Holiday Tour in Nepal
A holiday tour in Nepal is the best decision you took in your life!
Nepal is a country of diversity rich in culture, races, languages, ethnics ranging from different religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Seikh, Muslims and many others. Although many religions & cultures, One can call Nepal as a country with unity in diversity. Hundreds of castes and traditions, thousands of different languages, and millions of people united within a single flag of sun and the moon. If someone is interested in getting to know in detail about the different people & cultures in Nepal, it’s simply not possible through googling. You must visit the place and know the people in person. A visitor might get peculiar looks sometimes but the people here have the heart of no one else in the world Believe me, you will be surprised.
Religions in Nepal
Before taking a holiday tour in Nepal one should know about the religions followed in Nepal. Nepal is a country of peace. Our ancient martyrs fought battles and wars just for the peace of the nation. Religions here highlight the importance of harmony among the people. Despite being smaller in area, Nepalese people are the real example of the saying ‘brothers in arms.’ People don’t fight for religion but respect others. People don’t go against each other despite the difference and the most important of all people love each other the way they are. There are millions of people following different religions. These religions are:
The main and largest religion in Nepal is Hinduism. Approximately 85% of Nepalese people are Hindu and follow Hindu religions, traditions, god and goddesses. Hindu religion can be found among other ethnic groups including Buddhists and Christians. The Hindu saints are known to be the most respected and well versed in the Hindu religion. These saints are commonly named Rishimuni, Sadhu and Swami. The Hindu foundation relies on the local traditions followed and established by a Hindu sage named ‘Ne’. Rishi Ne lived in the Himalayas and is mentioned as the protector of Nepal in Pashupati Purana. Nepal is considered as the name protected by the Sage(Rishi) Ne who performed religious ceremonies in Teku of Kathmandu at the merging of Bagmati and Bisnumati rivers. The rulers of Hinduism were Newari – Maithili rulers and Khas rulers.
Top ten festivals in Hindu Religion:
Hinduism offers a wide range of festivals celebrated across the globe. Some represent gods, some to the ancient cultures. Here is the list of top ten festivals in Hindu religion:-
Dashain or Bijaya Dasami is the major & most famous festival in Hindu Religion. This festival is celebrated for the glory of Lord Rama over Ravana. Dashain is celebrated by Buddhists, Hindus, and Kirats in Nepal and India (called Dushera). The battle between Ram and Ravana went on for 9 days and got the victory in the 10th day, therefore, a 10-day long festival. Dashain falls in the month Ashwan (Nepali Calendar) and September or October (English Calender) starting from Shukla Paksha (bright lunar) and ending on Purnima (Full moon). During this festival, various animal sacrifices are given to the goddess Durga. Dashain symbolized the victory of good over evil.
The major days of Dashain are-
Day 1: Ghatasthapana
Day 7: Fulpati
Day 8: Maha Asthami
Day 9: Maha Navami
Day 10: Bijaya Dashami
Dashain is followed by the festival of lights “Tihar”
Tihar is also known as Deepawali is a festival of lights celebrated across every part of Nepal. Tihar is a five-day-long festival and the biggest festival after Dashain. Tihar falls in months in October or November (English Calender) and month Kartik (Nepali calendar). A 3-day national holiday is given during Tihar. The 5 days of Tihar are:
Day 1: Kaag Tihar – Crows and ravens are worshipped on this day. They are given sweets and dishes as worshipped not to hear any sad news. The cawing of crows represents sad news and it is believed that celebrating this day keeps sadness and grief away.
Day 2: Kukur Tihar – The dogs are worshipped on this day. The dog is considered as the most loyal animal to humans and is worshipped by putting tika on their forehead and giving different dishes in return for their loyalty.
Day 3: Gai Tihar/Laxmi Puja – In the morning of third-day cows are worshipped for benefitting us with milk, dung, and urine. The cow urine is believed to purify our bad deeds and cleanse our souls. In the evening Goddess Laxmi is worshipped with sweets and lights.
Day 4: Govardhan Puja – Goverdhan puja is celebrated on the occasion of Krishna defeating Indra. Lord Krishna is worshipped on this day.
Day 5: Bhai Tika – The last day of Deepawali is known as Bhai Tika. On this day, sister worship for the happiness and long life of their brothers and brothers vow to keep their sisters safe with their life.
Krishna Janmashtami is a Hindu festival celebrated for the birth of Lord Krishna. Krishna is considered as the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu. Krishna Janmashtami basically falls during a new moon or full moon in the month of August/September. It is one of the most important festivals for the Vaishnava tradition in Hinduism. Vaishnava followers consider Vishnu as their supreme lord rather than all 33 crores of gods listed in Gita ‘The Hindu Epic’.
Teej is a major festival for Hindu women celebrated in almost every part of Nepal and many states of India as well. Teej or Hartalika Teej welcomes the monsoon season. Girls and women celebrate Teej with dances, prayers, songs, and fasting. Teej is celebrated as the dedication for the union of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva. Married women wish for the long life of their husbands and to be together forever and young unmarried girls wish for a faithful and loving husband. During this festival, women wear red dresses and devote themselves to Durga with fasting. This festival highlights the Hindu culture throughout the world.
Holi is also known as festival of colors & love. Holi is celebrated in various parts of Nepal and India and falls between months of Falgun (Nepali Calendar). This festival denotes the arrival of spring and the end of winter. During this festival people meet together, forget and forgive, play and laugh, repair broken hearts and put colors in each other’s faces.
Shivaratri or Maha Shivaratri is celebrated as the day of the marriage of lord shiva. Shivaratri is one of the major festivals in Hinduism that falls in the month of February/March. During this festival Shiva is honored with prayers, fasting and meditating on virtues and ethics like honesty and forgiveness. The devotees keep awake all night during Maha Shivaratri and visit Shiva temples and pilgrimages like Jyotirlingams. The sacred mantra of Shiva ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is chanted throughout all day and night during Shivaratri.
Maghe Sankranti or Maghe is a festival in Hinduism that falls in the 1st of Magh which indicated the end of the winter solstice. This festival is primarily celebrated by Tharu people but other people celebrate Maghe Sankranti as well. Hindu followers take a morning bath in rivers during this festival and worship longer days and sun.
Shree Panchami or Basant Panchami is a festival in the Hindu religion that is celebrated in various ways. It is also known as the arrival of spring and Holi whereas also marked as a day of Saraswati puja. Goddess Saraswati is worshipped in this day and celebrated with flying kites. This festival is primarily observed by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Muslims in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan.
Ram Navami is a festival celebrated for the birth of Lord Rama (The son of Dashrath & Kausalya). Ram is considered as the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism. It falls during spring in the month of Chaitra during Shukla paksha (the night day of bright half). During this festival, the glories of Rama and his stories are read and enchanted.
Buddhists pose 7% of the total global population and is the 4th world’s largest religion. Buddhism has its own traditions, beliefs, and cultures that are directly based on the teachings of Lord Buddha. The teaching highlights various philosophies and ethics. Nepal is also known as the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Besides that, many historical and ancient places also portrays different historical and cultures importance for Buddhism. Buddhist follow the path of Buddha that guides them into the path of liberation, suffering, and cycle of death and rebirth. The birthplace of lord buddha is Lumbini in 623 BC. The Buddha’s teachings were known as dharma or Truth according to which the important virtues are wisdom, kindness, patience, generosity, and compassion.
The 3 universal truth mentions in Buddhism are:
- Everything is impermanent and changing
- Impermanence leads to suffering
- The self is not personal and unchanging
The 4 Noble truths believed in Buddhism are:
- The truth of suffering (the truth of suffering)
- the origin of suffering is desire and attachment (origin of suffering)
- Desire and attachment can be overcome (truth of cessation)
- The way to overcome them is the eightfold path (the path of truth)
Festivals in Buddhism:
Around 1.4% of people in Nepal practice Christianity in the 2011 census and the 5th most followed religion in Nepal. It is estimated that there are more than 1 million Nepali Christians is this number is growing. There are various catholic churches in different parts of Nepal with thousands of followers. Christmas has been a national festival over the years and a national holiday is declared on this day.
Islam is one of the minority religions in Nepal with nearly 1 million followers and comprising 4.4% of the total population according to the census of 2011. The Islams in Nepal were originated from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India and seems to have a decent presence in Nepal. Many mosques are present for Islami followers in Kathmandu and other parts as well.
Though the number of Sikhs in Nepal is around 7000, Sikhism was introduced in the 18th century. Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism spent more than a year meditating in Kathmandu at Balaju and is believed to be the origin of Sikhism in Nepal. Sikh people worship gods at Gurdwaras which are located in different parts of Nepal like Kupondole, Butwal, Banke, etc.
Jain people are the lowest in Nepal with a total number of around 3 thousand. It is one of the minority communities in Nepal. There is only one Jain temple in Kathmandu. Jain live in different parts of Nepal like Morang, Kathmandu, Sunsari, Jhapa, and Saptari.
The religions in Nepal varies from people to people and place to place. Nepal possesses a wide range of religious followers distributed all over the nation.
Wildlife in Nepal
A brief knowledge about the wildlife of Nepal is important for anyone who is planning to take a holiday tour in Nepal. Nepal is a landlocked country which means you don’t get to see much of aquatic life. Nepal’s wildlife is classified into two categories: Common and protected. The country is divided int to 3 main geographical reasons i.e. Himalayan, Hilly and Terai where the highest point is Mt. Everest(8848m) and lowest is Kechana Kalan(60m)
The Terai region occupies a land area of 17% of the total land area of Nepal. Terai range in the altitude of 60m to 305m. The midlands range from 600m to 3500m. The mountainous regions begin at 3000m and the show line begins at 5000m. The middle hilly region of Nepal occupies 68% of the total area of Nepal and the rest is the mountains which are around 15%.
The common species found in different parts of Nepal are leopard, spotted deer, Himalayan tahr, sheep, etc. The protected species include Red panda, snow leopard, tiger, rhinoceros, barasingha, Asian elephant, musk deer, swamp deers, 4 horned antelopes, pangolins, etc. These species are protected in different national parks and wildlife reserves. These protected zones consist of hundreds of species of mammals, reptiles, birds, and fauna across Nepal.
Protected Zones of Nepal
These are the must-know protected zones of Nepal for wildlife before anyone takes a holiday tour in Nepal. These areas include 9 national parks, 3 wildlife reserves, 3 conservation sites, 11 buffer zones, 1 heritage reserve covering the 19.6% of total Nepal’s area. The few protected zones of Nepal are described below:
- Khaptad National Park
Khaptad National Park was established in 1984 by a holy man named Khaptad Baba. It was later declared a buffer zone in 2006. The total area of Khaptad national park is 225 sq. km. There are many religious places in the park including Ganesh Temple, Nagdhunga and Kedardhunga. Mammals like leopard, bears, wild dogs and musk deer including 21 other species are found inside the park. There is also a Khaptad Baba ashram where Hindu pilgrims come to worship Shiva on the full moon of July-august.
- Bardia National Park
The Bardia includes a national park ranging to 968 sq. km in area and a buffer zone of 328 sq.km. Bardia national park is located in bake and Bardia district & was established in 1976 as a wildlife reserve. It was declared a national park in 1988. Bardia national park is a home of many endangered species including Royal Bengal Tiger, Asian Elephant, and Antelopes (Black Buck). A few number of leopards are also found inside the park. It has grown to be one of the major tourist destinations over the years.
- Shey Phoksundo National Park
With a total area of 3555 sq. km Shey-Phoksundo is the biggest national park that represents the Trans-Himalayan ecosystem. It was established in 1984 and is most popular for Shey Phoksundo lake. The lake is Nepal’s deepest and second-largest lake. The park also includes rivers like Nmajung, Khung, and Panjang. It comprises a total of 1579 species of flora and 32 species of mammals and 200 species of birds approximately.
- Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park is most famous for one-horned Rhino. With a total area of 932 sq.km, it consists of 29 species of mammals protected by CITES. Royal Bengal Tiger and Asian Elephants also have a habitat here. 13 species of mammals, 3 species of reptiles, and 6 species of birds here are considered endangered here. Chitwan national park is one of the most beautiful & famous tourist destinations. If anyone is planning a holiday tour in Nepal, they must visit here once.
- Langtang National Park
Located in the districts of Rasuwa, Nuwakot, and Sindupalchowk, Langtang national park was established in 1976. The total area of Langtang is 1710 sq. km. and was declared a buffer zone in 1998. Red panda and snow leopard are found in this region along with hundreds of floral species.
- Sagarmatha National Park
Sagarmatha National Park possesses a total area of 1148 sq. km and a buffer zone area of 275 sq. km. It is located in the Solu Khumbu district and was established in 1976. It was later declared a buffer zone in 2002. Highest mountain peaks, wetlands, rivers and forests make this one of the most astonishing tourist destination points. Travelers coming for a holiday tour in Nepal often visit here. It also signifies the tallest mountain in the world, The Everest. Sagarmatha National park is famous for Snow leopards along with 33 species of mammals, 208 species of birds and other floral habitats.
- Annapurna Conservation Area
Annapurna Conservation area comprises a total area of 7629 sq.km. It was established in 1985 and is the largest conservation area in Nepal. The deep forests, lakes, mountain peaks, Himalayan valleys, rivers, pastures provide it a beauty. Annapurna Conservation Area is a home for the snow leopard, musk deer, Tibetan argali, Tibetan wolf and fox along with 101 other species of mammals. Birds like the golden eagle, demoiselle crane and pheasants are also found in these reasons.
- Parsa Wildlife reserve
Parsa wildlife reserve occupies a total area of 499 sq. km. and a buffer zone of 298 sq.km. Established in 1984 as a wildlife reserve, parsa was declared a buffer zone in 2005. A total of 514 species of flora are recorded in this area along with 31 species of mammals like wild elephants, boars, hog deer, spotted deer, jackals, etc. Parsa wildlife is slowly developing into a tourist destination point. It offers beautiful scenery with deep forests and definitely a place to consider for anyone planning a holiday tour in Nepal.
There are many other protected zones in Nepal developed for conservation of wildlife.