Nepal is ituated in the lap of the Himalayas. Nepal offers sublime beauty and is a land of dreams for many visitors. The land of Mt. Everest, Lord Buddha and so much natural wilderness always welcomes and fascinates visitors with its unique features and mysterious attractions, all situated close to one another. This small country encapsulates the most diverse geo-topographical, cultural, socio-ethnic and biological varieties on earth. Those who have already visited Nepal wish to return and those who have heard or read about Nepal plan to visit.
Geographically, land locked Nepal is sandwiched between China and India at 26°12′ – 30°27′ N and 80°40′ – 88°12′ E, has a size of 147,181 sq.km and a population of around 28 million. Kathmandu is its capital city. The altitudes vary from 69m to 8,848m at the top of the world’s highest mountain peak, the Mt. Everest. Futuremore, Nepal comprises eight of the world’s highest mountain peaks above 8,000m, large fertile lands in the Terai, deep gorges (among them the world’s deepest gorge, the Kali-Gandaki), fountain springs, as well as swift and roaring rivers which tumble down directly from the Himalayas. The climate varies from sub-tropical in the lowlands to arctic at higher Himalayan regions.
UNESCO has identified eight cultural heritage sites in Nepal
Namely Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Swayambhunath, Boudhanath, Pashupatinath, Changunarayan and Lumbini, the first seven of which are located in the Kathmandu valley, as well as two natural heritage sites, namely Sagarmatha National Park (also known as Mt. Everest National Park) and Chitwan National Park.
Likewise, Buddhists along with Muslims and Christians live in harmony celebrating their festivals like Dashain – Tihar, Chad, Buddha Purnima, Loshars, Eid, Christmas etc. respectively. More than 100 different ethnic groups speak their various languages and follow their cultural practices and rituals.
Nepal is also rich in biological diversity. For example, more than 6000 flowering plants, 470 lichens and 300 orchids can be found in Nepal as well as more than 660 species of butterflies, 185 species of fish, 195 species of amphibians, 208 species of mammals and 885 species of birds, the latter being about 9% of the worldwide number of species. Endemic species bird, Spiny Babbler (Turdoides nipalensis) only found in Nepal. Himalayan Field Mouse (Apodemusgurkha) and the Csorba’s Mouse-eared Bat (Myotiscsorbai). Laliguras (Rhododendron arboreum) and Himalayan Monal (Lophophorusimpejanus) are the national flower and bird respectively. Some of the charismatic and flagship species that are found in Nepal arethe Bengal Tiger, the One-horned Rhinoceros, the Asiatic Wild Elephant, the Gangetic Dolphin, the Snow Leopard, the Bengal Florican, the Red-headed Vulture, the Giant Hornbill, the Sarus Crane, the Rock Python, and the Ghariyal.
Geographically, Nepal is a land locked and is sandwich between two large countries of Asia; China and India. It lies within latitudes of 26°12′-30°27′ N and longitudes of 80°40′-88°12′ E enclosing 1,47,181 sq. Km with around 28 million population and Kathmandu is its capital city. Physiographically, Nepal is divided into three east-west belts: terai, hill and mountain. The high mountains and hilly regions occupy 86% of the total land area and remaining by terai region. The altitudes vary from 69m to 8,848m at the top of the World’s Highest Mountain Peak, The Mt. Everest. Also includes, majestic eight World’s Highest Mountain Peaks above 8000m, large fertile land at the terai, deep gorges (world’s deepest gorge, The Kali-Gandaki) and fountain springs, swift and roaring rivers which tumble down directly from the Himalayas.
Nepal is also rich in floral diversity. More than 6,000 Flowering plants, 470 Lichens, 300 Orchids, etc are found in Nepal. Laliguras (Rhododendron arboreum) is the national flower of Nepal. Around 400 Endemic flowering plants are found in Nepal. There are 35 Forest types, 75 Vegetation types and 118 Ecosystems types in Nepal.
More than 660 species of Butterflies, 185 species of Fish, 195 species of Herpetic Fauna, 887 species of Birds, and 208 species of Mammals can be found from Terai to higher Himalayas. Spiny Babbler (Turdoides nipalensis) is an endemic bird species whereas Himalayan Field Mouse (Apodemus gurkha) and Csorba’s Mouse-eared Bat (Myotis csorbai) are two endemic Mammalian species found in Nepal.
Nepal has 887 species of birds, which is about 9% of the world. Himalayan Monal (Lophophorus impejanus) is the national bird of Nepal. Some of the charismatic and flagship species that are found in Nepal are Bengal Tiger, One-horned Rhinoceros, Asiatic Wild Elephant, Gangetic Dolphin, Snow Leopard, Bengal Florican, Red-headed Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, White-rumped Vulture, Giant Hornbill, Sarus Crane, Rock Python, Ghariyal etc.
Weather and Climate
Nepal’s weather is generally predictable and pleasant
Wider range of climatic condition is found in Nepal as a consequence of elevational variation. The climate varies from sub-tropical at low land and arctic at higher Himalayas. Precipitation usually decreases from the east to west. More than 80% of the precipitation occurs in the form monsoon rain (average 1600 mm) from June-September. Nepal also experience winter rain in western hills due to westerly wind. Precipitation is in the form of snow at higher elevation where the temperature drops below the freezing point. Usually four types of season are found in Nepal: spring, summer, autumn and winter. The temperature rises to more than 42°C at the terai during summer and below freezing point at winter at higher elevation, however most of the time it is pleasant at the midland region.
Festival and Language
Nepal has a unique cultural diversity which is evolved over the centuries. More than 100 ethnic groups where most of them have their own spoken languages have made diverse cultural practices in Nepal. Nepal is also known for multi religious country in the world. Hindu, Buddhist along with Muslim and Christian live with harmony celebrating their festivals like, Dashain-Tihar, Chad, Buddha Purnima, Loshars, Eid, Christmas etc. respectively. National holidays are given during these festivals. Nepali is the nationally spoken language and other languages which are also spoken are Maithili, Bhojpuri, Newari etc. UNESCO has identified eight cultural heritage sites which are Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Swayambhunath, Boudhanath, Pashupatinath, Changunarayan and Lumbini in Nepal.
People and Culture
The country of Nepal, nestled into the folds of the Himalayas, is a nation representative of singular flux of races and religions. ‘Melting Pot’ is a term often used to describe the Nepal People, join together, united and despite their racial and religious differences.
The people of Nepal live scattered throughout the vales and hilly terrains that feature the geography of the country. The Nepalese add up to a population of 30 million approximately. The livings in different regions have distinctive social customs and life styles that distinguish them from the other ethnic group. A group of people Newars, who lives mainly in Kathmandu Tamangs live on the outer edge around of Kathmandu valley. Sherpa’s inhabit the eastern and central regions of Nepal’s Himalaya. In the vicinity of the Kali Gandaki valley northern Nepal live the Thakalis people.
In the Midlands are populated by the Chhetris and Brahmins. Similarly, the Tharu people dwell in the Terai region. The Limbu’s, Magar’s, Jirel, Chepang, Rai and Sunwar occupy the middle hills. In the lowland Terai or in Dun valley exist in the Danwars, Rajputs, Rajbansis, Dhangars, Majhis, Dhimals and Statars.
Nepal is a harmonious blend of different ethnic groups who are bonded by their fervent loyalty to the institution of Republic of Democracy. The principle religions are Buddhism and Hinduism. The inhabitants of Nepal mainly communicate in the Nepali. However, Nepal people use Newari language predominantly in the Kathmandu valley while Tibetan languages are primarily in use in mountains region.
Nepal culture is marked for its rich diversity
The culture of Nepal includes music, dance, art forms, literature, religion and architecture in varied forms. Nepal has numerous ethnic groups and clans, which have a separate and distinct culture of their own. There are many religions that are practiced in this exotic mountainous country.
Moreover, Music is an integral part of the cultural heritage of Nepal. Music in all forms is appreciated and adored in the country. Folk music is greatly loved by the Nepali people over modern forms of music. There are influences of Indian and Tibetan music on the music of Nepal.
Another facet of Nepal culture lies in its architecture. There are mainly three types of architectural features that are preferred in Nepal-the pagoda style, the Stupa style and the Shikhara style. There are several temples, churches, synagogues and Buddhist monasteries in Nepal that are built based on these architectural styles. The culture of Nepal is vividly depicted in these architectural wonders of Nepal.
Apart from music, dance is also a preferred mode of entertainment for the people of Nepal. The religious ceremonies that are celebrated in the country have music and dance as an integral part of their program. Religion is another important part of Nepal’s culture. Hinduism is the primary religion in Nepal, followed by Buddhism and Christianity. There are many festivals, which are celebrated and are religious in origin. All these things amalgamated together make a rich cultural heritage of Nepal.
In Nepal, Hinduism and Buddhism are the major religions. The two have co-existed down the ages and many Hindu temples share the same complex as, Buddhist shrines. Hindu and Buddhist worshippers may regard the same god with different names while performing religious rites. Nepal has been declared as a secular country by the Parliament on May 18, 2006. Religions like Hinduism Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, and Bon are practiced here. Some of the earliest inhabitants like the Kirats practice their own kind of religion based on ancestor worship and the Tharus practice animism.
Over the years, Hinduism and Buddhism have been influenced by these practices which have been modified to form a synthesis of newer beliefs. Likewise, for centuries the Nepal remained divided into many principalities. Kirats ruled in the east, the Newars in the Kathmandu Valley, while Gurungs and Magars occupied the mid-west. The Kirats ruled from 300 BC and during their reign, emperor Ashoka arrived from India to build a pillar at Lumbini in memory of Lord Buddha. The Kirats were followed by the Lichchhavis whose descendants today are believed to be the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley.
During the period, art thrived in Nepal and many of the beautiful woodcarvings and sculptures that are found in the country belong to this era. With the end of the Lichchhavi dynasty, Malla kings came to power in 1200 AD and they also contributed tremendously to Nepal’s art and culture. However, after almost 600 years of rule, the kings were not united among themselves and during the late 18th century, Prithvi Narayan Shah, King of Gorkha, conquered Kathmandu and united Nepal into one kingdom. Recognizing the threat of the British Raj in India, he dismissed European missionaries from the country and for more than a century, Nepal remained in isolation, during the mid-19th century Jung Bahadur Rana became Nepal’s first prime minister to wield absolute power. He set up an oligarchy and the Shah Kings remained figureheads. The Rana’s were overthrown in a democracy movement of the early 1950s.