While reviewing Nepal culture facts, I found some very interesting and fascinating information. Encompassing approximately one hundred and twenty-five separate ethnic groups, its culture is express through a variety of mediums such as music, dance, cuisine, arts and crafts, celebrations and festivals, literature, languages, philosophy, religion, and folklore.
Located in South Asia, it is quite an enchanting place for sure. I am going to dig deep into the culture of this country, as well as preview the fascinating areas you can explore. There is much to see and do here.
As part of the Himalayan Mountain range it is recognized as the home of Mount Everest, as well as the birthplace in Lumbini of Siddhartha Gautama, also known as the Buddha. The country has ten (10) of the world’s highest peaks with numerous trails and hiking options. Let’s get into the culture of this place a bit to see why it is so unique.
Some Facts about the Culture
- Music and dance play a prominent role in this culture. According to legend, Lord Shiva is responsible for the origins of dance in this area where he is said to have performed the tandava dance in the Himalayas. At weddings the Dishka is the dance which is performed. Other music, as well as the instruments, are characterized by other themes such as romance, marriage rites, war stories, and the harvesting of crops. The crazy peacock dance and the Tharu stick dance are other types representing these various occasions. As a visitor, visitor you will be wholeheartedly invited to join in.
- Language — there are approximately one hundred and twenty-three (123) languages spoken in this country. Nepali is the official language and it is written in a Devanagari script. The country’s linguistic heritage has evolved from Tibeto-Burman, Indo-Aryan, and indigenous.
- Philosophy and Religion — the majority of the population is Hindu. Buddhism, Islam, and the indigenous Kirant religion are also practiced, with Christianity playing a minor role with less than one (1%) percent of the population. Going back over two thousand (2000) years, Hinduism and Buddhism are reflected in the many temples and monasteries scattered throughout the country.
- Customs — the majority of customs in Nepal are related to religious traditions (Hindu and Buddhist). For example, according to the religious rules, marriage is done by the parents once children are of age. “Non-Violence” is a predominant theme in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism (killing cows is illegal). In some temples non-Hindus are not allowed to enter. You must take off your shoes prior to entering a temple. Food tastes vary region to region, and are primarily influenced by Tibetan and Indian types of food preparation.
- Celebrations and Festivals — Festivals usually last from one (1) to several days. The majority of festivals are religious. While the majority of festivals are Hindu-based, many cultural festivals are influenced by Buddhism. Special foods are prepared, and most festivals include music and dance.
- Architecture — the country has one thousand two hundred and sixty-two (1,262) archaeological and architectural sites of prominence.
Now for a Few Basic Facts
- The capital of Nepal is Kathmandu
- By most recent count the population of Nepal is 29,083,261
- The citizens are known as Nepalese or Nepali and are descendants of the Chinese province of Yunnab via Assam, North Burma, Tibet, and India.
- In Nepali tradition family values are extremely important
- The currency of Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee (121.30 to one (1) USD)
- The government of Nepal is a parliamentary republic with a multi-party system. Executive power resides with the Prime Minister, while legislative power is in the hands of the Parliament. Parliamentary democracy was introduced in 1951.
- The Prime Minister of Nepal is KP Sharma Oli
- It is officially called the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
- The military is the fifty (5th) largest in South Asia
- Maintaining a policy of neutrality it depends on diplomacy for national defense. It is a member of the United Nations. It has a policy of balanced relations with China and India emphasizing greater cooperation in South Asia.
- It is the ninety-third (93rd) largest country by area, and the forty-ninth (49th) largest by population
- Its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is around $29 billion USD with a growth rate of about seven (7%) percent. It is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Agriculture, manufacturing, private investment, and tourism are major industries.
- The Nepali film industry is known as Kollywood
- Established in 1957 the Nepal Academy is the main institution for arts and culture
- The earliest trace of human settlement in Nepal dates back thirty thousand (30,000) years
- Certain Hindu practices have been banned over the years such as the practice of Sati (widow sacrifices herself on the funeral pyre of her husband). It was banned in 1919.
- Slavery was officially banished in 1924
- There are three (3) geographical belts which geographically make up the country. Himal – this is the mountain region in the Great Himalayan Range in the northern part of the country where Mount Everest is located [29,029 feet (8,848 meters) in elevation. Pahad — this is the mountain range that usually does not contain snow. The climate varies from subtropical to alpine. Terai — this is the southern lowland plains which has some hill ranges. These plains came about as a result of the three (3) major rivers in the Himalayas (Narayani, Karnali, and the Koshi) and some smaller rivers below the permanent snow line. The climate here is subtropical to tropical. Overall, the country has five (5) climate zones dependent on the altitude. Their five (5) seasons are spring, summer, monsoon, autumn, and winter.
- The country has a large diversity of animals and plants. It has one hundred and seven (107) threatened species within its borders (18 plant, 88 animal, and 1 fungi or protist). There are ten (10) national parks, one (1) hunting reserve, eleven (11) buffer zones, three (3) conservation areas, and three (3) wildlife reserves.
- The country has a variety of traditional and regional cuisines utilizing vegetables, herbs, spices, and fruit which is regionally available. The foundation of the typical Nepali meal is a cereal prepared with savory dishes (garlic, spices, ginger, lentils, and vegetables). Nepali food has a number of vegetarian type dishes from which to choose.
- Kabaddi (played with a stick) and dandi biyo (contact team sport) are the indigenous sports which have until recently been considered the unofficial national sports. They are still popular in rural areas. In 2917 volleyball was designated as the national sport. Chess is also popular in the country. Cricket and football (soccer) are professional sports in the country.
Now for Some Stuff to Do
This is most definitely a magical and mystical country located between the jungles of India and the vast mountain ranges of the Himalayas. Hidden monasteries, yaks, yetis, and vast mountain summits are ever present as you roam about this country. Hikers and trekkers have found themselves a paradise here. This is a travel destination which draws people to its natural beauty, slow paced lifestyle, both ancient and modern cultural heritage, historic sites, as well as a vibrant city life.
Check out this video for a glimpse of this area of the world:
* Kathmandu — a good way to get a feel for the capital city and explore all its nooks and crannies is to get on a guided tour. You can explore the huge stone images, interesting pagodas, and the detailed carvings among the numerous shrines and temples. You’ll learn much of local folklore and history through your guide, as well as identifying the best places to see such as Durbar Square, the Temple of Kumari, Boudhanath Stupa, Pashupatinath Temple, and the prominent Swayambhunath Stupa (Monkey Temple).
* Bardia National Park — it is the largest wilderness area in the Terai region, filled with Sal forests and grasslands. Wildlife is abundant. It is the home of the Royal Bengal tiger as well as thirty (30) different species of mammals, including crocodiles, Gangetic dolphins, one-hored rhinos, elephants, and over two hundred and fifty (250) species of birds.
* Kayaking — a good place for kayaking is the Seti River [four (4) day tours available] as it is gentle on beginners while providing wonderful sights taking in all the natural beauty. For the more adventurous, there are plenty of Himalayan rivers to test your skills
* River Rafting — for both rafting and kayaking check out the Bhote Koshi River where you can do a two (2) day tour. It is considered one of the best short river trips in the world as it is one of the fiercest rivers in Nepal.
* Let’s Trek Around — for both beginners and more experienced trekkers, Nepal is the place to be. It has some of the best trails in the world. For a short trek do the four (4) day Poonhill trek, while the twelve (12) day Everest Basecamp trek is for the more committed and adventurous. For those into climbing, but do not have a lot of experience, consider Mera Peak or Island Peak. They do not require prior mountaineering experience, while still providing a fair challenge.
* Pokhara — this is a lakeside town filled with natural beauty, and numerous places to mountain bike, trek (Annapurna Circuit, Annapurna Base Camp, Poonhill) para glide, bungee jumping, fishing, river rafting, and canyoning. For a more relaxing experience consider some sunbathing, visiting the Peace Pagoda, boating, and taking a walk along the lake.
* Mountain Biking — this provides an ideal way to take in all the fantastic scenery, as well as experiencing some challenging trails. The dirt trails of Shivapuri National Park are very rarely used for a reason, and will provide all the challenge and excitement you may desire. For less exciting options consider the Chapagaun. Bungamati, and Godavari roads. For an extreme challenge do the Annapurna Circuit on your bike.
* Chitwan National Park — this is the first (1st) national park in the country and has over five hundred (500) species of migratory birds (egrets, brahminy ducks, paradise flycatchers, kingfishers), as well as Asian elephants, bears, crocodiles, Bengal tigers, and one horned rhinos. The best way to check out the park is a three (3) day excursion staying for a couple of nights at a hotel in Chitwan so you can also see a typical Tharu village.
* Helicopter Tour — fly across Mount Everest by helicopter and take in the spectacular sights and view the many peaks such as Mt. Ama Dablam, Mt. Gosaithan, Mt. Gauri-Shankar, Mt. Pumori, Mt. Makalu, Mt. Dorje Lhakpa, and Mt. Cho Oyu. Kala Patthar’s base camp offers a great view of the mountains from the ground from every angle.
* Pashupatinath Temple — located on the banks of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu, it is considered one of the most sacred Hindu temples. Constructed in 1696 in classic pagoda style, only Hindus are allowed to enter. It is well worth exploring the exterior as the priests and traders do their daily thing. From the right angle at the west entrance you can get a glimpse inside of the Nandi, Lord Shiva’s bull.
* Patan — this is the second (2nd) largest city in Kathmandu Valley separated from Kathmandu by the Bagmati River. The history of this place goes all the way back to two hundred fifty (250) BC. It has the largest concentration of temples in the entire country with much beautiful architecture to take in as you stroll through the alleyways and squares. Check out the Patan Museum as well as Kumbeshwar Temple and the Golden Temple. The museum is located in the Malla Royal palace, and has more than two hundred (200) gilt or copper statues of Buddhist and Hindu deities. The courtyard is stunning with wood carvings, a golden door and window, a red brick facade, and a twelfth (12th) century seated Buddha.
There are many reasons to travel to this country and check out what it offers primarily since there is just so much contrast here. It combines much history, a very vibrant culture, and much natural beauty. It has ten (10) of the world’s highest mountains with plenty of outdoor activities such as water rafting, mountain climbing, and hiking.
With its variation in altitude it has such a diversity of animal and plant species which include over three hundred (300) species of orchids, and has ten (10%) of the world’s bird species. Its national parks are spread throughout the grasslands and tropical jungles.
Kathmandu has seven (7) World Heritage Sites, and offers a variety of accommodations including five-star hotels. If traveling there around festival season, it is good to make your reservations plenty in advance. This country is a wonderful destination for the entire family.
Enjoy your travels,
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