Culture & monuments
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In the balmy hills, the people are as dazzling as the scenery-a hillcape of lush terraces pocketed with village of the Tamangs, Rais, Gurungs, Magars and other delightful ethnic groups. The people of the north are as rugged as the mountains they inhabit. Here on the chilly edge of Tibet in the shadow of the Himalaya, live the Sherpas with a Buddhist culture as rich as their yak-butter tea.
Art & Crafts
The Kathmandu Valley contains three ancient cities (Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur) including the nation’s capital. Each of them is an enchanting urban work of art, filled with statues, temples and medieval palaces. They provide the setting for an exotic culture highlighted by vibrant festivals and a level of piety rarely encountered elsewhere. Over the centuries, the Valley’s indigenous Newar inhabitants developed a refined civilization, based on an unique synthesis of Hinduism and Buddhism. The cultural heritage is so rich that seven of the monuments have been designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
If you think the Kathmandu Valley is overwhelming, wait till you see the rest of the country. Nepalis people are a colorful mosaic of different races, ethnic communities and languages. Their lifestyles reflect the changing terrain. On the southern plains,the climate is sultry and the culture spicy. There you will find Tharus in communal longhouses, Maithali women adorning wall paintings, and village that transport you back to the times of Buddha and Sita.
In Kathmandu and Pokhara, there are deluxe hotels with world-standard comforts, state-of -the-art communication facilities, classy restaurants serving a veriety of international cuisine , fashionable shopping centers and modern sports and convention facilities. Fine accomodation is available in the jungle for safari -goers. Elegant resort hotels dot the hillsides to delight himalayan sight-seers and of course, if you like to rought it off the beaten path, there are numerous places to camp in the wilderness or enjoy the hospitality of remote village lodges.
Eight of the 10 highest peaks on earth, including Mt. Everest, lie within the country. Kali Gandaki, the deepest gorge in the world, slices through western Nepal. The highest lake in the world, Tilicho, lofts in the central Himalaya at an altitude of 4,919m. Lumbini the birthplace of the Buddha, and Pashupati, one of the world’s holiest Hindu shrines, too is located here.
If the jungles of the southem plains provide close encounters of the wild kind, the mountains in the north offer unbeatable scenic allures. One in every four visitors to Nepal goes trekking. Walking through the picturesque foothills of the Himalaya is an experience guaranteed to change your out look of things. The treks last from a few days to a few weeks and reach elevations in excess of 5000 m.
Trekking trails like the Everest trek take you to the base of the world’s tallest peak, and the Annapurna Circuit, which starts and ends at the lakeside resort town of Pokhara in west central Nepal, takes you through the word’s deepest gorge and all around the Annapurna mountains. Treks in Mustang offer stark landscapes and bizarre rock formations of the Tibetan Plateau. Treks can be tailored to any need or interest: animal watching or people watching, a light or leisurely schedule, thrills or relaxation.
White water rafting means bouncing down a river in an inflatable rubber raft over crashing waves and swirling rapids for the excitement of a lifetime. Since the entire country is like a steep incline, the rivers that thunder down form the high Himalaya churn with extra ferocity to provide some of the fastest and most challenging white waters of melting glaciers, the agitated rivers crash down montain gorges and pass through hills, valleys and jungles on their way to the plains in the south . As they flow between ever changing landsapes, they offer a tableau of flora and fauna.
River running is thus a terrific way to enjoy Nepal’s natural beauty and observe its rural lifestyles- and from a perspective that may not be available to a trekker. Rafting is also a cultural experience. Rivers are held sacred in Nepal, and many religious ceremonies are performed on their banks. River confluences are major pilgrimage sites where devotees take holy dips.
More than 10% of Nepal’s total land area is covered by national parks and wildlife reserves. Over 30 species of large wild animals and 180 species of mammals make their home here. Rare wildlife like the Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris),one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros uncornis), gharial crocodile (Crocodile palustries) and the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) lurk in Nepal’s Jungles.
The countryis also home to more than 800 species of birds, or about 10% of the world total. Nepal has nearly as many different kinds of birds as the whole of North America. Endangered verieties like the Bengal florican, Sarus crane and swamp patridge thrill nature lovers. Egrets herons,wren babblers, green babblers, blue magpies, Himalayan vultutres and other magnificient species criss-cross the skies of Nepal. The Chitwan National Park is one of the richest wildlife habitats of Asia. Here you can go on elephant-back safari to view wild animals and a variety of birds.