Tilicho -The Highest Lake in the World

Tilicho Lake at Manang is known to be the lake situated at the highest altitude in the world. The oligotrophic glacial lake is a popular destination for the trekking  and is a part of the restricted region of Manang valley.


Overview

Tilicho Lake
Tilicho Lake

Tilicho Lake is located in the Manang district of Nepal, at around 55 km from Pokhara. It is situated at an altitude of 4,919 metres (16,138 ft) in the Annapurna range.

Due to its sheer altitude, it’s known as the highest lake in the world. The max length of the lake is 4 km, with the width of 1.2 km. The average depth is 85 meters.

The Lake collects the glacial melt of the entire northern slopes of Annapurna and Thorang Peak. In 2001, Hindu pilgrims in throngs flocked to the lake convinced it is a holy spot mentioned in the Ramayana – a holy book of the Hindus.

Khangsar, Tilicho, Muktinath and Nilgiri are few of the peaks surrounding the lake.

Tilicho Lake was the site of one of the highest ever altitude scuba dives. A Russian diving team, consisting of Andrei Andryushin, Denis Bakin, and Maxim Gresko, conducted a scuba dive in the lake in 2000.

Trekking

The lake is a part of the popular trek trails in the mid-western Nepal. You can consider visiting the lake by going offbeat from the Annapurna circuit or consider doing a trek straight to Manang during the Manang-Tilicho Trek.

It may take 5-8 days from Besi Sahar to reach the Tilicho Lake. The trail offers enough the-houses or lodges, hence camping isn’t required. The periphery of the lake doesn’t have any lodges, hence, you must consider staying at Tilicho Base Camp and only doing a day tour of the lake.


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The Pashupatinath Temple of Kathmandu

Pashupatinath Temple of Kathmandu is one of the holiest Hindu shrines in the world. A sacred place dedicated to Lord Shiva congregates more than 800,00 pilgrims during the grand festival of Maha Shiavratri. It is a popular tourist destination in Kathmandu.


Overview

The term Pashupatinath stands  for “Lords of all animals.” The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva (One of the Hindu Trinity) and also known as the lord of animals. A stone bull in a crouching position marks the insignia of the temple.

Lord Shiva
Lord Shiva

It’s located at the heart of Kathmandu. The area of Pashupatinath encompasses 264 hectares of land including 518 temples and monuments. Due to its historical and social importance, the entire site was added in the UNESCO Heritage Site in 1979.

The Maha Shivaratri is the major festival of all Hindus in South Asia which is celebrated with much awe inside Pashupatinath temple premise. It attracts over 800,000 visitors in a single day, one of the highest religious congregations in the world. Thousands of visitors, including; pilgrims, devotees, tourists, visit the temple everyday.

An animal sanctuary was established inside the area to protect the indigenous wildlife of the region. Antelope and other few animals reside inside the sanctuary; and it is open to tourists.

History

There isn’t certain date signifying the origin or creation of the temple. The earliest evidence of the temple dates back to 400 AD. The current temple was constructed or renewed in the 15th Century by the Lichhavi king of Kathmandu. Since, then many renovations have taken place; along with many temples, shrines built inside the premise.

Legends

There are many legends to the creation or origin of the temple.

The Cow Legend suggests,

Lord Shiva once took a form of an antelope and started roaming around Bagmati river. The Gods seeing this, caught him by his horn and forced him to take his self form. The separated horn was revered and prayed as the Linga. Centuries later, a herdsman found the linga buried inside the earth. Sine then, the shrine was established to pray to the Linga.

The Mahabharata Legend suggests,

When the Pandavs went to the Himalayas, Shiva tried avoiding them because they killed many people in during the Mahabharata war. To avoid them, he ran away in the form of a Bull. On being followed, the colossal Bull dived into the ground to resurface at other places. He left his hump at Kedarnath. When he resurfaced, he had assumed a human form and emerged at different areas in these mountains. His Face resurfaced at Rudranath. His Arms resurfaced at Tungnath. His Naval emerged at Madha Maheshwar. His Hair emerged at Kalpeshwar.

There are many other theories to the origin of the temple, which today are part of the popular folklore’s.

Arya Ghat (Crematory)

The banks of Bagmati river passing through the temple also serves as the cremation ground for the locals. Known as Arya Ghat, it is considered important mainly because the Ghat is the only place around the temple where the water is considered sacred enough to be brought into the temple.

You may witness people cremating their family or relatives at the ghat almost everyday. You can visit the site  during Kathmandu Day Tour.


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Dolpo – The Little Tibet of Nepal

The world came to know about Dolpo back in 1999 when Eric Valli captured the region in his Oscar nominated movie “Caravan.” The unique landscape and lifestyle of the ethnic Dolpo tribe shook the world. It opened Dolpo as the popular tourist getaway. Since then, thousands of tourists have visited the region.


Overview

Dolpo is a culturally Tibetan region located in the upper part of Dolpa District in western Nepal. Part of the region falls under Shey Phoksundo National Park, the largest national park of Nepal. The inhabitants are the adherents of Bon, the religion that predates main-stream Buddhism.

The region is historically divided into four valleys: Tsharka (good growing-place), Tarap (auspicious excellent), Panzang (abode of monks), and Nangkhong (innermost place). Most people divide the place into two different regions; Upper Dolpo and Lower Dolpo.

The acute location of the region makes it one of the rain-shadow areas of Nepal, hence, you can visit Dolpo even during the monsoon. The region receives less than 500 mm of rainfall in a year.

Inhabitant of Dolpo
Inhabitant of Dolpo

The inhabitants of the region are predominantly traders. They trade salt from Tibet to lower parts of Nepal in return of other household goods; and their journey from home to farther distances is facilitated by Yak Caravans. This very culture inspired the story of a popular movie Caravan which later came to be nominated in the Oscars.

Only 200 tourist permits are provided by the government in a year, to control the arrival of tourists and to preserve the ethnic culture of the region. Hence, the permits tend to cost expensive than most other parts of Nepal.

Check complete itinerary

USD 500 First 10 days
USD 50 For each day
Shey Phoksundo National Park

Shey Phoksundo National Park spans 3,555 km and was established in 1984. It is the largest and only trans-Himalaya National Park in Nepal. Covering the greater regions of Dolpa and Mugu, the park is home to some of the rarest flora and fauna found in the country.

It is home to 6 different species of reptiles and 29 butterflies. The wildlife, such as; Snow Leopard, Grey wolf, Musk deer, Blue sheep. Goral, Great Tibetan sheep, Himalayan Tahr, leopard, Jackal,Himalayan black bear and yellow-throated marten, dominate the region.

The park contains the famous Phoksundo Lake, which is also the deepest lake in Nepal, and Shey Gompa (Monastery), both of which are the major tourist attractions.


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National Park Entry Fees – Nepal

Park entry permit is a must to enter any National park, conservation area or wildlife reserve in Nepal. The entry fee may differ according to the security and state provided status of the region.

Please refer to the table below for details about payment. Please note that the information below is as per the information provided by the concerned department. Any difference or discrepancy could be reported at info@ntb.org.np. NPR 102 = USD $1


S.No Parks Nepali SAARC International Free Pay
National Parks that are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Natural)
1 Chitwan National Park NPR 100 NPR 750 NPR 1,500 Below 10yrs At entry point
2 Sagarmatha National Park Free NPR 1,500 NPR 3,390 (Inc. Vat) Below 10yrs DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu Or Entry Point Monjo
Other National Parks
3 Bardiya National Park NPR 50 NPR 500 NPR 1,000 Below 10yrs DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu
4 Khaptad National Park Free NPR 1,500 NPR 3,000 Below 10yrs DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu
5 Langtang National Park Free NPR 1,500 NPR 3,390 (Inc. Vat) Below 10yrs DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu Or Entry Point Dhunche
6 Makalu-Barun National Park Free NPR 1,500 NPR 3,390 (Inc. Vat) Below 10yrs DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu
7 Rara National Park Free NPR 1,500 NPR 3,390 (Inc. Vat) Below 10yrs DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu
8 Shey-Phoksundo National Park Free NPR 1,500 NPR 3,390 (Inc. Vat) Below 10yrs DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu
9 Shivapuri National Park NPR 56.5 NPR 339 NPR 565 (Inc. Vat) Below 10yrs
10 Banke National Park NPR 20 NPR 200 NPR 500 Below 10yrs DNPWC Counter, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu
Wildlife Reserves
11 Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve NPR 50 NPR 500 NPR 1,000 Below 10yrs At entry point
12 Parsa Wildlife Reserve NPR 50 NPR 500 NPR 1,000 Below 10yrs At entry point
13 Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve NPR 50 NPR 500 NPR 1,000 Below 10yrs At entry point

 

Island Vs Mera Peak

Nepal is an abode of Himalayas. It’s gifted with some of the most majestic mountains in the world. Out of the 14 Eight-Thousander peaks, 7 remains in Nepal. Along with these mighty mountains, there are 100s of smaller peaks which caters the enthusiastic climbers. These can be cheaper than climbing the Everest and can be completed with ease.

Island Peak and Mera Peak are the two most popular smaller peaks in Nepal. These two mountains attract the most amount of climbers in the country. The climb may account for a day or two, hence, it easier to undertake small peak climbing. An expert as well as an amateur climber  can complete the climb without the need of any expedition.

Here are some holistic differences between the two to help you decide better.


Island Peak

Island Peak or Imja Tse is a small peak located at the Khumbu region. It measures 6,189 meters (20,305 ft). It was named Island Peak by Eric Shipton’s party in 1951, since it appears as an island in a sea of ice when viewed from Dingboche.

An Alpine PD peak, you need to have proper technical skills to ascent the peak. Cramponing, harnessing and ice-axing is essential. A Sherpa guide will always be there to assist you during the climb. Most of  the trail encounters trekking, however, the last 400-500 m section requires climbing through snow and rocks.

The ascent is generally started during early morning. Around 2 am, you get up and ready to tackle the climb with your ice-axe, ropes and head-lamp. You may reach the summit around 11 am-12 pm in the morning. The rest of the time will be spent descending all the way to the Chhukung village, which offers better tea-house for lodging.

More on Island Peak Climb

Mera Peak

Mera Peak at 6,476 meters (21,247 ft) is known as the highest trekking peak in the world. An Alpine PD peak, it is technically superior than most smaller peaks in the region. it is located in the Hinku valley of northeastern Nepal. It contains 3 main summits. Most climbers take on Mera North, the highest of them all.

You would need proper technical skills to ascent the peak. Cramponing, harnessing and ice-axing will be equally essential. A proper  logistical support and qualified Sherpa guides will always be there to assist you. From the summit, 5 of the major peaks will easily be visible, including Mount Everest.

Most of the trail accounts for trekking. The final 600-700 meters ascent requires climbing through snow, rocks and ice. The ascent starts early morning. You may reach the summit by noon and back to Lower Base Camp by the evening.

More on Mera Peak Climb


Ascent Profile & Logistics

Mera and Island Peak
Mera and Island Peak

Both the trip starts and ends at Lukla. The commute to Lukla is facilitated by the domestic flights. You’d generally trek 10-12 days and keep 2 days for climbing. A spare summit day is kept in case you aren’t able to summit the previous day due to bad weather.

Island Peak’s summit is just 287 meters lesser in height than the Mera Peak’s summit. Both requires a good amount of ice-axing, alpine style of climbing through ropes and cramponing. As the summit generally lasts only a day, the lengthy climb may prove to be a fatiguing experience for the most climbers.


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10 Died Climbing the Everest in 2017

The Mount Everest has already usurped 10 innocent lives in 2017. The Spring season is popular for climbing the Everest, as the small window opens only for short time during May. Almost 509 climbing permits were issued for the Spring season.

373 permits were issued for summits from the Southern side (Nepal), while 136 were issued for summits from the Chinese side.

Brief History

Mount Everest stands at 8,848 meters, making it the highest peak in the world. It’s in the Mahalangur himalaya range and falls in Nepal and China on Southern and Northern side, respectively. The first successful ascent of Mount Everest was made on 1953 by the 9th British Expedition team, including; Edmund Hillary, John Hunt and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa.

Ever  since the commercialization of climbing in Nepal, more than 5,000 climbers have scaled the Everest. Most of the climbs took place only after 2000. The availability of logistics and assistants lately has made the expedition easier.

Reinhold Messner became the first person to climb Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen. Since then, many climbers have made a point to climb the Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen.

Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse
Mount Everest is the highest peak on Earth

Dead Indian Climber’s body to be retrieved

Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) is on a task to retrieve the body of an Indian climber Ravi Kumar who died while descending from the summit on May 28. He purportedly fell 200 meters from the route and into the crevasse.

The move to retrieve the body has come under scrutiny and criticism by the chairperson of NMA Ang Tshering Sherpa, as they are supposedly forced by the Indian embassy and the family of the deceased to retrieve the body.

It would have been a different thing if was alive. We should be mindful and not be taking the decision to get the body from such a danger zone. The family should understand that. It’s too dangerous to recover a body from such a difficult place ~Ang Tshering

Spanish climber makes a record

Kilian Jornet
Kilian Jornet

The 29 years old Spanish climber Kilian Jornet has summited the Everest without supplemental Oxygen twice in the same week.

He summited the mountain from the south and north sides. The first climb was completed in 26 hours, and the following climb was completed within 17 hours.

Today I felt good, although it was really windy so it was hard to move fast. I think summiting Everest twice in one week without oxygen opens up a new realm of possibilities in alpinism and I’m really happy to have done it. ~Kilian

Jokhang Temple: The Religious Landmark of Lhasa

Jokhang Temple is the most important and revered religious site in the entire Lhasa. A 1,300 years old monastery is dedicated to the Buddhists throughout the world.


Overview

Jokhang temple, also known as Qoikang Monastery or Zuglagkang, is the most revered religious site throughout Lhasa. It means “House of the Lords” in Tibetan, and is located at the center of the popular Barkhar market. It was founded by the King Songtsan Gampo in 647, the first ruler of the unified Tibet, and his two wives who are credited with bringing the Buddhism in Tibet.

Gilt roof of the Jokhang temple
Gilt roof of the Jokhang temple

The two-storeyed Jokhang is best visited in the morning, though the crowds of pilgrims can be thick. Access inside the temple is possible in the afternoon through a side entrance, but only the ground-floor chapels can be viewed (and then only through a grille) when there are no pilgrims.

It’s an important pilgrimage site for all the Tibetans. Most pilgrims arrive on foot often circumambulating around the Barkhar Street.

History

Constructed in the 7th century by the King Songtsan Gampo, it contains a statue of Sakyamuni Buddha that Chinese Princess Wen Cheng brought over 1300 years ago is the most venerated artifact in all of Tibet. The temple, a splendid four-floor building facing west under a guilded rooftop, is on Barkhor Square in the center of the old section of Lhasa.

Since the Chinese occupation in 1951, the temple has taken on a political role as the focus of Tibetan cultural identity and resistance.

During the Cultural Revolution, Red Guards (China) ambushed the Jokhang in 1966 and for a decade there was no worship in Tibetan monasteries. Renovation of the Jokhang began in 1972, and was mostly complete by 1980.


Legend

According to the legend, the temple was built on the lake site. It was profusely chosen because every time a monastery was built in the region, it would collapse. Princess Wen Cheng advised, they must demolish the hag, which was the main reason for crumbling buildings, by filling and leveling the lake using 1,000 goats to carry soil from a mountain far away.

When the construction was completed, the site was called Ra-Sa-Vphrul-Snang (‘ra’ meaning goat and ‘sa’ meaning earth) to commemorate those goats.

 

Po Cha (Tea), the Heritage of Tibet

Po Cha is a widely consumed tea in the Tibet and most countries surrounding the Himalayas. The assorted drink infused with locally available items is also a delicacy in most parts of South Asia, and carries the richer Tibetan heritage.


Overview

Po Cha or the Butter tea is also known as Tibetan tea, Cha Süma (Tibetan “churned tea”), Sūyóu chá (Mandarin) or Gur Gur in the Ladakhi language. It is a popular everyday drink consumed by the inhabitants of the Himalaya regions of Nepal, Bhutan, India and Tibet.

Traditionally, it’s made from Tibetan black tea, milk and unsalted Yak butter. Today, cow’s butter is popularly used while making the tea, mainly because of the easy availability and lesser cost. However, the inhabitants of Tibet still prefer to drink Po Cha with Yak’s butter.

History

Po cha
Butter Tea

The earliest history of the Po Cha goes back to medieval Tibet. It originated in the 7th century Tang Dynasty, however, it didn’t reach its current state until 13th century. The early migrants and traders from Tibet flourished the consumption of the tea to the other surrounding nations.

Today, the native Tibetans and most Mongol tribes residing in Nepal, Bhutan and India drink Po Cha on a daily basis.

The traditional process of making butter tea can take a long time and is pretty complicated. People use a special black tea that comes from an area called Pemagul in Tibet. The tea comes in the shape of bricks and can be crumbled and boiled for hours.


Preparation

  • 4 cups of water
  • Plain black tea (Preferablly Tibetan ethnic tea)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter (Unsalted butter from the female Yak)
  • 1/3 cup of Yak’s milk

Materials needed: One churn, blender, or some other large container with a tight lid to shake the tea up with.

The tea is boiled in water for half a day, achieving a dark brown color. It is then skimmed, and poured into a cylinder with fresh yak butter and salt and then churned. The purplish liquid is the end result of the churn which can be poured into clay tea-pots or the jars.

Nowadays, when modern method has bring variety of  tea style at home. People often make butter tea using tea bags, different types of butter available in the market and a blender.

Caucasian Ovcharka – The Shepherd Dog

Caucasian Ovcharka is the popular large breed dog found mostly in Central Asian nations. They are mostly bred to herd the cattle. Today, they are well adopted by families as the pet dog. Its ginormous size is matched only by the Tibetan Mastiff from South Asia.


The Shepard Dog

Molossus diagram
Molossus diagram

Caucasian Ovcharka, also known as Bashkan, Russian Bear Dog or Caucasian Shepherd dog, is a huge and strongly built canine. It’s  native to the Caucasus region of Central Asia and Europe. Historically, they were bred as the Shepherd dog, and were also used for other various purposes. They have an extremely strong guardian instinct and will exhibit a threatening behavior towards all strangers.

  • FCI Pinscher and Schnauzer, Molossoid and Swiss Mountain Dog Group
    • Section 2: Molossian breeds
      • Section 2.2: Mountain types
        • Russia: Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Even though, they are fun loving and calm animals, it’s suggested not to adopt the Shepard dog in a household with young children or by the novice pet-owners.

They can be trained at a very early age. An early socialization is also required to make them understand that not every human is an enemy. Due to its fierce guardianship, protectiveness and ability to take down a danger, most people fear coming around them.

Habitat & Size

They are mostly found in the Caucasus region of Central Asia and Europe, like; Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and some are also found in Russia and other European nations. An average canine can survive 10-12 years in domestic surrounding. They are known to very outdoor and agile animals. A regular exercise and diet is a must.

The minimum height for females is 64 cm, with a desirable height between 67 and 70 cm (26 and 28 in). The minimum weight for females is 45 kg. The minimum height for males is 68 cm, with a desirable height between 72 and 75 cm. The minimum weight for males is 50 kg.

Facts

  • The Caucasian Ovcharka is one of the oldest mastiff-type breeds, originating from the Caucasus Mountains between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.
  • Historically, the Caucasian Molossers were used to protect properties, guard livestock, and kill wolves. Today, especially outside the Caucasus, they are widely employed as companion animals and watchdogs, while in their native Caucasus they are still protecting sheep as well.
  • The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is generally healthy and long-lived, averaging a life span of 10–12 years.
  • Plain dogs have a shorter coat and appear taller as they are more lightly built. Mountain dog types have a heavier coat and are more muscularly built.
  • Unless properly socialized and trained, the Caucasian Shepherd may exhibit ferocious and unmanageable tendencies. It is very brave, alert, strong and hardy.
  • The modern show class Caucasian dog is a hybrid of established Caucasian types and some lines of the Central Asian dog.

 

A Trekker Rescued after 49 Days in the Mountains

One of the two trekkers, who were lost in the wilderness of Nepal for 49 days, was recently rescued. Unfortunately, the other trekker died just 3 days before the rescue was made. There has been few cases of trekkers missing in the Langtang region before.


Backstory

Liang and Liu
Liang and Liu

Liang Shang Yuen and girlfriend Liu Chen Chun, aged 21 and 19 respectively, were heading towards Langtang through Dhading’s Tipling and Pangsang Pass on February without a guide.

On March 11, they tried to descend in the hopes of finding a settlement near the river down valley. While descending, they slipped down on the snow and were trapped. Being unable to climb out of the place, they took shelter under a waterfall.

They survived 4-5 days on the food they had been carrying. After their supply ended, they managed to survive only on water and salt until they were discovered by the search team. Unfortunately, Liu Chen died just 3 days before the rescue team found them.

Rescue

A rescue was made with the joint effort of Taiwanese Embassy, Asian Trekking and Simrik Airlines.

21-year-old Liang Sheng Yueh was found Wednesday on a ledge under a waterfall and was flown by helicopter to a hospital in the capital, Kathmandu. He said the body of his girlfriend, 19-year-old Liu Chen Chun, was also taken to the capital.

The parents of the couple arrived in Kathmandu on March to find the whereabouts of their children. The rescue was assembled to locate the couple. Rescuers first scoured the area for two weeks before suspending their search, but resumed the search on April 20.

The team spotted the red tent almost after a month of search. Liang was found living inside the tent. The helicopter was immediately beckoned to evacuate the distressed trekker. Liang was transported to the hospital in Kathmandu. Another helicopter transported the body of Liu to Kathmandu.

He appears exhausted and lost some 30 kilograms of body weight. He was suffering from severe malnutrition. His foot was covered with maggots and hair full of lice. Despite having to live like that for 47 days, he appears to be mostly normal. ~Dr. Ajay Singh Thapa


Lantang Region

Langtang is a popular trekking region in Nepal. Due to its discreet nature, most of the region remains unexplored or offbeat for trekking. There has been few cases where the trekkers went missing while trekking in Langtang.

It was notified by the Government that a trekker must be accompanied by a certified guide while entering the region, back in 2012. The notice came after the severed body of a teenager Debbie Maveau was found who went missing in Langtang.

Most of the trek regions in Nepal are located in the remote areas, hence, taking a guide along becomes necessary. Anytime between March-May and September-November is considered best for the trekking.