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.

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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

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.

 

Bishazari Tal – The Local Heritage of Chitwan

Bishazari Tal is a local heritage and a popular tourist landmark of the Chitwan National Park. A designated Ramsar site is home to many wildlife and endangered species.


Overview

The Bishazari Tal, literally translates to 20,000 Lakes in English. Also spelled as Beeshazar Tal, it is an extensive oxbow lake system inside the Chitwan National Park in the Terai of Nepal. The designated Ramsar wetland covers an area of 7,900 acres.

It’s spelled बिस्हजार् ताल् in the Devnagari script.

The forested wetland provides excellent habitat for the critically endangered and vulnerable species including Bengal tiger, sloth bear, smooth-coated otter, one-horned rhinoceros, white-rumped vulture, Pallas’s fish-eagle, lesser adjutant stork, ferruginous duck, gharial and marsh crocodile.

A popular tourist destination lies in a close distance to Sauraha. It can be visited during or after the Jungle Safari.

Chitwan National Park

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The first national park of Nepal is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, and is home to some of the most endangered species of animal.

Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park

The southern plains of Nepal is known for its lush green vegetation, variety of yielding crops and wildlife. More than 150,000 tourists visit the park annually. It has a tropical monsoon weather which permits regular rainfall in the area throughout the year.

The massive hunting expeditions organized by royals members of Nepal, officers of British empire and other hunting enthusiasts during the 19-20th century caused most of the mass depletion of some of the exquisite animals from the region. Today, it acts as a home and buffer-zone for such endangered species.


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Kasthamandap – The Lost Heritage of Kathmandu

The Kathmandu city originally got its name from the public shelter located at the center of the city, Kasthamandap. A popular public shelter and a tourist landmark was lost in the major earthquake of 2015.


Overview

Kasthamandap was a three-storied public shelter that included a shrine consecrated to Gorakshanath situated at Hanumandhoka, Kathmandu. The word Kasthamandap literally translates to ‘Wood Shelter’ in English. The landmark was a popular tourist site for ages, until it was destroyed by the earthquake.

It is supposedly known to have been constructed out of a single Sal tree. It first served as a community center where devotees gathered for major religious and cultural ceremonies. Later, it was turned into a temple dedicated to Gorakhnath, a 13th-century ascetic who was subsequently linked to the then royal family.

A central wooden enclosure houses the image of the god, which is noteworthy since Gorakhnath is usually represented only by his footprints. In the corners of the building are four images of Ganesha.

Many street vendors chose the spot to setup their dingy shops due to the constant inflow of visitors. It served as one of the popular tourist landmarks at Hanumandhoka.

History

It was believed to have been constructed in 12th century during the Malla empire. Several myths about the construction of the Kasthamandap Temple have been resolved with the recent archaeological findings. The excavated objects from the destroyed site suggests that it may have been built in around 7th century, during Lichhavi empire.

The construction residue left from the excavation proved vital to link the landmark to 7th century period. The premise idolizes the greater lifestyle and culture of Kathmandu. The usage of wood for major construction and the ornate designs, color and decorations has always been indigenous to the greater Kathmandu inhabitants, Newars.

Destruction

The major earthquake of 2015 shook the entire Nepal with its magnanimous force. Most of the old temples and premises were left completely destroyed.The earthquake caused the casualty of over 8,000 souls.

Kasthamandap along with the surrounding temple and the historical palace were partially or fully destroyed. The reconstruction of the palace and other premises are well under the operation. The site of Kasthamandap remains empty with only the shrine of Gorakhnath.

Sunset at the Mountains

Nepal is a mountainous country. Over 40% of the landmass is accounted for peaks, snows and ice. Due to the sheer altitude and wilderness in the mountains, you get to see some of the most beautiful sunsets in the entire nation.

Here is the collage of some of the most breath-taking sunsets seem from the mountains of Nepal.


5 Best Places to Catch the Sunrise in Nepal

One of the most popular outdoor activities in Nepal accounts for watching the sunrise from some popular landmarks. Most of these landmarks are incorporated into the popular trekking trails for the ease of access.

It can also be a rewarding activity for most non-morning people. So, do make a point to visit these places the next time you  visit Nepal!


#1 Poon Hill

Poon Hill at 3,210 meters is an extended rift of the Ghorepani trail which offers a 360 view of the surrounding hills, valleys and mountains. The place is most popular among the incoming tourists for watching the sunrise and the sunset.

It takes few days of hiking to reach Poon Hill from Pokhara and is mostly undertaken during Spring (Mar-Jun) and Autumn (Sep-Nov) seasons. The extended trek will take you to Annapurna Base Camp. You can choose to spend a night at Ghorepani and make an early morning hike towards Poon Hill to view the Sunrise.

#2 Sarangkot

Sarangkot at 1,600 meters is a hill station located at the outskirts of Pokhara. The place is mostly popular among the tourists for the adventure sporting activities, such as; paragliding and zip-line.

The sheer altitude and quality hotels in the area makes it a worthy destination to spend a night for a rewarding morning with a sunrise. Annapurna and Machhapuchhre peaks can well be seen from the Sarangkot.

#3 Nagarkot

Nagarkot at 2,195 meters offers a great view of the sunrise and sunset. A local hill station located just at the edge of Kathmandu can be reached in a matter of few hours. A overnight stay at one of the quality lodges in the area and the early morning hike to the local watchtower can be a rewarding experience.

Out of 13 mountain ranges, you will get to see 8 of them. If the weather permits, you can even get a glimpse of the Mount Everest at the distance.

October to April is considered the best time to visit Nagarkot. It can be a great retreat after a lengthy trek around Nepal.

#4 Kala Patthar

Kala Patthar at 5,643 meters is a landmark located at south ridge of Pumori in the Everest region. The phrase Kala Patthar literally translate to ‘Black Rock’ in English. It is a very popular destination among the tourists. Most of the time, the trek to Everest concedes at Kala Patthar.

An early morning hike from Gorakshep to the north bring you to the Kala Patthar. The sunrise and the close view of the Mount Everest are the most notable rewards of the trek.

You can consider visiting Kala Patthar mainly during the Spring and Autumn seasons.

#5 Antu Danda

Antu Danda at 1,977 meters is located at the far eastern region of Nepal. A mystical place popular for its tea garden and weather is home to one of the best places to catch a sunrise. A lengthy 12 hr ride or a flight from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur will take you to the most eastern part of Nepal.

The winding narrow roads, hills and tea garden are the most notable about Antu Danda.


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