Whenever we hear the word “Nepal”, two things pop up in our head is “Mount Everest” and “Birthplace of Buddha”. But is the country limited to only these two things?
Of course, not, there are many more to explore. Nepal is a country of charming hills, mountains, incredible temples, beautiful and diverse culture, and many ethnic and religious groups. Also, it has attractive green lush forests with some of the most unique and rare wildlife.
These are a few attraction that makes Nepal the perfect destination for traveling and exploring. Though small in size but blessed with thousands of natural, cultural and religious sites. Nepal is also well known throughout the world for its diversity.
There are many facts about Nepal that most of the peoples are still unaware of. These facts are related to history, geography, climate, flora and fauna, culture and traditions, and other things.
Nepal covers 0.1% of the total land of the Earth and contains:
- 10 world heritage sites
- 8 of the top 10 highest peaks
- 4% of mammals of the Earth
- 2% of the flowering plants’ species
- More than 848 (8%) birds species
- 11 families out of 15 families of butterflies
- 600 plant families
- 319 species of amazing orchids
Here is some basic information about different aspects of Nepal explained below:
1. History of Nepal
The history of modern Nepal starts with the unification process led by King Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha state in the 18th century. Nepal was then divided into a number of states at that time. King Prithvi Narayan Shah came up with an idea to join the smaller states and make a big country. Before that, it was divided into various smaller states ruled by different rulers.
Before the unification, the history of Nepal was primarily applied to the history of Kathmandu valley. The Kathmandu valley has been ruled by various dynasties such as Kirants, Licchavis, Thakuris, and Mallas.
As per the history of Nepal, the Kirants ruled over the Kathmandu valley during 7th century BC. It was then ruled by Licchavis who came around 300 A.D.
The foundation of Kathmandu city was laid during the Malla period.
The Mallas brought many developments and led the foundation of modern Kathmandu valley. They built various temples, amazing and incredible palaces and cultural heritage sites which makes Nepal unique in the world. The last king of the Malla dynasty was Yakshya Malla who divided the Kathmandu valley into three kingdoms, Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur.
Nepal was ruled by various Shah Kings until the year 1846 when the infamous Kot Massacre happened. King Tribhuvan Shah with the support of the people of Nepal started a revolution and a new era of democracy was introduced in the year 1951. He introduced democracy in the country and removed Ranas from the powers with his revolution.
King Tribhuvan was succeeded by his eldest son Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah. King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah also brought various positive changes in the country.
King Mahendra passed away in 1972 and the crown was passed to his eldest son King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah. King Birendra was a wide thinker and believed that the monarchy system has kept the Nepalese people inbound and in limitations.
His tenure was one of the great periods for Nepalese people and the welfare of the population was always high till his rule. King Birendra made primary education free in the country. He also proposed Nepal to be declared as the Peace Zone in United Nations. Though he was the most loved king, he along with his entire family was massacred in the Narayanhiti palace on June 1, 2001. It was the black day for the whole country. It was for the first time in history when entire nation mourned for the sad departure of their beloved King.
After this incident, King Birendra brother Gyanendra was crowned as the 13th Shah King of the Shah dynasty. He imposed a complete monarchy in February 2005 which was against the will of the population. This led to the revolution against monarchy by Maoist, the communist party of Nepal.
After the long civil movement in the country, King Gyanendra finally left the throne in 2008. He was the last king of the Shah Dynasty. Nepal was officially declared as the democratic state with the multiparty government system. Nepal got its federal constitution on 20 September 2015. Also, it was declared as a Federal state and divided into 7 states on the same date.
Nepal is a landlocked country sandwiched between giant nations China and India. The total area of Nepal is 147,181 sq. km. and stretches 850 km from East to West and 145-241 Km from south to North.
The lowest point of the country is at 70 meters from the sea level and goes to the highest point of 8848 meters above the sea level which is the highest point of the earth. Nepal is divided into 3 regions, Terai in the south, Hilly region in the middle and Himalayan region in the northern part.
The Himalayan region covers the 16% of the total land area of the country. Around 8% of the total population lives in this region. It is located at 4000 meters and above the sea level.
This region consists of many beautiful glaciers, waterfalls, passes, trekking routes and amazing peaks.
The topography is harsh and the climate remains cold around the year in the whole region. This region is not suitable for agriculture because of the landscape and climate. The major source of earning of the people of this region is animal husbandry, horticulture, and tourism. Because of the extreme climate, the lifestyle is quite difficult in the Himalayan region. The population density in this region is 34 peoples per square kilometer.
The Hilly region lies from 1000 to 4000 meters and consists of 65% of total area of the country. This region is home to 45% of the total population of the country. The climate in this region is quite pleasant. This region is full of beautiful landscapes, beautiful lakes, and fantastic valleys.
This region contains the famous Mahabharata and Siwalik hill range. It is the habitat of various wildlife such as deer, leopard, wild boar, elephants, and more than 400 species of birds. This region is also known as the cultural and political center of Nepal. The main occupation of the population of this region is agriculture, animal husbandry, and trade.
The southern region of the country is known as Terai region and consists of plain lands. This region covers 17% of the total area of the country and is the most fertile part of the country. This region is suitable for farming as well as large industrial possibilities.
This region occupies around 48% of the population of the country and has a very high density of people around 254 to 394 peoples per square km. The major occupation of the people of this region is farming, horticulture, and trade.
Climate in Nepal
The climate in Nepal varies according to the change in elevation. The climate of Nepal ranges from tropical to arctic according to the altitude. The southern Terai region of the country has a very hot and humid climate. While the mid hilly region has normal temperature whole year with moderate temperature. The northern Himalayan region has an extremely cold climate because of the high altitude. The temperature remains quite low in the mountain region.
There are total 6 seasons in Nepal which are listed below:
- Basanta- Spring Season April-May
- Grishma Summer June-July
iii. Barsha Monsoon July-August
- Sharad Autumn September-November
- Hemanta Winter December-January
- Sisir Windy February-March
Nepal flora and fauna
Because of the diverse landscape and altitude, there is a wide range of flora and fauna in Nepal. One can find unique vegetation and wildlife from the low land Terai to the high Himalayas. Nepal is home from exotic Rhododendron to incredible Royal Bengal Tiger. It is also the safe place for endangered species called one-horned Rhinoceros. The flora and fauna of Nepal are divided into four categories which are explained below:
i. Tropical Deciduous Monsoon Forest (up to 1000m):
The tropical deciduous monsoon forests include the Terai regions and valleys between the hilly ranges. The major trees found in this region are Simal, Sal, Asna and many more in the green forest. The highland of this region was covered with high Elephant grass. Most of the land areas of this region are used for agriculture as of today. The green forest in this region is home to some major wildlife such as leopards, buffalos, swamp deer, rhinoceros, four species of deer, tigers and many more.
The major birds found in this region are a peacock, jungle fowl, and partridge. The river and lakes of this region are home to duck, geese, and some unique species of fish and various other aquatic creatures. The forest area is densely covered by mimosa, jasmine, bamboo and acacia reeds of this region.
ii. Subtropical Mixed Evergreen Forest (up to 2400m)
The subtropical mixed forest ranges from 1000 meters up to 2400 meters. This region extends to the outer walls of the Mountain regions. This region has the deepest rivers Koshi, Naryani, and Karnali flowing through this region to the Terai belt. The forest of this region is covered by different species of oak trees and rhododendron.
The higher slopes of this region are still safe from deforestation allowing vegetation to grow densely. This region has very limited wildlife. Some of the few wildlife found in this region are barking deer, bear, ghoral and boar. Also, it is home to different species of birds.
iii. Temperate Evergreen Forest (up to 4000m)
This region lies in the lower slopes of the Himalayas above the 2400 meters. At the lower area, the forest of this region is highly dense by pines and oaks. The higher altitude is covered by Tsuga, Picea, Larix and Betula spp. Maple, rhododendron, and bamboo cover the area densely from 3600 meters to 3900 meters.
The wildlife found in this region are serow, Himalayan bear, barking deer, wild boar, and ghoral. This is region is home to the national bird of Nepal “Danfe”. You can witness the incredible Red Panda in the forest of this region.
iv. Subalpine and Alpine Zone: (Above 4000m)
This region includes the high mountains and Himalayan range with covered with snow. The lower mountain is covered by grass, mosses, and plants. The juniper scrub, rhododendron, and vegetation are highly found over the elevation of 4200m. The faunas of this region are Himalayan marmots, tahr, musk deer, snow leopard, and sheep. Yaks are the domestic animals who live at a higher altitude of this region.
Nepal Culture and tradition
Nepal is a culturally rich country. The diverse culture of this country is famous and admired throughout the world. The beautiful and diverse culture gives Nepal a unique identity in the world. The Nepalese culture and traditions reflected in the daily life of the population.
There are people of different castes, language, and religion living together in Nepal. Nepali is the national language of Nepal. There are various other regional languages such as Newari, Tamang, Maithili, Magar, Tharu and many others. It is home to different races of people such as Brahmin, Chhetri, Rai, Limbu, Newar and so on.
There are various festivals which are celebrated in Nepal. Some of the major festivals of Nepal are Dashain, Tihar, Holi, Teej, Lhosar, and Chhath. All these languages, festivals and traditions are part of the Nepali culture.
The cultural practice in Nepal is highly influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism. These two are the major religion of Nepal. There are varieties of rituals, social beliefs, festivals, foods, arts and artifacts of a community which reflects their culture and traditions. The various aspects of culture and tradition are explained below:
Nepal is a multilingual country with more than 100 languages spoken around the nation. There is a different language spoken at a distance of every 8-10 KM in Nepal. Nepali is the national language and most spoken language of the country. Some of the popular regional languages are Maithili, Tharu, Bhojpuri, Newari, Awadhi, Limbu, Tamang and many more.
The food in Nepal varies according to the communities, environmental factors, and availability of the plants and animals. Every community has their own unique food which reflects their sociocultural aspects. The foods of every ethnic groups and community are unique and different. Every ethnic group have their own food preference. Dal and Bhat is the most common food in the nation and is also termed as the national dish of Nepal.
There is a tradition of eating specific foods during special occasions in Nepal. Some example is like “Dahi Chiura” on Ashar 15, “Kheer” on Shravan 15, sweets and meat items during Dashain. Also, the food items vary according to communities. Yomari, Lai-are, Duru cya cya yatra, Ukhu are common dishes of Newar community. Similarly, Bagiya, Chichar, Ghongi, Dhikar, and hariyain of Tharu community. Alcohol is believed to be the symbol of spiritual purity in communities like Rai, Limbu, Newar, and Tamag. They consume alcohol during their religious and cultural festivals.
The dress of a person reflects his/her cultural background of the community. The dresses like the shirt, pant, t-shirt, jackets are the normal attire which people wear on casual days. But there are some typical dresses in some communities which symbolize culture.
For example, Brahmin and Chhetri men wear Daura and Suruwal. While the female wears Saari and Choli as their cultural dress. In Newar, men wear Bhoto Suruwal with Bhadgaule or Dhaka topi on the head. While the female wears Haku and patasi are the cultural dress. Similarly, various communities have their own typical dresses based on the geographical region they live in and their cultural background.
Nepal is a country where one can observe some festivals going every time of the year. Being home to many caste and ethnic groups, there is always some celebration or festivals going on of some ethnic groups. The best part of the celebrations is that each and every people enjoy the other festival with equal love and respect.
Some of the popular festivals are Dashain, Tihar, Chhath, Maghe Sankranti, Lhosar, Shivaratri, Christmas, Eid, Jitiya, and Udhauli. There is a great cultural harmony and brotherhood among Nepalese people. They celebrate each other festival with equal joy and happiness.
Dances of Nepal are categorized into two categories, i.e. folk dance and cultural dance. The dances which are performed during the festivals and cultural rituals are called cultural dance. And the dance which is done for the entertainment purpose and is informal is called as a folk dance.
Nepal Medieval Cities & Sacred Sites
The top medieval cities of Nepal are Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan. Most of the cultural heritage sites of Nepal lies in these three cities. These three cities are closely connected to each other and are spread in the area of 30 sq. km. There are multiple cultural heritage sites in these three cities which are listed in the UNESCO world heritage sites.
These cities are a major attraction point for the tourists entering Nepal. The Kathmandu valley is termed as the open museum of the medieval arts and architectures of Nepal. It is because of the incredible temples, Buddhist Stupas, cultural sites and museums which are of great interests for the tourists. The oldest religious heritage site of this region is Changu Narayan Temple which was built during the 5th century.
Let’s know about these medieval cities in brief:
Kathmandu is the first and landing city of Nepal for any international tourist. It is the most colorful city in Nepal. There are hundreds of temples, stupas, and cultural heritage sites which makes it popular among the tourists.
Some of the highly popular and must visit sights of the city are Swayambhunath (the monkey temple), Kathmandu Durbar Square, Narayanhiti Museum, Rani Pokhari, Boudhanath and various other sites. Though the city is crowded while compared with the other cities of Nepal it is a fun place to visit and spend a wonderful time.
Bhaktapur is one of the oldest city of Nepal which has kept itself away from modernization till today.
This city is a must visit for them who loves to walk and explore as Bhaktapur has to offer various historical and cultural sites near to each other. This city is well known for Newari culture and pottery works. Bhaktapur holds many lively festivals around the year which attracts a huge number of visitors.
Patan is also known as the city of arts for its unique arts and architectures. This city is the center of Buddhist and Newari religion arts and crafts. Patan has around 126 bahals and 55 temples which attracts thousands of tourists. Some of the popular temples are Krishna Temple, Kumbeshwar temple, Hiranya Varna and Mahaboudha temple. Patan has four Buddhist stupas situated at the four corners of this ancient beautiful city.
The majority population of Nepal are Hindu and Buddhist and has many popular sacred and religious sites.
Pashupatinath Temple is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage sites in Nepal. It is situated on the bank of Bagmati river which is itself a holy river. Every year thousands of Hindu pilgrims come to visit Pashupatinath during Shivaratri. The temple is situated in a large area and one can have a great peace of mind. This site is listed in the list of UNESCO world heritage site.
Lumbini is the birthplace of Lord Gautam Buddha also known as the light of Asia. It is the most important pilgrimage site for Buddhist. This site is also listed in the UNESCO list of world heritage sites of Nepal.
Muktinath temple is an important religious center for both Hindu and Buddhists. It is situated at the height above 12000 feet at the Thorong La pass of the Mustang district. There is a belief that the one who visits this temple gets relieved from sadness and sorrows. Every year thousands of tourists come to visit Muktinath temple.
Janakpur has been a sacred place for Hindu pilgrims over the ages. Janakpur has been the capital of ancient holy city Mithila which has been mentioned in Ramayana. It is believed that Janakpur is the place where Lord Rama married Sita. Janaki Mandir is the major attraction of Janakpur.
Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the ancient stupas of Nepal situated at a hill on the North-West side of Kathmandu valley. The path to reach this temple is a steep staircase on the eastern side of the temple. The main temple is surrounded by numerous small temples and statues. The main temple is made of the white dome, with Buddha eyes painted over it. This temple is a great choice if one wants to have a peace of mind skipping the crowd and noise of the city. One can have a magnificent view of the Kathmandu city from the top of this temple which is eye-pleasing.
vi. Manakamana Temple
Manakamana temple is situated on the top of a hill in Gorkha district. It is situated on the way of Kathmandu and Pokhara and there is a cable car to reach this temple. One can have the magnificent view of hills from this temple and enjoy the green vegetation around.
The tourism industry of Nepal
Having many cultural, natural and religious sites, Nepal has great possibilities for the tourism industry. Nepal is the ideal destination for tourists who love hiking, climbing and exploring ancient arts and architectures. The amazing landscape of Nepal boasts its tourism industry. From the hot plain land of Terai to the extremely cold and snow-covered high mountains, one can get to both places in a very short time. Nepal is a famous destination for adventurous activities like Hiking, Climbing, and Mountaineering, rafting, jungle safari, bird watching and many more. Nepal has total 15 National Wildlife reserves with two of them listed in UNESCO world heritage site.
The hospitality of the Nepalese people is one of the major attraction for tourists who visits Nepal. The Nepalese people are famous for their traditions and hospitality in every part of the country. One can feel and observe the humble hospitality and welcoming nature of Nepalese people from small villages to big cities.
The major attraction for Tourists visiting Nepal are explained below:
i. Adventurous Tourism
Nepal is a popular destination for adventurous tourism. In spite of being small in size, there are many adventures options in Nepal. Some of adventures options are hiking, trekking, mountain biking, rock climbing, bungee jump, bird watching, paragliding, mountain flights, white water rafting, jungle safari and many more. The country has countless adventure options to choose from beside the high mountains.
ii. Mountain Climbing
Nepal is home to the eight highest peaks in the world out of the top 10 with the highest Mount Everest standing 8848 meters above the sea level. The mountain range in Nepal is stretched about East to West. Nepal is the first and best choice for mountain climbers as there are many options to choose from where to climb. Nepal has been the great destination for climbers because of many peaks with ultimate challenges to reach the peak. The high Himalayas of Nepal attracts thousands of visitors every year.
iii. Cultural Tour
Nepal is very rich in cultural heritage. There are total seven world heritage sites around Kathmandu valley within the radius of 20 km. Nepal is the land of celebrations and festivals. The tourists can enjoy the beautiful and diverse culture with rich ancient history during their visit to Nepal.
iv. Hiking & Trekking
Nepal is the best destination for hiking and trekking lovers. Nepal is a country of hills and mountains, hence one can have many choices for trekking and climbing. Nepal has to offer some of the most diverse and unique trekking trails which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
The landscape of Nepal ranges from as low as 59 meters above the sea level to the highest point of the Earth Mount Everest 8848 meters. Hence, there are countless trekking and hiking options to choose from.
Paragliding is another wonderful adventure for which tourists visit Nepal. Sarangkot in Pokhara is famous for Paragliding. This adventure takes you through the wonderful scenic beauty from above the air. It is one of the most memorable experience one can have in Nepal.
vi. Mountain Biking
Because of the diverse landscape, Nepal is the perfect destination for mountain biking. Mountain biking is a great way to explore this beautiful and amazing country. There are many unpaved roads and trails in Nepal which will give every mountain bike lover the perfect dosage of adventure. Most of the tourists take mountain biking ride in Kathmandu and Pokhara to explore the beautiful city and the cultural heritage around the cities.
Mountain biking is the best method to explore the remote places of Nepal where there are no good roads for a standard vehicle to go. One can easily rent the mountain bike to explore around.
vii. Jungle Safari
There are 12 national parks and 1 wildlife reserves in Nepal which attracts thousands of tourists every year to Nepal. These national parks are home to some of the incredible and exotic wildlife. Some of the common wildlife are Royal Bengal tiger, Asiatic one horned Rhinoceros, many species of deer, leopard, and bears. Also, there is various other fauna living in the different national parks of Nepal.
The national parks are quite popular for an elephant ride, nature walk, bird watching, dugout canoeing, and jungle excursion. Chitwan national park in low land of Terai and Bardia national park in west Nepal provides the best wildlife experience. They have the most amazing natural views in entire Asia. Also, the Koshi Tappu wildlife reserve is the best place to view the beautiful migratory birds, wonderful waterfalls, and beautiful wild animals.
viii. Bird Watching
Nepal is a paradise for those the tourists who loves Bird Watching. There are more than 646 species of birds in Nepal which is around 8% of the total birds in the world. Moreover, around 500 species of birds are found in Kathmandu valley itself. It is s a great destination for an ornithologist who wants to study and do research about different varieties of birds.
Rafting is a great water sports adventure which provides great fun and excitement. Nepal has some of the most wonderful rivers where one can enjoy a day or extended rafting trip. There are many whitewater rafting options to choose from. For short and smooth rafting experience, one can go to Trishuli and Seti river rafting. And those who love thrilling rafting adventure can go for rafting in Karnali and Sun Koshi River.
The experience of viewing a mountain peak from the closest distance possible is a great feeling which cannot be matched with anything else.
Mountain flight is the best option for those who want to view the peak of the Himalayas from the closest distance possible without climbing. There are various mountain flight services which take you to the closest aerial views of Mount Everest, and many other high peaks.
Top destination to travel in Nepal
1. Everest Base Camp Trek
Mount Everest base camp trek is the top travel destination for tourists who come to visit Nepal. Every year more than hundred thousand tourist comes for Everest base camp trek to view the highest peak of the world. The camp is situated at the height of 5364 meters above the sea level. This place provides the amazing close view of the highest peak covered in snow. This trekking journey is of several days and starts from Lukla. This trekking journey passes through the lush rhododendron forest, paths paved with rocks, beautiful Khumbu glacier, and the local Sherpa villages. Everest base camp trek is a once in a lifetime experience which provides the close view of the Mount Everest and several other peaks.
2. Annapurna Base Camp
Annapurna base camp trek is one of the best trekking trails in the entire world. This trekking expedition passes through beautiful rice fields, lush rhododendron forest, and the incredible high altitude landscapes. This trekking journey gives you the best view of multiple 7000-8000 meters high peaks in a very short span of time. This trekking journey is 10-15 days long based on the length of the walking days and trekker’s itinerary. Spring season is the best time to visit Annapurna base camp but one can go trekking there during any time of the year. The base camp remains closed sometimes in winter because of the level of snow so one need to confirm before going there in winter.