General Information of Nepal
Nepal is a multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-ethnic country. It is a land of lofty Himalayas and deep valley, fertile Terai and green hills, stumbling rivers and lakes, tropical heat and piercing chill dense forest and vast grasslands along with dazzling sunshine. The total area of Nepal is approximately 1,47,181 square kilometers where 92.94% is covered by land and the rest 7.06% is covered by water. Shaped almost like a rectangle, it borders with People's Republic of China in the north and India in the east. Average length of the country is 885 km. east-west and average width is 193km. north-south
The country can be tentatively divided into three geographical regions running east to west. They are:
- The Himalayan Region
- The Mountain Region
- The Terai Region
The Himalayan Region: This region covers the mountain range whose altitude is 4877m.to 8848m.above the sea level. Along With Sagarmatha(Mt. Everest), the region includes 8 of the 14 peaks of the world which exceeds the altitude 8000m meters. They are:
Mt. Everest(8848m) ChoOy(8201)
With sparse human habitation, most of the areas have a wild landscape, undisturbed tranquility of the nature rules over the land.
Mountain Region: This area lies between 610m to 4877m above the sea level and accounts for nearly 64% of the total land area of the country. Along the Mahabharat and Churia Mountain ranges, this region has many longitudinal fertile valleys of the principal rivers. Kathmandu valley is also situated inthis very area. This broad hill complex region is extensively cultivated and has been the area of traditional Nepalese settlement since long back in history.
Terai Region: This region forms a low flat land belt and includes the most fertile land and dense forest areas of the country. It accounts for 17 % of the total land area of the country; it has the width of 26 to 32km and its altitude doesn't exceed 305 meters above the sea level.
By Air: Kathmandu the capital city of Nepal is connected by air with Bangkok, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Lhasa, Chengdu, Osaka, Singapure, Dubai, Doha, Abudhabi, Karachi, Dhaka, and Indian cities Delhi, Mumbai, Banglore, Kalkata and Varanasi.
By Surface: As Nepal is surrounded from three sides by India and if you are traveling in India prior to Nepal you can see if it's possible to travel to Nepal via surface. The popular entry points used by tourist to enter Nepal by surface are as follows:
Kakarbhitta: Kakarbhitta is Nepal's eastern border town. People travelling in Siliguri, Sikkim and Darjeeling can enter Nepal via Kakarbhitta.
Bhadrapur airport of Eastern region is located just half an hour drive from Kakarbhitta and has regular flights operated by domestic airlines.
Sunauli(Belahiya): Gorakhpur Station is located in about 2 hours driving distance from Sunauli and is one of the most used entry points by travelers. Gorakhpur has railway connection with major Indian cities including Delhi Mumbai. People who are already in Varanasi also enter Nepal via Sunauli. It is an 8-9 hours drive from Varanasi to Sunauli.
Kodari: Kodari is the border town used by travelers to travel overland between Nepal and Tibet. From Kathmandu, Kodari is 113km and is a journey of 4 hours. From Kodari, Lhasa- Tibet's capital city is approximately 5 days journey.
Weather and Climate
Nepal's topographical boundary governs the climatic condition of this Himalayan country. Tropical, temperate and tundra natures of climate are correspondingly encountered in its Terai belts, midland hills and the alpine regions. Nepal has respectively four seasons in a year- winter spring, monsoon and autumn. The most excellent time for nature aficionados to visit the country is during spring when flowers are in full blossom and mountainslopes are covered with beautiful and colorful flowers. This amazing season begins from early March and continues till late May. The days are clear and sometimes clouds may disturb or heighten the mountain views. Then the monsoon begins in late May and continues till late August. The autumn season starts from September. It continues till November with temperate climate, clear blue skies and extraordinary mountain views, it is another fine time to visit the country when the trekking season will also be in full swing. Winter begins in late November then continues till late February
Nepali seasons Months
Spring April- May
Summer June- July
Monsoon End June-Mid Sep.
Sisir(Windy) Feb.- Mas
Temperature Chart (In Celsius)
Nepal is a multi-ethnic society with different races, tribes and ethnicity. Some people say that Nepal is a land of refugee because Nepal's remote andinaccessible landscape has offered shelter to the victims of invasions and social turmoil not only from India in the south and China and Tibet in the north but from Bhutan and Burma as well. Thus, people in Nepal can be categorized according to altitude, religion and ethnicity. The Hindus constitude the famous four caste people but they take some what different names and forms in Nepal. These people carry a surname according their profession. Although Buddhists don't have systematic caste systems but some Buddhists Newars of Kathmandu have been carrying their surnames like Bajracharya, Tamrakar etc which denote their profession as well.
Myths and Folklores
The most well known mythical story from Nepal among the westerners is certainly that of the Yeti, or sometimes called the Abominable Snowman by western press and as a result has been over dramatized as a large primate-like creature supposedly living in the Himalayas. The western name derived from Tibetan yeh-the "little like animal", it is a false cognate with old English geotan in modern English. Interestingly, the legend of the Kathmandu Valley itself can be found both in Hindu and Buddhist scriptures. According to the Buddhist text, it is believed that Kathmandu Valley was a big lake, this lake was called Naga Daha(symbol of water). In the center of the lake, in Satya Yuga, a great saint Bipasi sowed the seeds of lotus. After six months, a magnificent lotus flower blossomed and the effulgent light of the self-existent one could be seen in it. When Sikki Buddha of Arunpuri learnt about its presence in this lake, he came to worship it. He stayed in Pulchoki peak and after some days, on the first of Magh(Jan.), merged himself into the blazing light of the self-existentone.Then came Bishwaambhu Buddha. He came in Treta Yuge from a place called Anupam and stayed on Phuchoki peak. He with his disciples paid homage to the self existent one with hundreds of thousands of followers. In addition, while leaving, he instructed his disciples how to let out the water of the lake from this Kathmandu Valley. The great Manjushree was last to come from China to pay homage to the radiant light of the self existent one. He stayed at Nilgiri now knomn as Nagarkot and paid unreserved homage to the lord for three days and nights. Moreover, he with his great Sword of Wisdom,he drained the lake, thus creating the Chovar gorge. Then only, the valley became inhabitable.
Nepal occupies the central part of the Himalayan arc (2400m), the highest mountain range in the world that lies in South East Asia. The Himalaya, �the Abode of Snow� in Sanskrit, is a vivid record of the most dramatic and visible creations of tectonic forces in modern times. As the strong Indian continental shelf subducts beneath the relatively weak Tibetan shelf, it pushes up the Himalaya, creating the highest peaks in the world. Eight of the
fourteen eight -thousanders are located in Nepal. They are:
Mount Everest (8848m), the highest peak in the world
The peak is popularly known by its three names. The official Nepali name, Sagarmatha(meaning a forehead reaching the sky), was given by the Nepalese government in the early 1960s. The Tibetan name, Chomalongma or Qomolungma(Mother Goddess), has been widely known in the local community for centuries. The English name, was dedicated in honor of George Everest. It has been a source of inspiration and a life time destination to many adventures, mountaineers, explorers, trekkers and nature lovers ever since it has been identified as the highest peak. Its surroundings include glaciers, ice falls lakes cliffs and gorges.
Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain peak in the world lies on the border between Nepal's Taplejung district and the Indian state of Sikkim. Kanchenjunga means snowy land. The huge Kanchenjunga massif is buttressed by great ridges running roughly east to the west and north to south, forming a giant 'X'. Its surroundings are extended in the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area of Nepal to the west, Sikkim to the east and Tibet in the north.
As the forth highest mountain peak in the world, it is connected to Mt. Everest at the south column. Lying at the border between Tibet(China) and Nepal, its ranges also includes Lhotse Middle and Lhotse Shar. It's a dramatic peak having the steepest south face that rises 3,2km in only 2,25km of horizontal distance.
Makalu the fifth highest mountain peak in the world lies on the border between Nepal and Tibet. Among the eight thousanders, Makalu is one of the tougher ones to climb, and is considered one of the most difficult climbs in the world.
Cho Oyu (8201m)
Turquoise Goddess in Tibetan is the sixth highest mountain peak in the world and lies 20km west of Mt. Everest at the border of China. It is just a few kilometers east of Nagpa La(5716m), a glaciated pass that serves as the main trading route between the Tibetans and Sherpas.
Meaning white snowy mountain, the seventh highest peak in the world is located north-west of Pokhara. The peaks Dhaulagiri and Annapurna rise 7000m over the Kaligandaki river gorge in about 30km of horizontal distance.
Manaslu means Mountain of Spirit is the eight highest mountain peak in the world and is located in the Gorkha district of Nepal. It is linked to the long ridges and valleys glaciers offering feasible approaches from all directions. It towers steeply above the surrounding landscape and is a dominant feature when viewed from afar.
Annapurna is the tenth highest peak of the world. The Annapurna range is a 55 km long massif with its highest peak the Annapurna I (8091m). The word 'Anna' means 'paddy' or grains and 'purna' means 'mount.' Machhapuchhre (6993m) also popularly known as the 'Fishtail Mountain' for its unique shape, is an important peak of the Annapurna range.
Foreign Exchange: Foreign currencies must be exchanged only at the banks or at the authorized foreign exchange dealers. The receipts from such transaction are to be obtained and retained. Visitors can also exchange money at the foreign exchange counter at an International Airport.
Banks: Banks are opened between 10.00 am and 3.00 pm from Sunday to Friday. They are closed on Saturdays and on public holidays. But some banks open on Saturdays and public holidays too.
Time: Nepal standard time is 05 hours 45 minutes ahead of GMT and 15 minutes ahead of Indian Standard Time.
Working hours: Government offices open from 10 AM to 05 PM .
Some Dos and Don't's
-The form of greeting in Nepal is �Nameste� and is performed by joining the palms together.
- Befere entering a Nepali home, temple and stupa, remember to remove your shoes.
-Do not eat other people�s plate and do not drink from other people�s bottle or glass. It is considered Jutho or Impure by Nepali. It is considered as a humiliation if you offer the impure one in Nepali culture.
-while traveling, dress appropriately. Women should especially avoid dressing in skimpy outfits.
-Seek permission first before entering a Hindu temple. Many Hindu Temple do not allow westerners to enter.
-Take photographs only after receiving permission for the object or person being photographed.
-Always try to discourage beggars and hawkers.
-Touching offerings or person when they are on the way to religious shrines.
-Avoid kissing and hugging in public especially between men and women. It is taken as a social offence in most of the areas of the country.
-Please discourage begging and encouraging for fair dealing.