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Nepal is a small, quaint nation nestled amongst the Greater Himalayas to the south of Tibet Autonomous Region between India and China. The most attractive thing about Nepal has to be its geography- it spans from lush, dense forests to the cod, unbearable, gigantic mountains including Mt. Everest standing tall at 8,848m. The country is also significant to the Hindu and the Buddhist faith. The people in Nepal are easy-going and welcoming and will aid you in having a great time as you travel through the country. If you are an avid traveler, Nepal has to be on your list of places to visit at least once in a lifetime. So, without much ado, let’s directly jump to the most wonderful places that you have to go to while you visit Nepal.
Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal. It is very easy to reach Kathmandu via flight through 30 cities in Asia and Europe. The Tribhuvan International Airport is one of the most popular airports in the country and one of the best entry points to start your journey through the country. If you are already in India, you could easily reach Kathmandu using the roadways. Several well-maintained international highways connect Nepal to India making it a very comfortable journey. There are however no direct train routes from India to Kathmandu.
Though the streets in Kathmandu may be lined with decaying old buildings, the streets are very lively. Durbar Square in Kathmandu is a must-visit site while you are in the country. It is the largest of the palace squares among the three royal cities- Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Various temples pertaining to different faiths could be easily found on the street.
Bhaktapur is also one of the old Royal Cities and is situated on the ancient trade route from Nepal to Tibet. It is located outside Kathmandu and thus very easy to reach by road. The location is quite remote which allowed the city to grow at its own pace making it significantly distinguishable from the other two royal cities. While Kathmandu and Patan have huge proportions of Buddhist populations, Bhaktapur mainly boasts of a Hindu crowd. The Darbar Square in Bhaktapur is also worth visiting. Though not as lively as the palatial square in Kathmandu, this is a stunning place to imbibe Nepalese culture. Throngs of people flock to this place at all times. You will also come across many age-old temples while you are exploring Durbar Square. It is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Boudhanath Stupa is situated just outside Kathmandu and could be easily visited as a day trip from the national capital. However, the ancient stupa constructed in the 6th century deserves a special mention since it is one of the largest of its kind in the world. It also lies on the old trade route between Nepal and Tibet and like Bhaktapur, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Being near Kathmandu, you can go to the Boudhanath Stupa on-road using a taxi or a local bus. It will take you about half an hour and is just about 6 km away from the capital.
The stupa is an abstract representation of the universe. It is steeped in symbolism and the different shapes on the stupa represent the different elements- earth, fire, water, air, and sphere. These also form the basic attributes of Buddha which are also represented through the stupa. Overall, it forms quite an interesting feature and a wondrous structure.
Pokhara is one of the most scenic cities in Nepal and the ideal gateway into the Greater Himalayas. The city is surrounded by some of the tallest peaks in the world including Annapurna I, Manaslu, and Dhaulagiri. You can easily reach Pokhara through the domestic airport from Kathmandu. By road, Pokhara is about 200 km away from Kathmandu and it is a very scenic journey. You could easily opt between private taxis and buses to reach Pokhara from Kathmandu on road.
Pokhara is a fascinating place for trekkers since it is the starting point for treks into the Annapurna Region and Jomsom. In itself, Pokhara is a beautiful place and quite the tranquil hub to relax before or after you go on a tiring trekking expedition. Pokhara is also the second-largest city in Nepal with regard to the population. However, the ambiance in Pokhara is not like that of a big city. You will instantly feel the change in the environment as you travel eastwards towards Pokhara from Kathmandu. Lake Phewa is the best region in Pokhara where you can look for accommodations. There are also many restaurants and shops around the lake for your convenience.
Nepal is one of the finest gateways into the Greater Himalayas and the Annapurna Region is one of the finest examples of trekking in Nepal. The Annapurna Region is situated just outside of Pokhara and thus very easy to reach from this city. There are three main routes to trek around the Annapurna Region that intersect at various points allowing you a variety of options.
The Annapurna Circuit takes you on a trek around the Annapurna Mountain Range and would require 21 days for completion.it is one of the most popular treks for those who have the required time to spare. A popular name for the Annapurna Circuit is the "Apple Pie Circuit". This is because of the fact that you'd come across many teahouses along the trek where they serve their characteristic versions of fried apple pie.
Poon Hill is another exciting and popular trek route that adventurers engage in. Poon Hill is situated at an altitude of 3,210 m near the town of Ghorepani. It is one of the finest treks if you are looking for grand scenic views and oh, what a picturesque view it is! Most trekkers try to get a glimpse of sunrise from Poon Hill while the surrounding peaks of Annapurna South, Dhaulagiri, Singa Chuli, and Machapuchare, ever so near, give the view a note of completion.
You could also go on a trek to the Annapurna Sanctuary which would take you about 5 days. If you go by the Muktinath Route you could go up to Mustang, a charming village amidst the Himalayas with its own impressive culture and traditions.
Chitwan National Park
By now you might be thinking that Nepal is all about quaint hillside cities, beautiful vistas, and the highest mountains in the world. But there is also another side to Nepal- a wild side, one that could be best experienced at the Chitwan National Park. Chitwan is situated at an altitude of about 100 meters at the lowest and features a tropical monsoon climate and vegetation. This allows for a plethora of wildlife to throng this area. the national park is situated about 60 km from the capital and usually takes about 5 hours to reach. Most of the delay in the journey is due to the many traffic jams that you are likely to face on the way. However, much of the journey follows the Trishul Valley and is quite a scenic route.
Of the many animals that you could find here, you are most likely to see rhinos, leopards, Bengal tigers, gaurs, deer, and sloth bears. Rivers and streams cut through the national park and are thronged by crocodiles and freshwater dolphins. Chitwan is a haven for ornithologists since it boasts about 500 different species of birds.
If you are planning a trip to Chitwan National Park, try to come to this amazing wildlife destination between the cooler months of October and February. Most of the migratory bird species are visible around this time of the year.
The Langtang Region, similar to the Annapurna Region is a favorite among trekkers. It is home to the Langtang National Park and features an exceptional array of trekking routes through high passes, stunning sceneries, and age-old monasteries. If you are trekking during spring, you will also see the paths turning a bright shade of scarlet owing to the bloom of rhododendrons. Langtang is situated about 200 km away from Kathmandu and can be easily reached by bus or a taxi. The journey would take you about 4 hours.
This region is the home of the Sherpas and is somewhat less developed than the other trekking destinations in Nepal. This means that the routes are also less busy allowing you unhindered access to indulge in nature at its best. The Langtang Leung peak at an incredible height of 7,245 m is visible on clear days and makes way for one of the most magnificent backdrops to click photographs. There are various trekking routes to explore around the Langtang Region which span from a couple of days to several weeks.
Everest Base Camp
Everest, the highest peak in the world, is just at the reach of your fingertips while you are exploring Nepal. And it will be a sorry state of affairs if you miss this wondrous opportunity to witness the highest peak in the world! As you enter the Everest Region you will find that trekking in the area has become a very common activity nowadays. Though climbing Everest requires skill, patience, mental and physical fitness, and whatnot, climbing to the base camp is a much easier affair. Most trekkers simply trek to the base camp to get a glimpse of the ever-standing Mt. Everest.
You should remember that it is not amongst the most scenic treks in the country. However, the allure of trekking through the paths that will take you to the top of the world is something that gets hooked on you like a drug. You could choose from among a variety of routes to trek to the base camp. The best time to take on this exciting journey is in spring or autumn. However, it is not mandatory to reach the base camp if you want to just look at the highest mountain in the world. If you are not that much of an adventurer and have just come amongst the mountains to relax and chill, you could get a glimpse of Everest from the nearby town of Nagarkot on a clear morning.
The name of Lumbini is written in history books as the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, who later becomes the Buddha. Lumbini does not fall under the main tracks followed by tourists and could be regarded as an offbeat location that is worth a visit. The off-the-track feature also ensures that you could easily escape from the regular crowds and enjoy some alone time in peace and solitude. Lumbini is situated about 250 km away from Kathmandu and could be easily reached by taxi or bus.
Lumbini has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This small town will give you a sense of tranquillity like nowhere else. This town also welcomes many pilgrims, majorly Buddhists, from around the world who have come to retrace the path of Buddha through the various eventful turns in his life. Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini is believed to be the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama and is dedicated to his mother. The temple houses an ancient stone relic that dates back to the 2nd century AD and depicts the birth of Buddha.
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