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Kathmandu Pokhra Chitwan
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Introduction:

Boarding an airplane bound for Kathmandu for the first time-the capital of a country billed for the past few decades as a vanishing Shangri-La-one is immediately reminded of the movie Lost Horizon, with the exotic collection of oriental faces on the Royal Nepal flight. Even though the flight from India is a short routine hop from the searing hot plains to the snow-capped Himalaya, one can't help feeling transported to a magical kingdom. Emerging from the clouds to an opening in the valley, suddenly paddy fields begin to appear with reddish brick and adobe houses clinging to steep terraced hills. The world's highest snow-capped mountains come into view on the horizon and for the excited first-timers, shutters click and videotapes roll.

As peaks are cleared and the plane prepares for landing, there is a plane prepares for landing, there is a certain excitement about entering this mountain kingdom that, until the 1950s, was all but cut off from the outside world, further enhancing its former mythological Shangri-La image. But for the modern-day visitor, stepping outside the airport is quite another matter. Getting past the gauntlet of airport touts and driving through pot-holed, streets quickly dispels the idyllic image.

Nevertheless, despite its apparent backwardness, Nepal has an astonishing diversity of geography for a small country. On the same day, one can brush against the world's highest peaks on a mountain flight, browse amongst World Heritage site temples and medieval palaces, and ride through grasslands and jungles atop an elephant safari.

A curving rectangle straddling the central Himalaya, Nepal is 885 km (533 miles) long and 90-220 km (60-137 miles) wide. Due to the curve, Kathmandu is, surprisingly, actually further south than Delhi, and about the same latitude as Cairo. Dubbed 'the abode of the gods', the spectacular heights of the snowy Himalaya dominate Nepal. Of the ten highest mountains in the world, eight of them are in Nepal, including the highest, the world-famous Mt. Everest-or Sagarmatha (29,028 ft), as she is called in Nepali.

Entirely mountainous except for the narrow strip of low-lying plains known as the Terai at its southern border with India, Nepal's climate ranges from the tropical heat of Terai to that of the Mediterranean, alpine and arctic. Sandwiched between India and Tibet, Nepal's 19 million people live in a country roughly the size of England or New Zealand. They are a tossed salad of mountain cultures and customs, blending Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burmese and Mongolian elements in a colorful ethnic mix. Nowhere can this be better appreciated than the kaleidoscopic Kathmandu valley.

First put on the tourist maps by an influx of hippies in the 1960s. Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is a centre of cultural sophistication. Despite a population of just half a million people, it is Nepal's largest and only cosmopolitan city. It is also the hometown of the Newars, Nepal's master craftsmen and traders extraordinaire. Some say that trade created Kathmandu.; for a millennium the city controlled the most important caravan route between Tibet and India, a trade which funded the city's artisans. Since embracing tourism as its number one earner of foreign exchange, Nepal has had to grapple with keeping its World Heritage architecture, art and culture intact in the face of unbridled development.

Nepal has undergone many changes since opening up to tourism in the 1960s as a hippie paradise where hash and love were cheap. A popular poster at the time described Nepal as the land of 'Never-Ending Peace and Love'. Since then, however, the Himalayan kingdom, one of the world's poorest countries, has never really caught up with the upscale tourism market. Kathmandu, despite the exotic allure of its name, is, sad to say, like many South Asian capitals, and overcrowded, traffic-snarled, polluted city where the heavy smog all but precludes any scenic views of the world's highest mountains on the horizon. However, the warm Nepalese friendliness and hospitality more than make up for the country's very basic infrastructure and other shortcomings.

True, there are five-star hotels of the likes of Holiday Inn and Yak & Yeti, but most tourists-on-a-trek prefer to spend as few days as possible in the smoggy capital and literally head for the hills. One such destination has been Nepal's lakeside resort of Pokhara with stunning views of the spectacular Annapurna range. Although located on the trippy Lonely Planeteer trail, it was not until recently that decent first-class accommodation of international standards became available. Aside from the newly opened deluxe properties such as the Fulbari and Shangri-La Village, most tourists backpack by the lake, which, unfortunately, has now become spoiled by over-commercialisation catering to the 'muesli set'. Precious little of the lakeside resort can be appreciated except from the rooftop terrace of one of those typical restaurants offering Nepali-Indian-Chinese-Italian-Mexican-Tibetan-Japanese-Continental cuisine-all on the same menu.

Aside from Pokhara, another popular tourist destination in Nepal is the Chitwan National Park. There is a wide range of lodging options here, from a dollar-a-day mud and straw huts to luxury swimming-pool resorts. The chief attraction is the elephant-back jungle safari from which you can spot wild rhinos-once on the verge of extinction-but now the main wildlife draw and a dangerous nuisance of locals.

From the Book:

The Kathmandu Valley

The Kathmandu Valley is fertile, flat and compact. Situated at an altitude of 1,200 to 1,500 m (between 4,000 to 5,000 ft), the valley is also small, with an area of only 570 sq km (220 sq miles). Yet in spite of its small size, there are a record seven World Heritage sites declared by UNESCO-a number unrivalled anywhere else in the world for such a small compact area. These seven architectural and civic wonders are monuments to Nepal's past prosperity, artistry and religiosity which make the valley a living museum.

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Also called Hanuman Dhoka (the Gates of Hanuman, the monkey god), Kathmandu Durbar Square is divided into two principal chowks (courtyards). The outer one is renowned for the Kumari Ghar (House of the 'Living Goddess'), Kasthamandap (the Wooden Pavilion), Narayan Mandir, the stone statue of Garuda (mythical bird said to be the vehicle of Lord Vishnu) and the Shiva-Parvati Temple.

The inner chowk is the Hanuman Dhoka and its Old Royal Palace, the durbar complex. The principal chowk-within-chowks is Nasal Chowk, the seat of important national ceremonies, including coronations. Thee are many temples in the Durbar Square area, the most notable being the Taleju Temple, dedicated to the royal patron goddess Taleju Bhawani, a south Indian deity imported by the Mallas in the 14th century. This ultrasacrosanct temple is opened only once a year, on the ninth day of Dasain, that too only for the Nepalese, and only the King and certain priests can enter the inner sanctum.

 

CONTENTS

 

    Pages
Introduction   5
Mythology and History   11
The Kathmandu Valley   17
Kathmandu Durbar Square   19
Religion   25
Pashupatinath   27
The Kumari Cult   30
Swayambhu   32
Boudhanath and Tibetans   32
Tibetan Refugees   32
Tibetan Carpets   33
Tibetan Medicine   36
Dharma Freaks   37
Patan   39
Bhaktapur   45
Dhulikhel and Namo Buddha   48
Sankhu and Bajra Yogini   49
Changu Narayan   53
Shopping   53
Babar Mahal Revisited   54
Gurkhas   56
Pokhara Valley and Phewa Lake   59
The Annapurna Sanctuary Trek   66
Chitwan and the Terai   69

Sample Page


Kathmandu Pokhra Chitwan

Item Code:
IDD070
Cover:
Paperback
Publisher:
Lustre Press Roli books
ISBN:
81-7436-087-5
Language:
English
Size:
8.25" x 11"
Pages:
80
Other Details:
In Full Color
Weight of the Book: 351 gms
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Introduction:

Boarding an airplane bound for Kathmandu for the first time-the capital of a country billed for the past few decades as a vanishing Shangri-La-one is immediately reminded of the movie Lost Horizon, with the exotic collection of oriental faces on the Royal Nepal flight. Even though the flight from India is a short routine hop from the searing hot plains to the snow-capped Himalaya, one can't help feeling transported to a magical kingdom. Emerging from the clouds to an opening in the valley, suddenly paddy fields begin to appear with reddish brick and adobe houses clinging to steep terraced hills. The world's highest snow-capped mountains come into view on the horizon and for the excited first-timers, shutters click and videotapes roll.

As peaks are cleared and the plane prepares for landing, there is a plane prepares for landing, there is a certain excitement about entering this mountain kingdom that, until the 1950s, was all but cut off from the outside world, further enhancing its former mythological Shangri-La image. But for the modern-day visitor, stepping outside the airport is quite another matter. Getting past the gauntlet of airport touts and driving through pot-holed, streets quickly dispels the idyllic image.

Nevertheless, despite its apparent backwardness, Nepal has an astonishing diversity of geography for a small country. On the same day, one can brush against the world's highest peaks on a mountain flight, browse amongst World Heritage site temples and medieval palaces, and ride through grasslands and jungles atop an elephant safari.

A curving rectangle straddling the central Himalaya, Nepal is 885 km (533 miles) long and 90-220 km (60-137 miles) wide. Due to the curve, Kathmandu is, surprisingly, actually further south than Delhi, and about the same latitude as Cairo. Dubbed 'the abode of the gods', the spectacular heights of the snowy Himalaya dominate Nepal. Of the ten highest mountains in the world, eight of them are in Nepal, including the highest, the world-famous Mt. Everest-or Sagarmatha (29,028 ft), as she is called in Nepali.

Entirely mountainous except for the narrow strip of low-lying plains known as the Terai at its southern border with India, Nepal's climate ranges from the tropical heat of Terai to that of the Mediterranean, alpine and arctic. Sandwiched between India and Tibet, Nepal's 19 million people live in a country roughly the size of England or New Zealand. They are a tossed salad of mountain cultures and customs, blending Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burmese and Mongolian elements in a colorful ethnic mix. Nowhere can this be better appreciated than the kaleidoscopic Kathmandu valley.

First put on the tourist maps by an influx of hippies in the 1960s. Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is a centre of cultural sophistication. Despite a population of just half a million people, it is Nepal's largest and only cosmopolitan city. It is also the hometown of the Newars, Nepal's master craftsmen and traders extraordinaire. Some say that trade created Kathmandu.; for a millennium the city controlled the most important caravan route between Tibet and India, a trade which funded the city's artisans. Since embracing tourism as its number one earner of foreign exchange, Nepal has had to grapple with keeping its World Heritage architecture, art and culture intact in the face of unbridled development.

Nepal has undergone many changes since opening up to tourism in the 1960s as a hippie paradise where hash and love were cheap. A popular poster at the time described Nepal as the land of 'Never-Ending Peace and Love'. Since then, however, the Himalayan kingdom, one of the world's poorest countries, has never really caught up with the upscale tourism market. Kathmandu, despite the exotic allure of its name, is, sad to say, like many South Asian capitals, and overcrowded, traffic-snarled, polluted city where the heavy smog all but precludes any scenic views of the world's highest mountains on the horizon. However, the warm Nepalese friendliness and hospitality more than make up for the country's very basic infrastructure and other shortcomings.

True, there are five-star hotels of the likes of Holiday Inn and Yak & Yeti, but most tourists-on-a-trek prefer to spend as few days as possible in the smoggy capital and literally head for the hills. One such destination has been Nepal's lakeside resort of Pokhara with stunning views of the spectacular Annapurna range. Although located on the trippy Lonely Planeteer trail, it was not until recently that decent first-class accommodation of international standards became available. Aside from the newly opened deluxe properties such as the Fulbari and Shangri-La Village, most tourists backpack by the lake, which, unfortunately, has now become spoiled by over-commercialisation catering to the 'muesli set'. Precious little of the lakeside resort can be appreciated except from the rooftop terrace of one of those typical restaurants offering Nepali-Indian-Chinese-Italian-Mexican-Tibetan-Japanese-Continental cuisine-all on the same menu.

Aside from Pokhara, another popular tourist destination in Nepal is the Chitwan National Park. There is a wide range of lodging options here, from a dollar-a-day mud and straw huts to luxury swimming-pool resorts. The chief attraction is the elephant-back jungle safari from which you can spot wild rhinos-once on the verge of extinction-but now the main wildlife draw and a dangerous nuisance of locals.

From the Book:

The Kathmandu Valley

The Kathmandu Valley is fertile, flat and compact. Situated at an altitude of 1,200 to 1,500 m (between 4,000 to 5,000 ft), the valley is also small, with an area of only 570 sq km (220 sq miles). Yet in spite of its small size, there are a record seven World Heritage sites declared by UNESCO-a number unrivalled anywhere else in the world for such a small compact area. These seven architectural and civic wonders are monuments to Nepal's past prosperity, artistry and religiosity which make the valley a living museum.

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Also called Hanuman Dhoka (the Gates of Hanuman, the monkey god), Kathmandu Durbar Square is divided into two principal chowks (courtyards). The outer one is renowned for the Kumari Ghar (House of the 'Living Goddess'), Kasthamandap (the Wooden Pavilion), Narayan Mandir, the stone statue of Garuda (mythical bird said to be the vehicle of Lord Vishnu) and the Shiva-Parvati Temple.

The inner chowk is the Hanuman Dhoka and its Old Royal Palace, the durbar complex. The principal chowk-within-chowks is Nasal Chowk, the seat of important national ceremonies, including coronations. Thee are many temples in the Durbar Square area, the most notable being the Taleju Temple, dedicated to the royal patron goddess Taleju Bhawani, a south Indian deity imported by the Mallas in the 14th century. This ultrasacrosanct temple is opened only once a year, on the ninth day of Dasain, that too only for the Nepalese, and only the King and certain priests can enter the inner sanctum.

 

CONTENTS

 

    Pages
Introduction   5
Mythology and History   11
The Kathmandu Valley   17
Kathmandu Durbar Square   19
Religion   25
Pashupatinath   27
The Kumari Cult   30
Swayambhu   32
Boudhanath and Tibetans   32
Tibetan Refugees   32
Tibetan Carpets   33
Tibetan Medicine   36
Dharma Freaks   37
Patan   39
Bhaktapur   45
Dhulikhel and Namo Buddha   48
Sankhu and Bajra Yogini   49
Changu Narayan   53
Shopping   53
Babar Mahal Revisited   54
Gurkhas   56
Pokhara Valley and Phewa Lake   59
The Annapurna Sanctuary Trek   66
Chitwan and the Terai   69

Sample Page


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