Most people would recognize Nepal as a country of the Himalayas where Mt. Everest is located. It would come as a surprise for many people that Nepal has more to offer only than the picturesque view of mountain ranges. Sandwiched between India and China, it is a country blended with multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-ethnic society.
The country has little bit of everything for each kind of visitor. Aside from hosting large number of tourists keen in adventure and mountaineering; it doesn,t fail to attract other people who are seeking something more and different. It offers many forms of tourism to travelers: cultural tourism, sports tourism, eco-tourism, wild-life tourism, medical tourism , religious tourism, hedonistic tourism, social tourism, sustainable tourism, educational tourism, Meeting Incentive Conference Exhibition travel (MICE) and so on. The most famous way of tourism in Nepal, undoubtedly is backpacking which brings hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. Nepal also was among the most famous destination of ‘hippie trail’ during ‘hippie subculture movement’ that pinnacled in the 1970s whose trace still can be found in streets of Kathmandu.
The ancient history of Nepal goes long back to to Neolithic age. Gradually, people started to establish settlement , many of whom came from Indus Valley Civilization and people from Sino Civilization also started to live here. As time passed by, the culture and tradition started to evolve and took a new birth of it,s own in a different way whose process is still going on. Hence, owing to it,s geographical location, the culture of Nepal is of mixed Indo-Aryan and Sino-Tibetan heritage.
Whereas, the modern history of Nepal only goes back to 18th century, it became a sovereign country by the effort of King Prithvi Narayan Shah and his kins in the 1780s after re-uniting many independent kingdoms across the country. The founder of modern Nepal famously said, “This is not the nation gained by my trifle efforts, this is a plethoric garden with all kinds of flowers, and may all be aware of this.” He refers to various ethnic groups as all kinds of flower in this country(garden).
Picture illustrating multi culturalism with theme ‘unity in diversity’
In Nepal, there are more than 120 living ethnic languages which crystallizes the cultural diversity of the country. All of the ethnic people have their own sets of tradition, rituals, cultures, festivals which is observed by all other people throughout the country. In Nepal you can anticipate to see something happening every other day: festivals, celebration, folk practices and many such things in every places, all credit goes to it,s cultural diversity. People will be surprised to see hundreds of way of life in a small country. Every ethnic group has their own way of life: what they eat, wear, how they celebrate (music and dance), believe and practice is unique in each one of them and each matters very much to them in their own way .
Apart from natural beauty the country is enriched with cultural and historical heritages. Before unification of Nepal Kathmandu valley(which still is) was the cultural, political and economical capital of the country. During that time, there was no significant development in other places of the country except the valley of Kathmandu. Newari kings ruled the valley which was divided into 3 states and the feeling of competition among 3 of them gave birth to mesmerizing arts, architecture, innovation during that period. People still can witness many part of those medieval masterpieces, 3 durbar squares (palaces) still stands in their respective places, and also sculptures, paintings scriptures, works are preserved in museums around the valley. Nepal is definitely a haven for archaeologists, anthropologists, sociologists and linguists. People who love history, ancient culture, folklores and way of life should also make a visit to the country regardless of their occupation ..
Inspite of being a small landlocked country, the topography is astoundingly diverse ranging from 59m-8848m. In an area of mere 1,47,181 sq.km it has everything within it: plain fertile lands, hills, rocky mountains, cold deserts, plenty of forest area, fresh lakes and glaciers, plenty of pristine rivers. The country may only miss the touch of sea but she has plenty of other things that she obviously won,t frown for it.
Due to its diverse ecological and physiographical division, Nepal is a home of varied endemic species of plants and wildlife. People can expect to see varieties of flora and fauna during their time in Nepal. For the purpose of preservation and conservation there are plenty of wildlife reserves, national parks and conservation areas established throughout Nepal. Nepal is a very promising destination for wildlife tourism because it has grasslands like east Africa, snow-capped regions like the Alps, wetlands like Amazon and deserts like Great Victoria desert.
Nepal justifies the proverb, ‘Big things comes in small packages.’
People make visit to Nepal, for the sake of observing the harmony of nature, getting in touch with wild life and lost in wilderness to later find themselves again. The vegetation ranges from evergreen lush forests to artic-tundra vegetation which serves as habitation for every type of animals, birds, insects and plants that can adapt to the environment. It,s worthy of visit for people who love nature, simple things and beautiful moment in life. Many activities like jungle safari, elephant riding, hiking, sightseeing can be done to observe it thoroughly and insightfully.
Recently, due to development of technology and rampant use of social media, Nepal has been able to bring home people who have an adventurous soul for different kind of sports. White water rafting, bunjee jumping, paragliding, cannoying, kayaking, ultralight flight, mountain flight are the main attraction for people willing to try something thrilling that gives adrenaline rush. Zipline, skydiving, skiing, motoring are quite new to Nepal but they are being explored by visitors rapidly.
Places like Pokhara, Everest region, Annapurna circuit, Kathmandu have the facilities for activities mentioned above. Every activities are performed maintaining standard regulation with possible risk assessment, so people shouldn,t worry much while doing it. Eventually adventure is done for that very reason: to conquer the fear. Hence, time in Nepal must be used for at least one of these activities otherwise it would be like an insult for what Nepal stands for, adventure.
Furthermore, the country is turning into a hub of sustainable and eco-tourism. These two forms of tourism are new, popular and trending concept in the industry which is very good because it shows increasing awareness among people about environmental issue and active participation to mitigate it, People who want to travel to enjoy things the way it is with minimal impact on physical, behavioral and psychological level are increasing day by day.
Large number of conscientious people also travel to a place, trying to make only positive impact every way possible. These people visit those places to promote and enjoy local way of life, and enhance local,s life economically, socially with emphasis on environmental sustainability. For this purpose as well, there,s no any other place like Nepal because it’s a developing country with about 80% of rural setting. Availability of community with sparsely populated region consisting very low population density with no sign and consequences of industrialization in a natural environment makes it more standard for it.
Because of it,s pre-historic root, Nepal is home to hundreds of pilgrimage site where Hindu and Buddhists pilgrims flock in large numbers. Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha, brings Buddhists and general tourists in lots of masses. Swayambhunath and Baudhanath are also other famous shrines for Buddhist where hundreds of tourists are seen everyday. The dominant minority religion of Nepal is Budhhism with about 10% of its citizen identifying themselves as a Buddhist. People of other faith are also found in considerable number, Muslims, Christains, Jains, Kirantis and other religious community, all live together in harmony by participating in each others ceremony.
Not to mention, the population of Nepal is predominantly Hindu which totals about 80% of population. Pashupatinath temple, Janaki temple, Muktinath, Pathibhara, Swargadwari, Halesi are most visited holy sites by domestic tourists. The former one on the list is one of the most holiest site for Hindus throughout the world and sees tons of pilgrims mainly from India. It houses a jyotrilinga (a symbol representing Lord Shiva) out of 12 of them; of which all rest 11 of them are located throughout India. It is unique among them because it is the only one having head, 5 head represents 5 elements of life. It is believed that Lord Shiva bestowes every wish of pilgrims in the temple. Janaki temple has religious importance because it is birthplace of Goddess Sita, the consort of Lord Rama, from the Hindu epic Ramayana, so it brings lot of people as well in many auspicious occasion.
Beside from religious purpose, people coming to Nepal to find spiritual connection and inspiration is in the peak in this generation. The number of people who visit Nepal for spiritual retreat, meditation, yoga and gateaway has been increasing drastically as a result of easy mobility and means of communication. Due to it,s vibrant energy, Nepal is called a living tantric body by many spiritual gurus and most of those enlightened being have found home and solace in it. Maybe all that people need is to, spend few weeks in this mystical land to get awakened about hidden perception and perspective of life.
Nepal is an emerging market and hot spot location for MICE travel. It,s becoming a place for organizing various international events with a strategy to reduce the event expenditure and also because Nepal lures people with all its extravagance. Hence, many art, science, sports, business, diplomatic and official events, meetings, and exhibition keeps happening in Nepal.
Educational tourism in Nepal is growing frequently , gap year tourists, semester abroad students, and medical students primarily from South Asian countries to graduate come in Nepal due to inexpensive tuition fees with a mentality of exploring around during their time here. People in large quantity make a visit for social causes, charities and missions. Volunteers from across the world can be seen in many places throughout Nepal working for different social goals.
Globalization has a pivotal role in changing societies all around the world, Nepal is no exception. As a consequence of it, people have become liberal in many ways, whose influence can be seen in many forms. People have become more open to new ideas and cultures, owning to it, people have started to travel hedonistically, there are large number of pub, lounge, bars, for the people who are musically inclined, oenophile and just want to enjoy the moment with loved ones. Also concerts and gigs by international band keeps happening around the cities.
At the end, Nepal cannot be described without mountains and nature¸ that,s what mainstream media shows about it anyway. Nepal has generally been travel-media darling because of tall standing mountains. Nepal is a synonym of the Himalayas for many people across the globe who don’t know much about the country. Thus, the most acclaimed form of travel in Nepal is inevitably backpacking, trekking, and sight seeing. Nepal has managed its image for the same reason throughout ages and people have been exploring it in its new form only for few decades.
Nepal was closed for foreigners excluding few diplomats before 1950s because of autocratic bureaucracy and till 1990s it wasn,t connected to transportation and infrastructures wasn,t well managed and constructed in major cities as well. So, tourism is abit new industry in Nepal ,albeit growing exponentially.
Nepal is like Jerusalem(melting point of 3 cultures and religions) in tourism and travel industry. It is the place where all the forms and ways of travel is feasible making it a must visit place for every tourist and it,s definitely Mecca for adventure enthusiast who should atleast make a visit once in their lifetime. Nepal is time and again recommended as ‘most visit country’ list every year by different renowned magazines, newspaper and travel advisors and portals, it comes at first when the list is on the cheapest cost.
The possibility of the country in tourism industry is tremendous and for every type of people with different preference it has beguiling power. It has certain gift to offer for everyone which is worth coming to receive by yourself. It maybe the only country with such wide array of diversity, uniqueness, and mixture of everything. It has power to make your all senses go crazy, leave you awestruck and grasp your soul out of you and make it stay here forever.
“You don,t have to die to be in heaven, you just need to buy a ticket and visit Nepal.”