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Nepal

Surrounded by the greatest heights of the Himalaya, the kingdom of Nepal is a land of eternal attraction, a place where one visit is hardly ever enough. It's a land of colorful cultures, ancient history and people, superb scenery and some of the best walking on earth.

Nepal forms the very watershed of Asia. Landlocked between India and China, it spans terrain from subtropical jungle to the icy Himalaya, and contains or shares eight of the world's ten highest mountains. The cultural landscape of Nepal is every bit as diverse: a dozen major ethnic groups , speaking as many as fifty languages and dialects, coexist in this narrow, jumbled buffer state, while two of the world's great religions , Hinduism and Buddhism, overlap and mingle with older tribal traditions - yet it's a testimony to the Nepalis' tolerance and good humour that there is no tradition of ethnic or religious strife. Unlike India, Nepal was never colonized, a fact which comes through in fierce national pride and other, more idiosyncratic ways. Founded on trans-Himalayan trade, its dense, medieval cities display a unique pagoda-style architecture, not to mention an astounding flair for festivals and pageantry. But above all, Nepal is a nation of unaffected villages and terraced hillsides - more than eighty percent of the population lives off the land - and whether you're trekking, biking or bouncing around in packed buses, sampling this simple lifestyle is perhaps the greatest pleasure of all.

Travelling in Nepal isn't a straightforward or predictable activity. Certain tourist areas are highly developed, even overdeveloped, but facilities elsewhere are rudimentary; getting around is time-consuming and sometimes uncomfortable. Nepalis are well used to shrugging off such inconveniences with the all-purpose phrase, Ke garne ? ("What to do?"). Nepal is also a more fragile country than most - culturally as well as environmentally - so it's necessary to be especially sensitive as a traveller.

Behind the old temples and places of the Kathmandu Valley, above and beyond the hills that surrounding the valley, another kingdom' rises skyward. The abode of snows' which is what Himalaya means in Sanskrit, is a natural kingdom' and a magnet to mountaineers from all above the world. You don't have to be Sherpa or Hillary in order for you to get in amongst these great mountains. With a touch of enterprises and a modicum of fitness most travelers can walk the trails that lead into the road less heights of the Himalaya. In Nepal, one trek is rarely enough, and many visitors soon find themselves planning to return. Fascinating old town, magnificent temples and great walking are not all Nepal has to offer. Many visitors come to Nepal expecting to find these things but also discover how outstanding friendly the Nepalese are.

Trekking in Nepal is not the only activity which draws visitors, it also has some superb white water rafting opportunities, mountain biking, which is become more and more popular, and down in the jungle safaris on elephant-back into the Royal Chitwan National Park are another not-to-be-missed part of the Nepal experience.


Places to see in Nepal

Kathmandu

Capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, has always been popular destination to travel once it had opened the door for international tourist. Kathmandu is now a hub for independent travellers as well as a growing vacation spot catering to all budgets.

Patan

Located about 5 km south of Kathmandu in the Kathmandu Valley, on the southern side of the Bagmati River, Patan is one of 3 royal cities in the valley. The others are Kathmandu and Bhaktapur.

Bhaktapur

Located about 20 km east of Kathmandu in the Kathmandu Valley, Bhaktapur is known as the 'City of Devotees', the 'City of Culture', the 'Living Heritage', and 'Nepal's Cultural Gem'. It is one of the 3 royal cities in the Kathmandu Valley. The others are Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, and Patan.

Bhaktapur is filled with monuments, most terra-cotta with carved wood columns, palaces and temples with elaborate carvings, gilded roofs, open courtyards. The city is dotted with pagodas and religious shrines.

Lying along the ancient trade route between India and Tibet, Bhaktapur is surrounded by mountains and provides a magnificent view of the Himalayas.

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