Nestled in between the two powerful countries, India and China, Nepal is all about Mountains, Jungles, Ancient cities, Spiritual sites, and Friendly Nepali people. The landlocked country, Nepal is famous around the world as the birthplace of the Light of Asia, Gautam Buddha. With thousands of followers following his footsteps, Nepal has also become a hub for spiritual awakening and meditation. Apart from being a hub for those following Buddhism, Nepal homes the World’s highest mountain, Mount Everest, and the World’s deepest gorge, Kaligandaki. Amidst hundreds of Natural wonders overlapped in a place, the country is a little piece of heaven served in a magical way. To give you an overall picture of what Nepal looks like in real we have mentioned “Things Nobody Tells you” before your Nepal visit on our blog, Complete Nepal Travel Guide.
Apart from the World highest Mountain and World’s deepest gorge, you might have heard a lot more about Nepal from your traveling friend or from blogs you might have recently read. However, Nepal is much more than what we can describe in our words. A colleague who has recently been on an Everest base camp trek will draw Nepal as the country of mountains, and friendly Sherpa guides. Whereas one who has joined for Kathmandu and Pokhara Tour will elaborate Nepal as a religious, historical place with awesome street foods and amazing lakeside views leaving you in vain what the country looks like in real. To help you get an insight on the things you would like to know before and during your Nepal visit, we have summed up the most common yet unique background of Nepal in the blog, Complete Nepal Travel Guide.
The unique customary Hindu greeting Namaste is equivalent to hello but adds an element of respect towards the other person. The gesture where one bows forward with both hands together is translated to “the divine in me bows to the divine in you”. On your Nepal visit, you will encounter people smiling back at you and doing Namaste be it in the streets of Thamel or any other place you will be visiting. Since it’s a way of saying hello in Nepal, do practice it before your Nepal visit.
Nepal is a Hindu country
Although declared a secular kingdom, Nepal accounts for 81.3% of Hindus, 9% Buddhist, and remaining are a mixture of other ethnic groups. During your Nepal visit, you will get a chance to see temples on every second corner of the street with devotes performing different rituals. Among many sites you visit, the UNESCO enlisted cultural heritage site of the valley will leave you spellbound with the numbers of temples, historical background, and intricately carved monuments present on the site. As you leave your sandals on the temple’s door, don’t forget to bow your head, with your hands placed together, and offer your prayers to the mighty gods.
With 126 castes speaking 123 different languages, Nepal is a beautiful garden composed of a mixture of varied ethnic groups. As per the numbers, the Nepal Government has recognized 59 indigenous communities. Among them Rautes are nomads, traveling all around the places for the livelihood, whereas the Chepangs are seen spending their lives far from other human settlements, in the forests. However, all of the indigenous communities have their unique dialect, religion, tradition, culture, and civilization following the footsteps of their ancestors. Since half of the country’s population comes under the indigenous category, you will get a chance to observe different lifestyle followed by the groups and their unique tradition as you travel around Nepal. In case you plan your visit during any festival in Nepal, you will see the real color of the country leaving you fascinated.
One of the most interesting things that you will see during your Nepal visit is Prayer flags. The fluttering Prayer flags are visible in places like monasteries, the UNESCO site Swayambhunath, Boudhanath, streets of Thamel, and to almost every trekking destination. The Tibetan colorful rectangular prayer flags come in sets of five. Arranged in a specific order from left to right as blue, white, red, green, and yellow, the prayers flags have different purposes. The blue color symbolizes the sky and space, white symbolizes the air and wind, similarly, the red color symbolizes fire, green symbolizes water and the yellow color symbolizes the mother earth. Apart from adding beauty to the surroundings, the prayer flags promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom.
Since the prayer flags are sacred, people treat them with respect and are not placed on grounds or used on any type of clothing. The old prayer flags are replaced with the new one in the morning on sunny and windy days where the old flags are burned down. The most colorful, calm, and beautiful prayer flags can be encountered on Annapurna base camp trek, Everest Base Camp trek, and Langtang trek.
Food in Nepal
Bordering with India and China, the cuisines of Nepal is a blend of Indian, Chinese and Tibetan flavors. Apart from thousands of foods that is available in the different parts of Nepal, Dal Bhat is the only dish you can get wherever you visit. The National dish of Nepal, Dal Bhat is something Nepalese opts for no matter what time of the day it is, Morning or evening. Served with lentil soup, steamed seasonal vegetables, meat, and curd, it is the most appetizing food. If there is something a Nepali would say yes to after a plate full of Dal, Bhat is MOMOs. No matter if, it’s steamed or fried, available in a fancy restaurant or a street stall, MOMOs are go-to food for every Nepali. Filled with minced vegetables or meat, the MOMOs are perfectly wrapped in the flour-based dough to deliver you the juiciest taste. Aside from Dal, Bhat, and MOMO, Nepal has a lot of unique taste and cuisine of which Chatamari, Sel Roti, and Dhido are something you should look forward to during the visit.
To learn how Nepalese prepare these awesome delicacies you can join our exclusive cooking classes too. Typical Nepali Food Cooking Class.
Home to Newari People, Kathmandu
The capital city Kathmandu is a hub of the Newari community. Famous for their artistry, the Newari community has added life to architecture, painting, sculpting, woodcarving, and pottery making. A clear example is what you can see on your visit to Kathmandu Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, and the famous Bungamati Khokona village. Following Hindu or Buddhist religion, they observe diverse festivals including Mha Puja, Gai Jatra, Indra Jatra, Bisket Jatra, and Yomari Punhi. Apart from the festivals and their unsurpassed artistry, the community is also famous for its unique food that is loved by every Nepalese. The Newari foods that you must try in Nepal comprise of Samay Baji, Chatamari, Haku Choila, Yomari, Bara, and the healthy meal, Kwati.
Get a detailed history of the community as you pay a visit to the sites and observe their day-to-day life.
Unique Dance and Tradition
Accounting 126 different ethnic groups, the tradition, and the cultures of Nepal vary as you travel from east to west. However, what makes Nepal different is its way of expressing its tradition and culture through music and dance. The two types of Dance forms of Nepal constitute the Classical and Folk dances. The Nepali classical dances are based on ancient forms of dance whereas the folk dances are based on flock songs and music. The Nepal classical dances comprise Ghatu Nritya, Sorathi Nritya, Maruni Nritya, Devi Nritya, and Hanuman Nritya. Each of these dances has been performed since ancient times and recites different stories. In contrast, the folk dances are traditional dance forms that are performed during different festivals like Deuda Nach, Dhan Nach, Chandi Naach, Mayur Nach, and Lakhey dance. Although these dance forms are restricted to some parts of Nepal only, you can still observe these dances at cultural dinners in Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Chitwan. Chitwan is another city famous for the Tharu culture Dance show.
Air quality in Kathmandu
Represented as one of the developing countries, Nepal is still struggling in improving many of its basic infrastructures including road construction and maintaining the air quality. As a result of which Nepal ranked 176 out of 180 countries in the global study in terms of the air-quality, proving it to be the worst of all. As you travel around Nepal, you will face a huge amount of pollution, compelling you to close your vehicle windows and to use a mask to keep yourself safe from contamination
No matter if, it is Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or even the Saturdays, Nepalese will never fail to amaze you with their evergreen charm and dressing sense. The varied traditions and culture across the country have also helped in diversifying Nepal in many terms. From tip-topped women rushing for their office to a mother busy in her household work in a native village, the one thing that appears to be common is their unique sense of styling adding visual pleasure to the visitors. In addition to the dress, the long black hair arranged in a bun to a freely floating hair in the air, all Nepalese do is add elegance to their life. Encounter people in their traditional dress as you move on your journey from the capital city to the beautiful Himalayas.
The unique yet embarrassing thing a visitor can face during the Nepal visit is the traditional toilets. Although the hotels of Kathmandu facilitates the tourist standard toilets, almost all Nepalese use squatty toilets till the date. If you are planning to join for any treks during your Nepal visit, you will likely encounter and use one of these toilets. People using squatty toilets clean their anal section with water hence there is a high chance that you will not get toilet paper during your treks too. So make sure to carry some of them and get enough knowledge on how to handle those first moment mishaps.
Trekking in Nepal
The land of Himalayas, Nepal has more than a thousand peaks in total, of which eight of them are above 8000m including the World’s highest mountain, Mount Everest. Of these peaks, many are opened to trekkers and has been commercialized as per the demands of the travelers. Out of many popular treks, the Everest Base Camp Trek, Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Langtang Trek, Manaslu Trek, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Ghorepani Poonhill trek comes under the bucket wish list of both internal as well as external tourists
Places to Visit in Nepal
Although small in size, Nepal has bunch of interesting places to visit. From the birthplace of Lord Buddha Gautam Buddha, Lumbini to the vantage point in Kathmandu, Nagarkot that offers majestic panorama of the Everest, you can add thrilling moments and in depth knowledge on religion and varied lifestyle of people in Nepal at the same time. Apart from these two places to visit during your vacation, you can visit other places including, Pokhara “The city of lakes”, Chitwan “First National park in Nepal”, Bhaktapur “The city of devotes”, Patan “Nepal’s largest heritage city”.
Arranging money and understanding them can be troublesome if it is your first Nepal visit. After converting your dollars in Thamel, you will get different numbers including 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 Rs. Since, getting a change of 1000 rupees can be troublesome at many places, stock enough changes before heading to your journey. Apart from stocking changes, make sure you carry enough to pay for your food and travel as well.
Nepal is much more than just Mount Everest
To people who recognize Nepal as the country of Mount Everest, let us add some more spices on what Nepal truly offers to its visitors. Nepal is indeed a Nature Jackpot for someone who craves to see the nature and admire its beauty. From enjoying boating in the pristine Phewa Lake to witnessing endangered and rare species as you ride elephant in Chitwan National Park, what visitors do is relish the moment of being in one of the beautiful countries in the World. With the fact that the country is still developing, it has many unpaved roads along the way making your trip bumpy and even more adventurous. Apart from the unpaved, bumpy roads, we never compromise on comforting our visitors with the natural wonders that Nepal offers. There are list of other adventurous things that you can do on your Nepal visit apart from just admiring the serene beauty.
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Know more about Top 5 Adventure Sports in Nepal
The above-mentioned points were included just to give you a general idea of what Nepal looks like and what Nepal is in general. Although we have not included any specific trekking related things, we have covered up most basic things one would like to know during the visit. As I have already said, a blog is never enough to describe what Nepal actually is, so do visit Nepal and make memories that will stay carved in your heart for lifetime.