Information on about Nepal including Geography, Climate, Culture, Society, Mountains and more.
Nepal Geographical Information: Nepal, a sovereign independent democratic republic, lies between 80 degree 12′ east longitude and 26 degree 22′ and 30 degree 27′ north latitude. It is bounded on the north by the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China; on the east by Sikkim and West Bengal of the Indian Union on the south by Indian States of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and on the west by Uttar Pradesh of Indian Union. The length of the Kingdom is 885 kilometers east-west and its breath varies from 145 to 241 kilometers north-south. Climatically, it lies in the temperate zone with the added advantage of altitude.
The country is divided into three main geographic regions:
The altitude of this region ranges between 4877 meters and 8848 meters with the snow line running around 48848 meters. It includes 8 of the existing 14 summits in the world which exceed an altitude of 8000 meters. They represent. (1) Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) 8848 m, (2) Kangchenjunga – 8586 m, (3) Lhotse – 8516m, Makalu – 8463m, (5) ChoOyo- 8201 m, (6) Dhaulagiri – 8167m, (7) Manaslu – 8163m, and Annapurna- 8091 m.
This region accounts for about 64 percent to total land area. It is formed by the Mahabharat range that soars upto 4877 meters. To its south lies the lower Churia range whose altitude varies from 610 meters to 1524 meters. Major cities of Nepal including Kathmandu and Pokhara lies on this region.
The low-land Terai region which has a width of about 26 to 32 kilometers and a maximum altitude of 305 meters, which occupies about 17% of total land area of the country. Kechanakawal the lowest point of the country with an altitude of 70 meters lies in Jhapa District of the eastern Terai.
Nepal -a country of amazing extremes is the home of the world’s highest mountains, historic cities and the forested plains where the lordly tigers and the great one-horned rhinoceros trundle at ease. In fact enchantment is everywhere-for anyone in search of Shangri-La.
Traveling by road : All visitors entering Nepal by land must use no other entry points other than (1) Kakarbhitta (2) Birgunj (3) Belhiya, Bhairahawa (4) Nepalgunj (5) Dhangadi (6) Mahendra Nagar in the Nepal – India border and (7) Kodari in the Nepal – China border. The overland tourists entering the Kingdom with their vehicles must possess an international carnet.
Traveling by air: You can fly directly to Kathmandu from London , Paris , Frankfurt , Vienna , Amsterdam , Moscow , Osaka , Shanghai , Bangkok , Hongkong, Sharjah, Dubai , Dhaka , Karachi , Abu Dhabi , Bahrain , Doha , Paro, Lhasa , Singapore , Delhi , Mumbai, Patna , Calcutta , and Varanasi . Charter flights can also be arranged for large movements. All flights feature business class and amenities of international standards. Many a time, the Capital offers a guided sightseeing of the Himalaya for no extra charge .
Nepal Airlines, Thai Airways, Qatar Airways, Indian Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, Biman Bangladesh , Gulf Air, Indian Airlines, Air Sahara , Jet Airways, Austrian Air, Martinair, Air China , Druk Air fly to Nepal regularly.
Airfares fluctuate with the changes in exchange rates and are to be paid in foreign currency by foreign nationals. Only Nepalese and Indian nationals are permitted to pay in Rupees for air passage between Nepal and India . Departure flight tickets should be reconfirmed three days in advance to avoid inconveniences by possible flight cancellation or changes in the flight schedule. Overweight luggage charges are levied in foreign exchange.
Customs / airport
Custom: All baggage must be declared and cleared through the customs on arrival at the port of entry. Passengers arriving at Tribhuvan International Airport , Kathmandu (TIA) without any dutiable goods can proceed through the Green Channel for quick clearance without a baggage check. If you carrying dutiable articles, you have to pass through the Red channel for detailed customs clearance.
Import: Apart from used personal belongings, visitors are allowed to bring to Nepal free of duty cigarette (200) or cigars (50), distilled liquor) one 1.15 liter bottle), and film (15 rolls). You can also bring in the following articles free of duty on condition that you take them out with you when you leave: binoculars, movie or video camera, still camera, laptop computer, and portable music system.
Export: It is illegal to export objects over 100 years old (sacred images, paintings, manuscripts) that are valued for culture and religious reasons. Visitors are advised not to purchase such items as they are Nepal ’s cultural heritage and belong here. The Department of Archaeology has to certify all metal statues, sacred paintings and similar objects before they are allowed to be sent or carried out of the country. We’ll assist you in this process.
Airport tax: Passengers departing from the Tribhuvan International Airport Kathmandu (TIA) are required to pay an airport tax of NRs. 791.00 if going to SAARC countries ( Bangladesh , Bhutan . India , Maldives , Pakistan and Sri Lanka ) and Rs.1130.00 to all other international destinations. Domestic airport tax is Rs. 170.00 for all nationals including Nepalese.
Tourism Service Tax: All Travellers other than Nepalese are required to pay NRS. 565.00 at the airport at the time of departure.
- Indian Nationals do not require visa. However, effective from October 1,2000 , Indians traveling to Nepal by air have to show upon arrival at entry point either a passport, Voter’s identity card with photograph issued by the central or state government of India . Temporary identity card with photograph issued by Nepal-based Indian diplomatic missions for identification of Indian nationals will also be considered in case of exceptions. Children under 10 years need not show any identification.
- Free Visa for Tourist from SAARC Country as well as China . Likewise the Government has also waived visa fees for any tourist entering for a period of three days. Free visa for any national for re-entry who have stayed at least for 15 days and more in the country.
- Single entry – US$ 30 days for 60 days
- Multiple entry – US$ 50 + US$30
Visa will be extended subsequently for 30 days each upon payment of US$ 30 for a maximum period of 150 days in a visa year (Jan-Dec). Visa can be obtained either on arrival in Nepal or from Nepalese Embassy or Consulate or other Mission offices abroad. Two passport size photographs required. Indians do not require visa to visit Nepal . However, they require to be in possession of any one of the following documents while traveling between the two countries.
- Valid national passport
- Photo identity card issued by the government of India/any State Government or Union Territory/Administration in India/Identity Cards issued by the Election Commission of India. (Except Tatkal Identity Cards issued by the Ministry of Railways).
- Children between 10-18 years age group are allowed to travel by air on the strength of a passport or photo identity card issued by the Principal of their school or college.
- Emergency Certificate issued by Embassy of India , Kathmandu to Indian nationals in case of emergent conditions.
- Children up to the age of 10 years will not require the above-mentioned documents for travelling between India and Nepal , by air.
Currency & Credit Cards
Payment in hotels, travel agencies, and airlines are made in foreign exchange. Credit cards like American Express, Master and Visa are widely accepted at major hotels, shops, and restaurants. Remember to keep your Foreign Exchange Encashment Receipt while making Foreign exchange payments or transferring foreign currency into Nepalese Rupees. The Receipts may be needed to change leftover Nepalese Rupees into hard currency before leaving the country, however, the bank may convert only 10 percent of the total amount.
Major Banks, hotels, and the exchange counters at Tribhuvan airport provide services for exchanging foreign currency. US dollar or travelers’ checks can be purchased from American Express at Durbar Marg and other Major Banks in Kathmandu . Banks in Kathmandu are open 10 AM to 3 PM Sunday through Friday except public holidays.
Exchange rates are published in English dailies such as The Rising Nepal and The Kathmandu post. Nepalese Rupees are found in denominations of RS 1000, 500, 100, 50, 25, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are found in denominations of 10, 25 and 50 Paisa. One rupee equals 100 Paisa. Approximate exchange rate as is US$ 1 = Rs. 73.00
Nepal has a typical monsoonal two – season a year. There is a dry season from October to May and there is the wet season, the monsoon, from June to September. September – November, the start of the dry season, is in many ways the best time of the year in Nepal . When monsoon just ends, the countryside is green and lush. Nepal is at its most beautiful and during this season there are plenty of colorful festivals to enjoy.
clothing depends on place and time, however, it is recommended to have both light and warm clothing. Medium-weight and easy-to-wash cottons are a good choice year-round in the Kathmandu Valley . From October to February, woolen sweaters, jackets or similar other outfits are essential. Short or long sleeved shirts are comfortable for March to May. From June to September, light and loose garments are advisable. In the mountain areas warm clothes are generally a must be need. Down quilt jacket and under trousers are recommended for high altitude trekking.
Insurance: Travel insurance policies that cover theft, loss and medical treatment are recommended. Make sure the insurance also cover the activities that you will be undertaking during your stay in Nepal such as trekking, river rafting, wildlife safaris, climbing and such other activities.
Immunization: Nepal dose not require any particular Immunization for your visit. Vaccinations for Cholera, Meningitis, Tetanus & Diphtheria, Typhoid and Gamma Globulin should be considered for your Trip. Please consult your physician and get a complete check – up before your departure.
Medical Kit: A simple but adequate Medical Kit can be most useful without taking much space in your baggage. The following is recommended as tried and true list of items.
- Aspirin of Panadol – for pain or fever.
- Antihistamine – useful as a decongestant for colds, allergies, to ease the itch from insect bites and stings or to help prevent motion sickness.
- Antibiotics – useful if you are traveling well of the beaten track but they must be prescribed.
- Kaolin preparation (Pepto-Bismol), Imodium or Lomotil – for stomach upsets.
- Rehydration mixture – for treatment of severe diarrhoea.
- Antiseptic, Mercurochrome and antibiotic powder or similar ‘dry ‘ spray – for cuts and grazes.
- Calamine lotion – to ease irritation from bites or stings.
- Bandages and Band-Aids – for minor injuries.
- Scissors, tweezers and thermometers.
- Insect repellent, sun block, suntan lotion, chopsticks and water – purification tables.
- Throat lozenges (Strepsils).
- Eye, nose and ear drops.
- Acetaminophen (Paracetamol).
- Antacid tablets.
Prevention, the best medicine:
Care in what you eat and drink is the most important health rule. The number one rule is don’t consume the water including ice. Reputable brands of bottled Water or soft drinks are generally fine. Take care with fruit juice, particularly if water may have been added.
Milk should be treated with care, as it is often un-pasteurized. Boiled milk is fine if it is kept hygienically and yoghurt (Milk curd) is usually good. Tea or coffee should also be Ok since the water would have been boiled. Salads and fruit should be washed with purified water or peeled where possible. Ice cream is usually OK if it is a reputable brand name. But beware of ice cream that has melted and been refrozen. Thoroughly cooked food is the safest but not if it has been left to cool. Stomach upsets are the most likely travel health problem but the majority of these upsets will be relatively minor. Wash your hands frequently, as it’s quite easy to contaminate your own food. You should clean your teeth with purified water rather than straight from the tap. Avoid climatic extremes: keep out of the sun when it is hot, dress warmly when it is cold. Avoid potential diseases by dressing sensibly. You can get worm infections through bare feet. Try to avoid insect bites by covering bare skin when insects are around, by screening windows or by using, insect repellents.
Cultural shocks and a few tips (Some Do and don’t)
with its diverse ethnic groups and traditional beliefs, Nepal has numerous cultural practices that may appear unusual to a person on his/her first visit to the country. However, to enjoy your stay in this remarkable country of white Himalayas and sparkling rivers it is important to take into consideration the different cultural aspects of the country. Here is a list of things, which may be helpful to you.
- The form of the greeting in Nepal is ” Namaste ” and is performed by joining the palms together.
- Before entering a Nepalese home, Temple , and Stupa remember to remove your shoes.
- Be careful not to use your spoon, fork or a hand being used for your eating to touch other’s food, plate, cooking utensil or the serving disk. Do not eat from other people’s plate and do not drink from other people’s bottle or glass. It is considered impure by the Nepalese.
- Never touch anything with your feet. This is considered an offence among Nepalese.
- While traveling dress appropriately. Women should especially avoid dressing in skimpy, outfits.
- Seek permission first before entering a Hindu temple many Hindu Temple do not allow westerners or non -Hindus to enter.
- Leather articles are prohibited to be taken inside the temple precinct.
- Walking around temples or Stupas is traditionally done clockwise.
- Take photographs only after receiving permission for the object or person being photographed.
- Public display of affection between man and woman are frowned upon. Do not do something that is totally alien to our environment.
- Remember, many times, when a person shakes his head from left to right, he may mean, ” yes”.
- Develop a genuine to meet and talk to Nepalese people and respect their local customs.
- Please do not touch offerings or persons when they are on the way to shrines or are in the process of worshipping. Keep a respectful distance.
- Please do not accept as gifts or buy objects of art, manuscripts, images etc. Which have antique value. These need to stay here not only for ourselves but for future visitors like yourself who would like to share the experience. Whether something is antique or not can be established by the Department of Archaeology.
- Please be informed that Nepalese men often walk around hand in hand, but this does not have the same implication as it does in Europe , America or other developed country.
- Please do not inquire about a person’s caste.
Postal Services : The Central Post Office located near Dharahara Tower , is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The counters are open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and provide stamps, postcards and aerograms. Post Restante is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Express Mail Service ( EMS ) is available at GPO and at Thamel, Basantapur and airport postal counters.
Telephone Services : Telephone, fax, telex and telegraph services are available at the Nepal Telecommunications Corporation at Tripureshwar. Hotels and private communications centers provide long distance telephone. For calling from outside, country code for Nepal is 977 and the area code for Kathmandu is 1.
Internet Services : Several Internet cafes and communication centers have opened up in the Valley and around the country in the past few years. Visitors only have to find a place they are most comfortable in to use the facilities to keep in touch with home. E-mail and Internet services are also offered by hotels.
Introduction to Nepal
Nepal is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of bio-diversity due to its unique geographical position and altitude variation. The elevation of the country ranges from 60 meters above sea level to the highest point on earth, Mt. Everest at 8,848 meters, all within a distance of 150 kilometers resulting in climatic conditions from sub-tropical to arctic.
This wild variation fosters an incredible variety of ecosystems, the greatest mountain range on earth, thick tropical jungles teeming with a wealth of wildlife, thundering rivers, forested hills and frozen valleys.
Within this spectacular geography is also one of the richest cultural landscapes anywhere. The country is a potpourri of ethnic groups and sub-groups who speak over 93 languages and dialects. Nepal offers an astonishing diversity of sightseeing attractions and adventure opportunities found nowhere else on earth. And you can join in the numerous annual festivals that are celebrated throughout the year in traditional style highlighting enduring customs and beliefs.
The most exhilarating titles with which Nepal has been admired and praised by various renowned travel writers in recognition of her cultural richness:
- Living cultural Museum
- Roof of the World
- Birth place of the Apostle of Peace
- Country of Living Goddess
- City of Golden Pagodas and Parasols
- Himalayan Pilgrimage
- Nature amphitheatre
- Melting pot of Hinduism and Buddhism
- A tiny Kingdom of 103 ethnic groups and 93 spoken languages
- Birth place of Sita
- Abode of Shiva
- Land of Mysticism & Exoticism
- Land of non-stop festivals
are explicit and self-explanatory. They tell the world about our incomparable & prosperous cultural heritage.
Nepal covers a span of 147,181 sq. kilometers ranging from altitude of 70 meters to 8,848 meters. Mountains, mid hills, valleys and plains dominate the geography of landlocked Nepal that extends from the Himalayan range in the north to the Indo-Gangetic lowlands in south. Mt. Everest, the highest point of the Himalayas is in Nepal.
Physical features also include green paddy terraces, wind-swept deserts, dense forests and marshy grasslands. The country is well endowed with perennial rivers, lakes and glacial lakes that originate in the Himalayas. Twenty percent of the land in the country is used for agriculture, where 0.49 percent is used for permanent crops, mainly rice.
Climatic conditions of Nepal vary from one place to another in accordance with the geographical features. In the north summers are cool and winters severe, while in south summers are sub tropical and winters mild.
The variety in Nepal’s topography provides home to wildlife like tigers, rhinos, monkeys, bears, yaks, leopards and different species of insects and birds. Nepal is a home to almost 10 percent of the world’s bird species among which 500 species are found in the Kathmandu Valley.
The country has managed to preserve some endangered species of Asia in its extensive parks and protected natural habitats. The most abundant natural resource in Nepal is water. Other resources found here are quartz, timber, lignite, copper, cobalt, iron ore and scenic beauty.
People and Culture
The population of Nepal was recorded to be about 30 million as of January 2013. Eighty-six percent of Nepalis follow Hinduism, while eight percent follow Buddhism and three percent follow Islam. The population comprises various groups of different races which are further divided into different castes. The distinction in caste and ethnicity is understood more easily with a view of customary layout of the population.
Some of the main groups are such: Gurungs and Magars who live mainly in the western region; Rais, Limbus and Sunwars who live in the eastern mid hills; Sherpas, Manangpas and Lopas who live near the mountains of Everest, Annapurna and Mustang respectively; Newars who live in and around the capital valley of Kathmandu; Tharus, Yadavas, Satar, Rajvanshis and Dhimals who live in the Terai region; and Brahmins, Chhetris and Thakuris generally spread over all parts of the country.
Nepali is the official language of the state, spoken and understood by 100 percent of the population. Multiple ethnic groups speak more than a dozen other languages in about 93 different dialects. English is spoken by many in government and business offices. It is the mode of education in most private schools of Kathmandu and some other cities.
The Northern Himalayan People
In the northern region of the Himalayas are the Tibetan-speaking groups namely Sherpas, Dolpas, Lopas, Baragaonlis, Manangis. The Sherpas are mainly found in the east in the Solu and Khumbu region; the Baragaonlis and Lopas live in the semi-deserted areas of Upper and Lower Mustang in the Tibetan rain-shadow area; the Managis live in Manang district area; while the Dolpas live in Dolpa district of West Nepal, one of the highest settlements on earth at 4,000 meters.
The Middle Hills and Valley People
Several ethnic groups live together in harmony in the middle hills and valleys. Among them are the Magars, Gurungs, Tamangs, Sunuwars, Newars, Thakalis, Chepangs and majority of Brahmans and Chhetris. The Brahmans and Chhetris have long dominance in all pervading social, religious and political realms. There are also some occupational castes namely: Damai (tailor), Sarki (cobbler), Kami (blacksmith) and Sunar (goldsmiths). Though, there exist numerous dialects, the language of unification is the national language, Nepali.
Ethnic Diversity in the Kathmandu Valley
Kathmandu Valley represents a cultural cauldron of the country, where, people from varied backgrounds have come together to present a melting pot. The natives of the Kathmandu Valley are the Newars. Newari culture is an integration of both Hinduism and Buddhism. The Newars of Kathmandu Valley were traders or farmers by occupation in the old days.
The Terai People
The main ethnic groups in Terai are Tharus, Darai, Kumhal, Majhi and other groups that have roots in India. They speak north Indian dialects like Maithili, Bhojpuri. Owing to the fertile plains of Terai, most inhabitants live on agriculture. There are, however, some occupational castes like Majhi (fisherman), Kumhal (potter) and Danuwar (cart driver).