Destination of the Month: Nepal

November 2019

With eight of the ten highest mountains in the world, and the deepest canyon on earth (if you measure from the river to the highest peaks on either side), Nepal does not play around when it comes to extremes. It is a geologically diverse country with stunning landscapes ranging from the snow-capped Himalayas and wildlife rich jungles, to the hot plains on the Indian border and ever-expanding cities.

Visit some truly off the beaten track destinations such as Lumbini, Kurintar, and Bardia on our Hidden Nepal tour. Read below for more information on these great destinations and other interesting places.

Five Interesting Facts about Nepal

  1. Mount Everest is known in Nepali as Sagarmatha, meaning ‘the heaven’s forehead’.

  2. Has four places recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, making it the country with the greatest concentration of worldwide heritage.

  3. The national flag is the world’s only non-quadrilateral national flag.

  4. Nepali live in the future! Well, from our perspective - the Nepali calendar is approximately 56 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar. It's currently 2076 there.

  5. A remote Buddhist monastery at Khumjung has what they claim to be the scalp of the yeti.


Some Practical Info

- A visa is needed to enter Nepal, available online or on arrival, and your passport must be valid for at least 6 months.
- The monsoon season usually runs from June to September.
- The currency of Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee and is only available locally.

Nepal’s national parks, notably Chitwan and Bardia, are home to some of the world’s most endangered animals such as the one-horned rhinoceros, the wild Bengal tiger, red pandas, and the elusive snow leopard. Conservation experts are working hard to preserve these important species, and scientists estimate that the wild Bengal tiger population has almost doubled in Nepal since 2009 - from 120 to 235 as of last year. The success of this tiger conservation is hoped to inspire other countries to increase their efforts to protect and study these beloved animals.

An animal that is far from being endangered is the cow - the national animal of Nepal. The slaughter of them is prohibited because of how sacred they are to Hindus and you could face imprisonment for simply injuring them. When a cow no longer produces milk, or a bull is no longer fit to plough the fields, they are released into the towns and villages and are often seen roaming the streets.

Though Hinduism is the predominant religion in Nepal, with approximately 81% identifying as Hindu, Nepal is paradoxically the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, who later became Lord Buddha. He was born close to the Indian border in Lumbini, which has become an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, and in 1997 was given UNESCO World Heritage status.

There is a palace in the middle of Kathmandu that is home to The Living Goddess, or the Kumari, who is worshipped by Hindus and Buddhists. The Kumari is a prepubescent girl chosen to be the living embodiment of the goddess Taleju, who symbolises power and protection. After a rigorous selection process the girl is taken with her parents’ consent to live in a temple palace with various tutors until she has her first menstruation. She is then returned to society, no longer a goddess. The Kumari only leaves the palace 13 times a year for ceremonial purposes, and her feet will never touch the ground lest the goddess prematurely departs from her body.

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