Nepal is a tourist goldmine and capital Kathmandu a living cultural museum of the world. A foreigner writer opines “Nepal really opened itself to the outside world some fifty years ago… now Nepal has overthrown a virtually medieval monarchy, launched democracy, seen its royal family massacred, started a Maoist insurrection (and stopped it again), deposed its new king and contemplated federalism.’
Nepal, an underdeveloped country in South Asia with an area of 147181 sq. km and about 30 million population, is not only rich in its cultural heritage reflected amply by the architectural marvels such as ancient palaces, temples and monuments but also endowed with natural beauty. The trekking and mountaineering trails passing through rolling hills, majestic mountains and deep valleys remind the trekkers and mountaineers of “Shangri-La” to be explored in their lifetime.
The Lonely Planet writers “draped along the greatest heights of the Himalaya, Nepal is where the ice-cold of the mountains meets the steamy heat of the Indian plains. It’s a land of yaks and yetis, Stupas and Sherpas and some of the best trekking trails on earth. Only in Nepal you can trek for weeks without the need even for a tent. No longer does your name have to be Tenzing or Hillary to set foot in Everest Base Camp. Nepal is an amazingly diverse country that offers something for everyone. One journey through this land is rarely enough. The first thing many people do after a visit is start planning the next one.
Alluring snow – clad mountains, green hills, beautiful valleys, magnificent lakes, socio–cultural heritage, white water rafting and jungle safaris attract thousands of tourists to Nepal each year. there is no country in the world with geography as extreme as that of Nepal. The mountain and Terai region (covering 23% of total land) have different geographical structure and climatic conditions with altitude ranging from 60 meters (in Jhapa) to 8848 meter (Mt. Everest) above the sea level.
The mountain region (occupies 35.2%) and the hilly region (42%) is a magnet for trekkers and mountaineers the world over since the early 1920s. these regions relatively isolated and economically underdeveloped, have allured international in terms of trekking and mountaineering. Very few countries in the world offer as many varieties of adventure tourism as Nepal.
Boasting eight of the world’s highest mountains above 8000 meters, then world heritage sites, pristine natural beauty accompanied by the distinctive cultural features preserved in the mountain enclaves and habitations, Nepal has attracted travelers, trekkers, mountains and scholars from different parts f the world. Many travel writers have described Nepal as – land of the living Goddess, Himalayan pilgrimage, the country of Mt. Everest, country of non-stop festivals, land of brave Gurkhas, Shangri – La, land of Yak and Yeti and beautiful natural lakes and rivers, world famous Hindu and Buddhists pilgrimage sites, national parks and reserves with a variety of endangered wildlife and rich cultural tradition of its people. A traveler visiting Nepal can enjoy adventurous activities like mountaineering, trekking, rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, paragliding, bungee jumping ad enjoy a mountain flight to view the grandeur and spectacular scenery of the Himalayan range including Mt. Everest. Travelers who love soft adventure can explore cultural heritage of the three ancient cities of Kathmandu valley.
The Kathmandu valley—Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur situated at an altitude of 1300 meters with an area of 570 sq.km and nearly 3 million populations – is a home to a world class artists and architectural heritage. As the seven world heritage sites – Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Swyambhunath, Boudhnath, Changu Narayan and Pashupatinath area located within 20km radius of the city, the tourists can explore the living cultural museum during their short stay in Nepal.
Nepal mentioned as a trekker’s paradise, offers once in a lifetime opportunity to the trekkers to visit remote parts of the country and get acquainted with lifestyle of its people. Treks in Nepal range from short one to a couple of days and weeks, especially in the trekking season from mid-September to May with depends on trekkers interest, time and experience. Thousands of trekkers from around the world trek the most popular trekking regions of Nepal such as everest region, Annapurna region, Langtang- Gosaikunda region, Helambu region, Mustang, Manaslu, Dolpo, Jumla etc. The recently launched 1700 km Great Himalayan Trail trek has lured the trekkers since the last 5 years.
In addition, Nepal is considered an eco –tourism destination and a center of wildlife tourism and jungle safari, owing to its rich biodiversity. A total of 9 national parks, 3 wildlife reserves, 6 conservation areas and 1 hunting reserve, including 11 buffer zone areas, covering 19.70% of the country’s total land offer the travelers the opportunity to discover a large variety of ecosystem including plants species, birds and animals. Chitwan National park designated by UNESCO as natural heritage site in 1984 is one of the success stories in wildlife tourism protecting one-horned rhinoceros and Royal Bengal tigers including different species of birds, mammals, reptiles and water animals. Chitwan National park, one of the top wildlife safaris in Asia, is considered the ‘best wildlife destination of the world’ with facilities of six famous hotels and jungle lodges inside the national park area, about 90 hotels and lodges in Sauraha and 17 more in emerging Patihani area of Chitwan.
The Pokhara valley, 200km west of Kathmandu, is another popular destination of Nepal and the Lake City provides ample opportunity of sightseeing of majestic panoramic views of the Annapurna Himalayan range, fishtail peak (Machhapuchhare), boating on the popular Fewa lake and fishing in garden of seven lakes. Renowned travel writes have opined that the tourist travels to Nepal will be incomplete without visit of Pokhara, Chitwan and Lumbini – the birth place of Lord Buddha. Ekai Kawaguchi, the first Japanese to visit Nepal in 1899, noted in this travelogue that ‘in all my travels in the Himalayas, I saw no scenery so enchanting as that which enraptured me in Pokhara’.
The majestic towering mountains, turbulent streams, azure lakes, softy waterfalls, conjure visions of a Himalayas Shangri La, rich cultural heritage and unforgettable jungle safaris have attracted thousands of of visitors to Nepal each year.