Nepal is a tourist des­ti­na­tion of pic­turesque land­scapes, his­tory and ar­chi­tec­ture.

The coun­try is a serene beauty which falls in your hands, writes Usha Wa­gle Gau­tam

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Nepal, the South Asian coun­try wedged be­tween China and In­dia, in­tro­duces it­self as the land of Mount Ever­est, Earth’s high­est moun­tain above sea level. This cliché of in­tro­duc­tion glooms the scin­til­lat­ing va­ri­eties of land­scape, ar­chi­tec­ture, ecol­ogy, peo­ple and cul­ture.

Nepal re­mained al­most closed to for­eign­ers un­til 1951. When Ed­mund Hil­lary and Ten­z­ing Nor­gay Sherpa con­quered the Ever­est in 1953, for­eign­ers started get­ting cu­ri­ous about the moun­tain and de­sired to scale the same. Dur­ing in­sur­gency, from 1996 to 2006, num­ber of tourists de­clined, and, hiked again af­ter the end of in­sur­gency and restora­tion of democ­racy in 2006. As the coun­try gets em­broiled in fre­quent po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity, there is less fo­cus on pro­mo­tion of qual­ity tourism com­pared to its real po­ten­tials.

Nepal is renowned for bud­get tourists, a cheap des­ti­na­tion for western trav­ellers. As a trav­eller lands at Trib­hu­van In­ter­na­tional Air­port (TIA) in Kath­mandu, he or she has much more to ram­ble around the val­ley be­fore go­ing be­yond to the moun­tains or lush na­tional parks. The Kath­mandu Val­ley con­tains three Dur­bar Squares be­long­ing to three medieval states. These three Un­esco-listed Squares are quite rich in ar­chi­tec­ture. There are mod­ern palaces in­clud­ing Narayan­hiti Palace Mu­seum, res­i­dence of royal fam­ily un­til 2006, and hun­dreds of tem­ples and monas­ter­ies in the Kath­mandu Val­ley. An iconic Bud­dhist tem­ple of Swaymb­hu­nath, Hindu’s fa­mous tem­ple of Pashu­pati­nath and Kas­miri Mosque in Kath­mandu dates back to the medieval pe­riod and es­tab­lish re­li­gious co-ex­is­tence and tol­er­ance which is con­tin­u­ing for hun­dreds of years now. In the out­skirts of the val­ley, there are his­tor­i­cal towns in­clud­ing Kir­tipur, clas­sic vil­lage of Bunga­mati, serene Na­garkot Hill Sta­tion and Chan­dra­giri.

Pokhara City, the west of Kath­mandu, is the gate­way to Mount An­na­purna and Mount Mach­ha­puch­hare. On Fewa Lake ex­ists mu­se­ums in­clud­ing In­ter­na­tional Moun­tain Mu­seum and Sarangkot where­from panoramic glimpse of moun­tains is viewed. The Pokhara City ori­ents it­self to tourism, with well-con­structed streets and ac­com­mo­da­tions. Pokhara is also a gate­way to world fa­mous An­na­purna Trek that ex­tends to Mus­tang and Lo Man­thang.

On the south­ern plains, there are two na­tional parks, Chit­wan Na­tional Park and Bar­dia Na­tional Park. In Chit­wan Na­tional Park, while rid­ing ele­phants, one can view the Royal Ben­gal Tigers and one-horned rhi­nos, which are well kept as tourist at­trac­tion. Fur­ther west of Chit­wan Na­tional Park, there is Lumbini, a place where Sid­dhartha Bud­dha was born in 563 BC, Maya Devi Tem­ple along with many other monas­ter­ies. Fur­ther south, there is Bar­dia Na­tional Park, wildlife rich op­por­tune.

Dolpo Val­ley is lo­cated on the north­west of the coun­try. It’s the same place where Eric

Val­ley, French Direc­tor, made Os­car nom­i­nated films in­clud­ing Car­a­van and Honey Hunters in Nepal. An avid trav­eller would think the best place in Nepal would be the north of Bar­dia Na­tional Park but the place is still rus­tic be­cause of less tourist at­trac­tions. East of Chit­wan Na­tional Park, there is Ram Janaki Templ, re­cently built in 1912 on the site which claimed to be the palace of myth­i­cal King Janak.

Pakhora is an ideal place for paraglid­ing, kayak­ing, raft­ing and boating. But, I would sug­gest you to go for The Last Re­sort that’s lo­cated in be­tween on the way from Kath­mandu to Ti­bet through Araniko High­way. This place pro­vides an ul­ti­mate adren­a­line ex­pe­ri­ence of bungee jump­ing, swing­ing, raft­ing, trekking, moun­tain bik­ing, canyon­ing and rock climb­ing.

In Nepal, one can ex­pe­ri­ence trekking like nowhere else. The treks pro­vide the breath­tak­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of na­ture. The most fa­mous trekking routes in Nepal in­clude Ever­est Base Camp Trek which takes more than fort­night. The route starts and ends at Lukla Air­port and passes onto the Ever­est Base Camp while el­e­vat­ing as much as 5,545m. Close to Kath­mandu Val­ley, Lang­tang Trek walks up Lang­tang Val­ley to Syabrubesi at around 4,000m.

The Hi­malayan Shangri-La is a mo­saic of di­verse eth­nic, lin­guis­tic and cul­tural her­itage. One can come across dif­fer­ent lan­guages and cul­tures while jour­ney­ing through the coun­try.

Nepal is one of the colour­ful des­ti­na­tions which can come as close to na­ture as pos­si­ble.

AT­TRAC­TION: Dolpo Val­ley is lo­cated on the north­west of the coun­try. The same place where Eric Val­ley, French Direc­tor, made Os­car nom­i­nated films in­clud­ing Car­a­van and Honey Hunters in Nepal.

RICH AR­CHI­TEC­TURE: The Kath­mandu Val­ley con­tains three Dur­bar Squares, be­long­ing to three medieval states, which are rich in ar­chi­tec­ture and hand carv­ings.

HOTSPOT: Pakhora is an ideal place for paraglid­ing, kayak­ing, raft­ing and boating in Nepal.

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