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Nepal

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Nepal Travel Destination Information

ONCE IN YOUR LIFE, YOU’VE GOT TO GO

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Nepal houses a repository of stunning cultural wealth, which comes as a great surprise to many who understandably associate with simply the world's greatest mountains.  And for natural scenery Nepal has no equal. A single day trekking can reveal bamboo forests, yak herders, Hindu temples, Buddhist prayer flags, and of course the iconic, white, jagged fins of rock and ice that thrust skyward with unmatched intensity. As any traveler will attest, at least once in your life, you've simply got to go.

KATHMANDU

The ancient capital of this mountain kingdom is synonymous with the far-flung outpost, and to this day retains a mystical, medieval aura that may leave you feeling like you've stepped through the looking glass.

Its narrow alleyways wind past no less than seven World Heritage sites. Soak up the atmosphere at Durbar Square, with its numerous temples and Royal Palace. Sacred cows and near-naked Hindu holy men, dusted with powder and carrying tridents, stroll the square in search of offerings from the faithful.

Check your worldview at the door when you visit the Kumari Bahal, home to a living goddess. In this temple, a small girl is selected from a particular clan of craftspeople, and after extensive ritual is declared a goddess. She lives in the temple until puberty, after which she is given a life pension and a new goddess is found. The central courtyard of the temple is superbly crafted, with extensive carvings and an elaborate shrine.

Pashipatinath

This is the largest temple devoted to the Hindu god Shiva in the world. It is situated on the banks of the Bagmati River and draws devotees from all over the Indian subcontinent. A richly ornamented pagoda houses the sacred linga (phallic symbol) of Shiva, dating from the 6th century. Much like Varanasi on the Ganges, the Bagmati is a holy river and an auspicious place to be cremated. There are ghats (steps leading to the river) lining the sides of the river, and you will most likely witness a cremation ceremony. The wrapped body is placed upon a mound of smoldering logs and brush, then set alight; the soul, it is believed, escapes to be reborn once again according to the dictates of karma.

Bodnath

Bodnath is the largest stupa in Nepal: many believe a bone from the Gautama Buddha is interred within its walls and the stupa is considered holy. A thriving Tibetan community has made its home in this area since fleeing Tibet when the Chinese invaded in 1959.

Swayambunath

At first glance you'll recognize Swayambunath as Nepal's definitive icon. Situated on top of a hill on the Western end of the valley, the "eyes" of the Buddha look out in all directions. Pay attention to the "nose," which is actually the Nepali number ek (one), celebrating unity. Guarding the lower stairs of the stupa are a band of amusing monkeys performing acrobatics and angling for a snack.

AROUND KATHMANDU:

Patan

(Half-day trip from Kathmandu) Patan, also called "The Beautiful City," lies just south of Kathmandu and is the cradle of Newari arts and culture in the valley.

Jam-packed with gorgeous and intriguing temples, this ancient town was once one of the main kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley, and its central square is exquisitely preserved.

Bhaktapur

(Half-day trip from Kathmandu) Perhaps the most medieval town in the valley, Bhaktapur is nicknamed the "City of Devotees." A German restoration project in the 1970s repaired buildings, paved some streets, and added sewage facilities. Basically a pedestrian city, a pleasant stroll through the bustling streets affords an all-inclusive glimpse of Nepal's 17th-century architecture and Hindu daily life.

Nagarkot hike

(Day trip or overnight from Kathmandu) Located on a ridge on the northeastern rim of Kathmandu Valley, Nagarkot is a fabulous viewpoint that affords views all the way from Dhaulagiri in the west past Mt. Everest to Kangchenjunga in the east. Hiking up in the afternoon, spending the night, and rising early in the morning to see the incredible sunrise over the mountains is the most colorful way to view the peaks. An alternative is to drive to this viewpoint village, but the three-hour or so hike is much more interesting.

Pokhara

(Overnight from Kathmandu) Pokhara is a pleasant lakeside village that is mainly dedicated to trekkers embarking on or returning from a trek. It is filled with wonderful lakeside cafés, bookstores, and sporting goods shops. Take a boat on the lake, or enjoy one of the surrounding day hikes.

Phewa Lake

Located next to Pokhara, this is the second-largest lake in Nepal. There is a temple in the middle of the lake, accessible only by boat.

Hike to Sarangkot

(Day trip from Pokhara) Offering tremendous views of both the lake and the Annapurna skyline, this popular hike is perfect for those who would like to see the views without trekking. At about two hours each way, this hike passes through villages and a few small temples.

THE TERAI:

(October-April) Even though most people think of snow-capped mountains when they think of Nepal, nearly half of the population lives in the jungle-covered hot lowlands known as the Terai.

Chockfull of rivers, trees and animals, offering THE best wildlife experience in Asia, the Terai is a worthwhile stop for any visitor to Nepal.

Chitwan National Park

Most famous for the Bengal tiger, this park is home to many rhinos, elephants, deer, and over 450 different species of birds. An elephant-back safari is a most unforgettable experience.

Royal Bardia National Park

Bardia houses the Bengal tiger, leopards, mongooses, sloth bears, barking hogs and deer, to name a few. Remote and difficult to access, its isolation means less visitors and a great chance of seeing game.