Festivals

Seto Machindranath Snan, January. Seto (white) Machendranath enjoys a week long festivals in which he is bathed, oiled perfumed and painted. The goddess Kumari visits him at his elaborate temple near Asan tole. If he is pleased by the music, offering and attention of his devotee, the people of the valley can look forward to satisfactory rainfall in the planting season.

Swasthani, January - February, The three eyes of Goddess Swasthani watches over us. By worshipping Swasthani, Parbati attained Lord Shiva as her husband.

Manghe Sankranti, January. In the holy month of Magh the sun enters the southern hemisphere, and the days begin to grow longer and warmer. Lord Vishnu the Preserver is thanked for his efforts. Traditionally on Maghe Sankranti (the 1st day of Magh) people take an early morning bath in a holy river, visit the shrine of Vishnu, and present flowers, incense and food to him. They read the Bhagwad Gita, also known as The Song of the Gods, rub mustard oil over their bodies, and enjoy the feast of rice cooked with lentils, yams or taruls - a must - and laddu, sweets made of sesame and sugarcane paste.

Basanta Panchami and Saraswati Puja, January. Basanta or spring ushers is the loveliest time of the year. Crowds gather at Kathmandu Durbar Square while the head of state and other dignitaries welcome the season as the band plays the traditional songs of spring. A different celebration occurs at Swayambhu and at Nil Barahi Shrine near Lazimpat. Saraswati, the goddess of learning, arts and crafts is worshipped at her temples. Artists, musicians, teachers and students bring flowers, unbroken rice and other gifts to please her.

Maha Shiva Ratri, February. During Mahashivarati Lord Shiva's followers throughout the Indian sub continent, crowd at the Pashupati temple to worship this occasion. Colorful sadhus the wandering sages who emulate Shiva, rub ashes over their bodies give lectures to disciples meditate or practice Yoga. Devotees pray to Shiva at midnight and may queue for up to six hours to look at the image. Bonfires are lit, neighbors and friend share food, and devotees enjoy a night of music dance and song throughout the Pashupati complex and the streets.

Losar, February. Sherpas and Tibetans welcome their New Year with feasts, family visits and dancing. Families do their finest clothes and jewelry and exchange gifts. Buddhist monks offer prayers for good health and prosperity, and perform dances at the monasteries. Colorful prayers flag decorates the streets and rooftops; the colors seems especially brilliant at the Boudha and Swayambhu stupa. Crowds of celebrants at Boudha bring in the New Year by throwing Tsampa (roasted barley flour) into the air.

Holi or Fagu Purnima, March. Fagu purnima is one of the most colorful and playful festivals of Nepal. The chir (wooden pole) flags are erected on the first day of Fagu at Kathmandu Durbar Square to declare the festival.

Chaitra Dashain, March - April. Red vermilion powder, family blessings, and goat and duck sacrifices are essential to praise the victory of Ram, hero of the epic Ramayan, over the evil king Rawan. Mother goddess Durga the source of all power, must be supplicated too, for her powers helped Ram achieve his victory.

Ghode Jatra, April. Visitors are often amazed by the fine horses of the Nepalese army, and Ghode Jatra is a time for the most graceful of these animals to perform before the public eyes. Legend relates that this "Horse Festival" was begun after the Kathmandu people buried a demon under the soil of Tundi Khel Ground. They say that he may rise again and cause worry to the world if he is not trampled on horse each year. So every spring, this victory over evil is celebrated in the valley by organizing palanquin procession and a grand display of show jumping, motorcycling feats, and gymnastics.

Biska Jatra, April. During this important festival, the old kingdom of Bhaktapur and its surrounding areas replays a drama passed on over the centuries. Images of wrathful and somewhat demonic deities are placed on tottering chariots. They are offered blood sacrifices, flowers and coins, men brimming with youthful vigor and rice beer drag the chariot across bricks paved street of the town and wherever these chariots stop, lamps are lit and devotees overflow into the rounding alleys. Other gods and goddess too are put into the palanquins and carried around so that they may see the sights. At Bode Village, there is tongue - boring ceremony in which the dedicated may reserve a place in heaven.

Red Machhendranath Jatra, May. Until a few decades ago, before a Kathmandu valley became a purely commercial hub, it was an agricultural land. The tradition of worshipping the Rani God, "Red Machhendranath" continues till this day. Patan's street and palace complex are made even more evocative by waving lamps and candle lights, women busily cooking feast and men gathering strengths to pull the chariot, its four wheels - representing the powerful Bhairab - receive rice and vermilion powder, the king of the serpent also is asked for blessings, and his jeweled vest is shown to the public.

Buddha Jayanti, May. Lord Buddha was born in Nepal, and the religion he preached is second most popular in the country. On a full moon day of May, the valley celebrates his birth. On this day, people reach the stupa before dawn and give offerings to the many Buddha images in Nepal.

Gunla, July - August. The valley Buddhists observe Gunla. The month long festivities celebrates a "rain retreat" initiated twenty-five centuries ago by Buddha. It is a time for prayer, fasting, meditation and religious music.

Janai Poorrima and Rakshya Bandhan, August. On Janai Poornima, a full moon day, high cast high class Hindu chant the Gayatri Mantra and change their sacred thread (janai), while a rakshya bandhaan, a red or yellow protection cord, is tied around the wrist of other Hindus and Buddhists.

Gai Jatra, August. The gai, or cow is holy to Hindus. She represents Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. Satirical jokes, fancy costumes and colorful processions are the order of the day as people recall how an eighteenth century king rallied his people to cheer his upon the death of her son. Those who have experienced the death of close ones during the past year share their sorrows and take comfort in the fact that the 'gai' has safely transported the departed soul on their afterlife journey.

Teej, September. Pashupati, the temple of Shiva, is drenched in crimson during teej as women in their fine red saris crowd the temple grounds. This unique women's festival is marked by fasting, folk songs, and dancing as the women recall Parbati's devotion to her husband Shiva. Married women visit their father's homes.

Indra Jatra, September. As the end of the monsoon nears, farmers look forward to a rich harvest: Everybody is grateful to God Indra his help. For eight days, Kathmandu Durbar Square is the focus of the great Indra Jatra celebration.

Dasain, October. Dasain is the longest and the most favorite festival of Nepal. Everyone stays home with their family. Animals are sacrificed in the night of Kaal Ratri to the goddess Durga to celebrate her victory over evil. On the day of Dashami everyone wears new clothes and goes to honor their family elders, where they receive large red tikas of vermilion paste on their foreheads. In the following days of dashain, families and friends unite, feasts are consumed, blessings are imparted and gifts are exchanged, 'kite flying' is entertained.

Mani Rimdu, November. Mani Rimdu is a Sherpa festival celebrated during the fall at Tengboche Monastery in the Everest Region. For five days, Lamas and Sherpas gather for "the good of the world". There are plays, masked dances, prayers and feasting. Demons are quelled and the pious rewarded. The days are colorful and the trip to the Everest region is very rewarding indeed if they can be organized during the days of the festival.

Tihar, November. Tihar, known as festival of light, is the time of candlelight, tinsel decorations and festive colored sweets. On different days there are offerings and small celebration for cows, dogs, crows and oxen. On the night of Laxmi Puja, garlands are hung and lamps are lighted to invite Laxmi, goddess of wealth, into the home. Mha Puja, the New Year day according to Nepal's era, is the day of the self, when the soul gives blessing to their body for remaining healthy and happy for the rest of the year. Bhai tika, the last day of Tihar, is the day when sisters make offering to their brothers. The rituals of breaking the wall nuts, putting on garlands of Makhmali flowers and encircling brothers into rings of mustard oil protects them from Yama the lord of Netherworld.

Bala Chaturdashi, December. This simple festive day takes place in the ancient forest surrounding the temple of Pashupatinath. It is one of the oldest traditions of the valley. Families who have lost a loved one in the last year keep an all night vigil in the forests, lighting oil lamps and singing songs. Following the ritual morning bath, people walk through the forest, scattering seven types of grains along the paths and over the linga of the Lord Shiva to give merit t their late kinsmen and to cleanse the sins of a mythological man called Bala who had been transformed into a demon.

Bibah Paanchami, December. All the people of the Hindu world know the story of the marriage of the hero Ram and the Princess Sita, as told in the epic Ramayan. King Janak, Sita's father proposed the test of strength for the suitors of his daughter: to string the great bow lord Shiva. Warrior, Kings and chieftains came from a far, but no man could even lift the bow but when Ram tried to string it, the bow shattered into pieces. Ram and Sita were married in Janakpur, now in southern Nepal, and their marriage is celebrated to this day. Each year’s idols of Ram and Sita are brought in procession and their Hindu wedding ceremony is reenacted during a week long religious fair.

Yomari Punhi, December. As the new rice brought in, the farmers of the valley prepare for Yomari Punhi, an offering to the gods in thanks for the abundant harvest. The yomari is the special cake made from the flour of new rice. A shell of dough is filled with melted raw sugar and sealed. It is presented to god as offering. Thus each year, when the storerooms are full and farmers toil has been rewarded, the Gods are thanked for their benevolence and generosity.
  • Electricity

    Normally, domestic consumption of electricity in Nepal comes to 220 Volts/50 cycles. Climatic conditions in Nepal may bring in fluctuation in electric supply leading to load shedding. However most Nepal hotels have UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) or a backup generator to deal with this electric crisis. It is advisable to carry voltage converters and plug adapters with you while travelling in Nepal for using electric goods. Voltage converters and plug adapters are easily accessible at shopping malls in the cities of Nepal.
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  • Drinking Water

    Drinking water from taps can be risky. Hotels and lodges usually furnish safe water in a thermos flask in guest rooms. Bottled mineral water is available in every hotel and shops. If you are travelling in rural areas, carry iodine tablets with you. Drinking water containing iodine tablet will give you absolute protection from viruses, bacteria and parasites. At a reasonable price, you can also purchase iodine crystals from the local shops.
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  • Currency

    Nepali currency is termed as Rupee. Rupees come in the form of bank paper note with Rs.1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 inscribed on the notes. Nepali coins also come in 25 paisa, 50 paisa, 1 rupee, 5 rupee and 10 rupee coins. You can have your money exchanged at banks and hotels. Prior to any transaction, it is advisable to inquire about the commission and charges that will be deducted for the money exchange at Nepal currency exchange rate. Banks are usually open from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm Sundays through Thursdays and from 10.00 am to 12.00 pm on Fridays. Saturdays are holidays. Credit Cards: all major cards are accepted for tourist services. There is usually a 5% mark-up on top of the price.
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  • Communication

    Communication system has improved impressively after the advent of modern technology in Nepal. Since the past few decades, Nepal Government has been providing reliable postal services. Many private courier service companies have opened up to provide high quality services. Cell phones in today's time have made communication very easy in Nepal. While trekking in the remote parts of the Himalayas, you can have access to telephone facility but sometimes bad weather may disturb telephone connections. In most of the cities you can easily get internet access but in the trekking trails this service is available only in limited places.
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  • Language

    Nepali is an official language of Nepal, with over 30 other languages spoken as mother tongues in different parts of the country, and as well there are many regional dialects. English is spoken. Many in the travel and tourism industry speak German, Spanish, Japanese, French and Italian.
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  • Clothing

    From April to the end of October, it is warm in Kathmandu. In Nepal clothing for travelling purpose should be comfortable and light. You can also wear longer shorts provided that it is weather- friendly. In the months of November to the end of March, days are usually warm and evenings are cool. Put on your summer clothes during the day time but in the evening and night it is advisable to carry a light jacket. Winter season starts from December to February. One must be equipped with sufficient winter wears to stay protected from the cold.
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  • Weather

    Climate factors are very important in deciding on a visit to Nepal and because of its varying topography Nepal encounter climatic extremes depending upon the altitude of the place. However, in general Nepal has four climatic seasons:

    Autumn (September-November)), the start of the dry season, is in many ways the best time of the year in Nepal. As the monsoon ends the country-side is green and lush and Nepal is at its most beautiful. Rice is harvested and there are some more important and colorful festivals to enjoy. At this time of the year the air is sparkling clean, visibility is unexcelled and the Himalayan views are as near perfect as you can ask. Furthermore the weather is still balmy, neither too hot nor too cold. For obvious reasons, this is also the peak tourist season.
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  • Actvities

    Cultural Tours

    Nepal is a rich country for cultural heritage. The culture of Nepal is a unique combination of tradition and novelty. The traditions are followed as they were and new customs are created to keep pace with the changing times. Culture in Nepal is an assemblage of music, architecture, religion and literature. The two predominant religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, are ever present with the variety of gods and goddess, numerous temples, stupas and monasteries, and depict the deep faith of the people.

    Nepal is cloaked in myths and legends, and as well as being home to the highest mountains on earth and spectacular scenery, the country has an extremely rich cultural heritage. Historical Kathmandu Durbar Square, 3rd centuries Swoyambhunath Stupa, biggest Hindu temple - Pasupatinath where the maximum cremation is conducted. The largest stupa in the world - Boudhanath, temple of reclining god - Budhanilkantha, city of fine carvings, temples and shrines in - Patan Durbar Square, city of devotees and Palaces Bhaktapur Durbar Square, 5th centuries Changunarayan Temple, Nagarkot (charming sunrise and sunset spot as well as the great Himalayan scenery), Lumbini - birthplace of Lord Buddha, travelling around Pokhara; city of full of natural beauty as well as dozens of temples and monastery and Manakamana (wish fulfilling goddess) etc. has made Nepal a mysterious and an interesting and best place for a cultural tour.

    Mountaineering
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  • Festivals

    Seto Machindranath Snan, January. Seto (white) Machendranath enjoys a week long festivals in which he is bathed, oiled perfumed and painted. The goddess Kumari visits him at his elaborate temple near Asan tole. If he is pleased by the music, offering and attention of his devotee, the people of the valley can look forward to satisfactory rainfall in the planting season.

    Swasthani, January – February, The three eyes of Goddess Swasthani watches over us. By worshipping Swasthani, Parbati attained
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  • Entry to Nepal

    By Air:

    To fly directly to Nepal, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu is the only international airport in Nepal. The TIA has direct air links with Hong Kong, Lhasa, Dhaka, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Banglore, Shanghai, Dubai, Bangkok, Karachi, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Varanasi & Paro etc. Apart from Nepal Airlines, various other airlines such as Thai Airways, Qatar Airways, Ethiad Airline, Oman Air, Fly Dubai, Air Asia, Pakistan International Airlines, Indian Airlines, Druk Air, Air China, Biman Bangladesh carry most of the travelers to Kathmandu.

    By Land:

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  • Visa & Immigration

    All visitors except Indian nationals must hold a passport and valid visa. Visa can be obtained at the Nepalese diplomatic missions and consulates abroad. Visa is also issued at the entry points. It can be extended at the Department of Immigration in Kathmandu. Children under 10 years need not pay any visa fee. People willing to get entry Visa at the airport or any of the land entry points are required to fill a visa form with passport size photograph.

    Beside Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Tourist entry visa can also be obtained from the following entry points of Nepal:

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  • Flora & Fauna

    Nepal is a land of geographical extremes, ranging from near sea-level elevations in the southern Terai to the world's highest mountain. The country contains variety of ecosystem; treeless sub-alpine pastures and dense forests of the high valley, oak and rhododendron woods of the middle hills, and tall sal forest of the south. Along the southern border of Nepal are preserved much of the low land jungles and grassland that once covered this part of the sub continent. Here one can see the birds and mammals found nowhere else. Although animals habitat has been somewhat depleted as a result of agriculture, deforestation and other causes, through Nepal's extensive and effective park and reserve system, the country still has more varied flora and fauna than any other area in Asia.
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  • Art & Culture

    The culture of Nepal is rich and unique. The cultural heritage of Nepal has evolved over the centuries. This multi-dimensional heritage encompasses the diversities of Nepal's ethnic, tribal, and social groups, and it manifests in music and dance; art and craft; folklore and folktales; languages and literature; philosophy and religion; festivals and celebration; foods and drinks.

    Bronze and Metal

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  • Geography

    Nepal has a long roughly rectangular shape with an extension of around 885 km east - west and 145 - 241 km north - south. Altitude ranges from near sea level to 8848 m above it. The contrasting topography of Nepal can be divided into three different geographic regions based on the altitude.
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  • Religion

    Since Nepal was declared federal democratic republic nation, the people of Nepal living in various society got right to establish their own religion belief so thereafter Nepal is known as multi religious to the entire world. Due to its huge diversified land division people living in the various regions in different ethnic groups they follow their own way of religious practice, lifestyle, language, culture and tradition with ever peace of harmony in society. About 80% of the total populations follow Hindu religion, about 10% are Buddhist, 4% are Muslims and rest of other religions.
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  • People

    Nepal has a population of about thirty million, made up of an assortment of races and tribes living in different regions, wearing different costumes and speaking different languages and dialects. They live under diverse environmental condition, from the low plains at the borders of India, northward through the middle hills and valleys up to the flanks of great Himalayan range where there are settlements at altitudes of up to 4,800 meters.
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  • History

    With the passing of every new century, Nepal witnessed many rulers and dynasties play contributing roles in molding Nepal to present day's Modern Nepal. Kiratis ruled Nepal from 9th century B.C. to 1st century A.D. Later Lichchavis took over Kiratis from 3rd to 13th century and then were followed by Thakuris belonging to Malla dynasty. Then Shah Dynasty held the reign. King Prithvi Narayan Shah is solely responsible for today's modern day Nepal for he is the one who united different kingdoms into one single nation in 1769. In 1846, the Kot massacre led by Jung Bahadur Rana back seated the power of monarchy and made the Rana regime more powerful.
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