Once considered as mystical and inaccessible as Hilton’s Shangri-La, this landlocked country of valleys and peaks has attracted an astounding number of visitors for decades. From the endorsers of ‘Flower Power’ in the hedonistic 60s to the daring adventure traveler, Nepal has catered to the diverse needs of visitors in its own inimitable way.
Once the only Hindu kingdom in the world, Nepal was declared a secular country by its Parliament in 2006. Hinduism and Buddhism are the two main religions and the two have co-existed down the ages. Many Hindu temples share the same complex as Buddhist shrines. Engaging, fun-loving, spiritual and God-fearing, the people of Nepal live life to the fullest – celebrations and festivities are an integral part of their daily life. Down the ages they have welcomed foreigners into their folds with such warmth that many have never gone back – in the city of Kathmandu eateries like Mike’s Breakfast and Chez Caroline stand testimony to this fact. The free-spirited hippies left their own mark here, a street that they named Freak Street. Kathmandu is situated in a valley full of historic temples, shrines and pagodas. It is a bustling, crowded city with hotels, bars and restaurants to suit all budgets.
The country extends from the Himalayan range in the North to the Indo-Gangetic lowlands in South. Mt. Everest, the highest point of the Himalayas is in Nepal and is a major attraction for serious mountaineers and tourists alike. A visit to the Everest base camp is often a must-do on travel itineraries. Mountain flights offer the chance to take in the breathtaking delights of the ice-clad Himalayas at close range. It’s the perfect setting for adrenaline addicts with 326 peaks on offer! The landscape offers a kaleidoscope of green paddy terraces, dense forests, marshy grasslands and mighty rivers. The plethora of options for adventure tourism include mountaineering, trekking, white water rafting, kayaking, jungle safaris, bungee jumping, paragliding and fishing.
Exciting wildlife tours are another attraction. Nepal is home to numerous national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. The Royal Chitwan Park is a favourite for its Elephants, Tigers, Leopards, Rhinos, Sloth Bears and 350 species of birds. The rich flora and fauna of the country is relatively undisturbed even today.
Beyond Kathmandu the smaller towns are easily accessible and spectacular in their own right. The natural scenic beauty of Pokhara and Dhulikhel is complemented by views of the most incredible sunrise and sunset. Bhaktapur is a devotee’s delight, with its ancient temples built in the medieval style.
Nepal is right there on that list of ’50-places-to-visit-before-I-die’.