The documented history of Nepal begins with the Changu Narayan temple inscription of King Manadeva I ( 464–505 AD) of the Lichavi dynasty. The Lichavis are said to have migrated into Nepal from north India in around 250 A.D. The first Lichavi king of historical importance was Manadeva 1. Another important Lichavi monarch was Anshuverma who opened trade routes to Tibet. The Lichavis were followed by the Thakuris, then came the Malla dynasty. The Mallas ruled focusing mainly on the Kathmandu Valley which has been the residence for most Nepali rulers from very beginning. Kathmandu is very rich in cultural heritage, where there are seven world heritage sites.
In the 14th century A.D. King Jayasthiti Malla established a rigid social order. His grandson tried in every way to protect his country from suspected enemy states. Unfortunately, all his efforts were fruitless, everything went beyond his control and the country eventually divided up into about 50 small feudal states including the three major ones in the valley. Then came the Shah dynasty. King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who annexed small principalities including three states in the Kathmandu Valley and unified Nepal in a single kingdom. The modern era of united Nepal started with the unification of the country. Recognizing the threat of the British Raj in India, he dismissed European missionaries from the country and for more than a century, Nepal remained in isolation. During the mid-19th century Jung Bahadur Rana became Nepal’s first prime minister to wield absolute power. The Ranas were overthrown in a democracy movement of the early 1950s.
Nepal’s culture is greatly influenced by its music, architecture, religion and literature. Nepal has about thirty-six different ethnic groups and multiple religions and languages. Its music is similarly varied, with pop, religious, classical and folk music being popular. Musical genres from Tibet and Hindustan have greatly influenced Nepalese music. The architecture of Nepal is another art that has become an important part of the country’s culture. Nepal’s architecture can be divided into three broad groups, the stupa style, the pagoda style and the shikhara style.
The Hindu inhabitants in the country have constantly made up over 80 % of the total population since the 1950s. The second largest religion of Nepal is Buddhism. It is practiced by about 11 %, while Islam comprises of about 4.2 % of the population. Kirat religion makes up nearly 3.6 % of the population. Nepal has many customs and beliefs that might be difficult to understand and rules and regulations that might not be so easy to obey but this is the way of life to them. Most Nepalese greet one another by a “Namaste”, a common act done by putting the palms together at chest height in a prayer like gesture.
Nepal is the country where Mount Everest, the highest mountain peak in the world, is located. Mountaineering and other types of adventure tourism and ecotourism are important attractions for visitors. The world heritage Lumbini, birth place of Gautama Buddha, is located in southern Nepal, and there are other important religious pilgrimage sites throughout the country
Mount Everest Trekking Route
Visitors dream of trekking to the foot of the world’s highest peak Mt. Everest, called Sagarmatha in Nepali language, located in the Khumbu region of east Nepal. The region includes upper catchments area of the Dudha Koshi and Bhote Koshi rivers. The area is largely composed of the rugged terrain and gorges of the high Himalayas ranging from 5,800m to the top of the world Mt. Everest (8,848m).
Starting point to the most astonishing treks to Annapurna Base Camp, Annapurna Range is rightly called the ‘Range of the Gods’. A blissful site, the Range is a natural amphitheater ringed by giant, heavenly treks like Annapurna 1, Glacier Dome, Gangapurna, Fang and the fishtail peak of Machhapuchhare. With several peaks ranging above 7000 meters, the experience is indeed thrilling.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
The magnificent temple of Lord Pashupatinath, about 5 kms north-east of Kathmandu, is situated amidst many other temples on the right bank of the river Bagmati. Pashupatinath Temple is considered to be the holiest Hindu Pilgrimage site in Nepal. Dedicated to Hindu Lord Shiva, the shrines and temples of Pashupatinath attract thousands of visitors from within and outside the country every year.
Royal Chitwan National Park
Royal Chitwan National Park (RCNP) has long been one of the country’s treasures of natural wonders. The park is situated in south central Nepal, covering 932 sq. km. in the subtropical lowlands of the inner Terai. The area comprising the Tikauli forest – from Rapti river to the foothills of the Mahabharat (place) – extends over an area of 175 sq. km. The area was gazetted as the country’s first national park in 1973. Recognizing its unique ecosystems of international significance, UNESCO declared RCNP a World Heritage Site in 1984.
This impressive double roofed Changu Narayan Temple is said to be the most ancient Vishnu temple in the Kathmandu Valley. The original temple was built around the 4th century. The present pagoda-style temple was rebuilt in 1702 after it was destroyed by fire. It is located in a beautiful peaceful location, 4km north of Bhaktapur, on a hill top in the east side of the Valley. The temple is UNESCO listed World Heritage site.
Bhaktapur Durbar square
Kathmandu’s Durbar Square was built primarily in the 16th and 17th centuries. It contains a royal palace (a ‘durbar’) and many temples built in the traditional Newar, pagoda style. The golden gate, entrance to the Durbar Square is a delight to the eyes, for an architectural beauty like this is hard to discover.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Listed as one of the eight Cultural World Heritage site by UNESCO, Kathmandu Durbar Square is a cluster of ancient temples, palaces, courtyards and streets that date back to the 12th and 18th centuries. The square is known to be the social, religious and urban focal point of the Capital City.
The strikingly beautiful Golden Gate is Nepal’s pride. The gate is embellished with precious stones and is of great religious and historical importance. The door is royal in built and structure and surmounted by the figure of Kali and Garuda. It is believed that the golden gate is two heavenly nymphs.
Buddhist/Hindu/Jain Site/ Architectural Site
Bodhnath Stupa is a bastion of Tibetan culture in the heart of the Kathmandu valley. Energized by the arrival of thousands of Tibetans after the 1959 Chinese invasion, the temple has become one of the most important centers of Tibetan Buddhism. Bodhnath is the largest stupa in Nepal and was probably built in the 14th century after the Mughal invasions. From the air it looks like a giant Mandala, or diagram of the Buddhist cosmos.
Known as the monkey temple, Syambhunath has remained substantially unchanged since the 14th century. An appreciation of the stupa is best gained by proceeding around it in a clockwise direction.
Hanuman Dhoka is the former Royal Palace of the Malla kings and sequentially of the Shah dynasty. Outside the palace is a stone inscription stationed by the late King Pratap Malla. The inscription has matter written on it in 15 different languages. It is said that if someone reads the inscription, then milk would gush out from the middle of it. Hanuman’s statue, dressed in a red cloak, placed outside the darbar, is an object of devotion.