The area of Nepal is 147,181 km 2 , it is bordered by India to the south and China to the north. Its capital is Kathmandu, the largest religion is Hindu, which was the state religion until 2006, but you can also find Buddhism, Kirant (a local religion, a type of shamanism), Islam and Christianity. Followers of different religions live peacefully side by side, there is no typical tension or conflict between different religious groups. The population of the country has grown dynamically in the last 50 years, in 1970 the country had 17 million inhabitants, which today is close to 30 million.
Nepal's time calculation is unique, the country is also in a separate time zone, it differs from Central European time by 3 hours 45 minutes in summer and 4 hours 45 minutes in winter. The Nepali New Year is aligned with the movement of the moon, with its first day usually falling between April 11 and 15.
The composition of the population is very mixed, the ethnic composition ranges from Indo-European to Mongoloid type, in many cases with their own language, dialect and customs. The official language of the country is Nepali, but according to the 2011 census, a total of 123 languages are spoken in the country. There is a significant number of Tibetan refugees living in the country without citizenship. The country has a caste system similar to that of India, but it is by no means as strong, and they are more open and accepting of those belonging to other castes. The majority of the population lives in the countryside and earns a living from farming, but many work abroad and send their earnings home to their families, thus helping them to make a living, which is almost unimaginable in isolated villages and higher areas from other sources.
The two most typical religions are Hinduism (80%) and Buddhism (11%), but in many cases the two religions are intertwined in a way that is difficult for Europeans to understand, and it is difficult to separate religious practices and beliefs. You can regularly find churches and monasteries that are open to believers of both religions, Buddhists and Hindus also pray to the deity with a different name but symbolizing the same thing.
The tropical monsoon climate is dominant in the lower elevations, with relatively mild winters, hot summers and the monsoon season that follows, but because of its higher elevation than India, the summers are not as hot. Monsoon is not typical in mountainous areas, the weather is typically cooler and drier in these areas.
The people of Nepal
Tourists usually visit the country for the scenery, cultural background and wildlife, but one of the most lasting memories of visitors will be the innate friendliness of the locals. Put our hands together and say "nameste" and you will be met with one of the widest smiles in the world. It sounds like a cliché, but Nepalese are one of the friendliest nations in the world. Nameste is the generally accepted greeting, the meaning of which can best be translated as the god in me greets the god in you.
It is no wonder that the people of Nepal are friendly, since countless different ethnicities, cultures and religions live together in peace in the country. It is fascinating to observe how these different groups of people have adapted to their environment. It is interesting to observe that in the countryside they still make their tools and food by hand. Visiting the villages of Nepal is like visiting an open-air museum. In the big cities, modern life mixes with ancient traditions, which is particularly visible during holidays and festivals. Since the people of Nepal are extremely friendly, this is perhaps the main reason why a visitor there cannot remain a tourist for long. As soon as a tourist gets to know the place and the people, from then on he is not considered a stranger, but a valued guest, and the guest is considered a god by the Nepalese.
The 2015 earthquake
On April 25, 2015, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 shook the central part of the country. It was the first major earthquake in eighty years, its epicenter was 80 kilometers from the capital. Its strength is characterized by the fact that the position of the capital, Kathmandu, has shifted by one and a half meters to the south. The first big earthquake was followed by hundreds of aftershocks and then a second big earthquake. More than 9,000 people died and nearly 22,000 were injured under collapsed buildings, landslides and avalanches. The earthquake destroyed half a million homes, several isolated settlements were razed to the ground. Many buildings of historical and religious importance were also destroyed or heavily damaged.
The country is slowly recovering from the shock caused by the great earthquake of 2015 and is returning to its old ways. A popular tourist destination again, its culture and diverse geographical environment attract crowds of tourists.
Nepal's main income comes from tourists visiting here. The country regenerated very quickly after the earthquake, and in 2017 it was again mentioned as one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world by several leading tourist portals. LonelyPlanet named the country the world's best value for money tourist destination, thanks to its diverse geographical and cultural background and the Nepali people, who are considered one of the friendliest people in the world.
One of the most important elements of its tourist attraction is the Himalayas, located in the northern part of the country, with eight peaks above eight thousand meters. Thousands of trails pass through this area and offer almost unlimited opportunities for hikers and climbers.
The southern, lower-lying area of the country with its humid climate is perfect for jungle and wildlife lovers. The safaris organized here offer the opportunity to get to know the local wildlife - tigers, Indian rhinoceros, elephants, leopards and red pandas. This area is also attractive to bird lovers, as 900 different species of birds live here, including some native to Nepal. Nowadays, the developing transport infrastructure allows this area to function as a professional tourist destination.
In addition to the natural wonders, the cultural and religious diversity of the country attracts many people. Nepal's culture is uniquely rich and diverse, thanks to the countless ethnic groups and religions that coexisted. It is no wonder that it is known as the land of a thousand temples, as there are more than three thousand temples in the Kathmandu Valley alone, which offers visitors an almost unfathomable opportunity to immerse themselves in the religious and cultural heritage. But thanks to its geographical location, Nepal is still not a mass tourist destination, it maintains its exotic character, thus offering tourists a special experience.
Mountain climbing, hiking
Nepal is famous worldwide for its natural beauty, which is due to its unique topography. Its deepest area is 70 meters above sea level, and its highest point is also the highest point in the world, Mount Everest (Nepalese name Sagarmatha, Tibetan name Tsomolungma), whose height above sea level is 8,848 m. Overall, the Himalayas are the highest mountains in the world, 10 of its 1,300 peaks reach over 8,000 meters and 8 of these 10 peaks are located in Nepal.
Trekking is one of the most popular activities in Nepal, many people come from all over the world to conquer different peaks. The wide range of options allows people of all ages and abilities to find the right hiking option, whether it's climbing the highest peaks or a less challenging hike. A tour is possible even for those who arrive in the country without such a plan, because you can choose from a wide range of guides and organized tours, and all the equipment can be obtained locally. It is only a matter of days to organize a more serious tour. A hiker is rarely alone in Nepal. In general, hiking does not mean wandering through an abandoned landscape, most of the tours follow well-marked hiking trails, which are regularly used not only by trekking enthusiasts, but also by locals. Settlements and teahouses found along the routes allow hikers to rest and regenerate, whether for a few minutes or a night. The specific culture and unreserved friendly behavior of the Nepali people are also decisive for the tours.
The best times to hike are dry and warm, typically March through June and late September through November. At this time, the temperature is tolerable and the sky is usually clear, although from May you can expect more or less rain. During the monsoon season, the hiking trails are usually empty and landslides may impede progress. The winter months are pleasant in the lower areas, but it is too cold in the higher areas.
Almost everyone can find a tour that suits their abilities, the tours that require the least endurance are available even for those who can walk uphill for a few hours without straining. Of course, longer tours, crossing higher passes and reaching remote areas require greater endurance. Reaching the peaks of 5,650-6,500 meters requires more serious mountaineering preparation. Be aware that you need to get the right permits before you go.
Religion is still very important in Nepal, so most Nepalese holidays have their roots in Hinduism and Buddhism. These holidays and festivals can last several days, of which the following are the most important, but the visitor can also encounter many other holidays.
Dashain Festival: celebrated by both Hindus and Nepalese practically everywhere in the world, many Nepalis living abroad return home to celebrate with their families. This is the longest and most important festival in the calendar, it usually falls in September or October, the date varies from year to year because the date is adjusted to the moon cycle, it is officially a 6-day period, but its total length is 15 days, it usually follows the monsoon period. Generally speaking, Dashain festival celebrates the victory of good over evil.
Buddha Jayanti: This day is Buddha's birthday, which usually falls in May according to the Gregorian calendar. For Buddhists, this day has special significance, since Buddha was born in Nepal.
Chhath Puja: a four-day holiday in honor of the Sun, giving thanks for "sustaining all forms of life on earth." Hindus consider the sun to be a source of healing, growth and general well-being. The customs associated with the holiday include the rituals with which they ask for a long and healthy life for themselves and their loved ones.
Nepali New Year: The official Nepali New Year usually falls between April 11 and 15, depending on the moon. In fact, due to the myriad of different ethnicities living together, there are nine different New Years in Nepal, but this is the date they all celebrate.
Maha Shivaratri: One of the most important Hindu festivals, it is celebrated before the arrival of spring and dedicated to Shiva. Unlike most Hindu festivals, Maha Shivaratri is a night celebration, with devotees keeping vigil and praying throughout the night to celebrate Shiva's ability to overcome darkness and ignorance. Holy fires are lit around the temples. The official ceremony begins at midnight, with celebrants carrying water in their hands to offer to the stone star, a symbol of Shiva.
Some of the tourist destinations in Nepal are:
-Kathmandu and the surrounding hills and temples
-The old royal city of Bakhtapur
-The Boudanath Stupa, the largest stupa in the world, whose origins date back to the 6th century
- The city of Pokhara, which is the gateway to the Himalayas and from here to the Annapurna base camp
-Wildlife safari in Chitwan National Park
-Hiking in Langtang National Park, enjoying unique mountain views, discovering cedar forests, wildlife and rural life
-Visit the Everest Base Camp
-Visit the birthplace of Buddha, Lumbini
- Visiting the lower areas of the Himalayas, getting to know the life of the Sherpas.
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