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Roof Of The World: Mountain Magic On a Holiday in Nepal
On a mountain flight where everyone gets a window seat, your Nepal holiday gets dialed up a notch. Snow glistens on towering Mount Everest, and rocky cliffs and immense snowfields feel close enough to touch.
At the other end of the country in Chitwan National Park, situated in the dense riverine forests of the Terai region, safaris take you to see the endangered one-horned Asiatic rhino and other wildlife.
Nepal is about mountains, dramatic vistas, and Himalayan cultures. It is a world-class trekking destination, but even those who don’t want a challenging walk, can do short 2-3 days trips or one-day hikes into the mountains.
Picturesque Pokhara, on the shores of Phewa Lake, is a popular starting point for walks and treks. As the sun rises over the mountains at the Sarangkot viewpoint, you’ll be glad you woke up early to catch the magnificent sight. Beyond the walking, travelers enjoy kayaking or boating on the lake. And, Pokhara’s sky is often dotted with paragliders sailing through the cool mountain air reveling in top-down views of the valley.
The capital Kathmandu’s streets and markets are as busy as its Hindu and Buddhist temples. A 2015 earthquake caused extensive damage to UNESCO World Heritage sites in Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur, and restoration work is still on.
To catch a glimpse of Nepali village life, stop off at the quaint Newari village of Bandipur, en route to Pokhara. For a different experience, you can visit the high-altitude Sherpa village of Namche Bazaar in the Everest region. Nepal’s Sherpas are famous for their mountaineering and guiding skills. Reliable as them, Enchanting Travels destination guides will gladly act as your personal sherpa, ensuring you get an exceptional itinerary perfectly suited to your needs.
On a private Nepal tour, you will find a rich and diverse culture. Although customs and rituals vary from one part to another, Kathmandu is the confluence of myriad strains. Festivals, which are a major part of Nepal tours, are celebrated with much splendor, and religion plays a dominant role in the life of the Nepalese people. Officially a secular country, Nepal’s religious groups coexist in harmony. The majority of the people are either Hindu or Buddhist.
Nepal has a patriarchal society and women are expected to take care of the house while men go out to work. Marriages are arranged by parents once a boy or a girl is of age and the Nepali caste system holds sway above it all. Nepali or Nepalese is the main language spoken. English is confined to a very minuscule part of the elite and educated and only mainly in urban areas or in the tourist areas.
While no restrictions are imposed on visitors, being respectful of local customs during your Nepal tour, would not be amiss. Traditional Nepali clothing is conservative and, except in major urban areas, women rarely wear shorts or skirts. Public displays of affection are frowned upon though you may frequently see men holding hands.
Top Nepal Travel Tip – Culture:
During Nepal tours, ensure that you use your right hand for everything, from shaking hands and eating food to giving and receiving gifts or even paying for a purchase.
Nepal tours area great way to explore the diverse and delicious cuisine of the country. Food and eating habits differ between regions in Nepal. Indian influence on the cuisine of Nepal is quite evident, especially within urban areas. The remainder of Nepal bears traces of Tibetan and Chinese influence. The Newari and Thakali food styles are considered to be truly authentic Nepali cuisine. Nepali food is healthy and few fatty products and spices are used. The cow is the national animal and revered, therefore the Nepalese people do not eat beef.
It’s up to you whether you wish to enjoy staple lentil, curry and mixed vegetables with rice, or venture on a culinary adventure by experimenting with local, Indian or international cuisine that come with a Nepalese twist to them. There are many restaurants that cater to international cuisines.
Try some special cuisine of Nepal:
Momos: steamed or fried dumplings
Dal-bhat-tarkari: rice and lentil soup served up with a vegetable curry
Thukpa: a delicious noodle soup made with meat and vegetables
Sel roti: a bread made of rice flour, crispy and sweet on the outside, soft on the inside
Dhido: a type of pudding made by cooking corn flour in boiling water
Top Nepal Travel Tip – Cuisine:
Do refrain from offering plate from your own food to others during a Nepal tour. The concept of jutho, or impure, is important in Nepal. Food or water that has already touched your lips is considered impure and it is disrespectful to share it with another.
Nepal began almost 2,500 years ago with the advent of the aboriginal Kiratis, who were sheep farmers with an inexplicable penchant for knives. Little is known of the time that followed, except that Kathmandu was established in the 10th century.
In the mid-18th century, Nepal was united under the Gurkha ruler Prithvi Narayan Shah, whose dynasty sits on the throne even today. The Nepalese fought a two-year war with the British Empire in 1814. A treaty ensured the presence of a British emissary in the Nepali court, as well as a large part of the country being lost to them.
The British were so impressed by the skills of the Gurkha warriors that they actually employed them in their own army during the two World Wars and Nepal was a great ally to Britain during this time.
Nepal suffered greatly when a man called Rang Bahadur seized control and declared himself Rana (prime minister) in 1846. It wasn’t until 1950 that the royal Shahs’ regained the throne and their power. Many years of political unrest ensued, with the alternate rise and fall of civil and dynastic rule. Nepal tours began in earnest only in the latter part of the 20th century, bringing much revenue into the Himalayan kingdom.
Nepal is today considered stable and making positive progress towards becoming a prosperous country again, even in spite of the recent tragic earthquakes in 2015 that affected many regions.
Top Nepal Travel Tip – History:
The historic town of Kapilavastu in Nepal is certainly worth a visit during Nepal tours. It is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, who attained enlightenment and came to be known as the Buddha, and influenced all of Asia through his religious teachings.
None of our on-the-ground team were hurt by the tragedy of the Nepal earthquake that took place in April 2015. We stand by our friends in Nepal and wish to convey our support and prayers to all those affected.
Enchanting Travels believes that Nepal tours play a key role in rebuilding the country.