Saturday, April 3, 2010

Gautam Buddha was Born in NEPAL not in India

Siddhārtha Gautama (Nepali: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: शिद्धत्थ ङोतम Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from NEPAL, who founded Buddhism. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha (Sammāsambuddha) of our age, "Buddha" meaning "awakened one" or "the enlightened one." [note 1] The time of his birth and death are uncertain: most early 20th-century historians dated his lifetime as c. 563 BCE to 483 BCE; more recently, however, at a specialist symposium on this question, the majority of those scholars who presented definite opinions gave dates within 20 years either side of 400 BCE for the Buddha's death, with others supporting earlier or later dates.

Gautama, also known as Śākyamuni or Shakyamuni ("sage of the Shakyas"), is the key figure in Buddhism, and accounts of his life, discourses, and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarized after his death and memorized by his followers. Various collections of teachings attributed to Gautama were passed down by oral tradition, and first committed to writing about 400 years later.

The primary sources of information regarding Siddhārtha Gautama's life are the Buddhist texts. According to these, the Buddha and his monks spent four months each year discussing and rehearsing his teachings, and after his death his monks set about preserving them. A council was held shortly after his death, and another was held a century later. At these councils the monks attempted to establish and authenticate the extant accounts of the life and teachings of the Buddha following systematic rules. They divided the teachings into distinct but overlapping bodies of material, and assigned specific monks to preserve each one. In some cases, essential aspects of teachings attributed to the Buddha were incorporated into stories and chants in an effort to preserve them accurately.

From then on, the teachings were transmitted orally. From internal evidence it seems clear that the oldest texts crystallized into their current form by the time of the second council or shortly after it. The scriptures were not written down until three or four hundred years after the Buddha's death. By this point, the monks had added or altered some material themselves, in particular magnifying the figure of the Buddha.

The ancient Indians were generally not concerned with chronologies, being more focused on philosophy. The Buddhist texts reflect this tendency, providing a clearer picture of what Shakyamuni may have taught than of the dates of the events in his life. These texts contain descriptions of the culture and daily life of ancient India which can be corroborated from the Jain scriptures, and make the Buddha's time the earliest period in Indian history for which significant accounts exist.[6] According to Michael Carrithers, there are good reasons to doubt the traditional account, though, according to Carrithers, the outline of "birth, maturity, renunciation, search, awakening and liberation, teaching, death" must be true.[7]
Conception and birth
Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini, Nepal.
Birth of Buddha at Lumbini. Picture of a painting in a Laotian Temple.
Prince Siddhartha Gautama, Musée Guimet, Paris

Siddhartha was born in Lumbini and raised in the small kingdom or principality of Kapilvastu, both of which are in modern day Nepal. At the time of the Buddha's birth, the area was at or beyond the boundary of Vedic civilization, the dominant culture of northern India at the time; it is even possible that his mother tongue was not an Indo-Aryan language. The early texts suggest that Gautama was not familiar with the dominant religious teachings of his time until he left on his religious search, which was motivated by an existential concern with the human condition. At the time, a multitude of small city-states existed in Ancient India, called Janapadas. Republics and chiefdoms with diffused political power and limited social stratification, were not uncommon amongst them, and were referred to as gana-sanghas. The Buddha's community does not seem to have had a caste system. It was not a monarchy, and seems to have been structured either as an oligarchy, or as a form of republic. The more egalitarian gana-sangha form of government, as a political alternative to the strongly hierarchical kingdoms, may have influenced the development of the Shramana type Jain and Buddhist sanghas, where monarchies tended toward Vedic Brahmanism.

Maya Devi Temple,Lumbini,Nepal

According to the traditional biography, the Buddha's father was King Suddhodana, the leader of Shakya clan, whose capital was Kapilavastu, and who were later annexed by the growing Kingdom of Kosala during the Buddha's lifetime; Gautama was the family name. His mother, Queen Maha Maya (Māyādevī) and Suddhodana's wife, was a Koliyan princess. On the night Siddhartha was conceived, Queen Maya dreamt that a white elephant with six white tusks entered her right side,[15] and ten months later Siddhartha was born. As was the Shakya tradition, when his mother Queen Maya became pregnant, she left Kapilvastu for her father's kingdom to give birth. However, she gave birth on the way, at Lumbini, in a garden beneath a sal tree.

The day of the Buddha's birth is widely celebrated in Theravada countries as Vesak.[16] Various sources hold that the Buddha's mother died at his birth, a few days or seven days later. The infant was given the name Siddhartha (Pāli: Siddhatta), meaning "he who achieves his aim". During the birth celebrations, the hermit seer Asita journeyed from his mountain abode and announced that the child would either become a great king (chakravartin) or a great holy man.[17] This occurred after Siddhartha placed his feet in Asita's hair and Asita examined the birthmarks. Suddhodana held a naming ceremony on the fifth day, and invited eight brahmin scholars to read the future. All gave a dual prediction that the baby would either become a great king or a great holy man.[17] Kaundinya (Pali: Kondanna), the youngest, and later to be the first arahant other than the Buddha, was the only one who unequivocally predicted that Siddhartha would become a Buddha.[18]

While later tradition and legend characterized Śuddhodana as a hereditary monarch, the descendant of the Solar Dynasty of Ikṣvāku (Pāli: Okkāka), many scholars believe that Śuddhodana was the elected chief of a tribal confederacy.
Early life and marriage

Siddhartha, said to have been destined to a luxurious life as a prince, had three palaces (for seasonal occupation) especially built for him. His father, King Śuddhodana, wishing for Siddhartha to be a great king, shielded his son from religious teachings or knowledge of human suffering. Siddhartha was brought up by his mother's younger sister, Maha Pajapati.[19]

As the boy reached the age of 16, his father arranged his marriage to Yaśodharā (Pāli: Yasodharā), a cousin of the same age. According to the traditional account, in time, she gave birth to a son, Rahula. Siddhartha spent 29 years as a Prince in Kapilavastu. Although his father ensured that Siddhartha was provided with everything he could want or need, Siddhartha felt that material wealth was not the ultimate goal of life.[19]
Departure and Ascetic Life
The Buddha travelled the plain of the Ganges river, where his philosophy attracted followers.
The Great Departure. Gandhara, 2nd century.
Prince Siddharta shaves his hair and become an ascetic. Borobudur, 8th century.

At the age of 29, Siddhartha left his palace in order to meet his subjects. Despite his father's effort to remove the sick, aged and suffering from the public view, Siddhartha was said to have seen an old man. Disturbed by this, when told that all people would eventually grow old by his charioteer Channa, the prince went on further trips where he encountered, variously, a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and an ascetic. Deeply depressed by these sights, he sought to overcome old age, illness, and death by living the life of an ascetic.

Siddhartha escaped his palace, accompanied by Channa aboard his horse Kanthaka, leaving behind this royal life to become a mendicant. It is said that, "the horse's hooves were muffled by the gods"[20] to prevent guards from knowing of the Bodhisatta's departure. This event is traditionally called "The Great Departure". Siddhartha initially went to Rajagaha and began his ascetic life by begging for alms in the street. Having been recognised by the men of King Bimbisara, Bimbisara offered him the throne after hearing of Siddhartha's quest. Siddhartha rejected the offer, but promised to visit his kingdom of Magadha first, upon attaining enlightenment.

Siddhartha left Rajagaha and practised under two hermit teachers. After mastering the teachings of Alara Kalama (Skr. Ārāḍa Kālāma), Siddhartha was asked by Kalama to succeed him, but moved on after being unsatisfied with his practices. He then became a student of Udaka Ramaputta (Skr. Udraka Rāmaputra), but although he achieved high levels of meditative consciousness and was asked to succeed Ramaputta, he was still not satisfied with his path, and moved on.[21]
Gandhara Buddha. 1st–2nd century CE, Tokyo National Museum.

Siddhartha and a group of five companions led by Kaundinya then set out to take their austerities even further. They tried to find enlightenment through near total deprivation of worldly goods, including food, practising self-mortification. After nearly starving himself to death by restricting his food intake to around a leaf or nut per day, he collapsed in a river while bathing and almost drowned. Siddhartha began to reconsider his path. Then, he remembered a moment in childhood in which he had been watching his father start the season's plowing, and he had fallen into a naturally concentrated and focused state that was blissful and refreshing, the jhāna.

After asceticism and concentrating on meditation and Anapana-sati (awareness of breathing in and out), Siddhartha is said to have discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way—a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. He accepted a little milk and rice pudding from a village girl named Sujata, who wrongly believed him to be the spirit that had granted her a wish, such was his emaciated appearance. Then, sitting under a pipal tree, now known as the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India, he vowed never to arise until he had found the Truth. Kaundinya and the other four companions, believing that he had abandoned his search and become undisciplined, left. After 49 days meditating, at the age of 35, he attained Enlightenment; according to some traditions, this occurred approximately in the fifth lunar month, and according to others in the twelfth. Gautama, from then on, was known as the Buddha or "Awakened One." Buddha is also sometimes translated as "The Enlightened One." Often, he is referred to in Buddhism as Shakyamuni Buddha or "The Awakened One of the Shakya Clan."

At this point, he is believed to have realized complete awakening and insight into the nature and cause of human suffering which was ignorance, along with steps necessary to eliminate it. This was then categorized into 'Four Noble Truths'; the state of supreme liberation—possible for any being—was called Nirvana. He then allegedly came to possess the Ten Characteristics, which are said to belong to every Buddha.

According to one of the stories in the Āyācana Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya VI.1), a scripture found in the Pāli and other canons, immediately after his Enlightenment, the Buddha was wondering whether or not he should teach the Dharma to human beings. He was concerned that, as human beings were overpowered by greed, hatred and delusion, they would not be able to see the true dharma, which was subtle, deep and hard to understand. However, Brahmā Sahampati interceded and asked that he teach the dharma to the world, as "there will be those who will understand the Dharma". With his great compassion to all beings in the universe, the Buddha agreed to become a teacher.
Formation of the sangha
Painting of the first sermon depicted at Wat Chedi Liem in Thailand.

After becoming enlightened, two merchants whom the Buddha met, named Tapussa and Bhallika became the first lay disciples. They are given some hairs from the Buddha's head, which are believed to now be enshrined in the Shwe Dagon Temple in Rangoon, Burma. The Buddha intended to visit Asita, and his former teachers, Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta to explain his findings, but they had already died.

The Buddha thus journeyed to Deer Park near Vārāṇasī (Benares) in northern India, he set in motion the Wheel of Dharma by delivering his first sermon to the group of five companions with whom he had previously sought enlightenment. They, together with the Buddha, formed the first saṅgha, the company of Buddhist monks, and hence, the first formation of Triple Gem (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) was completed, with Kaundinya becoming the first stream-enterer. All five soon become arahants, and with the conversion of Yasa and fifty four of his friends, the number of arahants swelled to 60 within the first two months. The conversion of the three Kassapa brothers and their 200, 300 and 500 disciples swelled the sangha over 1000, and they were dispatched to explain the dharma to the populace.

It is unknown what the Buddha's mother tongue was, and no conclusive documentation has been made at this point. It is likely that he preached and his teachings were originally preserved in a variety of closely related Middle Indo-Aryan dialects, of which Pali may be a standardization.
Travels and teaching
Buddha with his protector Vajrapani, Gandhara, 2nd century CE, Ostasiatische Kunst Museum

For the remaining 45 years of his life, the Buddha is said to have traveled in the Gangetic Plain, in what is now Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and southern Nepal, teaching his doctrine and discipline to an extremely diverse range of people— from nobles to outcaste street sweepers, mass murderers such as Angulimala and cannibals such as Alavaka. This extended to many adherents of rival philosophies and religions. The Buddha founded the community of Buddhist monks and nuns (the Sangha) to continue the dispensation after his Parinirvāna (Pāli: Parinibbāna) or "complete Nirvāna", and made thousands of converts. His religion was open to all races and classes and had no caste structure. He was also subject to attack from opposition religious groups, including attempted murders and framings.

The sangha travelled from place to place in India, expounding the dharma. This occurred throughout the year, except during the four months of the vassana rainy season. Due to the heavy amount of flooding, travelling was difficult, and ascetics of all religions in that time did not travel, since it was more difficult to do so without stepping on submerged animal life, unwittingly killing them. During this period, the sangha would retreat to a monastery, public park or a forest and people would come to them.

The first vassana was spent at Varanasi when the sangha was first formed. After this, he travelled to Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha to visit King Bimbisara, in accordance with his promise after enlightenment. It was during this visit that Sariputta and Mahamoggallana were converted by Assaji, one of the first five disciples; they were to become the Buddha's two foremost disciples. The Buddha then spent the next three seasons at Veluvana Bamboo Grove monastery in Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha. The monastery, which was of a moderate distance from the city centre was donated by Bimbisara.

Upon hearing of the enlightenment, Suddhodana dispatched royal delegations to ask the Buddha to return to Kapilavastu. Nine delegations were sent in all, but the delegates joined the sangha and became arahants. Neglecting worldly matters, they did not convey their message. The tenth delegation, led by Kaludayi, a childhood friend, resulted in the message being successfully conveyed as well as becoming an arahant. Since it was not the vassana, the Buddha agreed, and two years after his enlightenment, took a two month journey to Kapilavastu by foot, preaching the dharma along the way. Upon his return, the royal palace had prepared the midday meal, but since no specific invitation had come, the sangha went for an alms round in Kapilavastu. Hearing this, Suddhodana hastened to approach the Buddha, stating "Ours is the warrior lineage of Mahamassata, and not a single warrior has gone seeking alms", to which the Buddha replied

That is not the custom of your royal lineage. But it is the custom of my Buddha lineage. Several thousands of Buddhas have gone by seeking alms

Suddhodana invited the sangha back to the royal palace for the meal, followed by a dharma talk, after which he became a sotapanna. During the visit, many members of the royal family joined the sangha. His cousins Ananda and Anuruddha were to become two of his five chief disciples. His son Rahula also joined the sangha at the age of seven, and was one of the ten chief disciples. His half-brother Nanda also joined the sangha and became an arahant. Another cousin Devadatta also became a monk although he later became an enemy and tried to kill the Buddha on multiple occasions.

Of his disciples, Sariputta, Mahamoggallana, Mahakasyapa, Ananda and Anuruddha comprised the five chief disciples. His ten foremost disciples were completed by the quintet of Upali, Subhoti, Rahula, Mahakaccana and Punna.

In the fifth vassana, the Buddha was staying at Mahavana near Vesali. Hearing of the impending death of Suddhodana, the Buddha went to his father and preached the dharma, and Suddhodana became an arahant prior to death. The death and cremation led to the creation of the order of nuns. Buddhist texts record that he was reluctant to ordain women as nuns. His foster mother Maha Pajapati approached him asking to join the sangha, but the Buddha refused, and began the journey from Kapilavastu back to Rajagaha. Maha Pajapati was so intent on renouncing the world that she led a group of royal Sakyan and Koliyan ladies, following the sangha to Rajagaha. The Buddha eventually accepted them five years after the formation of the Sangha on the grounds that their capacity for enlightenment was equal to that of men, but he gave them certain additional rules (Vinaya) to follow. This occurred after Ananda interceded on their behalf. Yasodhara also became a nun, with both becoming arahants.
Devadatta tries to attack the Buddha. Picture of a wallpainting in a Laotian monastery.

During his ministry, Devadatta (who was not an arahant) frequently tried to undermine the Buddha. At one point Devadatta asked the Buddha to stand aside to let him lead the sangha. The Buddha declined, and stated that Devadatta's actions did not reflect on the Triple Gem, but on him alone. Devadatta conspired with Prince Ajatasattu, son of Bimbisara, so that they would kill and usurp the Buddha and Bimbisara respectively. Devadatta attempted three times to kill the Buddha. The first attempt involved the hiring of a group of archers, whom upon meeting the Buddha became disciples. A second attempt followed when Devadatta attempted to roll a large boulder down a hill. It hit another rock and splintered, only grazing the Buddha in the foot. A final attempt by plying an elephant with alcohol and setting it loose again failed. Failing this, Devadatta attempted to cause a schism in the sangha, by proposing extra restrictions on the vinaya. When the Buddha declined, Devadatta started a breakaway order, criticising the Buddha's laxity. At first, he managed to convert some of the bhikkhus, but Sariputta and Mahamoggallana expounded the dharma to them and succeeded in winning them back.

When the Buddha reached the age of 55, he made Ananda his chief attendant.
Death / Mahaparinirvana
An artist`s portrayal of Buddha's entry into Parinirvana.

According to the Mahaparinibbana Sutta of the Pali canon, at the age of 80, the Buddha announced that he would soon reach Parinirvana or the final deathless state abandoning the earthly body. After this, the Buddha ate his last meal, which he had received as an offering from a blacksmith named Cunda. Falling violently ill, Buddha instructed his attendant Ānanda to convince Cunda that the meal eaten at his place had nothing to do with his passing and that his meal would be a source of the greatest merit as it provided the last meal for a Buddha.[22] Mettanando and von Hinüber argue that the Buddha died of mesenteric infarction, a symptom of old age, rather than food poisoning.[23] The precise contents of the Buddha's final meal are not clear, due to variant scriptural traditions and ambiguity over the translation of certain significant terms; the Theravada tradition generally believes that the Buddha was offered some kind of pork, while the Mahayana tradition believes that the Buddha consumed some sort of truffle or other mushroom.
The sharing of the relics of the Buddha, Zenyōmitsu-Temple Museum, Tokyo
Buddha relics from Kanishka's stupa in Peshawar, Pakistan, now in Mandalay, Burma. Teresa Merrigan, 2005

The Mahayana Vimalakirti Sutra claims, in Chapter 3, that the Buddha doesn't really become ill or old but purposely presents such an appearance only to teach those born into samsara about the impermanence and pain of defiled worlds and to encourage them to strive for Nirvana.

"Reverend Ánanda, the Tathágatas have the body of the Dharma—not a body that is sustained by material food. The Tathágatas have a transcendental body that has transcended all mundane qualities. There is no injury to the body of a Tathágata, as it is rid of all defilements. The body of a Tathágata is uncompounded and free of all formative activity. Reverend Ánanda, to believe there can be illness in such a body is irrational and unseemly!' Nevertheless, since the Buddha has appeared during the time of the five corruptions, he disciplines living beings by acting lowly and humble."

Ananda protested Buddha's decision to enter Parinirvana in the abandoned jungles of Kuśināra (present-day Kushinagar, India) of the Malla kingdom. Buddha, however, reminded Ananda how Kushinara was a land once ruled by a righteous wheel-turning king that resounded with joy:

44. Kusavati, Ananda, resounded unceasingly day and night with ten sounds—the trumpeting of elephants, the neighing of horses, the rattling of chariots, the beating of drums and tabours, music and song, cheers, the clapping of hands, and cries of "Eat, drink, and be merry!"

Buddha then asked all the attendant Bhikshus to clarify any doubts or questions they had. They had none. He then finally entered Parinirvana. The Buddha's final words were, "All composite things pass away. Strive for your own liberation with diligence." The Buddha's body was cremated and the relics were placed in monuments or stupas, some of which are believed to have survived until the present. For example, The Temple of the Tooth or "Dalada Maligawa" in Sri Lanka is the place where the relic of the right tooth of Buddha is kept at present.

According to the Pāli historical chronicles of Sri Lanka, the Dīpavaṃsa and Mahāvaṃsa, the coronation of Aśoka (Pāli: Asoka) is 218 years after the death of Buddha. According to one Mahayana record in Chinese (十八部論 and 部執異論), the coronation of Aśoka is 116 years after the death of Buddha. Therefore, the time of Buddha's passing is either 486 BCE according to Theravāda record or 383 BCE according to Mahayana record. However, the actual date traditionally accepted as the date of the Buddha's death in Theravāda countries is 544 or 543 BCE, because the reign of Aśoka was traditionally reckoned to be about 60 years earlier than current estimates.

At his death, the Buddha told his disciples to follow no leader, but to follow his teachings (dharma). However, at the First Buddhist Council, Mahakasyapa was held by the sangha as their leader, with the two chief disciples Mahamoggallana and Sariputta having died before the Buddha.
Physical characteristics
Main article: Physical characteristics of the Buddha

The 8m tall statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha in the Tawang Monastery.
Buddha Daibutsu in Kamakura, Japan.

Buddha is perhaps one of the few sages for whom we have mention of his rather impressive physical characteristics. A kshatriya by birth, he had military training in his upbringing, and by Shakyan tradition was required to pass tests to demonstrate his worthiness as a warrior in order to marry. He had a strong enough body to be noticed by one of the kings and was asked to join his army as a general. He is also believed by Buddhists to have "the 32 Signs of the Great Man".

The Brahmin Sonadanda described him as "handsome, good-looking, and pleasing to the eye, with a most beautiful complexion. He has a godlike form and countenance, he is by no means unattractive."(D,I:115).

"It is wonderful, truly marvellous, how serene is the good Gotama's appearance, how clear and radiant his complexion, just as the golden jujube in autumn is clear and radiant, just as a palm-tree fruit just loosened from the stalk is clear and radiant, just as an adornment of red gold wrought in a crucible by a skilled goldsmith, deftly beaten and laid on a yellow-cloth shines, blazes and glitters, even so, the good Gotama's senses are calmed, his complexion is clear and radiant." (A,I:181)

A disciple named Vakkali, who later became an Arahant, was so obsessed by Buddha's physical presence that Buddha had to tell him to stop and reminded Vakkali to know Buddha through the Dhamma and not physical appearances.

Although the Buddha was not represented in human form until around the 1st century CE (see Buddhist art), the physical characteristics of fully-enlightened Buddhas are described by the Buddha in the Digha Nikaya's Lakkhaṇa Sutta (D,I:142).[24] In addition, the Buddha's physical appearance is described by Yasodhara to their son Rahula upon the Buddha's first post-Enlightenment return to his former princely palace in the non-canonical Pali devotional hymn, Narasīha Gāthā ("The Lion of Men").
Main article: Buddhist philosophy
Seated Buddha, Gandhara, 2nd century CE.

Some scholars believe that some portions of the Pali Canon and the Agamas could contain the actual substance of the historical teachings (and possibly even the words) of the Buddha.[26][27] This is not the case for the later Mahayana sutras.[28] The scriptural works of Early Buddhism precede the Mahayana works chronologically, and are treated by many Western scholars as the main credible source for information regarding the actual historical teachings of Gautama Buddha.

Some of the fundamentals of the teachings of Gautama Buddha are:

* The Four Noble Truths: that suffering is an inherent part of existence; that the origin of suffering is ignorance and the main symptoms of that ignorance are attachment and craving; that attachment and craving can be ceased; and that following the Noble Eightfold Path will lead to the cessation of attachment and craving and therefore suffering.
* The Noble Eightfold Path: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
* Dependent origination: that any phenomenon 'exists' only because of the ‘existence’ of other phenomena in a complex web of cause and effect covering time past, present and future. Because all things are thus conditioned and transient (anicca), they have no real independent identity (anatta).
* Rejection of the infallibility of accepted scripture: Teachings should not be accepted unless they are borne out by our experience and are praised by the wise. See the Kalama Sutta for details.
* Anicca (Sanskrit: anitya): That all things are impermanent.
* Dukkha (Sanskrit: duḥkha): That all beings suffer from all situations due to unclear mind.
* Anatta (Sanskrit: anātman): That the perception of a constant "self" is an illusion.

However, in some Mahayana schools, these points have come to be regarded as more or less subsidiary. There is some disagreement amongst various schools of Buddhism over more esoteric aspects of Buddha's teachings, and also over some of the disciplinary rules for monks.

According to tradition, the Buddha emphasized ethics and correct understanding. He questioned the average person's notions of divinity and salvation. He stated that there is no intermediary between mankind and the divine; distant gods are subjected to karma themselves in decaying heavens; and the Buddha is solely a guide and teacher for the sentient beings who must tread the path of Nirvāṇa (Pāli: Nibbāna) themselves to attain the spiritual awakening called bodhi and see truth and reality as it is. The Buddhist system of insight and meditation practice is not believed to have been revealed divinely, but by the understanding of the true nature of the mind, which must be discovered by personally treading a spiritual path guided by the Buddha's teachings.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Festivals in Nepal

Festivals in Nepal Nepal is a land of Festivals. For the Nepalese, festivals are not merely the annual spectacles, but also are a living part of their rich cultural heritage. Festivals effectively bind together the Nepalese people of diverse cultural backgrounds and beliefs into one nation. There are more than 50 major festivals in a year celebrated by Nepalese. Although most of these festivals are religious some have historical significance, while others are seasonal celebrations. Most Nepalese festivals are related to different Hindu and Buddhist gods and goddesses and they are celebrated on such days consecrated for them by religion and tradition. There are also some festivals which are observed in honor of personal relatives such as festival of Matatirtha (for mothers), Gokarna Ausi (for fathers), Gaijatra (for the ones who are passed away). Some festivals are of national significance such as Dashain, a celebration of Goddess Bhagabati's victory over evil Mahisashur, and Tihar, a celebration of lights dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, and some are confined to the Katmandu Valley, while still others are celebrated only within one or two villages or cities. The dates of most festivals are fixed by famous astrologers after consulting the lunar calendar in Nepal. Below is the list of most popular festival in Nepal:

Mata Tirtha Snan (Mother's Day)
Festivals in Nepal This is one of the widely celebrated festivals that falls on the first month, Baisakh (April/May), of the Nepali Year. It is also called Mata Tirtha Aunsi as it falls on a new moon night. The Nepalese people have always been family oriented. They take great pride in their ancient tradition of closely-knit family unit. This sort of kinship is not only the result of religious teachings, but also due to various festivals and ceremonies, which brings the family together and strengthens the family ties in the Nepalese society. Such is the festival of "Mata Tritha Puja" which in English is "Mother's day" . This festival falls on the last day of the dark fortnight of April or early May. It is a day when one shows appreciation and gratitude to his/her mother for her unconditional love and undying support.

Buddha Jayanti
Buddha Jayanti / Baisakh PurnimaThis day is celebrated to mark the birthday of the Lord Buddha which dates back in about 543 BC.It falls on Jestha Purnima (Full moon night-May/June). The belief and the practice of Buddhism in Nepal dates back to the time of Prince Siddharth Gautam, who was born in the southern Terai region of the country in about 543 BC. Till he was 29, the young prince led a very sheltered life in the royal palace of his father. He was completely unaware of the tragedies of everyday life. One day, he convinced his charioteer to take him outside the walls of his palace and he was shocked to see the sight of an old man, a cripple, and a corpse. The realization that there was more to life than the lavish and luxurious life he was leading, made him abandon all the worldly pleasures and search for enlightenment and the true meaning of life. After much wandering and searching, Gautam finally attained enlightenment while meditating under a pipul tree. Henceforth, known as the "Buddha" or "the enlightened one" he began to preach "The Four Noble Truths" to all who would listen. According to this doctrine, people suffer because of their desires and the root cause of all misery is desire. These desires and consequently all problems can be totally eliminated by following the "eightfold path"- right views, right intent, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right meditation.

Ghanta Karna Chaturdasi
This festival celebrates the exorcism of the mythical demon Ghantakarna.It is also called Gathemangal festival which falls on trayodashi of the month Shrawan (July/August). This festival celebrates the exorcism of the mythical demon Ghantakarna. According to a local legend a savage by the name of Ghantakarna used to terrify the public by stealing their children and womenfolk. The demon made a grotesque sight with his body painted in red, blue, and black. He had a pair of bells on his ears so that, at every moment, he made a jangling noise. Because of these bells, he was called Ghanta (bell) Karna (ears). Ghanta Karna was a big bully and demanded money and other gifts be made to him by the villagers.

Janai Purnima, Rakshya Bandhan, Khumbeshwor Mela Patan
Festivals in NepalJanai Purnima is the festival of Sacred Thread.On this day every Hindu ties a sacred thread on the wrist.It is also called Rakshya Bandhan.On this day, there is a big Mela (fair) at Khumbeshwor, Lalitpur.It is again on a full moon night. Janai Purnima is known as the Sacred Thread Festival. On this day Hindu men, especially the Brahmans and Chettris perform their annual change of Janai, a yellow cotton string worn across the chest or tied around the wrist of the right hand. This thread is only given to males during a lengthy and impressive religious ceremony called the 'Bratabandhan'. This cord initiates them into manhood and commands them to faithfuly the follow the relegion. The Janai must be worn everyday of their lives from this day onwards. The 'triple cord' is a symbol of body, speech and mind, and when the knots are tied the wearer is supposed to gain complete control over each. This cord is changed if it becomes frayed or defiled, for example, when the wearer touches a woman in menstruation, during which she is considered 'unclean'. But according to Hindu rules the cord must be changed without fail by a Brahman on this day, Janai meaning sacred thread, and purni meaning Purnima or the full moon, thus pointing to the change of the thread on the auspicious full moon day.

Gaijatra in NepalThe festival of "Gai Jatra" (the procession of cows) which is one of the most popular festivals, is generally celebrated in the Nepalese month of Bhadra (August-September).This festival has its roots in the belief that the god of death, Yamaraj, must be feared and hence worshipped. The festival of "Gai Jatra", the procession of cows, is generally celebrated in the Nepalese month of Bhadra (August-September). The festival of cows is one of the most popular festivals of Nepal. The whole complex of Gai Jatra festival has its roots in the ancient age when people feared and worshipped Yamaraj,"the god of death". However, the ironical sessions synonymous with the Gai Jatra festival came into tradition in the medieval period of Nepal during the reign of Malla Kings. Hence, the present form of Gai Jatra is a happy blending of antiquity and medievalism. According to the traditions since times immemorial, every family who has lost one relative during the past year must participate in a procession through the streets of Kathmandu leading a cow. If a cow is unavailable then a young boy dressed as a cow is considered a fair substitute. In Hinduism, a cow is regarded as the most venerated among all the domestic animals. It is believed that the cow, revered as a holy animal by Hindus, will help the deceased relative's journey to heaven.

Shree Krishna Janmastami
Festivals in Nepal: KrishanaSri Krishna Janmastami marks the celebration of the birth of Lord Sri Krishna. This festival is also known as Krishna Jayanti or Janmashtami. Lord Krishna is regarded as the 8th avatar or 'incarnation' of Lord Vishnu.It falls on Saptami of Bhadra (August/September). Sri Krishna Janmastami marks the celebration of the birth of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. This festival is also known as Krishna Jayanti or Janmashtami. Lord Krishna is regarded as the 8th avatar or 'incarnation' of Vishnu. The life of Sri Krishna is the most stirring saga of one of the greatest saviors and propounders of 'Dharma'. His life is filled with numerous dangers over which he ultimately gained victory. The stories of how he killed, one after the other, all the demonic adversaries- Pootana, Shakata, Agha, Dhenuka, Bakaa, Keshi, Kansa, Shishupala, Jarasandha etc. - has made him the peerless savior of mankind.

Gokarna Aunsi (Father's Day)
Festivals in Nepal: Fathers DayThe most auspicious day to honour one's father is Gokarna Aunsi . It falls on the dark fortnight of Bhadra or in August or in early September.It is also known as Kuse Aunsi. The Nepali religion , tradition and culture holds a lot of reverence for a father . He is considered the pillar of strength , respect and support of a family. The most auspicious day to honour one's father is Gokarna Aunsi . It falls on the dark fortnight in August or in early September. A day when children show their gratitude and appreciation for his guidance and teachings in life. Sons and daughters, near or far, come with presents and confictions to spend the day with their fathers. Children spend their hoarded coins on presents, which expresses honour and love in their own special ways. The streets are a gay scene of married daughters on their way to their parents' home with delicacies . After the offering of gifts, they touch their father's feet with their foreheads , this act of veniration is done by the sons only , the daughters touch the hand. The ceremony is also known as "looking upon father's face".

Teej Ko Darkhane Din
Festivals in Nepal: Teej Dance"Teej" is the fasting festival for women. Through this religious fasting, hindu women pray for marital bliss, wellbeing of their spouse and children and purification of their own body and soul. It takes place on Tritiya of Bhadra (August/September). "Teej" is the fasting festival for women. It takes place in August or early September. The festival is a three-day long celebration that combines sumptuous feasts as well as rigid fasting. Through this religious fasting, hindu women pray for marital bliss, well being of their spouse and children and purification of their own body and soul. Traditionally, the ritual of Teej is obligatory for all Hindu married women and girls who have reached puberty. Exception is made for the ones who are ill or physically unfit. In such circumstances a priest performs the rites. According to the holy books, the Goddess Parbati fasted and prayed fervently for the great Lord Shiva to become her spouse. Touched by her devotion, he took her for his wife. Goddess Parbati, in gratitude sent her emissary to preach and disseminate this religious fasting among mortal women, promising prosperity and longevity with their family. Thus was born the festival of Teej.

Indrajatra(Holiday Only in Kathmandu)
Festivals in Nepal: Indra JatraThis festival falls in the end of Bhadra (August/September). Both Hindus and Buddhists unite to celebrate the festival of Indra Jatra with great enthusiasm. It is a well known fact that Hinduism and Buddhism are the two major religions of Nepal, each having it's own rules and rituals. However, like most festivals of Nepal, both Hindus and Buddhist unite to celebrate the festival of Indra Jatra. This festival is celebrated by both Hindus and Buddhists with great enthusiasm. It is also believed that Indra Jatra is a festival of classical dances. It is on this very day when one is able to observe numerous varieties of traditional dances. The festival is named after Lord Indra who is known as the god of rain and also as the king of heaven.


Festivals in Nepal During the month of Kartik in the Bikram Sambat calendar (late September and early October), the Nepalese people indulge in the biggest festival of the year, Dashain. Dashain is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese of all caste and creed throughout the country. The fifteen days of celebration occurs during the bright lunar fortnight ending on the day of the full moon. During the month of Kartik in the Bikram Sambat calendar (late September and early October), the Nepalese people indulge in the biggest festival of the year, Dashain. Dashain is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese of all caste and creed throughout the country. The fifteen days of celebration occurs during the bright lunar fortnight ending Festivals in Nepal: Tikaon the day of the full moon. Thorough out the kingdom of Nepal the goddess Durga in all her manifestations are worshiped with innumerable pujas, abundant offerings and thousands of animal sacrifices for the ritual holy bathing, thus drenching the goddess for days in blood. Dashain commemorates a great victory of the gods over the wicked demons. One of the victory stories told is the Ramayan, where the lord Ram after a big struggle slaughtered Ravana, the fiendish king of demons. It is said that lord Ram was successful in the battle only when goddess Durga was evoked. The main celebration glorifies the triumph of good over evil and is symbolized by goddess Durga slaying the terrible demon Mahisasur, who terrorised the earth in the guise of a brutal water buffalo. The first nine days signify the nine days of ferrous battle between goddess Durga and the demon Mahisasur. The tenth day is the day when Mahisasur was slain and the last five days symbolise the celebration of the victory with the blessing of the goddess. Dashain is celebrated with great rejoice, and goddess Durga is worshiped throughout the kingdom as the divine mother goddess.

Tihar Holidays
Festivals in Nepal: Tihar, Bhai TikaTihar, the festival of lights!Tihar, the festival of lights is one of the most dazzling of all Hindu festivals. In this festival we worship Goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth. It heralds the month of Kartik (October/November) starting with Kukur Puja-Narak Chaturdashi. Tihar, the festival of lights is one of the most dazzling of all Hindu festivals. In this festival we worship Goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth. During the festival all the houses in the city and villages are decorated with lit oil lamps. Thus during the night the entire village or city looks like a sparkling diamond. This festival is celebrated in five days starting from the thirteenth day of the waning moon in October. We also refer to tihar as 'Panchak Yama' which literally means 'the five days of the underworld lord'. We also worship 'yamaraj' in different forms in these five days. In other words this festival is meant for life and prosperity. Goddess Laxmi is the wife of almighty Lord Vishnu. She was formed from the ocean and she has all the wealth of the seas. She sits on a full-grown lotus and her steed is the owl. On the third day of the festival at the stroke of midnight she makes a world tour on her owl looking how she is worshipped.

Maghe Sankranti
Festivals in Nepal: Maghe ShacrantiMaghe Sankranti is the beginning of the holy month of Magh, usually the mid of January. It brings an end to the ill-omened month of Poush (mid-december) when all religious ceremonies are forbidden. Even if it is considered the coldest day of the year, it marks the coming of warmer weather and better days of health and fortune. Maghe Sankranti is the beginning of the holy month of Magh, usually the mid of January. It brings an end to the ill-omened month of Poush (mid-december) when all religious ceremonies are forbidden. Even if it is considered the coldest day of the year, it marks the coming of warmer weather and better days of health and fortune. This day is said to be the most significant day for holy bathing despite the weather. This ritual usually takes place at the union of sacred rivers and streams. Sankhamole, on the banks of the holy Bagmati river, below Patan, is thought to be amongst the most sacred sites for this purpose, though there has been a decline in the fulfillment of this ritual in the recent years due to water pollution in the river. But people still go in the wee hours of dawn just to sprinkle themselves with the water. They pay homage to various deities specially the temple of Red Machindranath and Agima Ta.

Shree Panchami
Festivals in Nepal: Shree PanchamiThis festival falls in mid Magh (January/February).It is celebrated as the birthday of Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. She is the lily-white daughter of Shiva and Durga in spotless white robe and seated in a full-blown lotus. This day is also dedicated to the martyrs of Nepal and hence celebrated as Martyr's Day. This day is celebrated as the birthday of Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning, She is the lily-white daughter of Shiva and Durga in spotless white robes and seated in a full-blown lotus. Her carrier is a snow-white swan. Her brother Ganesh, the elephant God, is invariably close at her side, and he receives animal sacrifices in her stead. In her hands Saraswati holds a book, a vina harp, and sometimes a great sword because of which many believe that she and Manjushri are one and the same.

Maha Shiva Ratri

Festivals in Nepal: Maha Shiva RatriThis day is the celebration dedicated to the Lord Shiva which falls on the Trayodashi of the month Fagun (February/March). Nepal is the only Hindu kingdom in the world and thus the land of Lord Shiva, Lord of all Lords, for here you can feel his presence everywhere. Even in the sacred texts of the Hindus it has been stated that Mt. Kailash in the Himalayas is the abode of Lord Shiva or Mahadeva as he is also known. Shiva the Destroyer of Evil is among the most praised and worshipped of all the gods in the Hindu religion. Hindus all over the world know him through different names and forms. The country has thousands of idols and monuments, which glorify his name, the most common one being the Shiva Linga or the phallus of Shiva that represents him. For it is the Shiva linga that Hindus regard as the symbol of creation, the beginning of everything. Shiva Ratri is the night of Lord Shiva when He himself was created by His own Divine Grace and Hindus all over the world celebrate this day with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm. Shiva Ratri literally means ' the night consecrated to Shiva'. This auspicious festival falls on the fourteenth day of the waning moon in the month of Falgun, (February - March in the Gregorian calendar ). The temple of Pashupatinath in Kathmandu which is considered as one of the holiest shrines of the Hindus, glorifying Lord Shiva, thus receives more than 100,000 worshippers during the festival of Shiva Ratri. These worshippers come from far and wide to pay their respects and homage to Mahadev on his sacred day.

Fagun Purnima (Holi)

Festivals in Nepal: HoliThe ancient Hindu festival of Holi falls on late February or on early March. Allegedly named after the mythical demoness Holika, it is a day when the feast of colours is celebrated. The festival is of a week. However, it's only the last day that is observed by all with colours. The ancient Hindu festival of Holi falls on late February or on early March. Allegedly named after the mythical demoness Holika, it is a day when the feast of colours is celebrated. The festival is of a week. However it's only the last day that is observed by all with colours. Phagu is another name for Holi where Phagu means the sacred red powder and Pune is the full moon day, on which the festival ends. People can be seen wandering through the streets either on foot or on some vehicle, with a variety of colours smeared over them. Families and friends get together and celebrate the occasion with a lot of merry making. This spring time celebration is also an outburst of youthful exuberance in which throwing colours and water bolloons (lolas) on passer- by is acceptable. But, the Indian community, that is, the Marwari class who have settled down in Nepal for centuries and the people of Terai celebrate it a day later with more pomp and ceremony.

Ghode Jatra
Festivals in Nepal: Ghode JatraGhode Jatra, the Horse Racing Day falls on Darhsa Shrad Aunsi of the month Chaitra (March/April). A grand horse parade takes place at Tundikhel, the central point of the city reputed to have been in the former days the largest parade ground in Asia. Ghode Jatra, the Horse Racing Day falls on the month of mid March or early April. A grand horse parade takes place at Tundikhel, the central point of the city reputed to have been in the former days the largest parade ground in Asia. It is said that in the olden days the Kings of Kathmandu use to go to worship the Bhadrakali temple in a courtly cavalcade following the Living Goddess Kumari. This visit could have been modified into the parade of horses and finally the horse athletics and racing contest as it is today, held by the army in the presence of the King. There was a time when the festival was considered only for the residents of Kathmandu. But today it's popularity has attracted people from all over Nepal. It's said to be a propitious day for consuming a large amount of garlic and meat, some even consider it a day when citizen in the streets may inebriate themselves. Legend reveals that this festival was held to celebrate the victory over a demon named Tundi who resided over the meadow, today known as Tundikhel. Tundi was a terror, so when he met with his death people rejoiced by dancing on his body with horses. So it's believed that the clamor of horses' hooves on Ghode Jatra at Tundikhel keeps the demon's sprit at bay as it still threatens to ruin the city. It's said, the faster the horses run quicker will Tundi's spirit be dispelled. The swift running of the horses on this day is also considered to be a good omen for the Nepalese people.

Shree Ram Nawami
Festivals in Nepal: Ram NawamiRam Nawami is celebrated in the mid of Chaitra (March/April) as Lord Ram's Birthday. It is celebrated with much pomp at Janaki temple in Janakpur city, which lies in southern Nepal. Lord Rama is regarded as another incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Nepalese, therefore, have deep belief and extreme faith in him. His strength, courage, purity of heart, compassion, sweetness of speech, serenity and abiding wisdom made him the favorite idol of his people. His life story is told in the much beloved epic- the "RAMAYANA". Before the birth of Sri Ram, the world was under the reign of an evil and fiendish demon king Ravana. Ravana had pleased Lord Brahma, who bestowed on Ravana the boon that no God or demon could kill him. This gave Ravana immunity from everyone except a mortal man. Thus, to save the world from evil, Lord Vishnu took birth as Ram in the city of Ayodhya. King Dasharath, who ruled over Ayodhya, had one misery - his three queens bore him no sons. Lord Vishnu gave them nectar to drink, and soon the eldest produced Ram, the next gave birth to Bharat and the third had twins, Lakshman and Shatrughana. All four of them became exemplary youths but it was Ram who grew in grace and virile beauty.

Bagh Jatra
The Bagh Jatra of Pokhara is another cultural baggage brought by Newars from Kathmandu, celebrated in early august. The festival has been celebrated in Pokhara for about 150 years. It expresses the people's joy at their deliverance from a marauding tiger. On the first day, people dress up like hunters and make an appearance accompanied by musical bands. The next day is an interlude devoted to the showing of comic programs. For three days,the hunting party parades through different parts of the town before "slaying" the beast to end the festivities.

Bhairav Kumari Jatra
This is one of the major religious celebrations in Dolkha, an historic town in north-eastern Nepal (133 km from Kathmandu off the highway to Tibet). The festival falls on early August; and consists of masked dances that go on non-stop for five days. Escorted by musical bands, dancers representing the deities Bhairav and Kumari and other gods and goddesses swirl and sway through Dolkha, visiting its many temples. On the occasion, devotees also undergo fasting and worship Bhairav and Kumari. The ceremony has a history going back more than five centuries.

Chaite Dasain
Chaite Dasain used to be the original day of the grand Dasain festival (which takes place exactly six months later now), but because people got their stomachs upset after feasting on spicy food during the warm month of Chaitra, the grand celebration was shifted to the cooler season. But the religious fervor is still evident in the celebrations of the day.

Gaura Parva
Festivals in Nepal Goura Parva DanceGaura Parva is another celebration honoring Lord Krishna's birthday. It is celebrated in far western Nepal with much gusto for two days (August/September). Apart from the many ceremonies that happen during this festival, it is the occasion for married women to put on the sacred thread. The deuda dance is a major part of the festivities in which participants hold hands and form a circle as they step to traditional music.

Gunla is a sacred month dedicated to Lord Buddha. This festival commemorates the auspicious "rains retreat" when the Buddha, over 2,500 years ago, led his close disciples into solitary meditation and preached to them the essence of his principles. (A month of prayer and fasting from the new moon of Bhadra} Gunla is a sacred month dedicated to Lord Buddha. This festival commemorates the auspicious "rains retreat" when the Buddha, over 2,500 years ago, led his close disciples into solitary meditation and preached to them the essence of his principles. Festivals in Nepal Accordingly, monks and nuns go into retreat during the rainy season. Lay Buddhists also spend the month in prayer and fasting. They visit Swayambhunath and other shrines every day early in the morning. Groups of people can be seen making their way to Swayambhunath in the misty morning accompanied by musicl bands with thumping drums carrying small clay figures of the Buddha and stupas. The Gunla Lakhe masked dancer enlivens the festivals with his street performances. A number of religious events are held c during this period. Sacred texts (saphu) and ancient scroll paintings (paubha) are brought out for display at monastic courtyards all over the city. The most extraordinary collection of centuries old texts written in gold and silver paint I can be seen within the courtyard of Thambahi (Thamel). The festival of Gunla climaxes on the day of Poncho Daan, the Festival of Five Offerings which is held in Patan, the auspicious ceremony during which offerings are made to monks and household priests. The priests chant prayers as they accept the gifts and shower blessings in return.

Guru Purnima
Festivals in Nepal Teachers come second (after the gods) in the Hindu hierarchy of respect. The full moon day of the month June/July is set aside for students to pay homage to their teachers and receive blessings from them in return. At a place called Vyas on the Kathmandu-Pokhara highway, special worship is performed to Maharishi Vyas, the saint who wrote the great Hindu epic, Mahabharat. For Buddhists, the occasion (Dilla Punhi) is sacred as the day when the Buddha-to-be entered the womb of Queen Mayadevi. Religious functions are held at monasteries and temples to commemorate the event.

Festivals in Nepal Lhosar is the Tibetan New Year which falls on February/March. This festival is mast impressively observed by all the Tibetan-speaking populations. They organize folk songs and dances on this occasion. These dances can be seen in Khumbu, Helambu and other northern regions of Nepal and also at Boudhanath in Kathmandu.

Rato Macchendranath Jatra

Festivals in Nepal (Begins on the full moon day of Baisakh)This is the longest as well as the most important festival of Patan. It begins with several days of ceremonies and the fabrication of a wooden-wheeled chariot at Pulchowk, near the Ashoka Stupa. (Begins on the full moon day of Baisakh) This is the longest as well as the most important festival of Patan. It begins with several days of ceremonies and the fabrication of a wooden-wheeled chariot at Pulchowk, near the Ashoka Stupa. The chariot bears the shrine of the Rato (Red) Macchendranath (the Tantric expression of Lokeshwar) and carries a very tall spire fabricated from " bamboo poles raised from four ends of the chariot. This unwieldy spire is around 10 meters tall and on account of which, the chariot balances precariously. It is said that calamity is certain to strike the land in the event of the chariot overturning or breaking down during the course of this festival. (Quite often, it does collapse!).Following the construction, the chariot is towed through the streets of Patan by throngs of devotees every day. Each day, it is put to rest in one of the many venerated spots in the city.This goes on for a month until it comes to rest on the big field outside the zoo and end with the Bhoto Jatra, another major festival, during which the bejewelled 'bhoto' of Machhendranath is displayed to the public.

Mani Rimdu
Festivals in Nepal (Full moon of the 9th Tibetan month) Mani Rimdu is the biggest event of the year for the Sherpas of the Khumbu region. Sherpas from the Khumbu region congregate at Thyangboche Gompa, the picturesque monastery situated on a spur at 3,870 meters from where both Mt. Everest and Ama Dablam can be seen. (Full moon of the 9th Tibetan month) Mani Rimdu is the biggest event of the year for the Sherpas of the Khumbu region. Sherpas from the Khumbu region congregate at Thyangboche Gompa, the picturesque monastery situated on a spur at 3,870 meters from where both Mt. Everest and Ama Dablam can be seen. The three-day celebrations of Mani Rimdu follow the ten days of non-stop prayer sessions addressed to the patron deities seeking blessing from the god of all mankind. The deity propitiated is Guru Rinpoche, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. The ceremony begins with the blowing of horns in the afternoon after which the abbot of the monastery accompanied by other monks chant prayers. The congregation is blessed and given holy water and auspicious pellets for good luck and longevity. An orchestra of cymbals, horns, flutes, and conch shells announces the start of the second day's celebrations. Monks in colorful robes and huge glowering masks perform dances symbolizing the destruction of evil. On the last day, tormas (figures made of dough) are consigned to a sacred fire. This implies the end of negative forces and the advent of a blessed new year.

Celebrated in mid-August Mata-yaa is one of Patan's popular festivals. It consists of a day-long procession of devotees going around the Buddhist courtyards of the town and offering worship at the shrines there. Carrying lighted tapers and joss sticks in their hands, Mata-yaa participants rush in a meandering file and visit the hundreds of Buddhist sites scattered all over Patan. They toss rice grains, flowers and coins at the shrines as they pass by. Some devotees wear elaborate and amusing costumes. Musicians also take part in the parade.

Neel Barahi Pyakhan
Neel Barahi Pyakhan is a sacred masked dance which is shown over four days(August/September)in different parts of Bode. Nineteen persons representing the town's guardian pantheon take part in the dance performance. Music is provided by a 27-piece traditional orchestra. The ceremony invokes peace and harmony, and is dedicated to the deity Neel Barahi whose temple is located in a jungle outside Bode. Bode adjoins Thimi which is 8 km east of Kathmandu.

Rath Yatra
Festivals in Nepal Biratnagar in south-eastern Nepal brings out a spectacular chariot procession to mark Lord Krishna's birthday (August/September). The parade sets out from the Radha Krishna temple and goes around the town. The six-meter tall chariot carries the images of Krishna and his consort Radha and is drawn by hordes of devotees. The annual chariot festival was started in 1932 to commemorate the building of a temple dedicated to Krishna.

Festivals in NepalSita Vivaha Panchami
This festival, commemorating the marriage of Sita to Ram, is particularly celebrated in Janakpur. Ram, hero of the epic Ramayana and an incarnation of Vishnu had come to Janakpur, was the kingdom of Sita's father King Janak, to marry Sita. Each year in Janakpur, idols of Ram and sita are brought out in bright processions and their Hindu wedding ceremony is enacted. The wedding takes place during an exciting week-long mela, or religious fair.The occasion attracts thousands of pilgrims from India.

Tamu Dhee
Tamu Dhee (also known as Trahonte) is a Gurung holiday (august). Ceremonies are performed to purge the neighborhood of evil spirits and to safeguard one's farm and farm animals from hostile elements. The festival can be observed in Pokhara. Groups of people beating on different kinds of drums form a colorful procession and make house-to-house visits. Participants with their faces smeared with soot and wearing feather headdresses parade through the town to drive away negative influences and ensure peace and security.

Tansen Jatra
Festivals in NepalThe hilltop town of Tansen in central Nepal exults in a week-long festive spree beginning with Janai Purnima, when Hindus change their sacred threads. The next day, Gai Jatra is marked by parading figures of cows made of bamboo and cloth. Ropai Jatra is the rice planting ceremony and participants perform plowing and planting acts on the streets. During Bagh Jatra, actors dressed up like tigers and hunters march through town. Then there are the parades. Images of Ganesh, Bhimsen and Narayan are placed on palanquins and carried around Tansen. The celebrations climax on August 12 with Bhagawati Jatra, the procession of the town's protective goddess.

Taya Macha
The Taya Macha dance is shown in different parts of Pokhara as part of the Gai Jatra observances. The five dancers, four dressed up as angels and one as a clown, are accompanied by a group of traditional musicians. It is believed that the performance will bring peace to the souls of those who have passed away during the previous year. The festival has its roots in the Kathmandu Valley. It was brought to Pokhara by Newars who migrated here centuries ago.

Yomari Punhi
Festivals in NepalYomari Punhi is one of the popular Newar festivals observed every year during the full moon of December. A yomari is a confection of rice-flour (from the new harvest)dough shaped like fig and filled with brown cane sugar and sesame seeds, which is then steamed. Yomari Punhi -meaning full moon of yomari-one of the popular Newar festivals is observed every year during the full moon of December.A yomari is a confection of rice-flour (from the new harvest)dough shaped like fig and filled with brown cane sugar and sesame seeds, which is then steamed. This delicacy is the chief item on the menu during the post-harvest celebration of Yomari Punhi. On this full moon day, people of the Kathmandu Valley offer worship to Annapurna, the goddess of grains, for the rice harvest. Groups of kids go neighborhood to beg yomari cakes from housewives in the evening. Sacred masked dances are performed in the villages of Hari Siddhi and Thecho at the southern end of the Valley to mark the festival. The Newars, upon munching a mouthful of yomari, a sweet dish, await the end of their four days of devotion of god, following which they will be blessed with wealth, according to their belief. The people prepare yomaris, in the form of gods and goddesses such as Kumar, Ganesh, Laxmi and Kuber. In keeping with the culture, parents bless children from two to twelve years who are then offered yomaris. The children on the other hand perform the customary song and dance and ask for food and other gifts from the elders during the festival.

Kathmandu Valley (काठमांडौ)

Kathmandu Valley (काठमांडौ)

A 218 square miles of land, situated above 4400 ft above sea level with three historic, artistic and cultural towns namely Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur together form what is known as the `Kathmandu Valley'. Kathmandu is the hub of Nepal's traditional culture and arts. This is the place for rest, relaxation and easy-day sightseeing of historic and artistic temples and monuments, and mountain views. Being the capital city of Nepal, it offers much services including international airlines, hotels and other facilities. One also enjoys Kathmandu for night life, shopping and of course for the mountain views.

Getting to Kathmandu - Tribhuwan International Airport is located about 4 mile (7 kilomter) from Kathmandu. It takes about 20 minutes to get to Kathmandu from the airport by foot or about 10 minutes by cab. Shuttle buses and cabs of many hotels are available from the Airport or you can choose your own transportation for about Rs 200 (Approx US $3)

Mountains to see from Kathmandu:

Following mountains can be seen from Kathmandu: Himal Chuli 7893m, Manaslu 8156m, Pabil GIV 7102m, Ganesh II 7150m, Ganesh V 6950 m, Lang tang 7246m, Gang Chhenpo 6297m, Sisa Pangma 8013m, Gur Karpori 6874m Dorje Lhakpa 6790m, Gyaltzen PK 6705m, Phurbi Chyachu 6722m, Kharane Tippa 5674m, Choba Bhamare 5970m, Choo-yu 8153m, Gauri Shankar 7145m, Melungtse 7181m, Lindartsubugo 6690m, Mt. Everest 8848m, Chobutse 6660m, Takargo 6782m. View some pictures of mountains in Nepal

Places to Visit in Kathmandu


The history of Kathmandu valley begins from the Swayambhu temple. This valley was a lake, but later when Bodhisattva Manjusri cut a gorge in a southern hill and drained the waters to worship a lotus that he admired during his travel to the region, it lead men to settle on the bed of the lake and named this land Kathmandu Valley. The word Swayambhu means "the self-existent" in English. Today this complex of stupas offers an opportunity to study the religious harmony in Nepal. Tibetan monks, Brahimn priests and Newar nuns are the major worshipers here. Most of the monasteries have huge prayer wheels, fine Buddhist paintings and special butter lamps all add an elegant touch to the Swayambhu. Photos of Swayambhu


When Lord Shiva came to Pashupati to escape from his boredom, he became famous as the lord of Animals (Pashupati) Today, millions of Hindu pilgrimage pour into this temple. Many Hindus from Indian sub contents, Nepal, Pakistan, Asia come to Pahsupati to pay their respects to the lord Shiva. From other parts of the world, many Hindus come to Pashupati to fulfill their dream of visiting the holiest Hindu pilgrimage in the world. You can see the pagoda house which has gold-plated roof, silver doors and find woodcarvings. The linga (phallic symbol) of Lord Shiva, his images, statues, and Bagmati river that flows beside it add to the holiness of Pashupati which lies just 1.5km from the international airport. The region is also surrounded by thick green jungle where monkeys and birds live and play and are often seen in large groups playing on the pavements of the temples in Pashupati. Sadhus who follow the life style of Shiva are found in Pashupati region. They paint their bodies with ashes, wear loin-cloths, Tika, and Rudraksha Malas.

Changu Narayan:

The temple, situated at Chingu village 12 km to the eat of the city, is fully dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu (the god of creation). The temple is believed to be the most ancient temple in the Kathmandu valley. The temple covers over sixteen hundred years of Nepalese art history presenting some of the best samples of stone, wood and metal craft in Nepal. There is also everyone's favorite statue of Vishnu sitting astride his steed. For a view of the ancient arts this is a must see place.

Bouddhanath Stupa:

The 36 meter tall, among the largest stupas in South Asia, is a home to Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. It is situated on the ancient trade route to Tibet (6km to the east of the city). For shopping, the area is a bazaar of Tibetan jewelry, hand made carpets, masks, kukuri knives (the knives used by Gorkhas) and Tibetan paintings known as thangkas. There are many stupas in the nearby surroundings all of which deserve a through observations by visitors. View Pictures of Bouddhanath

Kathmandu Durbar Square:

This is a durbar of history and arts. One can see artistic monuments, find the house of the living goddess, learn about the Kal Bhairam temple, red monkey god, and hundreds of erotic wood carvings. The kastamandap rest house located within the durbar square is said to have been built from a single tree, it is because of this house, Kathmandu valley got its name. There is also a museum located at the Durbar Square which presents a complete history of Nepal's King and Rulers.

Half-Day Itineraries for Kathmandu Valley:

These are some of the half-day itineraries offered by most travel agents in Nepal. One can hire a car or a take the bus, with or without a guide can have splendid time in any of the following itineraries.

1. Kathmandu Dubar Square, Swayambhu
2. Kathmandu and Patan Durbar Square
3. Kathmandu Durbar Sqaure, Pashupatinath
4. Pashupati, Bouddha, Bhaktapur
5. Thimi, Bhaktapur
6. Pashupati, Bouddha, Changu Narayan
7. Changu Narayan, Sankhu
8. Balaju, Budhanilkantha
9. Kritipur, Chobhar and Dakshinkali
10. Kathmandu Durbar Square, Ason, Pasupatinath, Bouddha

a quick sheet of Kathmandu Valley (Includes Kathmandu, Lalitpur (Patan), and Bhaktapur Cities)
Kathmandu is known As - The Capital of Nepal
- City of Temples
- Woodmandu
- Catmando
Total Popullation of Kathmandu Approx 1 Million.

Nearly 4% of Nepal's total population (26 Million) is in Kathmandu.
Total Area 218 square miles (351 square Kilometer)
Altitude 133 meter to 1350 meter
Median Age of Marriage 22 Male, 20 Female
Life Expectancy Male 58, Female 57

Did you know that Nepal is the only country in the world where Male has higher life expectancy?
Drinking Water Problem

Inspite of Nepal having abundant water resources, Kathmandu has never-ending water shortage problem. Do not drink water straight from the tap as underground water pipes have high deadly metal and arsnic contents. Boil water, filter it using standard water-filter before use.

Pollution Kathmandu is Nepal's most polluted city caused mainly by emissions from the industries, vehicle fuel combustion, and resuspension of road dust, also due to infficient waste management. The city's air is vonuerable due to its bowl-like topography preventing air particles being dispurshed. Some wear masks, and some don't. But if it feels right for you, wear it while walking in Kathmandu!
Emergency Telephone Numbers for Kathmandu Tourist police: 247041
Police: 100
Teaching Hospital: 412303 and 412404
Nepal International Clinic: 412842

Places to Visit in Nepal

There are many beautiful and interesting places to visit outside the Kathmandu Valley. The places are full of history and historical remains and are remarkable for their beauties. Most of the places can be easily reached from Kathmandu by road or by air.

High in the Himalayan Mountains lies the small Kingdom of Nepal, with its lofty mountains, deep valleys, lush jungles, exotic wildlife and diverse peoples. Mostly known as the 'Land of Everest' or the 'Birthplace of the Lord Buddha', Nepal has a variety of attractions to keep tourists coming back for more.

Visit Nepal - We welcome you to Nepal, the country which is one of the most exotic destinations of the world with Adventure, Cultural, Pilgrimage & Wildlife Travel Packages. We also offer hotel reservation & hotel holiday packages.


Kathmandu, the capital and the largest city of Nepal, derives its name from Kasthmandap or "house of wood" a pagoda-style temple. A few steps away is the Temple of the Living Goddess, where the clients may catch a glimpse of the Kumari at one of the open windows overlooking the inner courtyard. All around the splendour of historical monuments is the hustle & bustle of the market place. Vegetable vendors, trees of flutes, salesmen with their wares displayed on their person, souvenir hawkers, street shop selling imported goods and tucked away in a quiet corner the glittering bead market for custom made bead necklaces.


Interesting Places to Visit in NepalPatan is also known as Lalitpur or the "city of fine arts" and is the oldest city in the valley. This Buddhist City is said to have been founded by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. Patan is the cradle of arts and architecture of the valley, a great center both of the Newari Buddhist religion and of traditional arts & crafts with 136 bahals or courtyards and 55 major temples. Well known among these are the Krishna Mandir, Hiranya Varna Mahavihar, Kumbheshwar temple, Jagatnarayan temple & the Mahabouddha temple. Patan is enclosed within 4 Buddhist stupas set on the four-corners of the outer boundaries of this ancient city. A tour of Patan would also include a visit to the Tibetan refugee village to witness the hand weaving of Tibetan carpets using age-old methods of dyeing and finishing. Three or four persons at each loom weaving traditional designs, chatting & singing can also be seen here.


Bhaktapur or Bhadgaon meaning the "city of devotees" lies 14 km east of Kathmandu. It is the home of medieval art & architecture and still retains its rich medieval aroma. A city of farmers, Bhaktapur is also known for it's pottery and weaving. Bhaktapur is the most charming and the best preserved of the valley?s three cities. The intricately carved temples, alleyways and timeless atmosphere of this place is simply intriguing. The major sightseeing places in Bhaktapur include Durbar Square, the Golden Gate, Palace of 55 windows, Bell of the barking dogs, Nyatapole Temple, Bhairavanath Temple, Dattatrya Temple, Pujari Math etc;


The stupa of Bodhanath lies 8 km east of Kathmandu. It is the biggest Stupa in Nepal and is located on flat land and encircled by houses & monasteries, where Rinpoches reside. This colossal Stupa is set on concentric ascending terraces in the powerful pattern of a Mandala. Around the base of this strikingly enormous and simple stupa is a ring of 108 images of the Buddha and 147 insets containing prayer wheels.

Bungmati & Khokana;

The twin villages of Bungmati & Khokana date from the 16th century and are located south of Kathmandu, down a rutty road dotted with Chaityas. Bungmati is the winter home of lord Rato Machhendranath, the protector God of Patan. The shrine of Karya Binayak is located between the two villages. At Khokana ancient oil presses can be seen at work in village houses.


9 km north of Kathmandu in a small pond at the foot of the Shivapuri Hills lies the half-submerged massive black stone statue of the reclining Vishnu resting on a bed of snakes. Worshippers strew the sleeping Vishnu with offerings of flowers & rice. It is a monumental sculpture from the Lichhavi period.

Champa Devi;

Interesting Places to Visit in NepalThe hike to the top of Champa Devi (2,278m), the highest peak on the Chandragiri Ridge south west of Kirtipur, affords a panoramic view of the west Kathmandu valley, back dropped by the snow covered Himalayas. Either starting from Chovar or from Pharping the trail climbs steeply to join at a saddle close to the top. A Hindu shrine and a white stupa mark the Champa Devi summit. Several return routes are possible. Staying close to the ridge continuing west, a trail descends from the second saddle north to Kirtipur. Another descends from the third saddle and reaches Kisipidi.


Interesting Places to Visit in NepalChandeshwari shrine is located north of the sprawling trading town of Banepa near Dhulikhel. A track leads northeast past the town hospital to the temple on the bank of a forested gorge. The temple is dedicated to Parvati, whom they called upon to slay ?Chand?, the most fearsome of the demons. It thus became known as Chandeshwari, "the slayer of Chand". The main attraction is a remarkable fresco of Bhairav, painted on the western wall of the main structure. The torana and struts of the three-tiered temple are richly carved with the eight Astha Marikas, or "Mother goddesses" and eight Bhairavs.


Interesting Places to Visit in NepalThe road access to Changunarayan, 18 kms east of Kathmandu is from behind Bhaktapur. Alternatively, it is a 45 minutes walk up from the Sankhu road, across the Manohara River, using the old pilgrim?s route or a pleasant half-day hike along the ridge from Nagarkote on the eastern valley rim. The lavishly decorated two-tiered temple was rebuilt after a fire in 1702, but the earliest inscription in the valley dated 467 A.D. testifies to the considerable talents of the Licchavi King Mandeva I, Nepal?s first great historical figure. The temple stands in a spacious courtyard, littered with priceless stone sculptures from the 4th to 9th century A.D. (Licchavi period). This golden age of classical Newari art produced masterpieces that were entirely religious in character.


Interesting Places to Visit in NepalA rough track to the south of the Kathmandu Valley winds steeply downhill, through intricately terraced fields of reddish brown soil to the ancient Lichhavi village of Lele, on through terraced mustard fields and bamboo groves to Chapagaon. An important tantric temple of Vajra Varahi is located here in a sacred grove of trees, built in 1665 ? however, the site is much older. Various naturally sculpted stones strewn about are regarded as images of Ganesh, Bhairav and the Ashta Matrika.


Carved out of a hillside, the Chovar gorge is the only outlet for all the waters of the valley. Legend has it that Manjushree, an ancient saint cut the mountain with his magical sword, to drain out the water from the Kathmandu Valley which was then just a lake. There is a small but picturesque temple of Adinath on the top of the hill with a magnificent view of the snow capped peaks. Just beyond the gorge is a temple of lord Ganesh. The main image of the shrine is a massive rock, naturally carved.


Interesting Places to Visit in NepalDakshinkali is 45-minute drive south from Kathmandu. Located in a dark valley at the confluence of two streams, the shrine of Dakshinkali is the most spectacular of all Kali temples. Animal sacrifices are offered to this deity signifying fertility and the procreative powers of the Female, every Tuesday & Saturday. The animals are presented to the priest who will ritually decapitate them with a khukuri knife & bathe the black stone image of Kali in blood.


Interesting Places to Visit in Nepal30 kms east of Kathmandu lies the small resort town of Dhulikhel set on a hill top, enveloped in copper soiled terraces with magnificent views of the central Himalayan peaks. Dhulikhel is well known for its sunrise views and a number of day trails lead along the north ridge of the town. A good way to get a glimpse of Nepalese village life.


18 kms south of Kathmandu lies the Royal Botanical Gardens at Godavari. With its rushing streams and shady meadows it is a popular picnic spot. It also has a notable collection of orchids, cactii & ferns. A quiet path leads to the Godavari Kunda, a spring where the sacred water of the Godavari river pours from the mountains.


The village of Kakani lies 29 kms north west of Kathmandu City. Famous for magnificent views of the sun setting over the north western Himalayan range; the Ganesh Himal massif, Gaurishankar (7,134 m), Choba Bhamare (6,016 m), Himalchuli (7,893 m), Annapurna (8,091 m). The drive to Kakani & back along the Trishuli Road is scenically rewarding with green forest & mountain grandeur on one side and fertile river flats and terraced hillside cultivation on the other.


Perched on twin hillocks and clinging to a saddle about 5 km south west of Kathmandu lies the village of Kirtipur. A long flight of steps leads up to Kirtipur from the valley floor & a motorable road goes part way up the hill. Steep paths link brick houses built on terraces. The villagers dressed in traditional costume work on ancient looms. The people are well known for their strength and valour. Many historical battles were fought and won by the inhabitants of Kirtipur.

Kopan Monastery;

A center of Mahayana Buddhism was established in 1969 by two Lamas; Lama Thupten Zopa Rinpoche & Lama Thupten Yeshe. Since its inception the center has been responsible for introducing thousands to Buddha's teaching through meditation courses, ectures & retreats.


The tiny settlement of Nagarkot clings to a hilltop 36 kms east of Kathmandu at an altitude of 2,099m. It is one of the best vantage point to view the peaks - from the Annapurnas to Everest, the peaks seem no more than a day's walk away. It is also possible to do a day hike from Nagarkot to Dhulikhel along the valley rim.


Nagarjun, a prominent forested hill, west of Kathmandu topped with a Buddhist stupa with superb views of Ganesh Himal, Langtang and the Kathmandu valley. A dirt road winds to the top (2,096m) though a trek would take two hours. A return trail descends the southwest side of Nagarjun to Ichangu Narayan and reaches Kathmandu via a dirt road that eventually comes out behind Swayambhunath.

Namo Buddha;

Namo Buddha meaning "hail to the Buddha" a sacred site, where according to legend Buddha sacrificed his body to feed a starving tigress & her cubs. A carved stone slab at the main stupa depicts the moving story. A dirt road (suitable for 4 wheel drive vehicles) leads up to Namo Buddha from Dhulikhel. A different trail returns descending south through a forest heading west up a long vale for a round trip walk of six to seven hours, or 2 to 3 hours to Panauti.


Located at the confluence of the Punyamati & Roshi Khola rivers, Panauti was once an important staging post on the Tibet trade route with pre-Lichhavi origins. The banks of the river are now crowded with temples, shrines and cremation ghats. Across the river lies the recently restored Brahmayani temple. The Indreshwar Mahadev temple is a 15th century Newari structure with exquisite woodcarvings especially on the roof struts.


It is situated 5 kms east of Kathmandu on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River. The temple of lord Shiva, Pashupatinath, with a tiered golden roof & silver doors is famous for its superb architecture. Entrance to the temple precinct is forbidden to non-Hindus. The best view is from the terrace on the wooded hill across the river. The large gilded triple-roofed temple was built in 1696 AD though 300 years earlier there was a structure on this site. The Bagmati River is lined with dharmasalas and cremation ghats including a royal ghat reserved exclusively for members of the royal family. There is usually a cremation in progress on one of the platforms by the river, regarded as holy as it flows into the sacred Ganges. There are many occasions when the faithful take ritual purificatory baths in the river. One of the most colorful is the women's festival of Teej when dressed in their finest red and gold saris hundreds of women, laughing and singing converge on Pashupatinath.


The triple peaked hill of Phulchowki the "flower-covered hill", is highest on the valley rim at 2,762m. Lying 20 kms south east of Kathmandu, a road winds its way to the top where a small shrine is built to the mother of the forest, Phulchowki Mai. The trail up to the top takes about 4 hours through lovely rhododendron & oak forests crossing the motorable road a couple of times. Enjoy a breathtaking view of the white peaks from Himalchuli to the Everest. There is a trail connecting Phulchowki to Pharping on one side and Panauti on the other.


Hills surround the sleepy village of Sankhu, once on the trade route east to Helambu. Forests above the village hide an important temple to the tantric goddess, Bajra Jogini. Follow the wide stone path north of the village and walk up the steps to the temple, flanked with smaller shrines, stupas and statues. The main structure is 17th century and has a fine golden torana above the door. Behind the temple there are other shrines & sculptures.


Shivapuri, at a height of 2,732m, allows one a 360 degree view of the Himalaya in the north & the Kathmandu valley in the south. The trail up to Shivapuri hill leads through small farming villages & a protected forest of Rhododendrons & orchids with little mountain streams running through it. This can be made into a most enjoyable full day's programme.


Atop a green hillock west of Kathmandu stands the great stupa of Swayambhunath, a site over 2,500 years old marking the point where the legendary patriarch Manjushri discovered the lotus of the ancient Valley lake. For centuries an important center of Buddhist learning, the painted eyes of the Buddha gaze out from all four sides of the monument. Constructed to specific rules each with a symbolic meaning, the stupa of Swayambhunath is a model of its kind. Its? dazzling white hemispherical mound represent the ladder to nirvana, itself symbolized by the umbrella on the top. The whole is hung with multi-colored prayer flags whose every flutter releases holy prayers. The faithful circumambulate the stupa clockwise, turning the banks of prayer wheels and even prostrating full-length in reverence.


A name derived from the world "Chhemi" meaning "Capable people" is well known for its colourful painted masks, dolls & for its terracotta work including delightful peacock & elephant flower pots and imaginatively moulded candle stands & ashtrays. This village of Thimi lies on the old road to Bhaktapur from Kathmandu.
Tika Bhairav;
A Shiva shrine of an altogether difference register is located at Tika Bhairav near Lele, where Shiva is portrayed in his terrible form as Bhairav. To reach this unusual shrine, the client must travel outside the Kathmandu Valley to the adjoining Lele Valley to the south. This monumental, multi colored fresco is an abstract close-up of Bhirav's face painted on a huge brick wall, barely sheltered by a tin roof.

The Four Ganesh Temples;

Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, is one of the most favored divinities in Hinduism and is certainly the most favored in the Kathmandu Valley. The god of good luck, who casts aside obstacles is believed to be the son of Shiva & Parvati. The shrew is his vehicle and he especially likes offerings of food. Ganesh has numerous shrines throughout the Valley but four are particularly sacred. The Chandra Binayak is in the middle of the village of Chabahil, 200m behind the Chabahil stupa. This small Ganesh is enshrined amidst rich brasswork & is believed to cure diseases and external bodily injuries. The simple stone Ganesh at the Surya Binayak is halfway up the foothills south of Bhaktapur. The path heads uphill to the little shrine, considered able to give the power of speech to young children who are slow to talk. In a forest preserve between the villages of Bungmati & Khokana lies the Karya Binayak. From the road linking the hamlets, a path leads up to a beautiful clearing and the walled compound of the shrine. Here Ganesh is an elephant-shaped stone and is believed to help complete difficult tasks. Those seeking strength of character go to worship the Ganesh at Jal Binayak, just beyond the Chovar Gorge. A beautiful brass shrew faces the massive rock that represents Ganesh in this triple roofed temple constructed in 1602 AD.

Pokhara & Begnas;

Pokhara valley is a scenic 6-hour mountainside drive or a 25 minute flight west of Kathmandu. It is famous for its lakes and its location beneath the towering Annapurna massif. It is highly recommendable to visit this scenic valley, stay in small resort hotels with views of the magnificent Himalayan peaks, go boating on the calm waters of the Phewa and the Begnas lakes or go on tours or day hikes in the nearby hills or if time permits, on a well organized trekking holiday.

Further 12 km east of Pokhara at the end of a road that turns north from highway to Kathmandu lies the Begnas Lake offering the perfect nature retreat because of its relative seclusion. Splendid hiking, boating and fishing opportunities can be found here. The Begnas Lake Resort, located on a hillside of unspoiled forestland with guest rooms built on rice terraces close to the lake offers magnificent views over tranquil waters of the Begnas, beautiful ethnic villages on the opposite hillsides and the snowy mountain peaks from every room.

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (175 sq. kms);

Just 1 hour flight towards east from Kathmandu to Biratnagar and 2 hrs drive, the Kosi Tappu is one of the best places in Nepal to view migratory and native water fowls; waders and shore birds during the winter months. Many species not recorded elsewhere in the region have been found here. Thousands of birds congregate here in January, February and March before they migrate north when the warm weather begins. Well-qualified nature guides take clients out on walks, jeep drives and boat rides to look for birds and the Arna, wild buffalo found only here in Nepal. We recommend to combine this tour with treks in the eastern hills or with a tour to Bhutan & Sikkim or with a Sunkosi rafting trip.

Royal Chitwan National Park (932 sq. kms);

Just a 5 hour drive from Kathmandu or a 4 hour drive from Pokhara or a 20 minutes flight from Kathmandu, Royal Chitwan National Park is proud to be called Asia?s best managed park and is home to over 50 species of mammals, 55 species of amphibians and reptiles and 525 species of birds. Wildlife that thrive here include; the great one-horned Asian Rhinoceros, Gaur, wild Bison, sloth Bear, four different species of Deer, the Rhesus Monkey and the black-faced Langur, the spotted Leopard, Royal Bengal Tiger, the fish-eating Gharial, the flesh-eating marsh Crocodile and the Gangetic Dolphin among many others. The birdlife too is very rich and varied and a delight for Ornithologists. A number of jungle lodges & camps operate inside and on the periphery of the park. They offer activities such as; elephant back safaris through the jungle in search of wildlife, nature walks, jungle drives to spot animals, canoe rides to see crocodiles & water-birds, tribal village visits etc; In the evenings, slide shows on Nepalese flora & fauna and Tharu tribal folk dances are also held.

Royal Bardia National Park (968 sq. kms);

Royal Bardia National Park situated in western Terai of Nepal is one of largest undisturbed parks in the region. The park is the home of many endangered animals, reptiles and birds - including the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger. A few years ago, under a successful wildlife project several young one-horned rhinos where translocated here from Royal Chitwan National Park. Over the years, Bardia has also been a good place for tiger viewing - a rare event anywhere. Recently sightings of a group of wild elephants have further enhanced the wildlife experience possible in this beautiful and unspoiled sanctuary. A stay in this park is recommended with the combination of a short raft trip down the Karnali and Bheri rivers or with a trek to Dolpo and the Rara lake area in far western Nepal.


Tansen, a colourful hill town is situated at an altitude of 1,450m. It is the most popular summer resort in western Nepal on account of its location and climate. It has the most extensive views of the country?s chief attraction the Himalaya; from Dhaulagiri in the west to Gaurishankar in the north east. Walking around Tansen town is interesting or short day hike to Ridi can be a rewarding experience. It takes just five hours by car from Pokhara to reach Tansen or just a couple of hours drive from Lumbini.


Lumbini, the birthplace of lord Gautam Buddha, is the pilgrimage destination of the world?s millions of Buddhists. The main attraction at Lumbini remains the sacred garden spread over 8 sq. kms and possessing all the treasures of this historical area. The Mayadevi temple (under reconstruction) is the main attraction for pilgrims and archaeologists alike. This site, identified by the Indian Emperor Ashoka?s commemorative pillar is listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO. To the south of the pillar, we find the sacred pond Puskarni, where Queen Mayadevi had her bath just before giving birth to the Buddha. Other attractions include the various monasteries and stupas erected by different Buddhist countries.


For those seeking the ultimate pan Himalayan view, Daman is the place to visit. Located 80kms southwest of the Kathmandu valley, Daman (2,400m) offers the only unimpeded view of the entire Himalayan range. Daman is located on the Tribhuvan Highway between Kathmandu and the town of Birgunj. There is a view tower fitted with long range telescopes.

Namche Bazaar;

The name of Namche Bazaar is generally associated with that of Sagarmatha or Mt. Everest, the highest point on earth. It is the entrance to the Everest region and is 241 kms from Kathmandu and located at an altitude 3,440m. Trekkers cover this distance in 9 days from Jiri town. As the largest settlement in the Everest region Namche Bazaar now boasts of its own electricity generated from the Dudhkoshi river. One can also reach Namche Bazaar by flight to Lukla and then a 2 days trek through Phakding.


The word "Himalaya" is Sanskrit for "abode of snow". This region has an altitude ranging between 4,877 m to 8,848m. It includes eight of the 14 highest summits in the world that exceed an altitude of 8000 m, including the highest of them all, Mt. Everest (8,848 m). Only 8% of Nepal's population live in this region.

The region's culture and religion are closely linked to Tibet, and the traditional economy was (and sometimes still is) based on trans-border trade with its northern neighbour.

One can enjoy the magnificent Himalayas of this region in three different ways: take a mountain flight and enjoy the splendid view of snow capped Himalayas from the safety of the presurrized aeroplane cabins, or gaze at the panorama from popular mountain viewpoints such as Nagarkot and Dhulikhel around the Kathmandu Valley and Sarangkot in Pokhara or take the direct approach and trek to the mountain base from where you can actually touch them and feel the Himalayas.

Indeed, the best way to experience Nepal's unbeatable combination of natural beauty and culture riches is to trek through them. One should know that trekking means walking and is a process rather than a destination. As one gets into shape, it's easy to fall into walking-machine mode. Though trekking demands a physical challenge, a trekker should remind himself/ herself to stop at teashops, admire the views, splash in a stream and play with local kids. Walking and nothing, but day after day, provides illuminating insights of Nepal's diversity in terms of geography, people, religion and culture. The main precaution to be taken while trekking is not to go up too high too fast. The body should be given plenty of time to acclimatize. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) refers to the effects of the thin air at high altitudes which can be very dangerous and may even result in death. If you get initial symptoms like nausea, dizziness, swelling of the face and breathlessness, descend to the lower elevation immediately and seek medical help. Check out Travel FAQ for more details on trekking in Nepal.

Trekking is possible at any time of the year depending on where one is going. The most popular seasons are spring (February - May) and autumn (September-November). Winter is very cold above 4,000m and high mountain passes may be snowbound but it is good for trekking at lower altitudes. During the monsoon season (June-August) you can trek in rain-shadow areas of the northern areas of regions like Mustang, Upper Manang and Dolpo. These places are out of reach of the rain clouds because they lie beyond the high mountains whcih block off the monsoon clouds. Some of the interesting trekking places to visit in this region:


The Annapurna Circuit;
The Annapurna Circuit attracts a relatively high number of trekkers in Nepal. As the name itself suggests, this trail goes on a circuitous route around the entire Annapurna massif, visiting the Tibet-like country on the northern slopes of the Himalaya and the dramatic Kali Gandaki gorge. Much of the trek is through lowland country, but there is one high pass, "Thorung La" (5,380m). The trail over the pass is steep but in good shape and not hard to follow. This is the one point of the entire circuit where you really feel you are amidst the mountains. However you should be aware of altitude sickness and be prepared for weather extremes as the Thorung La is notorious for changing its moods. The pass is usually snowbound and un-crossable form mid-December to mid-April.

The Kali Gandaki gorge is another spell binding part of this trip. Known to be the worlds deepest river gorge the trail upto the Jomsom (and Upper Mustang) actually goes side by side with the river giving the lonely trekker company and groups something to talk about. Thus the Annapurna circuit is an extraordinary trek, truly one of the world's best. It requires at least three weeks. But due to the popularity of this route it can sometimes tend to be crowded.
The Annapurna Sanctuary;
This is probably the most ideal trek: lovely, short and intense, a direct route into the heart of the Himalaya. Spectacular mountain vistas and easy access make it among the most popular treks, with over 10,000 visitors per year. The sanctuary is a hidden pocket of meadow, moraine and glacier, ringed by magnificent sheer-walled 6,000 - 8,000 meter peaks: the Annapurnas, Gangapurna, Machhapuchhare, Himchuli.

The trek requires ten to fourteens days and begins from Pokhara, passing through lowland villages and rice terraces to mountain glaciers. The trail rises nearly 2000 m in the last 8 km and one needs to plan for acclimatization. The trail is frequently slippery and there's danger of avalanches in few places, so early spring and winter trekking is unlikely. Accommodation in the lower portion (at least in Chhomrong) are deluxe; the upper stretch is understandably simple - no body lives up there for long time.


Easily accessible via a 20-minute flight from Pokhara, Jomsom lies nestled beneath the splendor of Mount , Nilgiri. For those of you not inclined to make it to the mountains the hard way, i.e. slogging it on foot step by step in a gradual process, taking the US$ 50 flight to Jomsom from Pokhara is the ideal alternative. Jomsom, at an altitude of 2,700 meters lies tucked in between two giant mountain ranges, the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri- both reach out to the sky beyond 8,000 meters at their highest points, and although these ranges are around 35 kilometers apart, consider yourself to be technically positioned at the bottom of the world's deepest gorge, the Kali Gandaki Valley with a spectacular view of Mt. Nilgiri looming ahead like a huge snowy pyramid.

From Jomsom, one may venture on to leisurely treks for a day or two northwards to Kagbeni or southwards to Marpha, Tukuche, and Lete-Kalopani all of these places can be reached with effortless walking on an almost leveled surface. On the other hand, should the rarefied mountain air hinder your walking ability; you may choose to explore the area on a pony that can be made available by your hotel at a reasonable price. Food and board around Jomsom could probably be described as being the best among all the trekking regions of the country. All the better hotels provide cosy rooms that come with attached bath with running hot water. With three to four flights coming in from Pokhara every day, the larders of most restaurants are well stocked with fresh meat and vegetables.

Muktinath Trek;

This major Himalayan highway follows the gorge of the Kali Gandaki River, crossing from subtropical jungle to high-altitude desert in less than one week. Mixed in the stream of international trekkers are Hindu saddhus (ascetic) walking to Muktinath and jingling mule trains heading down from Tibet loaded with bales of wool. Both are reminders of the trail's status as a major trade and pilgrimage route, an important cultural corridor across the Himalaya.

The end point is the ancient shrine of Muktinath (3,170 meters), one of Nepal's holiest pilgrimage sites. There's no real village, but lodges around the lower portion (Ranipauwa) put up pilgrims and trekkers. The ancient holy site is a typically confusing blend of natural, Buddhists and Hindu beliefs. The little Newari-style pagoda to Lord Vishnu is a relatively recent addition. Muktinath has been sacred for over 2000 years; the Hindu holy book Mahabharata mentions it as Shaligrama, "Place of the Shaligram,"the black fossil stones sacred to Vishnu and found in abundance in the Kali Gandaki valley. Its holiness stems from flickering blue flames of natural methane gas burning on water, stone and earth, and now enclosed in the shrine of Jwala Mai below the Vishnu temple. Near the pagoda, there is 108 spouts, shaped like bulls' heads, where devout pilgrims bathe in the freezing water to purify their sins and earn mukti or spiritual liberation.

The place has ancient association for Buddhists as well; Guru Rinpoche is said to have passed through here en route to Tibet, leaving his footprints in a rock. There are many old Buddhist temples around here.

The entire trek to Muktinath remains below 3000 meters. One should figure at least two weeks to walk in and out, allow a few extra days for exploration- the upper region in particular is lined with fascinating villages. Flying into Jomsom and walking back down is possible, but one should remember to acclimatize before climbing to Muktinath. One can fly from Jomsom to either Kathmandu or Pokhara.


The classic walk through the Sherpa homeland of Solu-Khumbu is a tough trek with a clearcut goal - to see Mt. Everest, the highest peak of the world. There are many ways to trek in this area. One can either walk all the way up and back, or walk one way and fly out on the way back, or fly in and out depending on the time at hand and inclination. The first requires a month, the second just about three weeks and the third at least two weeks.

Most Everest trekkers avoid the hardest walking by flying in and out of Lukla airstrip. If you have got time and energy, the walk in from Jiri through the Sherpa's traditional homeland is worth the extra effort. It passes through the lovely region called Solu and the narrow gorge of the Dudh Kosi (Pharak) to reach the high mountain region of Khumbu in a little over a week. Khumbu is exceptionally at high altitude with trekking routes going up to 5,400 meters. Solu can be trekked year around while Khumbu's trekking season is limited. October-November and March-May are the busiest trekking season of Khumbu. Besides good weather, this period offers the five-day Dumje festival (usually April) and the masked Mani Rimdu dances held at major monasteries in spring and fall. Khumbu is a good region for a monsoon trek. High pastures are full of wildflowers and grazing yaks, and the people are relaxed, taking a well-deserved break from trekking and expedition work.

Namche Bazaar (3,446 m), the modern Sherpa capital, is the nerve center of upper Khumbu: from here the trails branch out to explore at least four separate high valleys. It's a cosmopolitan little village, a good place to pick up tips on trails and conditions from descending trekkers. Food prices skyrocket above here, since all supplies must be carried in from a distance; budget extra for this trip.It is the entrance to the Everest region Situated in the lap of the Khumbu Himal range,Namche Bazaar is about 24 km from Kathmandu and the distance is generally covered within 15 days by trekking. This place is the home of the legendary Sherpas, who have won international reknown as the world's most sturdy climbers with an indomitable will to scale peaks. One can fly from Kathmandu to Lukla and Syangboche in the Everest region. At Lukla accommodations are available in Sherpa huts and lodges Lukla is the most popular base for trekking in the Khumbu region. Days could be spent hiking and visiting the Sherpa villages, Thyangboche Monastery, Khunde Hospital, Khumjung Hilary School and trekking towards the Everest Base Camp. Accommodations are available at Thyangboche, Debuche, Pheriche, Pangboche, Lobuche and Gorakhshep.

Phaplu Another scenic place that is also easily accessed via air is Phaplu which has direct flights from Kathmandu. Phaphlu is in the eastern district of Solu-Khumbu, famous for its Sherpas. From here, you can hike into little known corners of Sherpa territory, and bask in the mountains' glow, yet return at night to the warmth of the Sherpa Lodge in Phaplu bazaar.


The trek up the Langtang valley is another of those finest mountain treks. Situated directly north of Kathmandu, this region has three relatively short yet interesting treks: Langtang, Helambu and Gosainkund. The regions are usually visited separately but can be combined in as 16-day trip. Lower regions like Helambu are perfect for winter treks and in springtime this region's rhododendrons are especially beautiful.The people are a mixture of Tamang, Sherpa and Bhotia. Food and lodging are easily available along the main routes.

Langtang, at 3,307m above sea level, extends from north of Helambu to all the way up to the Tibetan Border. It is the largest village of the region despite its small size. Its upper valley is a grazing paradise, rich in flowers and grass and dotted with stone huts used in the summer time for butter making. Sewn in skins and exported to Tibet to flavor tea and fuel monastery lamps, butter was once the region's major industry. It is generally a thirteen day trip, counting transportantion time and a day above Kyangjin and Gosaikund, the sacred lake devoted to Lord Shiva.

The trek to Helambu is one that remains open for twelve months of the year. It is the most easily accessible of all trekking regions. Helambu is below 3000 meters and creates few altitude problems. The trek provides a sudden, dramatic contrast between higher and lower areas of Helambu. The higher region consists of pleasant forests, interesting Sherpa villages and offers stunning mountain views. The lower valley is comparatively dull and depressing hot much of the year.


Beyond the aforementioned "Big Three" trekking regions of Nepal, Nepal is basically a virgin territory for trekkers. Trekking off the main paths is not only possible, but can be immensely rewarding, though you need a sense of adventure and an increased ability to deal with the unexpected. The treks range from teahouses to wilderness hikes. Frequently they combine both aspects by crossing over one or two uninhabited passes. You need extra time to get beyond the standard routes, however, as said rewards are great - not just mountain views, but increased contact with a wide range of Nepalis, and the chance to glimpse a completely different way of life.
Fascinating Regions Dolpo;
The best known of the many isolated high Himalayan valleys across the northern Nepal, Dolpo preserves one of the last remnants of traditional Tibetan culture. Legend says it's a bayul, one of the "hidden valleys" created by Guru Rinpoche as a refuge for devout Buddhists in troubled times. Surrounded by high mountains including the Dhaulagiri massif to the southeast rand cut off by high passes closed by snow half the year, Dolpo's easiest access is from Tibet, where its' people emigrated from perhaps thousand of years ago.

Upper Dolpo shelters about 6,000 people, whose lives revolve around Buddhism, barley, and yaks; their villages (over 4,260 meters) are among the highest settlements on earth. A large portion of Dolpo has been set aside as Shey-Phoksumdo National Park, at 3,555 The park shelters blue sheep, Himalayan black bear, leopards, wolves and the elusive snow leopard. Largely thanks to "The Snow Leopard" book and Oscar nominated movie, "Caravan," Dolpo is the best known of Nepal's remote northern border regions. One needs to get trekking permit from Department of Immigration in Kathmandu or Pokhara to visit this fascinating region. Check out travel faq for more information on this. Phoksumdo lake at 3,627m is the most fascinating part of the whole trek in Dolpo. The lake is a basin of unearthly turquoise blue ringed by rocky crags and forest, framed by snowcapped peaks.

Rara Lake;

Rara lake, the largest lake of the country, is a major destination among the treks in western Nepal. The lake, located within the Rara National Park, is perched on a high shelf, encircled by gray ridges and pine forested hills inhabitated by beers, jungle cats and deer. The trail leading to the lake was built as a horse trail for His Majesty King Mahendra's 1964 visit to Rara. Access to Rara Lake is from Jumla, which can be reached by flight or by walking for around ten days from Surkhet in western Nepal. A trip to the lake and back to Jumla takes just about ten days.


Kanchanjunga, referred as "Five Great Treasures of the Snows", is the third highest mountain of the world that lies at the eastern border of Nepal at an altitude of 8,586m. It takes at least two weeks' walk to reach the destination, Khangchenjunga base camp. There are two Kanchanjunga base camps - north and south, and the usual trek involves reaching either of them. It is possible to visit these both camps, but it takes a much longer time and moreover both are very difficult to cross. This region requires a trekking permit from Department of Immigration from either Kathmandu or Pokhara. The trekking fee for one person per week for the first four weeks is US$10 and US$ 20 per week thereafter.
Upper Mustang - Kingdom of Lo;
Upper Mustang, an arid barren land with pockets of fertile oases, is very different from any other parts of Nepal. In fact, the kingdom of Lo share similar culture and geography of Tibet. The lifestyle of Lo, people of Lo, is also unique and to date remains untouched by modernity. The trek to Upper Mustang requires a trekking permit from Department of Immigration of Kathmandu or Pokhara. The trekking fee is around US$ 700 per person for the first ten days and US$ 70 per person per day thereafter. You should remember to get trekking permit only through the registered trekking agencies. The trip to the capital of Mustang and back takes around two weeks and can be done by partly retracing the way in or by taking a circuitous trail through the outposts of this ancient pilgrimage.