The lure and romance of Nepal comes from its very remoteness. Nestled high in the Himalaya the kingdom was closed to the outside world until 1951. Since then it has become one of the premier tourist destinations of the world. Apart from Nepal’s world-renowned physical attractions – frozen peaks, broad valleys, lush jungles and exotic wildlife – it is a country with an ancient, rich and diverse cultural heritage.
With a recorded history of almost 3000 years, and legendary beginnings dating back further still, the legacy and influences of the past are a constant presence in modern life. Traditional architecture mingles with the modern, busy streets divert around sacred shrines, festivals celebrate gods and heroes and suited-businessmen offer katak’s to departing visitors.
The lives of all of Nepal’s numerous ethnic groups and castes are strongly influenced by religion. Whether Hindu, Buddhist, Shamanist or, as is common, an amalgam of belief, daily and life-long routines - morning puja, making offerings at a shrine on the way to work and the bigger events of birth and death are a vibrant aspect of Nepalese life. Architecture follows styles that provide for household shrines, deities are painted in vibrant color and festivals are an integral part of life.
Capital city: Kathmandu
Area: 147,181 sq km
Population: 29.5 million
Currency: Nepalese Rupee (NPR)
Time zone: GMT +5.75
Dialing code: +977
People: Hindu (75%), Buddhists (20%), Others (5%)
Thai flies daily between Kathmandu and Bangkok with connections throughout the world.
From Europe there are daily flights via the Middle East on Emirates, Gulf Air and Qatar Airways as well as connections via Delhi on Lufthansa and KLM.
There are daily flights from Delhi on Indian Airways and RNAC.
RNAC has twice weekly flights to Osaka via Shanghai and to Hong Kong.
China Eastern Airways is due to begin operating between Beijing and Shanghai and Kathmandu early 2004.
There are basically four seasons in Nepal. From October to May, you have a dry season and from June to September, you have a wet monsoon season. However, the autumn season which begins from September and lasts up to November and the spring season which is between the month of March and May are the best time to visit Nepal. The months of December and January are also good as they provide a good amount of visibility but could get very cold at higher altitudes. Nepal’s weather is normally pleasant. The major seasons could be categorized as March–May (spring), June–August (summer), September–November (autumn) and December–February (winter).
The seasons of autumn and spring are the most pleasant and this is the time chosen for visit by most travelers. Temperatures during the late spring and summer range from 28ºC (83ºF) in the hill regions to more than 40ºC (104ºF) in the Terai. In the winters, average maximum and minimum temperatures in the Terai range from a brisk 7ºC (45ºF) to a mild 23ºC (74ºF). The central valleys experience a minimum temperature often falling bellow freezing point and a chilly 12ºC (54ºF) maximum. The temperature is a lot colder at higher altitudes. The Kathmandu Valley experiences a relatively a mild climate, ranging from 19-27ºC (67-81ºF) in summer, and 2-20ºC (36-68ºF) in winter.
February to April can be considered the second-best time to visit. The weather gets warmer so high-altitude treks are pleasant and provide good visibility. May and early June can become hot and dusty, with temperatures often above 30°C. Mid-June to September, is the monsoon season in Nepal.
Nepal: A Brief History Nepal’s recorded history began with the Kirantis, who arrived in the 7th or 8th century BC from the east. Little is known about them, other than their deftness as sheep farmers and fondness for carrying long knives. It was during this period that Buddhism first came to Nepal; it is claimed that Buddha and his disciple Ananda visited the Kathmandu valley and stayed for a time in Patan. By 200 AD, Buddhism had waned, and was replaced by Hinduism, brought by the Licchavis, who invaded from northern India and overthrew the last Kirat king. The Hindus also introduced the caste system (which still continues today) and ushered in a classical age of Nepalese art and architecture.
By 879, the Licchavi era had petered out and was succeeded by the Thakuri dynasty. A grim period of instability and invasion often referred to as the ‘Dark Ages’ followed, but the Kathmandu valley’s strategic location ensured the kingdom’s survival and growth. Several centuries later, the Thakuri king, Arideva, founded the Malla dynasty, kick-starting another renaissance of Nepali culture. Despite earthquakes, the odd invasion and feuding between the independent city-states of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, the dynasty flourished, reaching its zenith in the 15th century under Yaksha Malla.
In February 2005, King Gyanendra dismissed Nepal’s elected government, declared a state of emergency, and announced his assumption of full executive authority. He justified the coup on the pretext of trying to curtail the 10-year-old Maoist insurgency that claimed more than 13,000 lives. The police, the army, and the Maoists were all responsible for numerous human rights abuses during the conflict. After the coup, Maoist leaders reached an agreement with the main political parties to join forces and oppose the King. They organized massive protests and in April 2006, after tens of thousands of people took to the streets, King Gyanendra was forced to return a civilian government.
Chief of these is the Maoist rebellion against the government, which has claimed 1700 lives over the past six years. The first round of peace talks between the rebels and the government took place at the end of August 2001 and a ceasefire was declared – then abruptly ended. Any talk of détente is at risk from the government’s proposed land reforms and budget decisions, and major political challenges. In early September 2001 a tentative alliance comprising 10 left-wing political party emerged, along with calls for a united government of representatives from all political directions, including Mao rebels, and changes to the constitution. Hopes of a settlement were again dashed with coordinated Maoist bombings in November 2001.
In (2006-2008) Nepal’s coalition government and the Communist party to Nepal (Maoist) signed a comprehensive peace agreement to end the fighting. The Nepali Army and Maoists agreed to an arms management pact, under which each side would put away most of its weapons and restrict most of its troops to a few barracks, under the supervision of monitors from the United Nations. They also agreed to participate in elections to create a constituent assembly that would rewrite the country’s constitution, including whether it will remain a monarchy. Elections to the Constituent assembly held on 10, April 2008 and maoists got the absolute seats in the elections. Thereafter, the parliament declared Nepal as Federal Democratic Republic overthrowing the 240 - year old shah dynasty. King Gyanendra left the palace and the was palace then turned into National museum. Soon the coalition government is going to be formed under the initiative of Maoists and Pushpa Kamal Dahal (alias Prachanda) is likely to lead the government as the new premier in Nepal. According to the interim Constituent the president will be the ceremonial head of state and the premier will remain the Executive head of the government.
On July the newly elected president Dr. Ram Baran Yadav became the first president of Nepal through presidental run-off held on 21 July in the parliament, After the abolishment of the institution of monarchy in the country and after the King Gyanendra was dethroned by the constituent Assembly, Nepal has found a farmer’s son become the first president of republic Nepal.
Maoist revolutionary supreme leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, alias Prachanda has been democratically elected as the new prime minister of Federal Democratic Republic Nepal on 15 August 2008.Prachanda who led 10-year long insurgency against the monarchy and under his able leadership the Maoist party scored the major seats in the Assembly election in April, 2008.The coalition government headed by Maoist party was brought down after a 9 month rule and another coalition government headed by UML(United Marxist Leninst) party formed the government with the support of Nepali Congress, Nepal Prajatantra Party, Madhesi Janadikar Forum and other small political parties. This new coalition government was formed under the premiership of Madhav Kumar Nepal and the government is now in full swing.