Wonders of Nepal For Travelers To Witness
Diversity is the key to the growth of tourism, and Nepal – which has been labeled as a landlocked country by the courtesy of China and India – has nevertheless been blessed by Mother Nature with incredible diversity. And, we are speaking not merely of the geographical condition, which indeed is distinctive with Hilly, Himalayan and Terai belts but also of its cultural richness. In other words, the humble territory of Nepal holds big wonders for the travelers, a few of which are mentioned to be subjected for your curiosity.
1. Mount Everest: Top of the World
Just the words “Mount Everest” will be enough to tickle that geography-related memory in your literate mind, and you will immediately cry out in excitement – that’s the tallest mountain of the world, isn’t it? You bet it is. Towering to a mighty altitude of 8848m, Mount Everest is the world’s tallest peak and has been acknowledged by CNN as one of the seven New Natural Wonders. Speaking of this new natural wonder list, the noble Himalayas of Nepal has also been nominees for this honor. As an adventurous traveler, you should sign up for a trek to the Everest Base Camp, or if you have some mountain climbing experience, then try to follow Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s footsteps (they were the first conquerors) to the summit of the world.
2. Lumbini: Birthplace of Buddha
To my knowledge, there are four main religions in the world – Christainity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Now, like Jesus Christ (founder of Christianity) was born in Bethlehem and Prophet Muhammad (founder of Islam) was born in Mecca – sorry to disappoint the Hindus but you have no founding father/mother -, the Buddhists have Lumbini as the birthplace of Gautam Buddha. And, it’s a beautiful place for the Light of Asia to origin from.
Speaking of Buddha, when you are at Kathmandu (and you sure will be), you will be damned not to visit the Swayambhunath Stupa. This Buddhist shrine sits atop a lovely hill, accessible by a long stone staircase which you need to tread with caution and while you are around here you got to behave yourself (beware of the holy red monks… umm, monkeys; speaking of these pious monks, if you’re lucky you might see them performing amazing stunts at the Monkey Pool).
3. Pokhara: Heralded as Paradise City of Nepal
I did not believe in the existence of paradises (not because I read John Milton’s epic poem – Paradise Lost) but my doubt vanished after a tour of Pokhara. It sure is a paradise or, you could say, it is a piece of the real thing. Nestled under Mt. Annapurna, maybe around 200km away from Kathmandu, Pokhara or the Lake City is a spectacular place, blossoming with beauty and youth. One of the most picturesque places would be the Fewa Lake with Fishtail Mountain showering its reflection upon the poignant watery surface. Other incredible sites include the Devi’s Fall, Sarangkot (you must try paragliding; it’s fun!), Mahendra Cave, Barahi Temple and Seti Gorge among others. And, of course, while you are at Pokhara, you should go out for trekking excursions, either to the nearby Poonhill or all the way to Annapurna Base Camp.
4. Durbar Squares of the Three Royal Cities
Like that ancient quote about all roads leading to Rome, you can say all international flights to Nepal take you to Kathmandu. It’s, after all, the capital of Nepal, and hence the number one tourist destination spot of the country. Kathmandu, in the olden days, was part of the three royal cities (the kingship has recently come to an end). This goes on to say that there are palaces, temples and artistic sculptors in all these three Durbar Squares. Now the best part is that you can actually enter these beautiful palaces (as they have been turned into museums) containing royal relics and historical vestiges. If you want to find out about Nepal, start here.
5. Chitwan National Park: Into The Wild
Jungle Safari is always fun, and in Nepal, while there are many national parks and wildlife conservation areas, the most popular one will be the Chitwan National Park. It got this popularity thanks to the One-horned Rhinoceros and the Royal Bengal Tiger, the two last species of exotic wildlife on Earth. Before they completely disappear (not that Nepal is not doing anything to preserve these beauties), it would be kind of you to visit them in person and say hello (and the royal tiger will be happy to give you a love bite!).
To leave the list of wonders with just 5 items ache my conscience. So, here’s the 6th wonder – the cultural diversity of Nepal. Imagine 4 main castes, cut into 32 small pieces (excluding the hybrid castes emerging now and then), each with its own distinctive cultures, rituals, gods, language, arts, craft and festivals. It’s a wonder that such cultural diversity could survive within such a small territory.
Now the list demands for another Nepalese wonder i.e. if we are to respect the magical number 7. So, to speak out my personal opinion, I vote for their “Architecture” as the 7th wonder of Nepal. You just have to take a look at their temples, old palaces and sculptures, and you will have that same wonder-struck expression that had hit my face while travelling around Nepal.
Sadbhav Shah is a passionate writer, whose affinity for travel and curiosity of the nature led to a relationship with Guidea Treks, a local agency that arranges hikes to the Himalayas.