Nepal located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by Tibet (China), and to the south, east, and west by the Indian states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and Sikkim. Kathmandu is country's capital and largest metropolis.
The mountainous north of Nepal is blessed with eight of the world's ten tallest mountains, including the highest peak on Earth, Mt Everest. Besides, the country has more than 240 peaks over 20,000 ft (6,096 m) above sea level. The southern lowland called Terai is fertile and humid. Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha, is located in this region. Lumbini is one of the holiest places popular for one of the world's great religion- Buddhism, and its ruins contain important evidence about the history of the religion flourished as early as the 3rd century BC.
Nepal's total land area is 147,181 sq. km. The country falls in the temperate zone north of the tropic of cancer. Nepal’s ecological zones run east to west about 800 km along its trans- Himalayan border and150 to 250 km north to south. The middle part of the country is vertically intersected by the river systems. The country can be divided into three main geographical regions: Himalayan region, mid hill region and Terai region. The highest point in the country is Mt. Everest (8,848 m) while the lowest point is in the lowland of Terai at Kechana Kalan in Jhapa district (60 m).
The Terai region, with width of ranging 26 to 32 km and altitude ranging from 60 -305 m, occupies about 17 percent of total land area of the country. Kechana Kalan, the lowest point of the country with an altitude of 60 m, lies in Jhapa district of the eastern Terai.
The southern lowland Terai is covered with forests known for rich wildlife. Further north, the Siwalik zone (700 – 1,500 m) and the Mahabharat range (1,500 – 2,700 m) give way to the Duns (valleys), such as Trijuga, Sindhuli, Chitwan, Dang and Surkhet. The Midlands (600 – 3,500 m), north of the Mahabharat range is where the two beautiful valleys of Kathmandu and Pokhara lie covered in terraced rice fields, and surrounded by forested watersheds.
The Himalayas (above 3,000 m) comprises mountains, alpine pastures and temperate forests limited by the tree-line (4,000 m) and snow line (5,500 m). The inner Himalayan valley (above 3,600 m) such as Mustang and Dolpa are cold deserts sharing topographical characteristics with the Tibetan plateau.Nepal holds the so called “waters towers of South Asia” with its 6,000 rivers which are snow-fed or dependent on rain. The perennial rivers include Mahakali, Karnali, Narayani and Koshi rivers originating in the Himalayas. Medium-sized rivers like Babai, West Rapti, Bagmati, Kamla, Kankai and Mechi originate in the Midlands and Mahabharat range. A large number of seasonal streams, mostly originating in Siwaliks, flow across the Terai.
Out of 163 wetlands, nine is globally recognized. Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Beeshazarital (Chitwan), Jagdishpur Reservoir (Kapilvastu) Ghodaghodi Tal (Kailali) in the Terai, and Gokyo (Solukhumbu), Phoksundo (Dolpa), Rara (Mugu) and Mai Pokhari (Ilam) in the mountain region are very popular and worth visiting. There are more than 30 natural caves in the country out of which only a few are accessible by road. Maratika Cave (also known as Haleshi) is a pilgrimage site associated with Buddhism and Hinduism. Siddha Cave is near Bimalnagar along the Kathmandu-Pokhara highway. Pokhara is also known for caves namely Bats’ shed, Batulechar, Gupteswar, Patale Chhango. The numerous caves around Lo Manthang in Mustang include Luri and Tashi Kabum which house ancient murals and chortens dating back to the 13th century.
Nepal has a composite population stemming from various racial and ethnic communities. It has been a melting pot of diverse linguistic and ethnic groups with population 25 million living in different geographical zones, wearing different costumes and speaking different ethnic dialects. The people belong to multi-ethnic groups, ranging from the Indo-Aryan to Mongoloid. The Himalayan and central hilly regions are mostly inhabited by the people of the Tibeto-Burman stock while the people inhabiting the Terai lowlands may be grouped under the Indo-Aryan category.
Nepal is a secular country. Hinduism and Buddhism constitute two major religions of the country. A remarkable feature of Nepal is the religious homogeneity that exists, particularly between the Hindu and Buddhist communities for centuries. Apart from the Hinduism and Buddhism, there are other religions such as Islam, Christianity and pre-historic Bon are also popular.
Art and Culture
There is perhaps no country in the world except Nepal where traditional architecture, painting and sculpture have been well preserved for 1500 years. The exquisite medieval art and architecture of the Kathmandu valley vividly reflects the artistic ingenuity and the religious tradition of the people. In order to better understand the deep and complex roots of Nepalese culture, it is necessary to visit the monuments and religious shrines across the country.
Nepal has a long glorious history. Its civilization can be traced back to thousands of years before the birth of Christ. For centuries, the erstwhile kingdom of Nepal was divided into many principalities (Chaubise States). Kirantas ruled in the east, the Newars in the Kathmandu Valley, while Gurungs and Magars had their domain the mid-west. The Kirantas were said to have ruled their territories from 300 B.C. The scattered principalities were unified into one kingdom only after 1768 A.D. when Prithvi Narayan Shah, king of Gorkha, conquered all the tiny states.
Since the mid 19th century, the Rana started wielding absolute power for 104 years. During Rana regime, the Shah Kings were merely recognized. The first nationwide people’s movement of the early 1950s helped to restore monarchy system in Nepal by toppling Rana regime. This democratic government was short-lived and King Mahendra introduced a ‘party less’ Panchayat system in Nepal. Power remained only with the King. This Panchayat system lasted for 30 years.
In 1990 the second People’s Movement’ started and hundreds of people died and the king Birendra dissolved his cabinet, legalized political parties and invited the opposition to form an interim government. Even this Nepal’s first democratic government could not run well and after King Birendra’s family massacre, . In the mean time a new Maoist party came into existence under the leadership of Prachanda and declared people’s war in the country claiming 13,000 lives within 10 years of Maoist insurgency. They organized massive protests and in April 2006, the king was dethroned and the country was declared Federal Democratic Republic.
The Nepalese currency is Rupee and it is divided into 100 paisa. Bank notes come in denominations of Rs 1,2,5,10,20,50,100,500 and 1000, coins are of 10,25 and 50 paisa and 1,2,5 and 10-rupee denominations.
Major hotels, restaurants curio shops, trekking & travel agents accept American Express, Visa and Master card. You can contact the banks for credit card services. There are ATMs available in Kathmandu, Pokhara and other big cities in Nepal.
If a service charge is already included to your bill, as it's been customary in most of the restaurants these days, it is not necessary to tip. Tips for porters and trekking guides after the trek is mandatory. Drivers when covering long distance expect a tip.
In Nepal different categories of hotels from Star to Budget standard are available all over major cities and towns with all facilities as per the client’s interest and affordability
Lightweight clothing is recommended for general tour through May to October, for high altitude trekking thermal underwear, a warm fleece jacket and even a down jacket is required through October to March, and an umbrella or a raincoat is a must for the rainy season (June-Aug). Travelers will receive a checklist of what to bring after the trip is booked with Nepal Everest Trek.
Nepal is 5 hours 45 minutes ahead of GMT and 15 minutes ahead of Indian standard time
All cities and towns in Nepal have electricity .Only a few villages on the trekking route have electricity. Voltage available is 240-220 volts AC & 50 cycles throughout the country. Load shedding is frequently experienced in Nepal, mostly during dry months.
All baggage must be declared and cleared through the Customs on arrival at the entry point. Personal effects are permitted free entry. Passengers arriving at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) without any dutiable goods can proceed through the Green Channel for quick clearance without a baggage check. If you are carrying dutiable articles, you have to pass through the Red Channel for detailed customs clearance.
Nepal has four major seasons- Winter: December-February, Spring: March-May, Summer: June-August, Autumn: September- November. However, Nepal can be visited the whole year round.
Nepal is a safe destination to travel in south Asia. However, the government has banned trekking in Nepal without Nepali staffs for the safety and security reason.