Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal is also its only international air gateway and major travel center. Tourism is the most important industry that sustains not only Nepal but Kathmandu also. In this regard, one can say that Kathmandu is a tourist friendly travel destination. Kathmandu is not big when one compares it to other cities in South Asia. Kathmandu is a fascinating old city today where pagodas, narrow cobbled lanes, old carved windows, and stone shrines are backdrops to the drama of life that continues unhindered. Here the experiences are amazing, views fascinating, and the climate charming.
Call it magic, call it enchantment, call it a trick of the light, sleight of hand, a celestial conjuror's trick, call it what you will but there is a real Kathmandu and a real Nepal hidden behind the well-trodden snapshot country that is gift wrapped by an anonymous machine and handed out a half-day sightseeing at a time.The hidden Nepal and the secret Kathmandu still await discovery.And they are ours. Here is a country agog with palace squares, towering temples, and with memories of wild dreams. There are cobbled stone streets that wind through ancient bazaars and lead to a sanctified place where a hundred priests on flying white horses once alighted. There are Buddhistst Stupas around which psychics and fourtune tellers abound. There are dawn and dusk places where witch doctors exorcize spirits and remedy all ills.
There are living Goddesses whose smiles are a benediction. There are reincarnate Lamas who forsee the future with a roll of dice and scriptural reference. There are walks that lead the adventurous to legendary places where ogres once lived, where Goddesses danced, and where Gods were held ransom by tantric yogis.
There are hidden gardens behind palaces yet unseen and courtyards where miracles happen, and a city the Buddha visited. There are hillocks where a patron saint of Sikhism lived, and where a pagoda roof was invented. There are courtyards with intricate carvings of stone and there are midnight masked dancers who are possessed by the Gods.
Nepal's culture is greatly influenced by its music, architecture, religion and literature. Your first sight of Nepal may leave you speechless, the great quantities of temples, churches, monasteries and other religious buildings, the hurly-burly in the streets and the number of people and animals socializing on every corner of the narrow cobble-stone lanes.
Nepal is constitutionally a Hindu kingdom with legal provisions of no prejudice against other religions. The Hindu inhabitants in the country has been constantly over 80 percent since the 1950s. The second largest religion of Nepal is Buddhism, it is practiced by about 11 percent, while Islam comprises of about 4.2 percent of the population. The Kirat religion makes up nearly 3.6 percent of the population.
Nepal has many customs and beliefs that might be difficult to understand and not so easy to obey but this is the way of life to them and you should respect it when you are in their territory.
Note that men and woman should always dress appropriately. Men should not walk or trek bare-chested, shorts are acceptable but it's recommended to rather wear long pants. Woman are recommended to wear long skirts that cover the ankles, because exposure of a woman's legs can draw unnecessary attention.
Showing affection between men and woman in public is not acceptable. So avoid kissing, hugging, cuddling or even holding hands in public.
Scores of restaurants and cafes line the lanes of Kathmandu's tourist quarters, and more spring up after each monsoon. Tibetan, Chinese and Indian food have long been taken for granted in Kathmandu, European specialities predominate these days, American-style pies and cakes, though overrated, are ever-popular and even Japanese, Thai and Mexican dishes are available.
Kathmandu is excellent for shopping because of the wide range of handicrafts available at very reasonable prices. Jewelry, off-the-peg clothing, pashminas, decorative metal plates, khukuri knives, rice paper, pottery, tea, woodcarving, thangkas (colorful traditional Tibetan Buddhist paintings of religious subjects) and woolen carpets are ideal souvenirs. Imported luxury items can be found in the shops along New Road and Khicha Pokhari, close to Durbar Square. Durbar Marg is Kathmandu?s most fashionable address with exclusive items for sale. A whole array of spices, dried fruits, pots and textiles can be found in the bazaar between Asan and Indra Chowk. Many visitors will head for Thamel, the tourist district, where bargains can be found in the form of handicrafts, gems, garments and pashminas. A warren of upmarket shops selling clothes, carpets, art and antiques are to be found in the Bahar Mahal Revisited complex, a former Rana palace, near the Singh Durbar government offices in the south east of the city. Shops are generally closed on Saturdays, but those that cater for the tourists stay open seven days a week.
Cultural entertainment is rather thin on the ground throughout the city, although many of the larger hotels put on performances of music and dance. Tickets should be purchased in person at the venue.
Cultural performances of music and dance can regularly be seen at Bhanchha Ghar, Kamaladi (tel: (01) 4225172); Bhojan Griha, Dillibazar (tel: (01) 4411603) and Nepali Chulo, Durbar Marg (tel: (01) 4220475). Nepali and foreign plays are performed by the Aarohan Theater Group at Gurukul, Baneshwor (tel: (01) 4466956.
Bollywood films are very popular and can be seen at Gopi Krishna Movie Hall, Chabahil (tel: (01).479893;Foreign films can also be seen at the Jai Nepal cinema, 317 Narayanhiti Marg (tel: (01) 4442220,which has several screens. This is the most modern cinema complex in town. The much smaller Kumari Cinema on Kamal Pokhari (tel: (01) 4433402, has just two screens.
Trekking is a rewarding experience in Nepal. The surroundings are beautiful -- from the subtropical banana trees and rice plantations to the alpine forests with jade rivers and snow-tipped rhododendron flowers. You will encounter singing children and mule caravans walking ancient trade routes and wonder how yaks graze on such steep hills. Wake to the sight of a 25,000-ft peak looming over your doorstep, or round a bend in the trail to suddenly see a spectacular mountain view. These are typical Himalayan experiences you will never forget.
Kathmandu Valley, Nepal.
Tribhuvan International Airport : Located around 5km (3 miles) east of the city center, this is the only international airport in the country. It serves several cities in Asia and a few in Europe, with regular flights to India, Bangkok and Doha. .
The road network in Nepal is very undeveloped and few major roads are sealed. These roads are given names, such as the Tribhuvan and Arniko highways, but other roads are unlisted. Maintenance is rather hit and miss and the monsoon rains regularly damage the road surface. Nepali roads are chaotic and the use of the horn is an integral part of driving in Nepal. Observance of traffic signals is scant at the best of times and traffic entering a roundabout has priority over vehicles already on it. As self-driven car hire for visitors is non-existent, visitors to the country have to hire a car with a driver.
January 36-66?F (2-19?C); February 39-68?F (4-20?C); March 25-77?F (4-20?C); April 52-86?F (11-30?C); May 60-86?F (16-30?C); June 52-86?F (11-30?C); July 70-86?F (21-30?C); August 68-84?F (20-29?C); September 66-81?F (19-27?C); October 39-73?F (4-23?C); November 39-73?F (4-23?C); December 36-68?F (2-20?C).
A delightful complex of palaces, courtyards and temples at the heart of the old city, many built between the 12th and 18th centuries and now a World Heritage Site. South of Thamel area.
The old Royal Palace, no longer home to the royal family, with buildings of intricate architecture and ornate courtyards.
The residence of the Living Goddess Kumari, with exquisite carved wooden balconies and window screens, at which she can occasionally be seen.
Buddha?s eyes are painted on all four sides of this 36m (118ft) high stupa, dating back to circa AD600. The religious center for Nepal?s population of Tibetans, this holy site houses hundreds of prayer wheels.
Enjoying a hilltop setting, this lovely Buddhist temple has great views of the city and is home to a boisterous troupe of monkeys.
This is the most important museum in Nepal and houses a collection of ancient artifacts, works of art and weaponry.
Pokhara is situated 200 Kms South West of Kathmandu and is the starting and/or finishing point for some of the popular treks including the Annapurna Circuit and the Jomsom Trek It also offers a number of short treks for those who cannot opt for long and challenging ones. The most popular among them is Sarangkot (1592 m), a former Kaski fort lying atop a hill five km west of the old bazaar. The scenic valley of Pokhara is an enormous sunlit playground covered by green forested hills, waterfalls, and terraced fields. It s three lakes Phew,Begnas and Rupa further enhance the beauty of the valley at 900 m. Pokhara also offers excellent views of Dhaulagiri, Himalchuli, the five peaks of Annapurna and Machapuchare.
Within that small area, however, is the greatest range of altitude to be seen on this earth - starting with the Terai, only 100m or so above sea level, and finishing at the top of Mt. Everest (8848m), the highest point on earth.Often a visitor's overriding goal is to see the mountains, especially Everest and Annapurna. However, to exclude the people, flowers, birds and wildlife from the experience is to miss the essence of the country regions, or natural zones: the plains in the south, four mountain ranges, and the valley lying between them. The lowlands with their fertile soils, and the southern slopes of the mountains with sunny exposures, allow for cultivation and are the main inhabited regions.
Royal Chitwan National Park is located 166 Kms Southwest of Kathmandu, 204 Kms Southeast of Pokhra. The national park is large area of low, heavily forested hills bordering India in the south, a heaven of wildlife including one horned rhino, leopard, varieties of deer, wild boar and around 400 species of birds. The park, formerly a royal hunting reserve covers nearly 400 square miles of dense forest and is home to nearly 60 Bengal Tigers. The area has two distinct seasons - the wet monsoon season ( June through September ) and the dry winter monsoons.The best time to visit the park is March through May.
There are many other examples of the newar craftsmanship architecture and in Bhaktapur : so I won't list all temples, shrines, statues, bahals (monastery courtyards) or residences : any well done guide (such as the Lonely Planet) will do that better than me.
Dhulikhel is a much larger town than Nagarkot and is situated at an altitude of 5,500 Ft above Sea level, 30 Kms east of Kathmandu on the Kodari Highway. It is 90 minutes drive from Kathmandu. The city offers a complete panoramic view of the snow-capped ranges from Karyolung in the east to Himalchuli in the west. The view however is not as good as that from Nagarkot, one can see for 130 miles. It is a magnificent place to spend the night and awaken to the sun rising across the wide Himalayan range. Once an important link in the ancient trade route to Tibet, Dhulikhel has a glorious past that can be witnessed in the lovely building and intricate woodcarving found among the shop loned streets and in the temples. Like Nagarkot, the city offers numerous interesting day hikes. These provide the tourists an opportunity to see the Nepali countryside away from the roads and also giving a taste of trekking. The easiest is the hike to Namobuddha and back.
Across the Bagmati River from Kathmandu is the much quieter area of Patan with its own Durbar Square containing a richly decorated Royal Palace and delightful temples. It is also a famous center for handicrafts with a traditional craftsman?s colony