EVEREST REGION

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Reach the highest point on earth or choose to live out your dream by standing at the foot of Mt. Everest (8,848 m).The Everest region in Nepal is more than just trekking, it is a milestone in anyone’s life; and some have even described the experience as a journey close to Nirvana. Located in the northeast province of Nepal, this is a colony to dramatic glaciers, deep settlements, several majestic mountains.

Passing through legendary Sherpa villages, the trek is a mix of a deeply cultural and spiritual experience in addition to the physical one. Buddhist lamas, monks and nuns led by Rinpoches (reincarnate lamas) serve the predominantly Sherpa com­munities from gompas (monasteries).

The journey to Everest or Everest Base Camp, begins from Lukla, if you are taking a direct flight from the capital. However, for die-hard lovers of trekking, there is an another switchback starting from Jiri through the mid-hills of Solu; ethnically diverse and flora-rich.

Taking a flight is a time-saver, while trekking from Jiri gives you the opportunity to take in each tiny detail of the trek, with extra time to to meet the charming people and see the rich flora and fauna on the trail.

The option from Jiri will roughly take 10 days to reach the famous Sherpa village, Namche Bazaar (3,500m). The Sagarmatha National Park in the Khumbu is one of the few places on earth with the rarest bio-diversity and the highest and youngest mountain system in the world.

For those with sufficient time, a 10-12 day trek through Solu to the Khumbu and the Sagarmatha National Park is an excellent itinerary both in terms of acclimatization and to experience the changing customs, traditions, and lifestyles as you pass through lower altitude settlements to those in the higher altitudes.A part of the Himalayan ecological zone, the park was added to the list of UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites in 1979.  The park contains three of the world’s seven highest mountains Sagarmatha or Mt. Everest, Lhotse, and Cho Oyu and is also home to several other prominent peaks most of which are above 6,000 meters.

Climbers and trekkers continue to trek to Everest Base Camp and not surprisingly the “Roof of the World” continues to be the scene of some of mountaineering’s most significant accomplishments and a favored haven for alpine enthusiasts.

The Everest region  has been valued as the key to evolutionary history of the Earth, and is also a habitat for some rare and endangered species like snow leopard, red panda, Himalayan black bear, musk deer and Himalayan wolves.

 

 

ANNAPURNA REGION

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The legendary Annapurna region is the most diverse and popular trekking area in Nepal. From the full three-week Annapurna Circuit, which stretches into the historic Mustang region to short three-day treks, there’s a trek suitable for everyone here.As the name suggests, the centre piece of this part of Nepal is the range of mountains that includes Annapurna I, the first of the 8,000 m peaks to be climbed. Also included in this region is another 8,000 m giant, Dhaulagiri, which is located west of Annapurna I.

Between these two mountains lies the valley of the Kali-Gandaki River, the deepest gorge in the world.

Views of lush, fertile farmland and undisturbed natural forest, snow covered mountains, and encounters with a mixture of many ethnic communities, all add up to a diverse range of experiences that make this area one of the most satisfying trekking destinations in Nepal.The fact that the Annapurna chain of mountains lies inland causes a large chunk of land to fall in the rain shadow area.

Hence these parts are considerably drier than the southern slopes of the mountains. This leads to unusually diverse landscapes and the possibility of trekking during the monsoon.

 

 

GORKHA 

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The historic birthplace of Prithvi Narayan Shah, who unified the kingdoms of Nepal in 1769 it maintains much of its centuries old charm with the main Durbar Palace as the central attraction. Trekkers often depart from here on the great Manaslu circuit while also enjoying this classic and much loved cultural town.Gorkha is the foundation of Nepal. It is the home to the bravest-of-the-brave troops in the world, Gurkha. From the Gorkha only, the vision of present-day Nepal was sketched by the first king of the modern Nepal. Before that, Nepal was divided into small kingdoms until when Prithvi Narayan Shah, the first king of (modern) Nepal had the vision to unite small kingdoms into a singular strength to build a wall against the rising force from the East, East India Company.

Gorkha holds the history of the country. The Gorkha Durbar (Palace), built on the hilltop above the market below, is the finest example of architectural and war-strategy of the past. From the palace, one can see the 360-degree view of the Gorkha village, which makes the palace as a vantage point, for now, but it was a strategy to protect the royal families from the invading armies, in the past.Gorkha is mostly populated by the Gurung tribesmen, who have earned enough praise in the both World Wars, including Victoria Cross. However, despite their fierce attitude in the battlefield, they are friendly people with a tradition of genuine hospitality. Around Gorkha, one may hike to a jungle and enjoy watching hunters collecting wild honey. Honey Hunters of Nepal, a documentary from Diane Summers and Eric Valli did their famous art of work, photography and video, in Gorkha, only.

 

 

JANAKPUR 

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Stroll through the ancient Mithila city to experience the Terai culture of southern Nepal and visit the Ram Janaki Temple in the center of the city that draws allusions to the famous Hindu epic Ramayana.The city that has been mentioned in Ramanayana as birthplace of Sita, Ram’s consort. As Ram is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Sita is believed to be the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi as per the great Hindu epic Ramayan.

It is also believed that it was in Janakpur that Lord Ram and Sita met and were married to each other. Janakpur is also on the holy route of Parikrama (holy circle) carried out by Hindus as a form of worship in Ayodhya, Kashi and Brij in India as well.

Another important religious site nearby is Dhanushadham, its reference again dating back to the Ramayan era. It is believed to be the place where the broken remains of the divine Shiva bow fell after Ram broke it to obtain Sita’s hand in marriage.

A fossilized fragment of the broken piece is still believed to present here. Dhanusha offers: religious sightseeing, lush surroundings of trees and groves, semi-rural charm of the Terai suburbs, and the colorful Maithali art and culture.

PeopleDiverse ethnic groups live in the district of Dhanusha. Yadavs, Teli, Brahmins, Kyastha, Tharu, Musahar, Rajput, and Chhetri are the main inhabitants of these villages. Most are farmers by occupation. The whole region is also considered the center of Maithali culture, therefore Maithali art and culture is predominant in this area.

Getting There

Dhanusadham is in Dhanusha district and Janakpur zone.

Janakpur is approximately 390 km and 10-hour drive from Kathmandu. Buses to district headquarter Janakpur city leave from Central Bus Station, Gongabu in Kathmandu. One can also take a 40-minute flight to Janakpur city from Kathmandu. Dhanushadham which is 18 km is an hour-drive from Janakpur. Public transportation services are available to Dhanushadham from the city area.

Tourist Services

Luxury hotels to budget accommodation and food facilities are available in Janakpur city. Dharamshalas (accommodation for pilgrims) are also available. Food is delicious with Indian touch. Varieties of sweets and vegetarian specialties are available. Other tourist facilities are also available in Janakpur city.

 

 

DOLPO REGION

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Trek through the hidden valleys of Dolpa, visit the ancient Shey Gompa (The Crystal Monastery), touch the icy waters of  Phoksundo Lake, see yak caravans cross high-Himalayan passes, visit some of the highest settlments on earth like the Dho-Tarap valley; Dolpa will never cease to amaze you.Dolpa or Dolpo was popularized by the film “Caravan” which showcases the extraordinary untouched beauty of the region.

It is remote and fascinating, confined by the Dhaulagiri range in the south and east, the mountains Sisne and Kanjiroba in the west and Tibet towards the north. Lake Phoksundo with its turquoise waters is the major attraction in Dolpa.

The people of Dolpa generally settle at altitudes of 3,660 m to 4,070 m and these are probably one of the highest settlements in the world. There are 130 gompas in Dolpa which speaks volumes for the religious nature of its inhabitants.

The trek is enlivened by the sight of yak caravans that even today travel long distances through difficult terrain to barter goods.

Closely linked with Tibet, the people speak Tibetan, have strong Mongoloid features, maintain their Tibetan culture with monasteries that follow closely the Buddhism of Tibet.The proximity with Tibet has ensured that little has changed since their forefathers crossed the border into Nepal. This trek is an opportunity to meet people who follow a lifestyle that goes back centuries.

These unexplored, high altitude valleys were not opened until 1989. Isolated by the difficult topography, the people in this region have preserved their lifestyle, remaining almost untouched by the trappings of modern society.

Dolpa falls among Restricted Areas. Therefore, trekkers require Trekking Permit from the Department of Immigration in addition to the TIMS card to trek to this region. Trekkers should be physically fit as there are long and strenuous stretches en route.

 

 

ILAM

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A brisk walk in a tea garden, tranquil picnic and sightseeing stops, short treks along gentle slopes, or a trudge into the nearby woods – all this and more is offered by Ilam.An excellent getaway from city life, Ilam, famous for its tea, is a small hill town with pristine landscapes of sloped tea gardens, mountain streams, dense natural forests, holy sites and a unique culture. Using Ilam Bazaar as a base you can take excursions for a day or more.

While the subtropical climate of Ilam ensures good weather throughout the year, the best time to visit Ilam is between October-December or from April-February.

Ilam district is bordered by Panchthar in the north, Jhapa in the south, West Bengal (India) in the east and Morang and Dhankuta districts in the west.  It lies to the south of the Mahabharat range and west of the Shinghalila range.

Elevations in Ilam district range between 140 m to 3,636 m above sea level.  Ilam is sometimes called Charkhol (area of four rivers) because of the four main rivers – the Jogmai, Puwamai, Mai, and Deaumai in the district.

Ilam is one of the richest districts in Nepal in terms of its cultural diversity, natural landscape, and flourishing cash crops sector. Potato, cardamom, ginger, red round chilly, milk, and broom grass are the major cash crops. Visitors also go to Ilam for botanical and anthropological research.The main ethnic groups living in Ilam are the Brahmins and Chhetris.  Lepcha is also the predominant ethnic group in this region.  A Lepcha museum is at an initial stage in Antu and is in the process of being extended.

Ilam reflects rich social and cultural heritages of people living in harmony.  Other major ethnic groups living in Ilam include Magars, Gurungs, Rais, Limbus, and Sherpas. Most parts of Ilam are hilly regions with farmers as main inhabitants along with some businessmen, officials and government employees.

 

 

KATHMANDU VALLEY

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Discover ancient temples and myths in the valley of gods where Hinduism and Buddhism meet.Smell and eat traditional Newari food cooked on wood ovens while you are strolling through the small little alleys around the “durbar squares” in one of the ancient king cities of the Kathmandu Valley; BhaktapurPatan or Kathmandu.

Buy handicrafs from artisans that still work according to centuries-old traditions. Or try if you are talented yourself in one of the many workshops that are available

Watch how the people of the valley still use their temples to practice rituals that have been passed from generation to generation. Discover the temples of the valley, learn more about the rituals of the people of Nepal.

Visit 7 monuments of UNESCO World Heritage Site Kathmandu in 48 hours.

There is a famous folk story that narrates the establishment of the Kathmandu Valley. Long ago, during the Pleistocene era, Kathmandu Valley was merely a lake – a beautiful exhibition of aquatic flora and fauna. Around the same era, when Manjushree, a holy Buddhist Saint from Tibet, saw a beautiful lotus flower floating in the center of the lake, boundless admiration started to flame inside his heart, which evoked his devotion to hold and worship the flower.

He, then, cut the Chobar Hill; that ‘cut’ turned into a deep gorge, letting lake water drain out, and leaving a fertile, and pious land for human settlement. Later the settlement became a well-known terminal for diverse individuals; for devotees (both Hindus and Buddhists), Tibetan and Indian merchants, artisans, emperors, explorers, historians, hippies, according to the respective eras, and – now – for tourists from all around the world.

The Kathmandu Valley has always been a melting pot for various cultures, religions, and arts and crafts. The Gopala and Kirat dynasties ruled at the earliest periods, followed by the Licchavi (300-879 AD), who, correspondingly, decorated the city with a passion, traditional art, and religious belief.For such reasons, till this date one can experience the authenticity of the valley, its cultural and religious harmony; the varieties of temples of Hinduism and Buddhism that are standing next to each other for centuries, diverse ethnicities, colorful festivals, and celebration, but just within a walking distance, which is, perhaps, the most beautiful highlight of the city.

The Kathmandu Valley envelops three glorious cities – Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur, which were once independent states ruled by the Malla kings, who ruled the cities from the 12th to the 18th centuries and decorated their individual kingdom with exotic craftsmanship and palaces. Back then, the mighty Mongol rulers would import craftsmen from the Kathmandu Valley to decorate their empire.

That is to say, the famous Pagoda architecture is a gift from the Kathmandu Valley to the China. Now the Kathmandu Valley is home to seven sites which make the valley a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site, and also home to hundreds of other exquisite monuments, sculptures, artistic temples and magnificent art – reminders of the golden era in Nepal’s architecture.

 

 

TANSEN PALPA

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Get charmed by one of the “off-the-beaten-track” destinations in Nepal, the ancient hill town of Tansen. Walk its cobbled bazaar to find a perfect Dhaka topi for yourself.  Traverse around Shreenagar Hills, do a day hike to the Rani Mahal on the banks of the Kali Gandaki River or go backpacking along the river trail to find enchanting new routes.Midway between the Indian border and Pokhara, Tansen’s old artistic Newari houses, and cobbled streets, are waiting to be discovered. Palpa was the seat of the Sen kingdom that ruled over this region from 16th century for almost 300 years.

A picturesque hill town lying on the lap of the Shreenagar Hills, Tansen is the headquarters of Palpa district and the hub of the mid west culture of Nepal.  The district varies from 250 to 2,000 m in elevation.

The town has houses strongly influenced by traditional Newari architecture.  The name “Tansen” has its origin in the Magar language, meaning “northern settlement.”  Palpa with its diverse culture and religion falls in the twelve Magar regions of West Nepal.

Tansen can be visited at any time of the year. While the climate of Palpa varies from tropical to moderate, Tansen is moderate to warm with temperatures between 28 degree Celsius maximum during summer and 8 degree Celsius minimum in the winter.  The months of June and July have maximum rain.

PeopleThe percentage of the Magar and the Newar population in the district is high.  Other inhabitants of Palpa are the Brahmin, Chhetri, Bhojpuri, Tharu, Gurung, Tamang, and Limbu.

Newars, originally from the Kathmandu valley, followed opportunities of trade and craft and migrated to different parts of Nepal. In Tansen they found an important crossroad of trading routes and administrative headquarters.

Though today’s migration movement due to urbanization and decrease in agriculture brings people from all ethnic groups to Tansen, the Newari people still make up a high percentage of the population in the core area.  There are also predominant Magar settlements in some parts of Palpa district.  The Magars are assumed to be the first settlers in this area.

Getting There

Tansen is in Palpa district, Lumbini zone.

There are regular buses from Kathmandu to Tansen – 296 km from Kathmandu via Butwal and about 324 km from Kathmandu via Pokhara. You can take a daily-scheduled flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara or Bhairahawa. Tansen is conveniently near Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, and the popular tourist destination of Pokhara. It is about 3-4 hours drive from either of these cities.

Tourist Services

There are a number of good to moderate hotels and lodges in Tansen to suit every budget and need.  The hotels and lodges are clean and the staff hospitable. The modern restaurants serve excellent Nepali meals and some even serve continental cuisine.

 

 

TEHRATHUM SANKHUWASABHA

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Follow the rhododendron trail of Nepal next spring, trekking through hills of colorful rhododendron along Tehrathum and Sankhuwasabha districts. This is an area of mixed pastures, stunning mountain views, beautiful sunrise and sunset, and friendly Limbu people. Offering excellent respite from city life, the diverse landscape includes terraced fields as well as the Terai plains covered with different types of vegetation.Basantapur (2,200 m) in Tehrathum also hosts trekkers on the way to Taplejung and Mt. Kanchenjunga. The little Basantapur Bazaar is set up in an enchanting surrounding of mountains and greenery.

The weather here is cool and temperate most times of the year, making Basantapur ideal to visit anytime. The best times to visit are autumn and spring, between October-December or from February-April. Summers are pleasant with temperatures ranging from 10 to 20 degree Celsius, while winters mild.

Tin Jure

From Tin Jure Danda (3,066 m) (ridge) one can see magnificent views of sunrise and sunset, and majestic view of the mountains. Thirty-four varieties of rhododendron are found here. Tin Jure Danda is about a half hour away from Basantapur Bazaar.

Tinjure Milke Jaljale Trail, also known as the Rhododendron Trail, spreads across Taplejung, Terathum and Sankhuwasabha districts. Hille, north of Dharan, is a good place to start out.  Alternately, you can start from Phidim at the end of a newly com­pleted dry season dirt road that trav­erses Ilam’s young tea estates.

Heading northeast out of Hille, the trail climbs gradually through settle­ments of recent migrants from the northern Olangchung region, trans-Himalayan yak drivers who live for months on tsampa (roasted barley flour), dried yak meat, and cheese.

Gupha Pokhari is a serene lake set on a ridge looking east at the Kanchenjunga massif and west at Makalu and the Khumbu Himal (mountain). From here, a shorter trek follows the Milke Danda ridge due north, climbing to 4,700 m into the Jaljale Himal, a remote area spotted with lakes and inhabited by mountain peoples from Tibet.

You can then descend east to the Mewa Khola (stream) and continue to Taplejung’s airfield and further to the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area.

Milke

On the way to Taplejung is another popular rhododendron forest known by the name of Milke Danda (2,905 m). Milke Danda provides a closer view of the Kanchenjunga and Kumbhakarna mountains and offers beautiful sunrise and sunset surprises when weather is clear. It is on the trekking trail between Taplejung and Basantapur Bazaar.

PattekPattek Danda (2,500 m) is equally beautiful for sunrise, sunset and also offers a wide view of the Himalayas including Mt. Everest and Mt. Kanchanjungha. Pattek Danda is ideal for short treks and is also a good area for picnics. There is a popular Goddess Kali temple 2-hour walk west from Basantapur Bazaar. Pattek Danda, about 3 km from Basantapur can also be reached via Chitre that is 15-minute drive away. From here Pattek Dandais a 30-minute trek.

Gupha Pokhari

It is a natural pond that lies on the trekking trail to Taplejung from Basantapur. Picturesque views of mountains, sunrise and sunset can be seen from here. This Pokhari (pond) is culturally significant and is also a good resting place for trekkers to Taplejung

Marg Pokhari

Marg Pokhari (2,600 m) is another natural pond on the lap of the hills. The pond holds religious value and scenic beauty. The pond has contributed to keep the surroundings green. The Marg Pokhari watershed area has a dense forest that habitats popular species of rhododendron and precious plants. Marg Pokhari is on the way to Basantapur from Sindhuwa, which is 5 km from Basantapur Bazaar.

Panchakanya Pokhari

Panchakanya Pokhari is another popular tourist site. Also known as Chhathar Pokhari, Panchakanya Pokhari is approximately 2 hours walk further down from Sukrabare Bazaar. Among the many ponds here, the largest pond in the area is Panchakanya.

A fair known as Sukrabare Bazaar (Sukrabar is Friday in Nepali) is held every Friday in Hammarjung VDC, showcasing the mixed culture of settlements. Majority of the inhabitants here are Limbu. Thus, it is an ideal place and time to experience the rich Limbu culture. The village is popular for homespun cloth called khadi (cotton). The village can be reached via Sindhuwa Bazaar, another popular area of Basantapur.

 

 

TAPLEJUNG

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Trek through Taplejung in the Kanchenjung region to see towering Himalayan peaks including Mt. Kanchenjunga (8,586 m), the third highest peak in the world, amid lush rhododendron forests.Opt for the sacred Pathibhara trail and get a Darshan of the wish-fulfilling Goddess. Or search deep into the valleys to see cultural treasures in the mountain settlements and ancient routes.

This is one of the most beautiful areas in the country in the far-eastern Nepal borders with India in the east and the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China in the north. Alpine grasslands, rocky outcrops, dense temperate, sub-tropical forests, and low river valleys make up the area.

Nearby is the Tinjure Milke Jaljale ridge that forms border between Taplejung, Tehrathum and Sankhuwasabha districts. This is an area well known for its bio-diversity including the world’s largest natural rhododendron forest with the highest number of rhododendron species in the world.

Ancient Gompas

The rich cultural heritage of Taplejung is reflected in the Buddhist gompas (monasteries) such as the 400-year old Diki Chhyoling Gompa of Olangchungola which has a life size statue of Avalokiteshwara. A butter lamp at the altar has been burning here uninterrupted since the construction of the gompa. The waters of a small stream outside the gompa continuously spin twelve prayer wheels with the prayer “Om Mane Padme Hum” inscribed on them.

People

The predominant people in the Kanchenjunga region are the Limbus, with the higher regions inhabited by people of Tibeto-Mongoloid ancestry. Tibetans, Sherpas, Rais, Gurungs, Magars, Newars, Sunwars, and Tamangs also live in this area, while the area also offers cultural diversity of Chhetris and Brahmins.

Cardamom farming, agriculture, animal husbandry, and tourism are the major means of livelihood for the people here. The Sherpa people, who arrived from Tibet more than four hundred years ago, live at higher altitudes. The Sherpas of this region have distinct culture and tradition – quite different from the Sherpas who live in the Solukhumbu district in the Sagarmatha region.

Getting ThereKanchenjunga region falls in Taplejung district of Mechi zone.

Taplejung is connected to the rest of Nepal by the 227-km Char Aali-Ilam-Phidim-Taplejung road.  There is an air link with Kathmandu and Biratnagar from the STOL airstrip at Suketar.  You can also take a bus from Dharan to Dhankuta – Basantapur – Hile and trek from there. In the dry season, bus services are available from Birtamod, Jhapa in East Nepal and from Phidim in Panchthar district.  Often an overnight stay is required; otherwise, it is a full day’s journey.

Tourist Services

Tourist facilities are available in Phungling Bazaar and Suketar. While trekking, accommodation facilities have to be arranged along the way. Lodges, teashops and campsites are available en route to Kanchenjunga and Pathibhara.

Basic tourist facilities for accommodation and food are available in the area. Private and community-owned campsites are also available. Lodges and home-stays provide local cultural experience.