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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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.

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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

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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Royal Bengal Tiger

Bengal Tiger is endemic to the Indian subcontinent. Found mostly in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan, they have been listed in the IUCN Red list for the endangered animals; and only about 2,500 are left in the wild.

Popularly known as the Royal Bengal Tiger, it is known as the most fierce and stealth hunter in the wild. A Bengal tiger is known to track its prey for days and go to extreme physical length for a hunt.

Factfile
Family Felidae
Species Panthera Tigris
Height 85 – 110 cm
Weight 320 – 350 kg
Length 270 – 310 cm
Habitat Tropical evergreen forests, decidious forests and mangroves
Location India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan

Overview

Bengal tiger is the largest among the Felidae, and falls under Panthera Tigris sub-category. The distant cousins of our favorite felines, cats, Bengal tigers mostly inhabit  the thick forests of the Indian sub-continent.

Tigers are apex predators, primarily preying on ungulates such as deer and bovids. They are territorial and generally solitary but social animals, often requiring large contiguous areas of habitat that support their prey requirements. They hunt all by themselves and are known for their fierce and nocturnal methods of hunting.

They sit at the top of the food chain, hence, preserving them becomes essential to maintain the overall biodiversity.

Most Bengal Tigers are found in India. The 2010 survey resulted in an estimated population of 1,706 in India, Bangladesh (440), Nepal (155) and Bhutan (75).

A white Bengal Tiger with black stripes is because of gene mutation and not because they are albino. There’s been only one case recorded when a complete black tiger was found in Chittagong in 1846.

Hunting & Poaching

Tigers were once the most prized animal for hunting. The expedition led by Maharajas and British officials, along with professional hungers reduced the number of tigers from 100,000 to just few hundred in a century.

Tiger hunt
Tiger hunt during the British expedition

The activity of rampant poaching which was banned and marked illegal in 1993 made them even more scarce. The skin and bones of tiger is supposedly known to carry medicinal properties. Most of the poached animal parts are traded into East Asia to be turned into medicines for various ailments.

The two other major reasons for their dwindling number is the prey loss and the conflict with humans. The deforestation and human settlements around their habitat has caused many tigers to get killed during the conflict.

Conservation

WWF along with the respective stakeholders of each country have been working since the last four decades to control poaching, human animal conflict and increase their number in the wild. Today, they are mainly kept under the surveillance in the Buffer zones, national parks and conservation areas.

Chitwan National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site), covering 932 km2, was established in 1973 in the subtropical inner Terai belts of South-central Nepal. It is known as the first national park of Nepal. A buffer zone, it protects endangered species of Royal Bengal Tiger and One-horned Rhinos. Banke National Park, Shukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve and Bardia National Park are other buffer zones dedicated for the tigers in Nepal.

With just one tiger, we protect around 25,000 acres of forest. These ecosystems supply both nature and people with fresh water, food, and health. ~WWF


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Chitwan National Park

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.


Overview

Chitwan National Park was established in 1973 and was listed in the World Heritage Sites in 1984. Spanning over 932 km2 in the sub-tropical region of Nepal, the park covers four different districts, namely; Nawalparasi, Parsa, Chitwan & Makwanpur.

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 various outdoor activities and quality lodges inside the park offers much fun for the incoming visitors. Some of the popular destinations in the area are; Elephant breeding center, Bishazari Tal, ethnic Tharu village and Sauraha. You can enjoy elephant safari, jungle walk, jeep ride, boating on Rapti river, overnight stay inside the forest and even camel ride during the tour.

You can choose to extend your regular trip with a 2-3 days tour of the Chitwan whenever you visit Nepal.

History

Though, the forest has been under protection for decades, the darker past of Nepal still has its tales to tell. 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.

King Edward VII with his entourage in Nepal
King Edward VII with his entourage in Nepal

The mass poaching since 1950 has also caused the major depletion of One-horned Rhino and Royal Bengal Tiger in an alarming rate.

In 1950, Chitwan grasslands and forests spanned over 2,600 km2, however, due to rampant settlement in the area the forest has been dwindled in alarming rate. After the ruling of the first conservation law of the country, the forest and wildlife lying inside the territory has been kept protected from the settlements.

The year 2016 marked the Zero Poaching for two consecutive years in Nepal, with not a single poaching of the endangered species were recorded.

Wildlife

Chitwan boasts more than 700 species of wildlife and a not yet fully surveyed number of butterfly, moth and insect species. Apart from king cobra and rock python, 17 other species of snakes, starred tortoise and monitor lizards occur.

The Narayani-Rapti river system, their small tributaries and myriads of oxbow lakes is habitat for 113 recorded species of fish and mugger crocodiles. It is home to 68 species of mammals, including; Royal Bengal Tiger, One-horned Rhino, Sloth beer, Asiatic elephant, Bengal fox, Honey badgers, golden jackals and more.

Over 546 species of birds were recorded to be seen by the birders and conservationists in 2006.



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The Annapurna Circuit

The Annapurna circuit is a 200 km long trekking trail located at the mid-western region of Nepal. A lengthy trek, it is mostly opted by the tourists seeking to enjoy their time traversing through the remotes of Nepal.


Overview

The Annapurna Circuit encompasses into one of the longest treks in Nepal. It may take well over 2 weeks to complete the trek and covers a great sparse of geography. You will get to cross 4 different districts during the trek, namely; Lamjung, Manang, Mustang and Myagdi.

Lamjung and Myagdi at the lower elevations are both predominantly Hindu regions with lush green subtropical valleys. Manang and Mustang at the higher elevations are predominantly Tibetan Buddhist region.

Manaslu, Langtang, Annapurna I, II, III and IV, Gangapurna, Machhapuchhare and Dhaulagiri are few of the major peaks you will get to see. The trek goes anti-clockwise, starting from Besi Sahar and ending at Ghorepani, mainly because, you will gain the daily altitude much slower and will get cross the Thorong La Pass with much ease and through the safer route.

Annapurna Massif Panorama

You will get to witness people of varying tribes and ethnicity. The villages, settlements and lifestyles found along the trail may differ in every 30 km. Choose anytime between March-June and September-December  for trekking the circuit, mainly for the good weather and ease of access.

Along with the Annapurna Base Camp, the circuit receives over 130,000 trekkers annually.

Thorong La Pass

Thorong La
Thorong La

Thorong La or Thorung La is a mountain pass located at the elevation of 5,416 meters in the Damodar Himal and inside the Circuit trail. The pass connects two different villages, Manang and Muktinath.

It is the highest point you may reach during the Circuit trek. It is advised to start the treacherous hike early morning to avoid any worsening weather at the pass.

Muktinath

Muktinath is a sacred place revered by many Hindus and Buddhists. Located in Muktinath Valley of Mustang, the ancient temple of Muktinath is dedicated to the God Vishnu (Hindu-Trinity). It is considered to be the 105th among the available Divya Desams (108 Vishnu temples that are mentioned in the works of the Tamil Azhvars). Hindus call the sacred place ‘Mukti Kshetra,’ which literally means the “place of liberation or moksha.”

The courtyard of temple has 108 Bull-faced spouts and pouring out cold Himalaya water. Pilgrims, making a visit to the temple, must also consider taking a shower under every spout for the ‘soul cleansing’.

Ghorepani

Ghorepani at the Myagdi district lies within the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACAP), and is one of the most popular local places to trek. It serves as an important stop for the incoming tourists and traders. Most trekkers stay at Ghorepani and trek up to the Poon Hill to enjoy the mesmerizing sunrise and sunset.

It also links to the important Ghandruk village, which is a part of the greater Annapurna base camp trail.


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Kala Patthar -The Landmark of Everest

Kala Patthar is the most prominent landmark of the Everest region. An enormous and elevated dark land mass at above 5,000 meters is one of the most popular tourist sites in the region.


Overview

Everest seen from Kala Patthar
Everest seen from Kala Patthar

The term Kala Patthar literally translates to ‘Black Rock’ in English. It is a notable landmark on the south ride of Pumori in the Khumbu region, and is mostly visited by the trekkers during the trekking to the Everest Base Camp.

Located at 5,643 meters, it is one of the highest tourist sites in the Everest. The view of Everest is completely blocked by the towering Lhotse peak in the East, hence, your only option of seeing the Everest is from the Kala Patthar. There aren’t any lodges at the top, mainly, because, the location is too high and open for a night stay. Therefore, the access to it is facilitated by the hike lasting an hour or two.

Check out High Resolution (10K Billion Pixel) Photo of Kala Patthar

Trekʞing

It is the only place throughout the trail which offers the close and optimum view of the Mount Everest, hence, almost everyone makes a point to hike Kala Patthar during the trek to enjoy the rare sight of the Everest.

The ascent of Kala Patthar begins at Gorakshep, the original base camp for Mt. Everest. After a brief dip to an ancient lake bed (which now contains a small lake and a helipad), the ascent makes its way up a series of steep switchbacks before levelling off somewhat as it traverses to the eastern side of the mountain. The trail then becomes steep once again until it reaches the wind-swept summit ridge.

The top is marked with prayer flags. The full ascent usually takes between 1.5 and 2 hours, and is generally in the early morning.


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