For many centuries Nepal was a forbidden kingdom, veiled in mystery and off-limit to all foreigners. Since it opened its borders in 1951, the flow of visitors has grown steadily, and the country's reputation for fabulous trekking has grown with it.
Narrow paths wind through paddy fields and yak pastures, leading onward and upward into the realm of the world's highest peaks.
An international airport at Kathmandu makes Nepal one of the most accessible Himalayan countries. Kathmandu is a bustling city of medieval grandeur, with temples, bazaars and hooting motorists creating its unique atmosphere. The Kathmandu valley alone contains seven World Heritage Sites!
Today it entertains about 300,000 visitors each year, providing them with not only adventure and thrills of nature, but cultural experiences that encompass two thousand years of human development.
Nestled between Tibet and India, Nepal stretches from north-west to south-east about 800 km and varies in width from around 90 km to 230 km. Bounded by the world's highest mountains to the north and Indian plains to the south, Nepal has one of the world's most dynamic climatic system - from lowland jungles to desert-like Tibetan plateau and from temperate highland forests to ice-bound alpine peaks.
Nepal is undoubtedly the best known and most visited of the Himalayan kingdoms. Situated in the central region of the greater Himalayas, Nepal contains 8 of the world's 14 highest peaks and more highest mountains than any other countries.
Many of the highest peaks, including Mt. Everest, lie along Nepal's northern border with Tibet. Other mountains, such as the Annapurna Massif, lie entirely within Nepal.
Nepal's colorful history dates back thousands of years as a major crossroads between the many kingdoms that make up the present-day China and India.
In 1372, one of the Malla rulers, Jayasthiti Malla, successfully conquered Patan and Bhaktapur, thereby unifying Kathmandu Valley. The Malla dynasty was at its peak under the reign of Yaksha Malla (1428-1482), who cultivated the arts and encouraged the construction of temples. Much of these magnificent architectures can still be seen in Patan and Bhaktapur. When the king died in 1482, however, the kingdom again splits into warring states.
In 1768, King Prithvi Narayan Shah from the kingdom of Gorkha, halfway between Kathmandu and Pokhara, conquered the valley and moved his capital to Kathmandu. However, in 1846 Jung Bahadur Rana engineered a palace revolt and declared himself the prime minister. He then made the title hereditary. As a result, although the Shah dynasty continues to this day, real power in the palace had been in the hands of the Ranas until 1950.
During the 1940s the Nepal Congress Party, which represented the interests of the commoners and led by B. P. Koirala, had begun to form. In the late 1940 King Tribhuvan (Shah) escaped from his palace to India Embassy, and from there to India. After an extended mediation by the Indian government, which restored power to the king, the king returned to Nepal in 1951 and set up a government comprised of Ranas and members of the Nepal Congress Party.
King Tribhuvan died in 1955 and was succeeded by his son Mahendra. In the ensuing years the Congress Party gained considerable popularity. When the first general election was held in 1959, the Congress Party won overwhelming support and Koirala became the prime minister. Two years later, however, King Mahendra seized total political power by arresting the cabinet and banning all opposition parties.
King Mahendra died in 1972 and was succeeded by his western-educated son Birendra, but political oppression continued. Until late 1980, leaders of opposition parties spent times in and out of jail or in self-imposed exile, while the country was embroiled in public protests and riots.
In February 1990 the government crushed non-violent democracy movement with bullets, tear gas, mass arrests and torture. After few months of turmoil and pressure from various foreign aid donors the government was forced to backed down. On April 9, the ban on opposition political parties was lifted and a new constitution was created. In the spring of 1991 a new parliament led by opposition coalition was elected by the people.
Culturally and linguistically, Nepal's diverse population can be divided into two groups of Indian and Mongolian origins. Nepalese in the southern Terai regions are closely related to people of northern India, while Nepalese in the foothills of the high Himalayas bordering Tibet are essentially Mongolian.
Among Nepal's numerous ethnic groups, the best known are the Sherpa (mountaineering guides), Gurung (Gorkha soldiers), Newar (master craftsmen) and the Thakali (traders and entrepreneur).
Ethnic tribes and their religious beliefs do not follow any set pattern. Generally, people in the lowlands practice Hinduism, while those in the high Himalayas follow Hindu-Tantric Buddhism practices. In the mountainous regions there are numerous cultures based on these two religious systems, often coexisting with dual worship or with other indigenous religions.
Contrary to popular belief, the birthplace of lord Buddha is not in India but in the town of Lumbini in Nepal. This fact makes Nepal the Mecca for the world's entire Buddhist worshipers.
Nepal is a land of extreme contrast in climate and geography. Within a mere 150 kilometers the land rises from near sea level in the south to over 8000 meters in the north. This, together with the monsoon rainfall along the south-facing slopes, has resulted in compacting virtually all climate zones found on planet Earth. As a result, Nepal has been endowed with a great diversity of life-zones providing a home for a large variety of plants, birds and animals.
Currently there are 8 national parks, 3 wildlife reserves and 2 conservation areas encompassing over 13,000 sq. km of pristine and biologically diverse land. These are:
|National Parks||Wildlife Reserves||Conservation Areas|
As in Sikkim and Bhutan, the brief but heavy monsoon nourishes an abundanceof exotic vegetation. The valleys and foothills are cloaked with bamboo and a multitude of other plants, flowers, and trees.
Within the boundaries of Nepal, the incredible effect of the Himalayas on terrain, climate, vegetation and culture is best exemplified.
See our other travel stories at http://blaze87.blogspot.com/2016/12/kemana-kamu-akan-pergi.html
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