Nepal, lost among the Himalayas covered with eternal snow, offers a surprisingly rich and unusual holiday.
Things to do in Nepal
Fans of extreme sports and nature will want to visit local national parks. Annapurna is 3 peaks over 8 thousand meters high. Conquering them is a task exclusively for trained climbers. Hikers are welcome in Sagarmatha Reserve. Trekking routes pass through the most picturesque places.
To enjoy the architecture, plunge into the world of Hindu myths and Buddhist philosophy, you should visit temples and pagodas. The most significant buildings are located in Kathmandu, the capital of the state. The all-seeing eyes of the Buddha on the Boudhanath stupa excite the imagination.
In Kumari Ghar lives a goddess girl — the earthly incarnation of Kumari. And the Swayambhunath temple ensemble with a rich and ancient history can be viewed for hours.
In the Annapurna National Park, located on the southern part of the Himalayan range, there are 3 mountain peaks: the Middle (8010 m), Eastern (8000 m) and Main (8091 m) Annapurna. The last peak is the tenth largest in the world and the first to be conquered by man. The ascent was made by a French expedition in the middle of the 19th century. For those who prefer to look at the 8-thousanders exclusively from the bottom up, several trekking trails have been laid for an overview of the surroundings.
The reserve, founded in 1976, lies to the northeast of Kathmandu. Its name translates as «Forehead of Heaven». The protected area consists of rugged plateaus, gorges and valleys formed by the Bhot Kosi and Dudh Kosi rivers. Many species of animals live here, including red-listed pandas and snow leopards.
The main attractions of the park are the famous Mount Everest (8848 m) and the people of the Sherpa people. All trekking routes pass through the villages of this tribe. There you can replenish food supplies and see the life of the indigenous inhabitants of Nepal.
Royal National Park Chitwan (Leopard Forest) was established in 1973. On the territory of over 932 sq. km is home to about 400 species of birds and 50 species of mammals, including Bengal tigers and Indian rhinos. Unlike other areas of Nepal, the climate in the reserve is mild and warm. There are many lakes and picturesque rivers.
Excursions in the park are carried out in jeeps or on the backs of elephants; rafting and canoeing are very popular. If you want to stay longer in the bosom of nature, tourists have at their disposal luxurious villas with pools or bungalows with a minimum set of amenities.
The largest lake in Nepal is located in the northwest of the country. The maximum depth reaches 167 m, the width is about 3 km, and the length of the coastline is almost 5 km. All the classical flora of the Himalayas grows densely along it: juniper, Indian cypresses, rhododendron and Himalayan pines with needles that look like long threads.
The entire area around the reservoir is protected. Traveling along the trails of the reserve, you can meet leopards, snow leopards, red pandas and Himalayan bears.
Also known as Phewa, this lake is the second largest in Nepal. Its area is more than 4 sq. km, the maximum depth is about 23 m. On a fine day, the majestic peaks of the Annapurna massif and Mount Machapuchare are reflected in the water mirror. In the middle of the lake lies an island on which stands the temple of Bahari (one of the reincarnations of the god Vishnu). You can get to the shrine by boat.
The natural formation consists of two caves: Gufa and Rupa. Both are considered sacred, so many stalactites and stalagmites were given the outlines of the god Shiva by the locals. The caves are also called «the home of bats» as many of these animals found shelter there. Natural lighting in the caves is weak — it is recommended to take a flashlight with you.
The most important Buddhist temple in the country is located in the northeast of Kathmandu. The stupa, built in the 6th century, consists of three levels. The massive base symbolizes the earth, the dome symbolizes water, and the 13 steps on the spire symbolize the number of Buddha’s steps to Nirvana. The umbrella, mounted on a spire, personifies the air, and its tip is the sky.
The all-seeing eyes of the Enlightened One look to the four cardinal directions from the square base of the spire. Terraces descend from the stupa, on which many small stupas are installed. Around the building is a fence of prayer wheels.
This is a complex of Hindu religious buildings located on both banks of the Bagmati River. The most important temple glorifies Shiva in the guise of the king of animals — Pashupati.
The two-level pagoda with a golden spire and a golden roof was built in the 19th century. Locals come here to perform the rite of cremation. Funeral pyres are lit along the river, and the ashes of the dead are lowered into the water. Tourists can watch what is happening from the opposite bank.
In this temple twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, sacrifices are made. So the Nepalese want to appease the goddess of death Kali. They believe that the blood of domestic animals will propitiate the deity, and she will show indulgence. Troubles and misfortunes will bypass the ceremony participants.
The peak of sacrifices falls on October — this month they celebrate the holiday of Dasain. A queue of believers with pigs, chickens, goats, chickens and other domestic animals line up at the temple to sprinkle their blood on the altar.
The temple of the goddess Kumari and part-time residence of her human incarnation on Earth was built in 1757. The three-storey building is richly decorated with fine carvings on the outside and bright paintings inside. Every room is a work of art.
Kumari is a little girl from the Shakya caste. Before becoming a goddess, she passed a tough selection according to 32 criteria — from appearance and health, ending with a horoscope and voice timbre. A Nepalese who is lucky to see her will be lucky in all endeavors. Therefore, the palace is always crowded with people trying to see the girl through the window.
Officially, Kumari «goes out» 13 times a year, while photographing her is prohibited. She is worshiped until the Kumari defiles the blood for female reasons. After that, she becomes an ordinary person, and the clergy begin to search for a new goddess. The former Kumari receives a lifetime pension from the state, but she cannot marry. Mere mortals, just in case, bypass it.
The secluded monastery stands on a picturesque hill north of Boudhanath. The retreat was founded by Lamas Thubten Zopa Rinpoche and Thubten Yeshe and named after the peak where it is located. Since the 70s, pilgrims from all over the world have been coming to Kopan for meditation, studying the Tibetan branch of Buddhism and self-improvement. Courses last from several weeks to several months. More than 500 monks and novices permanently live in the monastery.
The temple complex, consisting of two Hindu temples, a Buddhist stupa, a monastery and a gompa, is located in the east of the Nepalese capital. The first written mention of Swayambhunath dates back to the 5th century.
There is a legend associated with this place. A long time ago, the hill on which the stupa rises was located in the middle of a beautiful lake. One day, the Buddha passed by and dropped a lotus seed into the water. The flower blossomed and began to emit a blue radiance, he was noticed by the Bodhisattva Manjushri (the embodiment of higher wisdom). With his sword, he cut through the rocks and the lake so that people could approach the shrine.
Also known as Dharahara, the tower was built in 1832. Its height reached almost 62 m, which is comparable to an 11-story building. At the top was a sentinel post, from where the observation of the area was carried out. In the event of the approach of the invaders, a signal was given to rally the troops.
The building was seriously damaged by earthquakes. The first time it was restored, but the earthquake of 2015 completely destroyed Dharahara — only the lower part of the building and the fence were preserved. However, there are always many tourists here. They come to see the majestic ruins of the tower that once defined the architecture of Kathmandu.
Durbar Square in Kathmandu
Durbar means «place of palaces» in Nepalese. There are similar royal squares in Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. The one located in Kathmandu deserves the closest attention. The buildings included in the architectural complex of the square were erected in the XII-XVIII centuries. After a strong earthquake, many objects were destroyed. In the process of restoration, they lost their authentic appearance, but some still remained unchanged.
- The apartments of the Mull kings look pompous. There is a carved throne in the audience hall, and portraits of monarchs hang on the walls.
- The statue of Narasimha impresses with its skillful execution — the god Vishnu is depicted in the form of a lion-man.
- Opposite the palace are the octagonal pagoda Krishna-Balaram Mandir and the Nasal Chowk courtyard, where coronations took place.
- On the eastern side of the square is Panch Mukhi Hanuman, a temple with a five-tiered roof.
This is a palace complex of 19 courtyards, temples, pagodas and the royal palace itself. It was built in the 5th century, but was constantly modified to suit new residents. Authentic appearance was preserved only by separate halls in the northern part of the architectural ensemble: Sundari-Chowk and Mohan-Chowk. Alas, they are closed to tourists.
Most of the buildings date back to the 16th-17th centuries, but they also changed their appearance due to earthquakes and subsequent restorations. Until 1886, Hanuman was the official residence of the Nepalese kings. Remarkably, the heir to the throne had to be born within the walls of the palace — otherwise he could not inherit the throne.
The red brick building, surrounded by a high wall and a beautiful park, was built in 1970 by order of King Mahendra. The majestic and monumental building in the classical style became a replacement for the palace of 1915, destroyed by an earthquake.
For almost 40 years, the monarch and his household lived in the Narayanhiti palace. In 2001, the royal family died at the hands of the crown prince, and a few years later the monarchy was abolished in Nepal. The palace was turned into a museum, which now exhibits the cultural values of the state. When visiting Narayanhiti, one should pay special attention to the inspection of the main building in the form of a pagoda and a picturesque park with an area of over 30 hectares.
International Mountain Museum
In 2004, a museum was opened in the city of Pokhara, where you can learn about the mountains and everything connected with them. The exhibition is divided into 4 parts:
- The section «Mountain Peoples» is devoted to the culture and life of the indigenous inhabitants of the country.
- The Beasts of Nepal hall contains stuffed animals typical of the region.
- The “History of mountaineering” hall introduces the pioneers who conquered the harsh mountain peaks — it presents rare photos and personal belongings of daredevils.
- The thematic exhibition with the telling name «Geological Discoveries» keeps amazing finds made in the mountains and valleys of the state.
Every 20 minutes, a film about Nepal is shown in a small cinema hall of the museum.
The capital, cultural and financial center of the country is like a big beehive. Among the dense residential buildings, temples, pagodas and palaces grow, as if from a parallel world. Earthquakes regularly destroy architectural monuments. But every time the Nepalese rebuild them, making some changes at the same time — you can trace how the city changed from them.
This is the tourist area of Kathmandu, where the colorful spirit of Nepal is best felt. The narrow streets are lined with hotels, guesthouses, restaurants with local food, bars and pharmacies with exotic drugs. There is a brisk trade in shops and stores. The most popular goods are climbing equipment and souvenirs. But when walking along Thamel, one should be vigilant — pickpockets are on the alert.
The city, also known as Lalitpur, is considered the oldest city in Nepal. Geographically, it practically merged with Kathmandu. The main point of attraction of Patan is Durbar Square, where there are more than 10 temples dedicated to different gods. You should definitely visit the monastery, where almost all the rulers of Nepal were crowned, and look into the small zoo.
According to legend, it was in this settlement that Buddha was born, so Lumbini is a place of religious pilgrimage. There are countless stupas, monasteries and temples here. The most important is Maya Devi. A modern building with whitewashed walls stands on the site of an ancient sanctuary, next to it is the column of King Ashoka (approximately the 3rd century).