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Place to visit in Nepal

There are many beautiful and interesting places to visit outside the Kathmandu Valley. The places are full of history and historical remains and are remarkable for their beauties. Most of the places can be easily reached from Kathmandu by road or by air.

High in the Himalayan Mountains lies the small Kingdom of Nepal, with its lofty mountains, deep valleys, lush jungles, exotic wildlife and diverse peoples. Mostly known as the ?Land of Everest? or the ?Birthplace of the Lord Buddha?, Nepal has a variety of attractions to keep tourists coming back for more.
Visit Nepal - We welcome you to Nepal, the country which is one of the most exotic destinations of the world with Adventure, Cultural, Pilgrimage & Wildlife Travel Packages. We also offer hotel reservation & hotel holiday packages.

Kathmandu Valley

Kathmandu is situated in a bowl shaped valley in central Nepal. The country extends about 885 km. east to west and 193 km. in width north to south. The entire terrain is like a steep incline, descending from the icy Himalayan heights to the hot Terai flatland within a short distance.

Historical Background:

The city of Kathmandu was built by king Gun Kamdev in 723 A.D. It is said that Kathmandu was a lake in the past and was made habitable by Manjushree, who cut open the hill to the south (Chovar) so as to allow the water of the lake to flow out.

It is said that Kathmandu city was named after " Kastha-Mandap" meaning the temple made of wood in Sanskrit . The temple was built in 1596 out of a single tree by King Laxmi Narashingha Malla.

Orientation:

Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal, situated in a valley which is an open air museum of famous sites, ancient temples and shrines, golden pagodas and inspiring deities, is a city of inexhaustible historic, artistic and cultural interest. Several beautiful and interesting villages and towns surrounding the valley offer ideal destinations for mini treks. The dazzling Himalayan peaks are visible from several points on the mountains around the valley.

Kathmandu Durbar Square

A very old Hindu text has described Kathmandu as the land of gods surrounded by beautiful mountains. Some two hundred years ago a western visitor wrote that there were as many temples as there were houses and as many idols as there were people. In fact Kathmandu boasts of one of the largest congregations of magnificent historical monuments and shrines ever built. Duly recognized as a world Heritage Site by UNESCO, this particular area, best known as Kathmandu Durbar Square lies in the heart of the city. Locally also known as Hanuman Dhoka Palace Square-an ancient seat of Nepalese Royalty.

Hanuman Dhoka Palace Complex consists of a huge Royal Square imposing a tremendous variety of temples dedicated to different Hindu gods and goddess. Most of the buildings we see here date from the 15th to the 18th century.

The entire Palace Complex here is named after a monkey god called Hanuman. One can see a huge stone statue of Hanuman painted in red right next to the main entrance ( the golden gate) of the palace. Hanuman here is regarded as a powerful protector of the entire Durbar Square.

Some of the important monuments to be seen here are:
Taleju temple which is the tallest of all structures built by King Mahendra Malla in 1549 A.D.
Jagannath temple - built in the 16th century, known for its’ fascinating erotic figures carving in wooden struts eaves.
Kal Bhairav - one of the largest stone idols in Kathmandu representing the terrifying aspects of Shiva.
Statue of King Pratap Malla in a praying gesture to Digu Taleju the royal family deity right across.
Kumari Ghar – The 17th century Kumari temple, an example of the highly developed Nepalese temple craft.
Kasthamandap - built from the timber of a single tree. Kathmandu City derives its name from Kasthamandap.
Besides this,the other fascinating part of this palace complex is the towering Nautale Durbar overlooking the beautiful cityscape and the vast Basantapur square where Prithivi Narayan Shah built a mansion to commemorate his victory in 1768 A.D. This building complex is known for its’ most intricately carved wooden doorways roof struts and massive lattice windows full of mythical figures.

Swyambhunath Stupa (Monkey Temple)

Located on a lovely little rock hill, Swoyambhunath Stupa is one of the most fascinating architectural jewels of the world. This great Stupa is said to have been built around 250 B.C.
Generally a holy memorial site, the Stupa represents typical Buddhist architecture. Its main feature, the white dome, is identified with a spotless pure jewel of Nirvana and a thirteen tiered golden spire in conical shape surmounted on the dome. Underneath this towering structure is a pair of eyes of Buddha painted on all four sides of the Stupa.

The Stupa of Swoyambhunath stands on a typically stylized lotus mandala base which a long time ago is believed to have originated from a legendary lake of Kathmandu Valley.
As the ancient legend goes Kathmandu Valley was a lake a long time ago. Right in the centre of this lake was a full blown lotus with the divine light a top. When Maha Manjushri, a saint from China heard about this he came rushing all the way from China to the Valley. He cut through the southern wall hill of the valley with his divine sword. The cleft made by the sword immediately drained the entire lake water making the valley floor open for a close up view of the divine lotus light.

This holy site in fact is the massive stupa complex ever built in Nepal. Hundreds of votive shrines and other historical monuments built in and around this stupa speak a lot about the significance and antiquity of this famed stupa.

It lies about 3k.m. west of down town Kathmandu. There are two different ways to reach this site. One is from the west side which is relatively a short cut and the other is from the east side that leads to the main entrance with 360 steps all the way to the top, where the most venerated Swayambhu Stupa stands-commanding a magnificent view of Kathmandu Valley and the breathtaking panorama of the north eastern Himalayan range.

Boudhanath Stupa

One of the oldest and the biggest Buddhist monuments ever built in Nepal, Boudhanath is an imposing structure standing some 36 meters tall. The Stupa stands on the massive three level mandala style platforms surrounded by colourful private family houses. The basic feature of this great stupa is very much like that of Swoyambhunath stupa except its finial displaying. It is much bigger than Swoyambhu stupa and lies on the valley floor whereas the former one stands on the hill top. This stupa is said to have been built in the 5th century A. D. The site is considered very much like Mecca for the Tibetan Buddhists and every year tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over the Himalayan region visit the stupa.

According to a very popular legend, long time ago the kingdom of Kathmandu was under a terrifying draught. King Dharma Deva was very worried. An astrologer advised him that only the sacrifice of an ideal man with 32 virtues in front of the dry royal water spout could make rain fall in the country, so the following night he commanded his son to go to the dry water spout inside the royal palace compound at mid night and behead the person shrouded in a white robe without looking at him. The Prince obeyed his father, but, to his great horror he found it was none other than his own father.

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Pashupatinath Temple


Pashupatinath is considered one of the holiest shrines of all Hindu temples. The temple has remained the presiding deity of ruling Nepalese Royalty. Located on the banks of the Bagmati river, this two tiered magnificent golden temple with four triple silver doorways is a unique example of Nepalese temple architecture. It is one of the largest Hindu temple complexes in South Asia with hundreds of Shiva lingams, shrines icons of various Hindu gods and goddess inside.

This temple site occupies an area of about 281 hectares. The main entrance of this temple is in the western side facing a small street of Deopatan market. As non Hindus are not allowed to enter this temple courtyard, they are advised to go to the other side of the river in the East to have a glimpse of the temple complex. In the middle of spring (Feb.-March) every year, the festival called Shivaratri is celebrated. The word Shivaratri means the holy night of Lord Shiva. On this day many devotees visit Pashupatinath temple to burn the ceremonial fire.
Most of the devotees spend the night offering prayers to Shiva. This festival attracts tens of thousand of pilgrims from India, besides the locals. Historically, from the pre-Christian era this temple seems to have its origin way back to the early Kirat period. Stone sculptures found in the vicinity support the antiquity of this place. This holy site is 6 km. east of down town Kathmandu.

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Budhanilkantha

Situated below Shivapuri hill at the northern end of the valley, Buddhanilkantha temple is 9 km from Kathmandu city. The temple consists of a pond in which lies a great stone figure of the Hindu god Vishnu reclining on the coils of a cosmic serpent. The huge statue of sleeping Vishnu is carved from a single block of black stone of a type not found in the valley. It is believed that ages before, two hardworking farmers (husband and wife) discovered the statue when they were ploughing their field.

Besides Budhanilkantha temple, there are another two sets of exactly similar, but smaller statues of 'sleeping Vishnu' in the Valley. One set is in the Balaju garden and the other is hidden in the old garden of Hanuman Dhoka Palace, Kathmandu city. A prophetic dream of King Pratap Malla generated the belief that the King of Nepal should never visit Buddhanilkantha temple on threat of death. He then built similar statues in two places.

Balaju Water Garden:

It is situated below Nagarjun Hill about five-kilometer northwest of Kathmandu City. The garden is known for its bank of 22 stone waterspouts (hiti) carved in the shape of sea-dragons. It also consists of religious shrines, fishponds and a replica of the statue of Budhanilkantha. There is also a swimming pool inside the park.
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Bhaktapur:

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

(World Heritage Site)

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a conglomeration of pagoda and shikhara-style temples grouped around a fifty-five window palace made of brick and wood. The square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the Valley as it highlights the ancient arts of Nepal. The golden effigies of kings perched on the top of stone monoliths, the guardian deities looking out from their sanctuaries, the wood carvings in every place-struts, lintels, uprights, tympanums, gateways and windows-all seem to form a well-orchestrated symphony. The main items of interest in the Durbar Square are:

The Lion Gate Dating as far back as 1696 A.D., this gate is guarded on either side by two huge statues of lions. Alongside, there are two stone images of Bhairav (the dreadful aspect of Shiva) and Ugrachandi (the consort of Shiva in her fearful manifestation).

The Golden Gate is said to be the most beautiful and richly moulded specimen of its kind in the entire world. The door is surmounted by a figure of the goddess Kali and Garuda (the mythical man-bird) and attended by two heavenly nymphs. It is also embellished with mythical creatures of marvelous intricacy. In the words of Percy Brown, an eminent English art critic and historian, the Golden Gate is the loveliest piece of art in the whole country and it is placed like a jewel, flashing innumerable facets in the handsome setting of its surroundings. The gate was erected by King Ranjit Malla and is the entrance of the main courtyard of the Palace of Fifty-five Windows.

The Palace of Fifty-five Windows: This magnificent palace was built during the reign of King Yakshya Malla in A.D. 1427 and was subsequently remodelled by King Bhupatindra Malla in the seventeenth century. Among the brick walls with their gracious setting and sculptural design, is a balcony with Fifty-five Windows, considered to be a unique masterpiece of woodcarving.
The Art Gallery contains ancient paintings belonging to Hindu and Buddhist traditions of various periods and descriptions. This gallery is open everyday except on Tuesday.
The Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla: This statue showing King Bhupatindra Malla in the act of worship is set on a column facing the palace. Of the square's many statues, this is considered to be the most magnificent.

Siddha Pokhari

This is a big rectangular water pond located near the main city gate of Bhaktapur. It was built during the reign of King Yakshya Malla in the early fifteenth century and is associated with a number of myths. From this spot a wide range of snowy peaks is visible on clear days.

Batsala Temple

The stone temple of Batsala Devi has many intricate carvings. It is most famous for its bronze bell, known to local residents as 'the bell of barking dogs' as when it is rung, all dogs in the vicinity begin barking and howling ! The colossal bell was hung by King Ranjit Malla in A. D. 1737 and was used to sound the daily curfew. It is nowadays rung every morning when goddess Taleju is worshipped.

Pashupati Temple

This temple is a replica of the famous temple on the Bagmati river in Kathmandu and is widely noted for the erotic carvings in its struts. It was built by King Yakshya Malla.

Nyatapola Temple

This five-storey pagoda was built by King Bhupatindra Malla in 1702 A. D. It stands on five terraces, on each of which squat a pair of figures two famous wrestlers, two elephants, two lions, two griffins and Baghini and Singhini -the tiger and the lion goddesses. Each pair of figures is considered ten times stronger than the ones immediately below, whilst the lowest pair, the two strong men Jaya Malla and Phatta Malla, were reputedly ten times stronger than any other man. This is one of the tallest pagoda temples in Kathmandu Valley and is famous for its massive structure and subtle workmanship.

Bhairav Nath Temple

This is another pagoda style temple dedicated to Lord Bhairav, the dreadful aspect of Shiva. It stands a short distance away from the temple of Nyatapola and was originally constructed by King Jagat Jyoti Malla on a modest scale. It was later remodelled by King Bhupatindra Malla, a zealous lover of the arts, into what is now a three-storey temple.

Dattatraya Temple

The temple of Dattatraya is as old as the Palace of Fifty-five Windows. Consecrated by King Yakshya Malla in 1427 A. D., this temple, according to popular belief, was built out of the trunk of a single tree. It was subsequently repaired and renovated by King Vishwa Malla in 1458 A. D. Just beside the temple is a monastery (Math) with exquisite carvings.

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Patan Durbar Square
(World Heritage Site)


This whole square is a cluster of fine pagoda temples and stone statues. It is at the same time the business hub of the city. At every step one comes across a piece of art or an image of a deity, testifying to the consummate skill of Patan's anonymous artists. The ancient palace of the Malla kings and the stone baths associated with various legends and episodes of history are especially interesting to visitors. The stone temple of Lord Krishna and the Royal Bath (Tushahity) with its intricate stone and bronze carvings are two other masterpieces in the same vicinity.

Hiranya Varna Mahabihar

This three-storey golden pagoda of Lokeshwar in Patan was built in the twelfth century A. D. by King Bhaskar Varma. Located in the courtyard of Kwabahal, this temple is a class of its own. A golden image of Lord Buddha and a big prayer wheel can be seen on the pedestal of the upper part of the Car while intricate decorative patterns on its outer walls add charm to the mellow richness of the shrine.

Kumbheshwar

This is a five-storey pagoda-style temple of Lord Shiva. Inside the courtyard is a natural spring whose source, it is said. is the famous glacial lake of Gosainkunda. This temple was built by King Jayasthiti Malla while the golden finial was added later in 1422 A.D. He also cleaned the pond near Kumbheshwar and installed various images of Narayan, Ganesh, Sitala, Basuki, Gauri, Kirtimukh and Agamadevata around the pond and in the courtyard. Ritual bathing takes place here every year on the day of Janai Poornima.

Jagat Narayan

The Jagat Narayan temple is a tall shikhara-style temple consecrated to Lord Vishnu. The temple is built of red bricks on the banks of the Bagmati at Sankhamul and enshrines many stone images. The fine metal statue of Garuda placed on a stone monolith is quite eye-catching and is accompanied by similarly placed images of Ganesh and Hanuman.

Krishna Temple

The temple of Lord Krishna holds a commanding position in Patan's Palace complex. Though its style is not wholly native, it is one of the most perfect specimens of Nepalese temple craft. The three-storey stone temple continues to elicit high praise from lovers of art and beauty. It was built by King Siddhi Narasingha Malla in the sixteenth century A. D. Important scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics have been carved in bas-relief. The minute details of this work clearly show the high level that the art of stone carving attained in the sixteenth century.

Mahaboudha

The temple of Mahabouddha is a masterpiece of terra-cotta. Like the Krishna Mandir (Temple), it reveals an artistic tradition which evolved outside Nepal and shows how native Nepalese craftsmen have been able to do justice to an unfamiliar art form. This temple was built by Abhaya Raj, a priest of Patan and is sometimes referred to as the temple of a million Buddhas because every single brick bears a small image of Buddha. There are an astonishing total of nine thousand bricks. It was levelled to the ground by the great earthquake of 1933 but was rebuilt exactly to the original specifications, proving that the temple craft is still one of the living arts of Nepal.

Ashokan Stupas

Popularly believed, though not proven, without doubt to have been built by Ashoka, the Buddhist Emperor of India, these stupas stand at four different corners of Patan, giving the whole city a monastic character. All these Buddhist mounds were built in 250 A.D.at the time when Buddhism was making headway in Kathmandu Valley.

Machhendranath Temple

The temple of Red Machchhendranath is another center of attraction in Patan. The temple lies in the middle of a wide, spacious quadrangle just at the outer rim of the market place. A fine clay image of Red Machchhendranath Avalokiteshwar is housed here for six months every year, after which it is taken round the city of Patan in a colourful chariot during the festival beginning in April-May and lasting sometimes for several months.

The Tibetan Camp:

An attraction of a different kind is the Tibetan Camp on the outskirts of Patan. The small Tibetan population living here has set up a number of shrines and stupas as well as several souvenir shops offering authentic Tibetan handicrafts such as prayer wheels of wood, ivory, silver or bronze, long temple horns made of beaten copper, belt buckles, wooden bowls and jewellery. In this area, Tibetans can be seen weaving carpets by hand

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Dhulikhel (Scenic and Ancient town):
DHULIKHEL is justly famous as a well-preserved Newar town, mountain viewpoint, and hiking and biking hub, but its popularity is waning as road-building and modernization take their toll. Located 5km east of Banepa, just beyond the Kathmandu Valley rim, it sits in a saddle at the relatively low elevation of 1550m, which makes it warmer than Nagarkot. A number of resort hotels and guest houses are positioned along the highway to catch the best mountains view in the immediate vicinity, but the full vista can only be seen from a small summit above the town. Most visitors to Dhulikhel stay at least two nights, which allows time to wander around the old town, a sunrise walk and a full-day circuit of the surrounding countryside and the cultural sites of Namobuddha and Panauti.

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Nagarkot (Scenic spots):

Nagarkot, located 32 kilometers east of Kathmandu, is one of the most scenic spots in Bhaktapur district and is renowned for its spectacular sunrise view of the Himalayas when the weather is clear. Visitors often travel to Nagarkot from Kathmandu to spend the night so that they can be there to view the breathtaking sunrise. Nagarkot has become famous as one of the best spots to view Mount Everest as well as other snow-capped peaks of the Himalayan range of eastern Nepal.

It also offers an excellent view of the Indrawati river valley to the east. With an elevation of 2,195 meters, Nagarkot also offers a panoramic view of the Valley and is described by visitors as a place whose beauty endures year round.

Many visitors prefer to visit Nagarkot in the spring when surrounding valleys break out in a rich kaleidoscope of different coloured flowers. The flowers are beautiful against the serene backdrop of the snow-covered mountains. Ever popular among the tourists are the short treks and picnics which Nagarkot offers. Treks from Nagarkot are unique and delightful. For anyone who wants to have an adventure without exerting much effort, a hike to Nagarkot's surrounding areas would be a good option. One can traverse short distances on trekking trails and come close to nature's wonders such as the outer of verdant forests, flower-covered meadows and unusual rock formations.

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Kirtipur:

Kirtipur is a small town located eight kilometers south-west of Kathmandu on the top of a ridge. Tribhuvan University sits at the foot of the hill. This historic town has many things to offer including ancient shrines, temples, old-style houses, and villagers dressed in traditional costumes and weaving on hand looms.

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Namo Buddha:

It is situated on a hill above Panauti. It requires an easy drive or good walk to get there. There is an amazing story concerned with the Buddha which is commemorated by an ancient stone slab and a Stupa with the all-seeing eyes of Lord Buddha. According to the legend, one of the earlier Buddha offered his own flesh to a hungry tiger unable to feed her hungry cubs. It is also a three hour trekking route from Dhulikhel through a number of small villages.

Better know by Tibetans as Tag-mo Lu-jin. This means the place where the Buddha offered his body to the hungry mother tigress. It is renowned for Shakyamuni's act of compassion upon encountering a hungry mother tigress he offered her his body so that she could feed her cubs. There are a couple of monasteries and one ancient stupa erected nearby in which one can make offerings, pray, and light butter lamps.

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Bandipur Village:

Bandipur, an ancient Newari mountain town, is a treasure waiting to be discovered by travellers. Situated 7k.m. above Dumbre Bazaar at an altitude of 1,005 meters, this ancient trading post lies cradled in the saddle of some of the country's most peculiar-shaped hills. Untouched by modernization, and laced with an abundance of ancient houses, temples of great significance, and historical architecture, this medieval-era town boasts festivals all year around, besides plethora of cultural offerings. Neighboring Magar, Gurung, Bahun, Chhetri, Damai and Sarki villages all contribute to the cultural diversity of the region.

The hilltop town not only overlooks the incredible expanse of the Marsyanngdi river valley, but also offers a breathtaking sweep of the Himalayan range, from Langtang in the east to Dhaulagiri in the west. From nearby hilltops, one can see as far as Manakamana and Gorkha to east the great Chitwan plains to the south, among others. It was once a bustling commercial center along the trade route linking Tibet with Britain welcoming travellers from near and far. While the Siddha Gufa (the largest cavern in the country) and Patali Dwar (a.k.a. the Gateway to Heaven) are must-sees, this place also offers endless hiking possibilities in the surrounding hills.

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Sirubari Village:

Panchamul Sirubari is the first model village designed to experience village based tourism in Nepal. It is a nature gifted place and one of the richest Gurung village in terms of culture. Panchamul Sirubari is a unique example of eco-cultural tourism in Nepal and is a new tourism product originated by local people.

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Kakani:

Kakani is another good location for viewing the mountain scenery. Only two hours north-west of Kathmandu, one can see the mountain landscape of central Nepal, a vast collection of majestic peaks stretching from Ganesh Himal to the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. There is an unusually perfect blending of the imposing mountain scenery with the more sylvan environment of the lower valleys. Rhododendrons growing wild on the mountain slopes begin to bloom in late winter and stay in bloom for several months adding charm to the village.

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Daman:

Daman has some of the most fantastic views of the Himalaya. It has a great view of the mountains from Dhaulagiri to Mt Everest. Daman is half way between Kathmandu and Hetauda. It is definitely worth visiting.

Siraichuli Viewpoint:

Chitwan Hills Trail has been identified which offers magnificent sunrise and sunset views from the top of Siraichuli hill. One of the highest hills in the Mahabharat range (1,945m), the trek from Hattibang to Siraichuli is exciting with challenging steep boulders, streams, ridges and intact vegetation. Wide range of Himalayas in the likes of Peak 29, Annapurna Range, Gorkha Himal, Gaurishankar, Dhaulagiri, Langtang, Rolwaling, Manaslu, rare view of flatlands and spectacular sunrise and sunsets can be clearly observed. Cultural experiences of Chepang and other ethnic groups, bird watching, home-stay and other natural attractions make this trail a must to visit.

Nature trek to Gadi Hill:

Uppardang Gadi is a classic octagonal artillery fort, passing into the Chitwan hills that defended the surrounding countryside during the reign of Bahadur Shah. The fort offers spectacular views in every direction. Village walks, nature and bird watching tours and the Chitwan Chepang Hills trail will be of special interest to visitors. The area is accessible from as far as Shaktikhor, walking uphill. An alternate route is to start from Hugdi (80kms from Kathmandu), Kathmandu - Pokhara Highway.

Paragliding:

One of the newest adventure sports on offer at this location is paragliding from Siraichuli.

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Manakamana:

On a beautiful ridge south-east of the township of Gorkha lies the holy temple of Manakamana, the holy goddess of aspirations. It is a famous pilgrimage site for Hindus. Manakamana is a four hour walk uphill from Anbu Khaireni on Kathmandu-Pokhara Highway.

Access:

Linked with Pokhara and Kathmandu by road, Gorkha has daily bus services to and from these places. It is connected to Kathmandu-Pokhara highway by a 24 km feeder road branching off towards north from Anbu Khaireni. There is an alternative to walking up, i.e. by the cable car service from Kurintar to Manakamana Temple. Buses are available from Kathmandu and Pokhara to Kurintar.

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Gorkha (Scenic hill-town):

Gorkha is a scenic hill- town with great historical significance. King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who unified the Kingdom of Nepal during the eighteenth century, was born in the township of Gorkha. Situated on a small hillock at an attitude of about 1000 m, Gorkha offers panoramic view of snow-fed mountains.

The then small kingdom of Gorkha, founded by king Drabya Shah in 1560 A. D. became famous during the dynasty of Ram Shah (1604-1641 A.D.), who earned the reputation of being just to his people. There was a famous proverb in those days which said that one should go to Gorkha if he were looking for justice.

In the middle of the eighteenth century there were hundreds of small kingdoms and principalities in what is today's Nepal. The great Prithvi Narayan Shah took the mammoth task of unifying Nepal in the eighteenth century. The Gorkha soldiers under his dynamic leadership eventually succeeded in conquering Kathmandu valley. The capital of greater Nepal was shifted to Kathmandu since then, but this beautiful township has always remained as the center of attraction for many Nepalese as well as foreign visitors.

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Devghat:

Devghat is a popular pilgrimage spot situated at the confluence of the Kali Gandaki and Trisuli rivers. It lies just north of the jungle safari destination of Chitwan National Park. During the Makar Sankranti festival in January, Hindu devotees gather here to take holy dips in the river. There are a number of sacred and historical sites around Devghat which provide interesting side trips the Triveni temple and Balmiki Ashram where the great sage Balmiki had his retreat, the Someswar Kalika temple and fort, Pandavanagar where the protagonists of the Mahabharat once lived and the Kabilaspur fort built by the old kings of Palpa.

Buses shuttle between Narayanghat and Devghat, taking about half an hour, but the one hour walk along the footpath parrallel to the river through the woods is more pleasant.

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Chitwan:

Surrounding Chitwan National Park in southern Nepal is one of the best planned and most intelligently developed tourist areas in Nepal. Not only does it offer a wide variety of resorts and lodges, it is also easy to reach - by road or by air. Regular flights are scheduled by Royal Nepal Airlines and other airlines to Meghauli, Simara and Bharatpur. Many resorts provide coach service. Local buses offer a choice between a night ride and a day ride.

Chitwan National Park is perhaps the best park in Nepal for seeing animals in the wild. In the earlier part of the century, when rapid deforestation was devastating Nepal's southern Terai belt, Government of Nepal intervened and proclaimed the Chitwan area a national park.

The Government of Nepal declared the Chitwan region a national park, outlawed settlement and deforestation within its boundaries, and a campaign to save the animals began. Projects carried out with the help of friendly nations have revived the animals that remained. Though the Terai is certainly not what it once was, the preserved portion within the Chitwan National Park is still a treat for animal lovers.

Royal Bengal tigers roam the region; one-horned rhinos can be seen charging through the underbrush, feeding and even courting. The Rapti River has been dammed to form a man-made lake called Lamital where water-birds and marsh mugger peckers and many other birds are found in plenty in these forests.

Elephant grass, five to six feet tall, provides excellent camouflage for animals. This grass serves as food for the gaur (a local bison), rhino and other herbivores. Once a year, local people are allowed into the park area to cut grass. The grass is dried, and used to thatch roofs or stored for food for the domestic animals during the dry season.

Chitwan is easily accessible from Kathmandu, being well connected by a national highway to Bhadrapur and Sauraha. There are daily flights to Meghauli airstrip just outside the park boundry.

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Chitwan Chepang Hill Trails:

Nepal's Terai possesses a beauty that is totally unexpected in a country known mainly for soaring snow-covered mountains. Chitwan, a majestic and powerful location teeming with wildlife hosts one of Asia's finest national parks, renowned for its dense concentration of wildlife. Seas of elephant grass ripple beneath a magnificent sunset and pervasive sense of relaxation soaks in deeper, the longer you stay.

Chitwan literally means 'heart of the jungle' and in recent years, Chitwan tops the list of things to do in Asia. With its astounding wildlife, Chitwan is a true wildlife adventure. Elephant rides, jeep tours, bird watching and canoe trips offer a different slant on the luxuriant teeming forest.

Attractions:

Chitwan National Park - Sal forests cover 70% of the area and there are about 600 species of plants and are home to the only significant number of one-horned rhinos and other endangered species like the Royal Bengal Tiger, the Gangetic Dolphins and the Gharial Crocodile. There are altogether over 43 species of large mammals, 526 species of birds, 150 different types of butterflies, 126 species of fish and 49 species of reptiles.

Wildlife:

The fauna of the terai is striking and the most obvious are the handsome black-faced, grey langur monkeys and the common brownish red rhesus monkeys. Deers include the spotted, barking, samber, hog, swamp and Asia's largest antelope, the blue bull.

Other animal species found here are leopards, wild dogs, various species of mongoose and cats, wild boar, porcupines, hyena, bats and squirrels. Today, Chitwan boasts of nearly 600 one-horned rhinos; a quarter of the species total and their numbers continue to grow. About 100 tigers have also been counted in the park.

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Lumbini (The Birthplace of Lord Buddha):

Shakyamuni Buddha was born in Lumbini, in southern Nepal, twenty-five hundred years ago. Since his time, Nepal has been a sacred ground for Buddhists as the birthplace of the Buddha. Lumbini is a small town in the southern Terai plains of Nepal, where the ruins of the old city can still be seen. Shakyamuni Buddha was born to a royal family.

Lumbini has been a holy ground for Buddhists all over the world. The restored garden and surroundings of Lumbini have the remains of many of the ancient stupas and monasteries. A large stone pillar erected by the Indian Emperor Ashoka in 250 BC bears an inscription about the birth of the Buddha.

An important part of Lumbini is the temple of Maya Devi. It has a stone image of Maya Devi giving birth to Lord Buddha as she holds onto a branch. It has been well worn by the strokes of barren women hoping for fertility. To the south of the temple is a pool where Queen Maya Devi is said to have bathed and given her son his first purification bath.

A quiet garden, shaded by the leafy Bo tree (the type of tree under which Buddha received enlightenment), and a newly-planted forest nearby lend an air of tranquillity which bespeaks Buddha's teachings. Lumbini is now being developed under the Master Plan of the Lumbini Development Trust, a non governmental organization dedicated to the restoration of Lumbini and its development as a pilgrimage site. The plan, completed in 1978 by the renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, will transform three square miles of land into a sacred place of gardens, pools, buildings, and groves. The development will include a Monastic Zone, the circular sacred Garden surrounding the Ashoka pillar and Maya Devi temple, and Lumbini Village, where visitors will find lodges, restaurants, a cultural center and tourist facilities. This has now been completed.

An important archeological site near Lumbini, Kapilvastu evokes the ancient palace where Lord Buddha spent his formative years. Scattered foundations of the palace are abundant, and archeologists have by now discovered 13 successive layers of human habitation dating back to the eighth century BC. A must for archeological and historical buffs!

Besides its religious and historical significance, Lumbini offers cultural insights into the village life of southern Nepal. If possible, coincide your visit with the weekly Monday bazaar when villagers come from miles around to buy grains, spices, pottery, jewellery, saris and various other items. It may appear as a scene out of the Arabian Nights, with colourful merchandise spread out under the mango trees and the air perfumed with incense. It's a chance to bargain for souvenirs while witnessing local life in Lumbini. Wooden ox-carts loaded with hay trundle by. Villagers dry cow-dung for fuel, and tea stalls serve sweet milk tea.

Today, Lumbini is beginning to receive travellers' and archaeologists' attention after centuries of neglect. Serious preservation work has only just been started in the latter half of this century and Lumbini as a slice of history is worth seeing and worth preserving.

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Janakpur (Ancient state of Mithila):

Janakpur is the capital of the ancient state of Mithila. The Janaki Temple, located in the center of the city, is well known in Nepal. Sita the wife of the legendary hero Ram was born in Janakpur. Throughout the year, many pilgrims come to pay their respects to Ram and Sita who are the main religious attractions in Janakpur. The city is thronged by worshippers and visitors alike especially during the festival of Bibah Panchami. This annual festival is celebrated on the occasion of Ram and Sita's marriage and their wedding ceremony is enacted throughout the week.

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Pokhara:

If Kathmandu is the cultural hub of Nepal, Pokhara is its center of adventure. An enchanting city nestled in a tranquil valley; it is the starting point for many of Nepal's most popular trekking and rafting destinations. The atmosphere on the shore of Phewa Lake is one of excited vitality as hipster backpackers crowd the many bars and restaurants exchanging recommendations on guest houses and viewpoints, both by the lake and above the clouds.

Pokhara is a place of remarkable natural beauty. The serenity of Phewa Lake and the magnificence of the fishtailed summit of Machhapuchhre (6,977 m) rising behind it create an ambience of peace and magic. At an elevation lower than Kathmandu, it has a much more tropical feel to it, a fact well appreciated by the beautiful diversity of flowers which prosper in its environs. Indeed, the valley surrounding Pokhara is home to thick forests, gushing rivers, emerald lakes, and of course, the world famous views of the Himalaya.

The powerful rule of the old kings of Kathmandu, the Lichhavis and the Mallas, held sway over this valley for some time. As these dynasties fell prey to their own troubles, Pokhara Valley and the surrounding hills disintegrated into small kingdoms, frequently at war with each other. These were called the Chaubise Rajya or the Twenty-four Kingdoms. It was among these that Kulmandan Shah established his kingdom. His descendant Drabya Shah was the first to establish Gorkha, home of the legendary Gurkha warriors.

Finally, Pokhara is part of a once vibrant trade route extending between India and Tibet. To this day, mule trains can be seen camped on the outskirts of the town, bringing goods to trade from remote regions of the Himalaya. This is the land of the Magars and Gurungs, hardworking farmers and valorous warriors who have earned world-wide fame as Gurkha soldiers. The Thakalis, another important ethnic group here, are known for their entrepreneurship.

Mountain Views:

Clearly the most stunning of Pokhara's sights is the spectacular panorama of the Annapurna range which forms its backdrop. Stretching from east to west, the Annapurna massif includes Annapurna 1 to IV and Annapurna South. Although the highest among them is Annapurna 1 (8,091 m), it is Machhapuchhre which dominates all others in this neighbourhood. Boastfully levitating in the skyline, the fish-tailed pinnacle is the archetypal snow-capped, needle-pointed mountain. If you want to see the mountains from close up, Everest Air offers a mountain flight from Pokhara that takes you on an aerial sightseeing tour of the western Himalaya.

Phewa Lake:

Phewa Lake, the second largest lake in the Kingdom, is the center of all attraction in Pokhara. It is the largest and most enchanting of the three lakes that add to the resplendence of Pokhara. Here, one can sail or row a hired boat across to the water or visit the island temple in its middle. The eastern shore, popularly known as lakeside or Baidam, is the favorite home base for travellers and is where most of the hotels, restaurants and handicraft shops are located.

Barahi Temple:

The Barahi temple is the most important monument in Pokhara. Built almost in the center of Phewa Lake, this two-storyed pagoda is dedicated to the boar manifestation of' Ajima, the protesters deity representing- the female force Shakti. Devotees can be seen, especially on Saturdays, carrying male animals and fowl across the lake to be sacrificed to the deity.

Seti Gandaki:

Another of Pokhara's natural wonders that unfailingly interests visitors is the Seti Gandaki river. Flowing right through the city, the boisterous river runs completely underground at places. Amazingly, at certain points the river appears hardly two meters wide. But its depth is quite beyond imagination - over 20 meters! Mahendra Pul, a small bridge near the old Mission Hospital, provides a perfect view of the river's dreadful rush and the deep gorge made by its powerful flow.

David's Fall:

Locally known as the Patale Chhango (Hell's Fall). David's Fall (also known as Devin's and David's) is a lovely waterfall lying about two km south-west of Pokhara airport on the Siddhartha Highway. Legend has it that a trekker (Devin, David..) was washed away by the Pardi Khola and mysteriously disappeared down into an underground passage beneath the fall.

Mahendra Cave:

Another of nature's wonders in Pokhara is the Mahendra Gupha. This large limestone cave is locally known as the House of Bats, an apt name for it. A two-hour walk to the north of Pokhara, it is best to bring your own torch to see the stalactites and stalagmites, as well as the local winged residents.

The Old Bazaar:

Pokhara's traditional bazaar is colorful and so are its ethnically diverse traders. In its temples and monuments can be seen ties to the Newar architecture of Kathmandu Valley. Located about four km from Lakeside, the market's original charm is alive and well. This area strewn with shops selling commodities ranging from edibles and cloth to cosmetics and gold is a pleasant and shady spot to stroll around.

The old bazaar is also home to one of Pokhara's most important shrines'. Locally called the Bindhyabasini Mandir, this white dome-like structure dominates a spacious stone-paved courtyard built atop a shady hillock. It is dedicated to Goddess Bhagwati, yet another manifestation of Shakti. The park-like grounds offer a fine picnic area, and on Saturdays and Tuesdays when devotees flock there to offer sacrifices, it takes on a festive local fervor.

Museums:

The Pokhara Museum, located between the bus stop and Mahendra Pul, reflects the ethnic mosaic of western Nepal. The lifestyles and history of ethnic groups such as Gurungs, Thakalis and Tharus are attractively displayed through models, photographs and arte facts. One major attraction is a display highlighting the newly-discovered remains of an 8000-year-old settlement in Mustang. Open daily, except Tuesdays and holidays, from 10 am to 5 pm.

The Annapurna Regional Museum, also known as the Natural History Museum, is another interesting place to visit in Pokhara. Run by the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), the museum has an exceptional collection of butterflies, insects, birds and models of wildlife found in the area. Located at Prithvi Narayan Campus east of the old bazaar, it is open daily except Saturdays and holidays from 9 am to 5 pm.

Surrounding Areas:

Pokhara is the starting and/or finishing point for some of the most 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, challenging ones. The most popular destination among them is Sarangkot (1592 m), a former Kaski fort lying atop a hill to the west of Pokhara. The panoramic view of the Himalaya seen from this point is superb. Kahundanda, Naudanda, Ghandrung, Ghorepani, and Ghalchok are other favorite destinations around Pokhara.

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Baglung:

Located in the middle hills on the west of Pokhara, Baglung is the headquarters of Dhaulagiri Zone. It is situated on a terrace overlooking the Kali Gandaki river which is famous for deep gorges and notorious bends. It is the trading town of quaint streets and traditional buildings where merchants from the Terai plains in the south and the hills in the north come together to barter. Inhabited by different ethnic groups, Baglung offers the most scenic view of Mount Dhaulagiri towards its north. It has recently been connected to Pokhara by a 72 km black-topped highway. On the way to Baglung, you can enjoy the picturesque view of the incredibly long range of Annapurna Himal towards the north. Baglung is also a good starting point for Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve where controlled hunting of some species is allowed. The reserve is famous for the blue sheep. The trek from Baglung Bazaar to Dhorpatan takes about four days.

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Tansen:

The township of Tansen is among a few towns outside the capital which bears a rich legacy of the traditional art and architecture. Perched on the lap of the spectacular Srinagar Danda (hill) Tansen, commands a gorgeous panorama of the Himalayas as well as the plains of Terai. Located at an elevation of 1310 meters, Tansen is a pleasant place to visit during any season of the year. The hill of Srinagar, half an hour’s walk up Tansen Bazaar at an elevation of 1524 m. is a rare vantage point to view the contrasting manifestation of nature. An incredibly long panorama of the mountains encompassing Kanjiroba, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Langtang Himal at a stretch is visible from here on one hand, while on the other the plains of Madi valley and the bigger terai also comes to distinct view from the same point. Tansen is a good put off point for short as well as long treks. You can visit some of the beautiful points on the Kali Gandaki river such as Ranighat Palace and Ramdi Ghat the dense and serene woody slopes of Rambhapani and Satyawati lake. For longer treks you can choose any area in Annapurna-Dhaulagiri region such as Dhorpatan, Jomsom, Ghorepani or Annapurna Sanctuary. Tansen also provides opportunity for study of Buddhist culture and the life and culture of Magar tribes.

Tansen and its Environs:

Tansen, situated at an altitude of 1,371 meters above sea level on the lap of picturesque Shreenagar hill, is one of the most popular summer resorts of western Nepal. On account of its unique geographical location, climate and the people, Tansen spells an area of dreamy holiday. Although the administrative headquarters of Palpa district, Tansen is free of usual urban hectic life. In Tansen, tourists can make detours at ease to see and admire the narrow zigzag streets, stream of colourful people passing by in local attires. Even in the heart of the town an unmistakable charm of simple rural life is easily felt. However, Tansen is another miniature Kathmandu One could see old Kathmandu style hangovers in the cobbled streets up and down. Typical newari houses, pagoda style temples, shrines and stupas are abound here. Also, Tansen is the starting point for many short treks for places of touristic interest in Palpa and in the surrounding districts of western Nepal.

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Royal Bardia National Park (968 sq. kms):

Royal Bardia National Park situated in western Terai of Nepal is one of largest undisturbed parks in the region. The park is the home of many endangered animals, reptiles and birds - including the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger. A few years ago, under a successful wildlife project several young one-horned rhinos where translocated here from Royal Chitwan National Park. Over the years, Bardia has also been a good place for tiger viewing - a rare event anywhere. Recently sightings of a group of wild elephants have further enhanced the wildlife experience possible in this beautiful and unspoiled sanctuary. A stay in this park is recommended with the combination of a short raft trip down the Karnali and Bheri rivers or with a trek to Dolpo and the Rara lake area in far western Nepal.

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Hile:

It is situated about 13 km north of Dhankuta Bazaar. The panorama of the major peaks of eastern Himalaya including Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest), Makalu, Lhotse and Kumbhakarna can be enjoyed from Hile.

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Charikot / Jiri:

About 133 kilometers from Kathmandu, Charikot provides a spectacular mountain view of Gaurishankar. In the eastern upper part of Dolkha township there is a famous roofless temple of Dolkha Bhimsen. The highway to Jiri is famous for the environment friendly approach adopted during its design, construction and maintenance. Jirels, one of the unique ethnic groups of Nepal reside here. Jiri, in fact, is one of the major starting points for mountain trek to Mount Everest region.

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Janakpur (Ancient state of Mithila)

anakpur is the capital of the ancient state of Mithila. The Janaki Temple, located in the center of the city, is well known in Nepal. Sita the wife of the legendary hero Ram was born in Janakpur. Throughout the year, many pilgrims come to pay their respects to Ram and Sita who are the main religious attractions in Janakpur. The city is thronged by worshippers and visitors alike especially during the festival of Bibah Panchami. This annual festival is celebrated on the occasion of Ram and Sita's marriage and their wedding ceremony is enacted throughout the week.

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Ilam

Ilam is the far eastern district of the country, inhabited by people of different colours living in peace and harmony. Neighboring the famous Indian hill town of Darjeeling, it is situated on the foothills of Mount Kanchanjunga, The third highest peak in the world. Ilam is adorned with an almost limitless range of lush-green tea gardens. The rolling hills covered with tea leaves are simply majestic. The thick white fogs alternatively descend to veil the gardens and then suddenly vanish. Greenery prevails all over the hills of Ilam all around the year. Ilam Tea Garden located near Ilam Bazaar and Kanyam Tea Garden located halfway between Terai plain and Ilam Bazaar are the major Tea gardens of Nepal.

Principal Sights-

Antu Danda:


Antu Danda, situated at an altitude of 1677m in Ilam district, is famous for its unique views of Everest and Kanchanjunga. It is the best vantage point for viewing sunrise and sunset. There is a motorable road from Ilam to Chhipitar from where one can reach Antu Danda on foot. This exhilarating trek along the lush green hills takes about 3 hours.

Mai Pokhari:

Situated at an altitude of 2438 meters, Mai Pokhari is a famous place of pilgrimage in Ilam district. Lying about thirteen kilometers north of Ilam Bazaar, this beautiful place consists of the pond whose circumference is more than one kilometer. Altogether there are nine ponds in the area some of which are large enough for boats. This place becomes alive every year during 'Harisayam Ekadashi' when a one-night fair is held. This place is a famous picnic spot for nearby people Mai Pokhari can be reached in four hours from Ilam Bazaar by jeep. On the way are the villages of Chureghanti, Bakhaute, Dharapani and Hasbire Bhanjyang, which offer commanding views of the snowy peaks towards the north.

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Biratnagar

Biratnagar is Nepal's second biggest city. The place is prospering as a magnet for trade and Industry. Streets are lined with an array of concrete buildings and border-bazaar shops. That said, the city centre is relatively laid- back and traffic-free. If you are here on a Wednesday don't miss Biratnagar's haat Bazaar, held in a field east of town.

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HIMALAYAN REGION:

The word "Himalaya" is Sanskrit for "abode of snow". This region has an altitude ranging between 4,877 m to 8,848m. It includes eight of the 14 highest summits in the world that exceed an altitude of 8000 m, including the highest of them all, Mt. Everest (8,848 m). Only 9% of Nepal's population live in this region.

The region's culture and religion are closely linked to Tibet, and the traditional economy was (and sometimes still is) based on trans-border trade with its northern neighbour.
One can enjoy the magnificent Himalayas of this region in three different ways: take a mountain flight and enjoy the splendid view of snow capped Himalayas from the safety of the presurrized aeroplane cabins, or gaze at the panorama from popular mountain viewpoints such as Nagarkot and Dhulikhel around the Kathmandu Valley and Sarangkot in Pokhara or take the direct approach and trek to the mountain base from where you can actually touch them and feel the Himalayas.

Indeed, the best way to experience Nepal's unbeatable combination of natural beauty and culture riches is to trek through them. One should know that trekking means walking and is a process rather than a destination. As one gets into shape, it's easy to fall into walking-machine mode. Though trekking demands a physical challenge, a trekker should remind himself/ herself to stop at teashops, admire the views, splash in a stream and play with local kids. Walking and nothing, but day after day, provides illuminating insights of Nepal's diversity in terms of geography, people, religion and culture. The main precaution to be taken while trekking is not to go up too high too fast. The body should be given plenty of time to acclimatize. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) refers to the effects of the thin air at high altitudes which can be very dangerous and may even result in death. If you get initial symptoms like nausea, dizziness, swelling of the face and breathlessness, descend to the lower elevation immediately and seek medical help. Check out Travel FAQ for more details on trekking in Nepal.

Trekking is possible at any time of the year depending on where one is going. The most popular seasons are spring (February - May) and autumn (September-November). Winter is very cold above 4,000m and high mountain passes may be snowbound but it is good for trekking at lower altitudes. During the monsoon season (June-August) you can trek in rain-shadow areas of the northern areas of regions like Mustang, Upper Manang and Dolpo. These places are out of reach of the rain clouds because they lie beyond the high mountains whcih block off the monsoon clouds. Some of the interesting trekking places to visit in this region:

ANNAPURNA AREA:

The Annapurna Circuit:


The Annapurna Circuit attracts a relatively high number of trekkers in Nepal. As the name itself suggests, this trail goes on a circuitous route around the entire Annapurna massif, visiting the Tibet-like country on the northern slopes of the Himalaya and the dramatic Kali Gandaki gorge. Much of the trek is through lowland country, but there is one high pass, "Thorung La" (5,380m). The trail over the pass is steep but in good shape and not hard to follow. This is the one point of the entire circuit where you really feel you are amidst the mountains. However you should be aware of altitude sickness and be prepared for weather extremes as the Thorung La is notorious for changing its moods. The pass is usually snowbound and un-crossable form mid-December to mid-April.

he Kali Gandaki gorge is another spell binding part of this trip. Known to be the worlds deepest river gorge the trail upto the Jomsom (and Upper Mustang) actually goes side by side with the river giving the lonely trekker company and groups something to talk about. Thus the Annapurna circuit is an extraordinary trek, truly one of the world's best. It requires at least three weeks. But due to the popularity of this route it can sometimes tend to be crowded.

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The Annapurna Sanctuary:

This is probably the most ideal trek: lovely, short and intense, a direct route into the heart of the Himalaya. Spectacular mountain vistas and easy access make it among the most popular treks, with over 10,000 visitors per year. The sanctuary is a hidden pocket of meadow, moraine and glacier, ringed by magnificent sheer-walled 6,000 - 8,000 meter peaks: the Annapurnas, Gangapurna, Machhapuchhare, Himchuli.

The trek requires ten to fourteens days and begins from Pokhara, passing through lowland villages and rice terraces to mountain glaciers. The trail rises nearly 2000 m in the last 8 km and one needs to plan for acclimatization. The trail is frequently slippery and there's danger of avalanches in few places, so early spring and winter trekking is unlikely. Accommodation in the lower portion (at least in Chhomrong) are deluxe; the upper stretch is understandably simple - no body lives up there for long time.

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Jomsom:

Easily accessible via a 20-minute flight from Pokhara, Jomsom lies nestled beneath the splendor of Mount , Nilgiri. For those of you not inclined to make it to the mountains the hard way, i.e. slogging it on foot step by step in a gradual process, taking the US$ 50 flight to Jomsom from Pokhara is the ideal alternative. Jomsom, at an altitude of 2,700 meters lies tucked in between two giant mountain ranges, the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri- both reach out to the sky beyond 8,000 meters at their highest points, and although these ranges are around 35 kilometers apart, consider yourself to be technically positioned at the bottom of the world's deepest gorge, the Kali Gandaki Valley with a spectacular view of Mt. Nilgiri looming ahead like a huge snowy pyramid.

From Jomsom, one may venture on to leisurely treks for a day or two northwards to Kagbeni or southwards to Marpha, Tukuche, and Lete-Kalopani all of these places can be reached with effortless walking on an almost leveled surface. On the other hand, should the rarefied mountain air hinder your walking ability; you may choose to explore the area on a pony that can be made available by your hotel at a reasonable price. Food and board around Jomsom could probably be described as being the best among all the trekking regions of the country. All the better hotels provide cosy rooms that come with attached bath with running hot water. With three to four flights coming in from Pokhara every day, the larders of most restaurants are well stocked with fresh meat and vegetables.

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Muktinath Trek;

This major Himalayan highway follows the gorge of the Kali Gandaki River, crossing from subtropical jungle to high-altitude desert in less than one week. Mixed in the stream of international trekkers are Hindu saddhus (ascetic) walking to Muktinath and jingling mule trains heading down from Tibet loaded with bales of wool. Both are reminders of the trail's status as a major trade and pilgrimage route, an important cultural corridor across the Himalaya.

The end point is the ancient shrine of Muktinath (3,170 meters), one of Nepal's holiest pilgrimage sites. There's no real village, but lodges around the lower portion (Ranipauwa) put up pilgrims and trekkers. The ancient holy site is a typically confusing blend of natural, Buddhists and Hindu beliefs. The little Newari-style pagoda to Lord Vishnu is a relatively recent addition. Muktinath has been sacred for over 2000 years; the Hindu holy book Mahabharata mentions it as Shaligrama, "Place of the Shaligram,"the black fossil stones sacred to Vishnu and found in abundance in the Kali Gandaki valley. Its holiness stems from flickering blue flames of natural methane gas burning on water, stone and earth, and now enclosed in the shrine of Jwala Mai below the Vishnu temple. Near the pagoda, there is 108 spouts, shaped like bulls' heads, where devout pilgrims bathe in the freezing water to purify their sins and earn mukti or spiritual liberation.

The place has ancient association for Buddhists as well; Guru Rinpoche is said to have passed through here en route to Tibet, leaving his footprints in a rock. There are many old Buddhist temples around here.

The entire trek to Muktinath remains below 3000 meters. One should figure at least two weeks to walk in and out, allow a few extra days for exploration- the upper region in particular is lined with fascinating villages. Flying into Jomsom and walking back down is possible, but one should remember to acclimatize before climbing to Muktinath. One can fly from Jomsom to either Kathmandu or Pokhara.

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THE EVEREST REGION

The classic walk through the Sherpa homeland of Solu-Khumbu is a tough trek with a clearcut goal - to see Mt. Everest, the highest peak of the world. There are many ways to trek in this area. One can either walk all the way up and back, or walk one way and fly out on the way back, or fly in and out depending on the time at hand and inclination. The first requires a month, the second just about three weeks and the third at least two weeks.

Most Everest trekkers avoid the hardest walking by flying in and out of Lukla airstrip. If you have got time and energy, the walk in from Jiri through the Sherpa's traditional homeland is worth the extra effort. It passes through the lovely region called Solu and the narrow gorge of the Dudh Kosi (Pharak) to reach the high mountain region of Khumbu in a little over a week. Khumbu is exceptionally at high altitude with trekking routes going up to 5,400 meters. Solu can be trekked year around while Khumbu's trekking season is limited. October-November and March-May are the busiest trekking season of Khumbu. Besides good weather, this period offers the five-day Dumje festival (usually April) and the masked Mani Rimdu dances held at major monasteries in spring and fall. Khumbu is a good region for a monsoon trek. High pastures are full of wildflowers and grazing yaks, and the people are relaxed, taking a well-deserved break from trekking and expedition work.

Namche Bazaar (3,446 m), the modern Sherpa capital, is the nerve center of upper Khumbu: from here the trails branch out to explore at least four separate high valleys. It's a cosmopolitan little village, a good place to pick up tips on trails and conditions from descending trekkers. Food prices skyrocket above here, since all supplies must be carried in from a distance; budget extra for this trip.It is the entrance to the Everest region Situated in the lap of the Khumbu Himal range,Namche Bazaar is about 24 km from Kathmandu and the distance is generally covered within 15 days by trekking. This place is the home of the legendary Sherpas, who have won international reknown as the world's most sturdy climbers with an indomitable will to scale peaks. One can fly from Kathmandu to Lukla and Syangboche in the Everest region. At Lukla accommodations are available in Sherpa huts and lodges Lukla is the most popular base for trekking in the Khumbu region. Days could be spent hiking and visiting the Sherpa villages, Thyangboche Monastery, Khunde Hospital, Khumjung Hilary School and trekking towards the Everest Base Camp. Accommodations are available at Thyangboche, Debuche, Pheriche, Pangboche, Lobuche and Gorakhshep.
Phaplu Another scenic place that is also easily accessed via air is Phaplu which has direct flights from Kathmandu. Phaphlu is in the eastern district of Solu-Khumbu, famous for its Sherpas. From here, you can hike into little known corners of Sherpa territory, and bask in the mountains' glow, yet return at night to the warmth of the Sherpa Lodge in Phaplu bazaar.
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LANGTANG REGION

The trek up the Langtang valley is another of those finest mountain treks. Situated directly north of Kathmandu, this region has three relatively short yet interesting treks: Langtang, Helambu and Gosainkund. The regions are usually visited separately but can be combined in as 16-day trip. Lower regions like Helambu are perfect for winter treks and in springtime this region's rhododendrons are especially beautiful.The people are a mixture of Tamang, Sherpa and Bhotia. Food and lodging are easily available along the main routes.

Langtang:

Langtang, at 3,307m above sea level, extends from north of Helambu to all the way up to the Tibetan Border. It is the largest village of the region despite its small size. Its upper valley is a grazing paradise, rich in flowers and grass and dotted with stone huts used in the summer time for butter making. Sewn in skins and exported to Tibet to flavor tea and fuel monastery lamps, butter was once the region's major industry. It is generally a thirteen day trip, counting transportantion time and a day above Kyangjin and Gosaikund, the sacred lake devoted to Lord Shiva.

Helambu:

The trek to Helambu is one that remains open for twelve months of the year. It is the most easily accessible of all trekking regions. Helambu is below 3000 meters and creates few altitude problems. The trek provides a sudden, dramatic contrast between higher and lower areas of Helambu. The higher region consists of pleasant forests, interesting Sherpa villages and offers stunning mountain views. The lower valley is comparatively dull and depressing hot much of the year.

Gosainkunda (Famous religious place):

One of Nepal's most famous religious places of pilgrimage is Gosainkunda lake situated at an altitude of about 4360m. Surrounded by high mountains on the north and east, this lake is grand and picturesque. There are nine other famous lakes such as Saraswati, Bhairav, Sourya and Ganesh Kunda. Every year during Janai Purnima in August, thousands of Hindu pilgrims come here to take a holy bathe in the lake. The large rock in the center of the lake is said to be the remains of a Shiva shrine and it is also claimed that channel carries water from the lake directly to the tank at the Kumbheshwar Temple in Patan,

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REMOTE AREAS

Beyond the aforementioned "Big Three" trekking regions of Nepal, Nepal is basically a virgin territory for trekkers. Trekking off the main paths is not only possible, but can be immensely rewarding, though you need a sense of adventure and an increased ability to deal with the unexpected. The treks range from teahouses to wilderness hikes. Frequently they combine both aspects by crossing over one or two uninhabited passes. You need extra time to get beyond the standard routes, however, as said rewards are great - not just mountain views, but increased contact with a wide range of Nepalis, and the chance to glimpse a completely different way of life.

Fascinating Regions Dolpo;

The best known of the many isolated high Himalayan valleys across the northern Nepal, Dolpo preserves one of the last remnants of traditional Tibetan culture. Legend says it's a bayul, one of the "hidden valleys" created by Guru Rinpoche as a refuge for devout Buddhists in troubled times. Surrounded by high mountains including the Dhaulagiri massif to the southeast rand cut off by high passes closed by snow half the year, Dolpo's easiest access is from Tibet, where its' people emigrated from perhaps thousand of years ago.
Upper Dolpo shelters about 6,000 people, whose lives revolve around Buddhism, barley, and yaks; their villages (over 4,260 meters) are among the highest settlements on earth. A large portion of Dolpo has been set aside as Shey-Phoksumdo National Park, at 3,555 sq.km. The park shelters blue sheep, Himalayan black bear, leopards, wolves and the elusive snow leopard. Largely thanks to "The Snow Leopard" book and Oscar nominated movie, "Caravan," Dolpo is the best known of Nepal's remote northern border regions. One needs to get trekking permit from Department of Immigration in Kathmandu or Pokhara to visit this fascinating region. Check out travel faq for more information on this. Phoksumdo lake at 3,627m is the most fascinating part of the whole trek in Dolpo. The lake is a basin of unearthly turquoise blue ringed by rocky crags and forest, framed by snowcapped peaks.

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Rara Lake:

Rara lake, the largest lake of the country, is a major destination among the treks in western Nepal. The lake, located within the Rara National Park, is perched on a high shelf, encircled by gray ridges and pine forested hills inhabitated by beers, jungle cats and deer. The trail leading to the lake was built as a horse trail for His Majesty King Mahendra's 1964 visit to Rara. Access to Rara Lake is from Jumla, which can be reached by flight or by walking for around ten days from Surkhet in western Nepal. A trip to the lake and back to Jumla takes just about ten days.

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Kanchanjunga

Kanchanjunga, referred as "Five Great Treasures of the Snows", is the third highest mountain of the world that lies at the eastern border of Nepal at an altitude of 8,586m. It takes at least two weeks' walk to reach the destination, Khangchenjunga base camp. There are two Kanchanjunga base camps - north and south, and the usual trek involves reaching either of them. It is possible to visit these both camps, but it takes a much longer time and moreover both are very difficult to cross. This region requires a trekking permit from Department of Immigration from either Kathmandu or Pokhara. The trekking fee for one person per week for the first four weeks is US$10 and US$ 20 per week thereafter.

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Upper Mustang - Kingdom of Lo:

Upper Mustang, an arid barren land with pockets of fertile oases, is very different from any other parts of Nepal. In fact, the kingdom of Lo share similar culture and geography of Tibet. The lifestyle of Lo, people of Lo, is also unique and to date remains untouched by modernity. The trek to Upper Mustang requires a trekking permit from Department of Immigration of Kathmandu or Pokhara. The trekking fee is around US$ 700 per person for the first ten days and US$ 70 per person per day thereafter. You should remember to get trekking permit only through the registered trekking agencies. The trip to the capital of Mustang and back takes around two weeks and can be done by partly retracing the way in or by taking a circuitous trail through the outposts of this ancient pilgrimage.

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