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The Top of the World

By Amar Bahadur Shrestha
Katmandu, Nepal

Published in the December, 2003 Issue of Canadian World Traveller
Photos Courtesy of Nepal Tourism Board www.welcomenepal.com

Many know that Nepal is a small landlocked country sandwiched between two large countries, China and India and that its capital is the legendary Katmandu. And everyone knows that Nepal has the highest mountain on earth, the one and only Mount Everest (In 2003, Nepal celebrates the fiftieth year of the conquering of Mount Everest). It is also widely known that Nepal is the homeland of the courageous Gurkhas. However, there are some facts about this small country that should be better known.

The Mountains

Nepal has nine mountains that are more than 8000 meters high and nine other peaks taller than 6800 meters. Eight of the world’s tallest peaks stand sentinel over this land of beauty. One of the tallest and most beautiful is the Machapuchre Himal in picturesque Pokhara. To have a close and leisurely look at this fascinating mountain, one should spend a few days in the charming lake city of Pokhara which is just half an hour away by air from Katmandu. As they say, welcome to the tall country.

The Rivers

Nepal’s main river systems are Kosi, Narayani, Gandaki, Karnali and Mahakali. They originate in the Himalayas, and are potential energy sources, but at present, one can enjoy the thrill of getting wet, while rafting down the icy waters of the Himalayas. Nepal is wet in more ways than one. This small country produces some of the best-known international brands of beer and liquor. Visitors from countries that have prohibition laws are almost always surprised to find liquor so freely available. Welcome to the wet country.

The People

Although industrialization is still slow and poverty levels are high, the people of this small kingdom are generally honest to a fault, and quick to have a laugh. The typical Nepali in fact makes the most of every opportunity to enjoy himself. Therefore you will see a lot of festivals in this country. Any excuse will do for having a good time! Welcome to a happy country!

Gurkhas and Sherpas

Nepal is home to twenty million people of various hues, the more famous being the Gurkhas and the Sherpas. The Gurkhas are considered to be the best soldiers in the world and the Sherpas, the best mountaineers in the world.Their reputations are well-deserved as witnessed by their exploits and the honours they have received throughout history and in the present-day. Therefore, welcome to the land of the brave and the hardy.

Works of Art

From time immemorial Nepal has given birth to great works of art. The Newar community that has inhabited Katmandu for centuries. They were, and still are, fabled artisans. They have created beautiful woodcraft, fascinating bronze and stone work, intricate jewelry in the cities of Katmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. Each temple, each town square, every ‘durbar’, many houses, and numerous statues stand testimony to their immense talent. Welcome to an art lover’s paradise.

Animal Sanctuaries & Human Resorts

Nepal is also home to a lot of animals, the most famous being the elusive Yeti, the Snow Leopard, the Yak, the Rhino and the Gharial. Of course the visitor has little chance of seeing the mysterious Yeti, but can definitely see the other animals at the half dozen sanctuaries that are also lovely resorts. The best of these, some internationally famous, can be found in the Royal Chitwan National Park situated in the lush forests of the Terai, the plains of Nepal. By air it is barely half an hour from Katmandu. Here one will also get to know the Tharus, one of the indigenous people of Nepal.

Besides the lovely resorts in the Terai, catering to the wild life lovers, Nepal has plenty of resorts located on the hills and mountains catering to the mountain lovers. The best among these are in Nagarkot and Dhulikhel, both quite close to the Capital. Pokhara, some seven hours by road from Katmandu, is according to many, one of the most beautiful places in the world.

The Fishtail Mountain and the Fewa Lake are its main attractions. Pokhara has numerous world-class resorts as well as economy hotels and lodges with their own unique charms. Welcome to the land of resorts.

Restaurants and Transportation

Eating out is a pleasure and there are plenty of restaurants to cater to your particular taste. Of course a tourist should make at least one visit to a Nepali restaurant if only to drink a little of the local liquor, called ‘Rakshi’, along with the typical Nepali lunch of steamed rice, lentil soup, fresh spinach, chicken and vegetable curry and tomato pickle. As for travel, a dozen domestic airlines wait to take you all over the country, in airplanes, as well as in helicopters. If you prefer to travel by road, there are hundreds of excellent buses plying the length and breadth of the kingdom. Welcome to the land of comforts.

Land of Peace

Religion plays a major part in the everyday life of all Nepalese and the basic principles of Hinduism and Buddhism epitomizes the ideals that Nepal lives by. Peace, tolerance and universal brotherhood amongst all the people of the world. Therefore, we welcome all the world to the land of peace.

About the Author

This is an excerpt from an article written by Amar Bahadur Shrestha who lives in Katmandu, Nepal. Unfortunately, the email address that we have for the author is no longer active. If anyone out there has a new email address for him, please let us know.

For More Info:

Nepal Tourism Board
Tourist Service Center
Bhrikuti Mandap, Kathmandu
Tel.: 977-1-4256909, 4256229
Fax: 977-1-4256910
E-mail: info@ntb.org.np
www.welcomenepal.com and www.info-nepal.com

Royal Nepalese Embassy (Canada & US)
2131 Leroy Place, NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Attn: Marketing Manager
Tel.: 202-667-4550, -4551, -4552
Fax: 202-667-5534
Email: info@nepalembassyusa.org or nepal@erols.com
Websites: www.nepalembassyusa.org

Royal Nepal Airlines
1235 Bay Street, Suite 601
Toronto, ON M5R 3K4
Toll-Free: 1-800-266-3725
Fax: (416) 972-0185
E-mail: yyz@royalnepal.com