and The Golden Child would not have been shot here in this very country, isn’t it?
Last but not the least- birthplace of buddha Nepal, symbols of peace and sanity teaches everyone how important it is to be calm and composed and take life as it comes. Walk in the footsteps of Buddha as you explore the region where he spent his childhood as Prince Siddhartha. The exact spot where Buddha was born is marked here in Lumbini In many ways, the story of Buddhism all begins in Lumbini, under a full moon more than 2600 years ago and the site has understandably become one of the world’s most important holy sites.
Join the millions of pilgrims who have made the journey over two thousand years and feel the power of spirituality for yourself.
For heaven is a myth, Nepal is Real.
To the question: where is Nepal?- Answer is simple- Where once is not enough!
© 2024 - Himalayan Trekking and Tours (P) Ltd. All Rights Reserved.