Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is a South Asian country located between the Himalayas and India. Kathmandu is the capital and the largest city in the country. The ten tallest mountains in the world are located in Nepal including the Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. The country was ruled by Shah Dynasty till 2008. More than 80% of the people in Nepal practice Hinduism. Over the years, Nepal has grown as an important tourist destination. It is now known as the land of Sherpas, yetis, snow peaks, yaks and monasteries. This mystical land offer unlimited adventure, astonishingly attractive landscapes, ancient towns, excellent Pagoda temple architecture, etc. to the visitors. Why Visit Nepal? Nepal is a slowly developing country with a population of 22 million. However, it has high potential for tourism with a diverse landscape and exotic culture of the ethnic groups. A visitor can spend at least a week visiting the various places of interest here and taking part in various outdoor activities here. Every year, thousands of international as well as national tourists visit Nepal to climb Mt. Everest or other mountains in the area or to enjoy adventurous rafting, trekking, jungle safari or just to enjoy the Nature. Eight world heritage sites, including Lord Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini is located here. The tourists find Nepal inexpensive and there are many hotels and guest houses here for all price ranges and with different luxuries just waiting for the tourists. This is a tourist destination which engages the young and the old alike. Major Destinations Kathmandu City Kathmandu offers a maze of medieval architecture through the Hindu temples, Buddhist stupas, hidden courtyards and historical garden, etc. You can find the spirit of Nepal in the backstreets of this city. Dubar Square is the most important place as it is the residence of the living Goddess Kumari. Kathmandu temple built by using single wood is another famous thing to see here. The city got its name from this temple. You will be able to visit the 1500 year old Swayambhunath, the world heritage Buddhist stupa, Boudnath stupa, the Newari town Bakhtapur, which is a world heritage site when you are in Kathmandu. The Nagarjun forest reserve or the Rani Ban is home to different wildlife varieties. This is a heaven for bird spotters and you can get the complete view of the valley if you reach the summit. Kathmandu has some unexpected areas in store for the visitors. The “Garden of Dreams” located near Thamel, the tourist hub, is neo-classical garden with ponds and green lawns and offers tranquility within the city. You will find this place magical with its illumination at night. The natural history museum offers a good collection of plants, animals and fossils. The national museum has a splendid collection of artifacts and historical displays. Kathmandu Valley According to belief, this valley was created by the Buddhist deity Manjusri and this natural basin contains sacred temples, medieval villages, Himalayan viewpoints. You can visit the town of Panauti with nostalgic ancient structures, village of Changunarayan with the temple dedicated to Changu Narayan and Nagarkot, the resort destination in the valley. The Dhulikhel town offers spectacular view of the valleys and Himalayan range and has lovely buildings with wood carvings. Dhulikhel is also popular for mountain biking and hiking activities. The tourist spot Namo Buddha is believed to be the place where Lord Buddha fed a hungry mother tigress with his body. There are many Tibetan monasteries located here. Patan Patan is separated from Kathmandu by Bagmati River. If you are interested in fine arts, you can visit the city of Patan which offers a collection of bronze items and handicrafts for the visitors to see. This city is also known as Lalitpur or Yala. This city is famous for the woven Tibetan carpets and molded metal statues. You can also visit the famous Patan museum located in Malla palace, Golden temple with the tortoises in its courtyard, Krishna Mandir, Mul Chowk, etc. here. Bhaktapur Otherwise known as The “City of Devotees”, this medieval city has temples with finest architecture. This city is devoid of pollution and the visitor will be able to enjoy the cultural life of people here. The city is located at a height of 4600ft above sea level. You can see the artisans at work here. The golden gate, Nyatapola temple and National Art Gallery, located in Royal Palace are some of the important places to see here. Pokhara Valley This is the destination for adventure savvy people. This is called as the adventure capital of Nepal. Most of the adventurous treks in Nepal start from here. Phewa lake area has good hotels and handicrafts shop. The Barahi temple is located in the middle of the Phewa Lake. You can visit the awesome Devi’s fall or the limestone cave Mahendra Gupha when you visit Pokhara. Lumbini is the site which attracts historians, Buddhist followers and archeologists. The sacred garden here spreads over 8 sq km. Mayadevi temple, dedicated to the mother of Lord Buddha, and the Ashoka pillar erected by the great emperor Ashoka to commemorate his visit to this site are must see places. THINGS TO DO IN NEPAL Trekking Trekking is one of the main activities that tourists want to do when they are in Nepal. You can get short trek trips or trekking trips that will take at least one month, according to your interest in trekking and how long you want to spend time in Nepal. There are different grades of trekking based on the difficulty level. Trekking can give a look into the different cultures of the ethnic groups and panoramic beauty offered by the mountains and valleys. The trek to the base camp of Mount Everest will give you an unexpected trekking experience. The trekkers to Everest will be provided with eco camp sites or lodges. You can also opt for trekking in the Annapurna sanctuary. This can be accessed from Pokhara. The Annapurna base camp at 4130 meters offers the full view of Annapurana range. You can get good guides for trekking and the best season to do trekking is from March to April and September to November. Rafting Nepal is one of the most preferred destinations for whitewater rafting or kayaking. The swirling rapids starting from Himalayas give the most exciting rafting experience. There are rivers graded according to the challenge it offers to the rafters. Grade four is considered as moderately challenging without being too risky and further grades are the ones that require good river and rafting experience. Very few rivers in the world can give the same thrilling terrain background and contours of the rivers in Nepal. Rivers such as Bhote Koshi, Kalingandaki, Karnali, Tamur, Sunkoshi and Trishuli offers rafting opportunities. Jungle Safari Chitwan national park, which is about five hours drive from the capital city of Kathmandu offers jungle safari to the visitors. Located on Terai or the plain, it contains forest as well as grasslands. This national park established in 1973 has an area of 932 sq km and has the world heritage site status. During the safari, you can spot one- horned rhinos, wild boars, hyenas, gharial crocodile, deer, monkeys, Bengal tigers and different varieties of birds. This park is also well known for the elephant rides and canoe rides that it offers to the visitors. You can also get to see the cultural performances by the ethnic people of Terai. Gokarna safari park or the royal game sanctuary, which is 10 km North East of Kathmandu offers safari on elephant back to watch the wildlife. Mountain Flight If you want to enjoy the scenic beauty of Everest, mountain flight is the best way. This adventure will remain in your memory forever. You can see the Everest region by flight and you will be as close as 200 meters of Mt. Everest. This mountain visit flight starts from the Katmandu domestic airport. The visitors will be provided with individual window seats to get the whole view of the mountains and are allowed to take pictures from the cockpit. There are many airlines like Guna, Budha, Yeti, Agni, etc. offering daily mountain flights for the visitors. Temples In Nepal Nepal has numerous Hindu and Buddhist temples which are considered as the masterpieces in stone or wood. Visitors get attracted to the beauty of architecture, the intricate carvings and paintings on the walls. The tiered temples are the specialty of Nepal. Some of the important temples in Nepal include: Pashupatinath Temple This temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is 6 km from Kathmandu. Situated on the bank of river Bagmati, this temple has gilded roof and carved silver doors. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple. However, visitors can get a clear view of the temple from the eastern side of the Bagmati River. “Shivaratri” celebrated during the month of February-March is the main festival of this temple. Cremation grounds are located behind this temple. Swayambhunath Stupa This is a Buddhist stupa located 3 km from Kathmandu on a hillock. This stupa has a history of 2000 years. The main structure is made of earth and brick and this supports the heavy conical spire which has a cap made of copper. On all the four sides, the eyes of Buddha are painted below the spire to show that Buddha sees everything. You can get an excellent view of Kathmandu valley from this temple. This is a UNESCO listed world heritage site. Boudanath Stupa This is one of the biggest Buddhist stupa’s in the world. This stupa also has the eyes of Buddha depicted on it on all the four directions. According to local belief, Buddha is looking out for righteous behavior and prosperity of mankind. This stupa was built according to the wish of King Man Deva as advised by the Goddess called Mani Jogini. Dakshinakali Temple Located 22 kms away from Kathmandu, this temple is dedicated to the Goddess of power, Kali. Pilgrims offer prayers and animal sacrifices to the goddess after the fulfillment of their wishes. You can have the beautiful view of the countryside of Kathmandu during the journey to this temple. Mukthinath This is a holy place for Hindus as well as Buddhists. Mukthi means salvation and Nath means God and hence the deity is considered as the provider of salvation. The shrine has Buddhist Gompa as well as a pagoda style temple of Lord Vishnu. According to Hindu belief, Lord Vishnu was converted to Shaligram or ammonite by the curse of Brinda and he got salvation from the curse at this place. Buddhists call this place as 108 water spouts. According to Buddhist belief, Guru Rimpoche of Tibet in 12th century attained lifetime spiritual knowledge by meditating from here. The Mukthi Kunda or the water pond and Mukthi Dhara or the 108 water spouts around the temple are other major attractions. A short distance from Mukthinath temple is the Jwala Mai temple where eternal flames will be burning. Golden Temple This Buddhist monastery is also known as Kwa Bahal and is located north of the Durbar square. The frontage of the temple is covered with gilded metal and hence the name golden temple. The tortoises in the premises of this temple are considered as the guardians of the temples. The main priest of this temple will be a boy under 12 years of age. The main shrine has the statue of Sakya Muni. The upper floor of the temple has Tibetan style frescoes. Gorkha Durbar This is regarded as a temple, fort and palace and the best example of exquisite Newari architecture. You can have the best view of the Trisuli valley, peaks of Annapurna, Ganesh Himalaya, etc. from here. This is the birthplace and the palace of Prithvi Naryan Shah. Kopan Monastery This monastery of the Buddhist monks is located at Boudhanath. This monastery was founded by the Lamas Zopa Rinpoche and Thubten Yeshe in 1970’s. About 360 monks stay here and the monastery contains Chenrezig Gompa or the temple, prayer wheels and flags, statues, Bodhi tree and colorful Buddha stupa. Visitors can participate in the morning chanting or the evening Pooja ceremony. The monastery offers Buddhism, yoga and meditation courses. Mountaineering After Mt. Everest was conquered by Sherpa Tensing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hilary in 1953, expeditions to Himalayas have become common. Today, more than 326 peaks in Nepal offer mountaineering chances to the visitors. The mountaineering section of the Ministry Of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation offers climbing permits throughout the year to the 13 mountaineering peaks in Nepal. The equipments needed for mountaineering are available for rental or you can get the help of mountaineering and trekking agencies. Nepal mountaineering association promotes mountain tourism. Regular mountaineering trips are available to Island peak, Naya Kanga, Mera peak, Parchermo Peak, Lobuche peak, Yala peak, Urkema Peak, etc. Best Places To Stay You can find accommodation to suit your budget and requirement during your visit to Nepal. Hotel Yak and Yeti is a hotel with five star facilities. This hotel located in heritage palace in Kathmandu offers a luxury stay. Temple Tree Resort and Spa located in Gaurighat is 3 km from Pokhara airport. The rooms offer all the modern facilities including Wi-Fi. Dwarika’s hotel offers luxury at its maximum and it will the best choice of couples visiting Nepal on honeymoon. This hotel is conveniently located near Pashupatinath and Boudhanath and the airport. Kantipur Temple House is moderately priced hotel with traditional architecture and well furnished rooms. This eco-friendly hotel overlooks the Swayambhunath temple. Swotha hotel is located in Patan near to Durbar square. This hotel offers traditional Newari homes with comfortable bed and breakfast. Hotel heritage in Bhaktapur is a UNESCO world heritage site. This hotel has retained the Nepal tradition in its architecture and culture, but has all modern facilities on offer. Ganesh Himal hotel offers a budget stay in Nepal. This is a friendly hotel with a homely atmosphere and offers the necessary amenities. The price for accommodation varies according to the choice you make. Trekking lodges offer cheaper rates, whereas wildlife resorts charge the highest rates. Guesthouses are usually moderately priced. During off-season, the rates can reduce by 50%. Local Food Customs The real meal of Nepali people consists of rice served with dal, lentil or tarkari or vegetable. The meal will not be complete without a pickle. In higher altitude areas, the staple food consists of Dhiro made from millet or corn. They eat food seated on the floor and eat with their hands. The orthodox Hindu families are usually vegetarians where as other castes will consume pork, beef and even alcohol. Some of the food items are hybrids of Indian, Thai and Tibetan origin. The dumplings called “momos” are the most popular among them. During festivals they prepare “sel roti” and patre. When you are in Nepal, you should try the food items like momos, dal-bhat, chatamari or the Nepali Pizza, dhindo, sel ratio, Juju dhau or king yoghurt, sekuwa or the barbecued meat in Nepali style, Yomari, the sweet rice bread, etc. to enjoy and know the taste of Nepal. To get the best Nepali food experience, you should try the local eateries. You can find local drinks with alcoholic content called Raksi or Nepali wine or Jaand or chyaang or Nepali beer on offer.