Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park located at North East India is one of the most popular ecological sites in the Indian subcontinent. The national park is popular for hosting the two-third population of the One-horned Rhinos in the world. Established during the British Raj in 1908, it boasts the most varied flora and fauna in the entire nation.


Overview

Kaziranga National Park 430 km2 is located in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam, India. The park is located on the edge of Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot. Even though it was established in 1908, the park was added to the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO only on 1985.

Kaziranga
Kaziranga

The park is popular for hosting the largest amount of One-horned Rhinos along with Royal Bengal Tigers. Kaziranga is home to the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world, and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006.

The park experiences 3 different weathers; Summer, Monsoon and Winter. During Monsoon (Jul-August), most part of the park is submerged into water, due to rising level of water from rainfall and flooding.

History

The history of the national park dates back to 1904 when Mary Curzon, Baroness Curzon of Kedleston and the wife of the then Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon of Kedleston, visited the area. After failing to see a single rhinoceros, for which the area was renowned, she persuaded Lord Curzon to take immediate measure to protect the lessening Rhino species in the region.

On 1 June 1905, the Kaziranga Proposed Reserve Forest was created with an area of 232 km2.

One Horned Rhinos

[Full Article One-horned Rhino]

There are over 2,200 One-horned Rhinos in the Kaziranga area, approximately 2/3 of their entire population. One Horned Rhino is endemic to Indian subcontinent. Found mostly in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, they have been listed in the IUCN Red list for the most vulnerable animals, and only about 3,000 are left in the wild.

One-horned Rhino at Kaziranga
One-horned Rhino at Kaziranga

Rhinos are one of the most hunted and poached animals in the history. The passionate hunters from 20th Century reduced their numbers from thousands to mere few hundreds.

The activity of rampant poaching which started in the 1990s made them even more scarce. They were being mostly poached for their horns, which are believed to carry medicinal qualities. The local authorities and UNESCO helped prevent poaching in the Kaziranga park. Today, it boasts the most amount of Rhinos in the world.

These rhinos live in tall grasslands and riverine forests but due to habitat loss they have been forced into more cultivated land. They are mostly solitary creatures, with the exception of mothers and calves and breeding pairs, although they sometimes congregate at bathing areas.

Preservation

Kaziranga contains significant breeding populations of 35 mammalian species, of which 15 are threatened as per the IUCN Red List. It is also home to a variety of migratory birds, water birds, predators, scavengers, and game birds.

Four main types of vegetation exist in this park. These are alluvial inundated grasslands, alluvial savanna woodlands, tropical moist mixed deciduous forests, and tropical semi-evergreen forests. The park is mostly an expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests.

The area is controlled by the Government of Assam. They receive financial aid from the state government and the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change of India.

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The Tale of Machhapuchhre

Machhapuchhre or the Fishtail is also known as the virgin peak because no human has ever conquered its summit. There are many stories and folklore in Nepal dedicated to the mountain, however, very few of them clarify why the peak has never been climbed.


Overview

Machhapuchhre standing at 6,993 meters is one of the small peaks of Nepal. It is popularly known for its majestic and unadulterated beauty, and the unique geography of its summit which gave its name ‘Fishtail’.

machhapuchhreThe peak lies just opposite the Annapurna massif and is closely connected to the Hindu God Shiva. It is believed among the Hindus that Shiva lives atop the mountain hence the peak is forbidden from climbing.

The trekkers doing the Annapurna Base Camp Trek must pass through the Machhapuchhre Base Camp. The peak from the base camp is up close. It is also seen from Pokhara, a tourist city located 23 km away from the mountain. The peak dominates almost every photo taken at the Pokhara due to its promising visibility.

History

It is generally believed that the peak hasn’t yet been climbed because it holds an important religious position among the Gurung inhabitants of the region.

One popular story goes as such;

In fact, it was a member of that expedition, one Wilfrid Noyce, who came the closest anybody ever has to the summit on a 1957 expedition. The king of Nepal had asked Noyce to respect Hindu religious customs and not set foot on the summit. He and his climbing companion, A.D.M. Cox, turned back 150 feet short of the summit. This expedition produced the only climbing record of this mountain, a very rare book called Climbing the Fish’s Tail.

However, the reason for not being able to scale the peak is more personal than religious. Col. Jim Roberts, a British Gurkha officer who led both the reconnaissance (1956) and expedition (1957) teams to the mountain, had to retreat just 45 meters short of the summit due to heavy snowfall.

Dr. Harka Gurung points out,

Col. Roberts happened to be Military Attache at the British Embassy in Kathmandu and it is not difficult to imagine that his sentimental advice to the Foreign Ministry (that handled expeditions) regarding Machhapuchhre’s sanctity influenced the fate of the mountain. ref

Dr. Harka, along with other stakeholders of tourism industry, believe that the mountain should be opened for the climbing, whilst more employment can be generated.

In his memoirs, Col. Roberts mentions,

So Machhapuchhre became for me the ideal mountain, a personal possession yet out of this world, unattainable but mine by illogic right, brooding over a country and a people which will shape the rest of my life.

The High Passes of Everest

The High Passes trek is one of the most challenging treks available in Nepal. Located entirely at the Everest (Khumbu) region, you must cross three individual passes which are above 5,000 meters.


Overview

It is comparatively a lengthier trek compared to most other treks in the region. Kongma La 5,535 m, Renjo La 5,360 m and Cho La 5,368 m are classified as the 3 high passes.

  • The first leg of the trek begins at Lukla, a small airport town in Khumbu. The trail ascends up towards Renjo La and Gokyo valley.
  • The second leg of the trek passes through Cho La Pass, and towards the Everest Base Camp. You can hike up the Kala Patthar 5,643 meters as well.
  • The third leg takes you towards the Kongma La Pass, and concedes at Lukla.

Renjo La Pass

Renjo La is one of the high passes located in Everest region at an elevation of 5,360 m (17,585 ft). It is the first pass you reach, following the path leading to Gokyo.

The Renjo La trail is quite strenuous; snowfall during winter makes it difficult to attempt the pass. Renjo La and surrounding regions are culturally Tibetan and Sherpas are the indigenous tribesmen.

Cho La Pass

Cho La at 5,420 m (17,782 ft) is another high pass located along Gokyo trail in Khumbu valley. It connects the village of Dzongla to the east and the village of Thagnak  to the west.

One can cross Ngozumpa glacier on the way to Cho La. To the east the trail joins the classic Everest Base Camp route.

Crossing Cho La can be physically demanding. One can get best view of Lobuche peak from the top. Crampons come handy while crossing the snows.

Kongma La Pass

Kongma La at 5,535 m (18,160 ft) is another high pass located between Chjukung village and Lobuche. it is the final pass located to the east of Everest Base Camp. It is also the highest pass among the three passes. The panorama of surrounding mountains is quite amazing when seen from Kongma La.


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Annapurna Conservation Area (ACAP)

ACAP is one of the first conservation projects undertaken in Nepal to conserve, protect and decentralize the nature conservation attempts. It spans over 5 different districts and covers the entire Annapurna massif. It is also the largest conservation areas available in Nepal.


Overview

Annapurna Conservation Area or ACAP is located at the mid-western region of Nepal. It covers 7,629 sq.km and spans over 5 different districts, namely; Manang, Mustang, Kaski, Myagdi and Lamjung. The ACAP HQ is located at Ghorepani village, one of the most visited tourist places in Nepal.

ACAP
ACAP

The area has two distinctive climatic regions within a span of 120 km. The southern hills of ACAP region receive frequent rainfall, whereas, the northern most parts receive no or less rainfall, hence, the latter are known as rain-shadow areas.

The deepest gorge in the world – Kali Gandaki, and Annapurna I – Eight-Thousander, is located inside the ACAP.

Gurung and Magar are the predominant ethnic tribes in the lower ACAP regions, whereas Thakali, Manange and Loba are mostly found in the higher regions.

Tourism is undoubtedly one of the major benefactor of the ACAP project. The proceeds received from the permits are used for the local conservation programs.

Wildlife & Flora

ACAP is rich in biodiversity and is a haven for the 1,226 species of flowering plants, 102 mammals, 474 birds, 39 reptiles and 22 amphibians.

History

ACAP was launched in 1986 with the initiation of King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation (KMTNC) to protect the environment with sustainable community development in Annapurna area by the local people without any intervention from the Nepalese Government and/or any other institutions.

It was gazetted in 1992 and is managed by the National Trust for Nature Conservation. The main motto of the project is to conserve the resources, tourism management, community development, education and extension.

ACAP with the participation of the trekkers have been able to increase the standard of living of the local population, protect the environment and develop sustainable tourism.


Trekking

A trekker is required to obtain an ACAP permit before entering the region.

The ACAP covers;

  1. Annapurna Base Camp
  2. Ghorepani-Poon Hill
  3. Lower/Upper Mustang
  4. Annapurna circuit
  5. Sikles trail

Hence, anyone doing these treks must obtain the ACAP permits. The region receives more than 100,000 trekkers in a year, mainly due to the popularity of the base camp and circuit trails.

Entry Permit/Fee

  • SAARC National – Rs. 200/ USD 2
  • Non-SAARC National (Except Nepalese) – Rs. 2,000/USD 20

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5 Fun Facts about Samosa (Cuisine)

Samosa is probably the most favorite snack in the entire South Asia. It is part of a daily diet of the most people. However, there’s more to its history than just being a favorite snack. Samosa has its roots in the old Persian culture.


Overview

Samosa is a triangular shaped cuisine, filled with various ingredients and are generally fried before serving. It’s generally eaten hot and with assorted pickles. A famous snack of most people in South Asia, most sweet makers, diners and street vendors sell Samosas on a daily basis.

Its gastronomy is divided into two parts; Cone and fillers. Cone is generally made up of beaten flour; and the filler may vary according to geographic regions and cultures.

The Samosa filled with mashed potato and vegetables are the most famous kinds found in South Asia. Most Muslim households and northern regions of South Asia, Central Asia and Middle East add minced meat (Mutton, Chicken or Beef) with various spices or rich dry fruits and sweets such as Halwa as the filler.

History

Silk route trade
Silk route trade

Samosa is claimed to have originated in the Middle Eastern milieu before 10th Century. The word Samosa and the early ingredients has roots in Persian culture. It is believed to have been brought by the traders traveling from Central Asia to South and East Asia through the silk route.

It was introduced to the Indian subcontinent in 13th or 14th century by the traders. Since then, the locals have acquired the taste for it and have reintroduced their own samosa filled with vegetables which are commonly eaten today.

The chroniclers of Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Dynasty have mentioned about Samosa which were mostly eaten by the royals during the meal and were generally filled with meat or fruits/sweets.


Fun Facts

  1. Despite the popular belief, a vegetable samosa has lesser calories, less than 300 cal, and are generally healthier meal option if cooked properly with right ingredients.
  2. Vegetable samosas are the most common kind of Samosa eaten around the world. Its counterpart, Samosa with minced meat are generally eaten in certain geographic regions or cultures; Muslims, Turks, Persians, Middle-eastern tribes, Tibeto-Burmese and Northern Himalaya tribes.
  3. Samosa can be eaten as it is or can be prepared into various other popular Indian cuisines, such as; Samosa chat, Samosa Chole, Samosa Paav etc.
  4. The shape of Samosa resembles the Pyramids. The word Samsa was originally named after the Pyramids of Middle east.
  5. Samosas were introduced in western societies through Indian cuisines which included vegetable samosas.

Kumari – The Living Goddess

Kumari symbolizes a goddess like figure who is revered by the inhabitants of Kathmandu. Also known as the living goddess, a young girl is specially chosen through intricate customs and traditions to be declared a goddess for a certain period of time.


Kumari Jatra

Kumari Jatra/festival celebrates the Kumari, a virgin deity. A custom started by King Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu, offers tribute to the major goddess Taleju Bhawani. Kumari is popularly known to be the incarnation of Taleju Bhawanai.

Kumari overlooking from Kumari Ghar
Kumari

The procession of Kumari, accompanied by the relics of Bhairava and Ganesha, is carried out in a chariot throughout Kathmandu city for 3 days following the Indra Jatra. The first day procession leads through downtown Kathmandu; the second leads through the uptown; and the final procession is carried out in the midtown.

The selection process of Kumari is an elaborate affair, headed by the Newar Buddhist priests. The operation is carried out in accord to the law dictated by Vajrayana Buddhism. The girls aged 4-7 are pre-screened and selected for a task involving meeting the deities in a dark room. The one who remains composed and calm throughout the process is declared the goddess. The locals believe that the spirit of Taleju Bhawani enters the body of the girl hence giving her the spiritual identity, and the term of being a goddess remains until her first menstruation.

Legend says,

Taleju Bhawani was the king’s political and social advisor and would give important tips to the king on good governance. However, during one of their meetings, the king, overwhelmed by desire, attempted to rape the goddess inside the Taleju Bhawani temple, prompting the goddess to disappear and vow never to appear before the king again. Worried by the goddess’ proclamation, the king begged her to reconsider her decision. Taking sympathy on the poor king, Taleju pledged to reside within the Kumari, a virgin girl from the city.

Jaya Prakash Malla identified the right Kumari and built a palace for her in the Hanumandhoka area. In honour of Taleju Bhawani and the Kumari, he began a separate procession called the Kumari Jatra, which happened to fall on the third day of Indra Jatra.

It is celebrated as a part of the greater festival Yenya Punhi or the Indra Jatra. The festival belongs to the Newar community of Kathmandu valley, the predominant inhabitants of the region. Celebrated as a street festival, it carries a historic and mythological significance to the bygone Malla Kingdom of Nepal.

Today, the festival is marked with grand processions and is observed by locals and tourists alike. It remains one of the major festivals of Nepal.

A Trip to Jomsom & Muktinath

Jomsom is a small town located in the discreet region of Mustang district. The Muktinath temple in the outskirts of Jomsom is major attraction of the region. A tourist destination, Jomsom is also an important economic and geographic hub connecting Nepal with Tibet.


Jomsom

Jomsom is the district headquarter of Mustang region. It connect Upper Mustang with other important cities in the South. Also known as Dzong-Sampa or New Fort,  it is located at the altitude of 2,700 meters; and covers Kali Gandaki river on both sides.

Kali Gandaki Gorge
Kali Gandaki Gorge

The Dhaulagiri and Nilrigi peaks are clearly visible from the town, along with the northern side of Annapurna mountain range.

It is 67 km away from the tourist city of Pokhara. You can choose to take a short flight, bus or jeep to Jomsom from Pokhara. The road can be treacherous throughout the year due to its poor condition. It goes along the side of Kali Gandaki until Jomsom, and passes through important towns of Beni, Parbat, Lete and Marpha.

The region is also popular for its unique apples and locally produced wine. Marpha exports most of its apples and wines to nearby towns.

It also forms a section of the greater Annapurna circuit trek and Upper Mustang trek. One must reach Jomsom to access the discreet Upper Mustang region, however, you aren’t required to obtain ‘restricted area’ permit to reach until Jomsom.

Muktinath

Muktinath is a temple located at the Muktinath town in the outskirts of Jomsom. Located at 3,710 meters on the foot of Thorong La pass, it is mostly visited by both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims.

In Hinduism, the temple is considered to be 106th among the available 108 Divya Desam (premium temples) considered sacred by the Sri Vaishnava sect. The Hindu pilgrims must visit the temple one their lifetime and offer prayer along with holy bath under the 108 stone taps available inside the temple premise.

In Buddhism, Muktinath is considered an important place of dakinis, goddesses known as Sky Dancers, and one of the 24 Tantric places. They understand the statue to be a manifestation of Avalokiteśvara, who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas.

It is believed that, Guru Ringpoche (the founder of Tibetan Buddhism) mediated at Muktinath before heading towards Tibet.

The temple is located 22 km away from the Jomsom town. One must take a locally available jeep, mule or bus to reach Muktinath. You can also choose to trek. The area is flourished with newly opened hotels, restaurants, shops and other services.

Due to its sheer altitude and geographical proximity, the temple remains inaccessible throughout Monsoon and Winter.


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Leah Thomas & Her Mera Peak Feat!

Leah Thomas (26) hails from Vermont, USA. An outdoor enthusiast, she guides rock climbing trips at Cat Ba, Vietnam through Asia Outdoors.

She recently completed her 17 days trip to Mera Peak summit. An arduous climb, Mera Peak makes up for the highest climbable small peaks in Nepal. At 6,476 meters, Mera Peak makes an exciting trip which includes both trekking and minimal climbing experience.

She says,

From the start, Caravan Outdoors was really easy to work with. I talked mostly to Salman who helped me through each step of the process of getting signed and getting to Nepal. I had never done anything like this before, climbing a peak, and they were very helpful in directing me to what I needed to get and do before arriving.

I ended up being the only one on my trip, but it was great. I summited Mera Peak (6400+ meters) which I had my doubts on doing since I was coming directly from sea level, but was able to do it with no major problems!

It was a great experience, the guides were amazing, the trip was amazing! I can’t say enough good things, I’m already looking to go back and do anther trip!

From Her #Insta



I like the suffering. I like being tired and cold and exhausted at the end of the day, I even like knowing that I have to do it all again the next day. I like knowing that it doesn't matter that I haven't showered in weeks, that I haven't changed my clothes in weeks. Out here you can separate yourself from society, from all those social norms that you're required to do. The being exhausted, dirty, hungry, sweaty, cold, hot is part of the adventure. The suffering is part of the thrill. Knowing that you and only a select few others are willing to go through something so painful and difficult, yet come out the other side wanting to do it all again, creates a close community found no where else. There is pain in suffering. There is also great adventure. . . #sufferfest #sufferinginadventure #type2fun #nepal #trekking #longdistance #adventure #liveformore #dontjustexist #live #adventuremore #travelmore #travelwander #seemore #domore #pushlimits

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Gosainkunda Lake

Gosainkunda is one of the most revered sites inside Nepal. The lake situated at Gosainkunda is visited by millions of devotees and tourists throughout the year. It’s mostly visited during the local festival of Janai Purnima.


Overview

Gosainkunda is a fresh water oligotrophic  lake located inside the Langtang National Park of Rasuwa district. Situated at the altitude of 4,380 meters, you must trek for days before reaching the holy lake. It has a surface area of 13.4 ha; and it was declared a Ramsar site back in 2007.

The lake freezes and remains inaccessible throughout October-February. Spring (March-June) and Autumn (September-October) are the best times to visit Langtang region. The weather remains clear during these times of the year.

It makes up for many sources forming the Trishu river. There are 108 smaller/larger lakes in the area.

Legend & Pilgrimage

Lord Shiva
Lord Shiva

The Hindu mythology of Puranas attributes Gosaikunda as the abode of the Hindu deities Shiva and Gauri. The Hindu scriptures and the epics Ramayana & Mahabharata refer to Samudra manthan (Churning of the Sea), which is directly related to the origin of Gosaikunda.

It is believed, Lord Shiva created the lake when he thrust his trident into a mountain to extract water to quench his thirst after swallowing the poison.

The water of the lake is considered holier and significant during the events of Gangadashahara and Janai Purnima. Thousands of pilgrims make a visit on foot to Gosainkunda during these festivals.

Trekking

Gosainkunda forms a greater trekking trail in Langtan region. It can be reached during both Dhunche-Helambu trek and Langtang trek.

Lauribina La Pass at the altitude of 4,610 meters forms the toughest part of the treks. The surrounding mountains of Langtang Lirung and Ganesh Himal are clearly visible during the trek. The farthest you can reach is at Kyanjin Gompa inside the national park.

Langtang National Park was established in 1976 as the first Himalayan national park in Nepal. It covers an area of 1,710 kmand covers 3 different districts, namely; Nuwakot, Rasuwa and Sindhupalchok.


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Langtang National Park

Langtang National Park is located inside Langtang region of western Nepal. The fourth national park of Nepal is also the first Himalayan national park, and the expanse of the park reaches 3 different districts. It is also home to one of the rarest animals in the world; Red Panda.


Overview

Langtang National Park was established in 1976 as the first Himalayan national park in Nepal. It covers an area of 1,710 kmand covers 3 different districts, namely; Nuwakot, Rasuwa and Sindhupalchok.

Kyanjin Gompa
Kyanjin Gompa

The area extends from 32 km north of Kathmandu to the Nepal-China border. The inhabitants of the region are culturally Tibetan and are mainly the adherent of Buddhism.

While the main reason for the park is to preserve the natural environment, an equally important goal is to allow local people to follow traditional land use practices that are compatible with resource protection.

Tamang tribe of people are the major inhabitants of the region, followed by Sherpas. The former were the followers of Bon religion, which later got assimilated into Buddhist teachings.

Wildlife & Vegetation

Around 25% of the park area is forested. The northern part is mostly covered by mountains. The region is home to wild dog, red panda, pika, muntjac, musk deer, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan tahr, ghoral, serow, rhesus monkey and common langur.

The most available vegetation at lower Langtang regions are Oaks, Chirpine, Maple, Fir, Blue pine, Hemlock spruce and various species of rhododendron.

Langtang Lirung

Langtang Lirung
Langtang Lirung

Langtang Lirung is the highest mountain located inside the park. Par of the Langtang Himalayan range, it is measured at 7,234 meters. It’s included in the short peaks of Nepal and is opened for climbing.

It was first climed in 1978 by Seishi Wada and Pemba Tsering, from a Japanese-Sherpa expedition, via the East Ridge route.

Trekking

Langtang makes up for one of the most sought for trekkings in Nepal. A comparatively shorter trek than Everest and Annapurna, the highest you may reach during the trek is 4,983 m at Tsergo Ri.

The trek may last anything from 11 to 15 days, and it may take you to Gosainkunda lake, Tsergo Ri and Kyanjin Gompa.

The region was heavily devastated during the major earthquake of 2015, however, the locals have rebuilt the region, and today it’s is fully operational. Langtang Trek is suitable for all kinds of hikers. You must be accompanied by a guide to enter the region; a strict policy maintained by the government of Nepal in light of unforeseen accidents in the region.

From mid-October to mid-December and from mid-February until mid-April the weather is usually clear but cold at higher elevations. From mid-April to mid-June, it is warm but often cloudy with thunder showers, spring flowers are at their best.


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