Nepal: Beyond the Himalayan Mountains

Nepal, a small landlocked country between India and China, is a world hub for mountaineers. The country of Mt. Everest (Sagarmatha) hosts 8 of the top 10 tallest peaks in the world. The famous ranges of Himalayas, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri dominate the Nepal landscape.
Nepal however, has much more to offer than a shot at mountaineering or any adventure sports activity. It is one of the most ideal family vacation spots with something for each member of the family.
 
Temples and Stupas
*Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha is situated in Nepal. Majority religions in Nepal are Hinduism and Buddhism. The religions have influenced the culture and way of life in a strong way.
* One of the most sacred & significant Hindu temples of Lord Shiva – Pashupatinath Temple – is located in Kathmandu on the banks of river Bagmati. Thousands of tourists from India make a pilgrimage to this holy temple.
* Bouddhanath Stupa, one of the holiest Buddhist stupas and one of the largest in world is also located in Kathmandu, close to Pashupatinath temple. A two storey separate section for prayers overlooks the Stupa. Many shops selling beautiful Tibetan handicrafts and jewellery adorn the sidewalls.

The sacred Bouddhanath Stupa

 

* Nearby, is the Swayambunath Stupa situated atop a hill offering a panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley.
* On the road between Pokhara and Kathmandu is the Manakamana Temple of the Hindu goddess Bhagwati. It used to take approx 3 hours to climb up the mountain but thanks to the govt initiative, the temple is accessible by a 3 KM cable car ride. It offers the most picturesque views of the countryside and is in itself an unprecedented experience one would never forget. The cable car ride is highly recommended. 
Stunning views of the Nepal countryside through the cable car

Stunning views of the Nepal countryside through the cable car

This is Heaven - from the cable car

This is Heaven – from the cable car

 

* The Taal Barahi temple, the Bindhyabasini temple and the Gupteshwar Mahadev Cave Temple are some of the major temples in Pokhara. The Barahi Temple is situated in the middle of the breath-takingly scenic Phewa Lake.
The Taal Barahi temple in the middle of Phewa Lake

The Taal Barahi temple in the middle of Phewa Lake

 

 

National Park
The Chitwan National Park (NP) is the first NP established in Nepal. Activities like Jeep Safari, Elephant back ride safari, canoeing are offered. There is a well maintained Elephant and Gharial breeding centre inside this NP. Deer and Rhinoceros can be spot in abundance. The approx. one hour Elephant back ride safari is a must do activity. Many lodges/resorts/restaurants are lined up along the boundary of the NP which is divided by the Rapti river. One needs to Kayak through the river to get into the NP.
The Elephant Safari at Chitwan National Park

The Elephant Safari at Chitwan National Park

 

 

Phewa Lake
The beautiful city of Pokhara is one of the most popular tourist destinations and a base for trekkers taking the Annapurna range. It is also one of the costliest cities in Nepal. Hire a boat to go up to the temple. The Phewa Lake is also famous for the reflection of the Annapurna range in its clear waters.
Dark clouds approaching the vast Phewa Lake

Dark clouds approaching the vast Phewa Lake

 

 

Davis Fall
Davis Fall, also known as Underground Waterfall is situated opposite the Gupteshwar Mahadev Cave Temple. The water from this waterfall falls almost 500ft and enters the cave through a small inlet. It is possible to climb down the caves but make sure to have a guide along. The Davis Fall is a magnificent site and best visited during monsoons when it is at its full force.
The gushing Davis Fall in monsoon. The waterfall dries up post in the rainy season

The gushing Davis Fall in monsoon. The waterfall dries up post in the rainy season

 

 
International Mountain Museum
A must visit attraction in Pokhara is the International Mountain Museum. It covers the history of mountaineering to the present day scenario. Various tools and equipments like climbing gear, camera, cookware are on display. An short film about the flora in Himalayas is played at regular intervals in the AV room. Drive up to Sarankot for a beautiful sunrise over the Annapurna ranges
A stone tomb dedicated to Mountaineers at International Mountain Museum

A stone tomb dedicated to Mountaineers at International Mountain Museum who lost their lives

 

 

Everest, up close
A trip to Nepal will always be incomplete without Mt. Everest; don’t be disappointed if you can’t climb. A few thousand bucks, lots of courage and luck will take you up as close as possible to Mt. Everest. National airlines like Buddha Air and Guna Air run Mountain Flights to tourists who can’t make it to the top of the world. The 16-seater plane provides a cockpit view and a certificate to show off of not only Mt. Everest but the entire Himalayan range. What better way to bring back memories!
The copter takes you as close as possible to the highest mountain in the world - Mt. Everest

View from the cockpit. The copter takes you as close as possible to the highest mountain in the world – Mt. Everest

 

 

Quick Facts:
  • Indians do not require a Visa to travel to Nepal. A Passport or Election Card is sufficient to show the authorities.
  • The weather is more or less the same as Northern India.
  • Many major establishments accept Indian currency but it is illegal to carry denominations of INR 500 and INR 1000. (Please do not keep any cash / other valuables in your Check-In luggage)
  • Language is not a problem. Most speak Hindi.
How to reach:
Nepal can be reached by air, road and train.  There are various entry points along the Uttar Pradesh border, majorly Sunauli and Mahendranagar. Train runs from Jaynagar in Bihar to Janakpur Dham in Nepal
Intercity travel:
Though most cities have an airport, travelling by road is the best way to explore the country. The landscape varies from tea plantations to raging rivers to dry river beds. Vehicles are available for hire from Kathmandu. Contact your hotel for arrangements.
Shopping:
  • The tourist area of Thamil in Kathmandu has some great things to buy. Right from shawls to hiking gear, everything is available.
  • In Pokhara, the Lake Side offers a relaxed environment to shop. You will find many stores selling antiques.
Eat:
Daal Bhat is a national dish in Nepal. Indian food is available throughout. Scrumptious Momos are a must try!
 
Have you been to Nepal? Share your stories!

—-

– Nupur

*This article first appeared in Sakaal Times.

*Opinions and Pictures unless otherwise mentioned are mine.

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