The Finest 100 of Nepal

Features Issue 97 Jul, 2010
/ Photo: Raj Bhai Suwal,Pradeep Shakya,Kishor Kayastha,Suji

1 Ceramics, Pottery Pottery making is found in the Kathmandu Valley, the Terai lowlands, and in the mid-mountain regions of the country. Utility items like water containers and earthenware are the major customary products. Modern ceramic products, both glazed and unglazed, include flower vases, containers, toys, idols, etc. Making traditional ceramics is an age-old craft going back many centuries. Some of the oldest recorded finds are at Lumbini, dating back at least 2,600 years. Likewise, from similarly ancient ceramic works seen in some of the temples in the Kathmandu Valley; it can be assumed that the production of traditional ceramics must have been a flourishing industry during the Licchhavi period and after, well ahead of the Malla period (which ran from about 1200 to 1743 AD). Historically, the castes of Prajapati in the valley and Kumhal in the Terai were traditional pottery makers.
2 Rudrakhsa Beads Rudraksha beads are the seeds of the Rudraksha tree (Elaeocarpus ganitrus). Rudraksha is a Sanskrit word that literally means the ‘tear drops of Lord Shiva’. They are said to be endowed with religious, medicinal and spiritual powers that are associated with the number of mukhi or ‘faces’ on the beads, which vary in number from one to 29. The surface of the beads is rough and segmented into variable number of ridges. They are light brown in color that darken with age to almost black. When worn as a mala around the neck and heart area, they are said to control stress levels, blood pressure and hypertension. The beads are picked directly from the trees and after removal of the shell, the faces or mukhi numbers are verified. Rudrakshas produced in Nepal have a natural hole in their center.

3 Hand Made Paper Products
Handmade paper, commonly known as Nepalese kagaj, is renowned for special texture and its exceptional durability (including resistance to insects). Ancient religious texts and royal edicts were recorded on lokta paper and even today, many legal documents are recorded on the same. Tibetan monks, too, use it for their manuscripts and for printing sacred texts. The production of handmade paper begins by boiling the dried fibrous inner bark of Daphne bholua or Daphne papyracea, locally known as lokta, with ash or caustic soda solution. The softened mash is washed to remove impurities, then beaten to a pulp with wooden mallets. The result is poured onto a fine cloth mesh stretched between wooden frames and set out to dry in the sun. The resulting paper is dyed, stenciled, printed and transformed into attractive products like wall paper, stationary, greeting cards, diaries, art paper and notebooks, gift wrapping paper, small boxes and, bags, envelopes, and photo frames by skilled craftsmen. Nepalese paper is marketed world-wide.

4 Hand Knotted Carpets When Tibetans fled their homeland to seek refuge in Nepal after 1959, carpet weaving came into full blossom here. Among the reasons for its popularity was one striking feature: they were made of Tibetan wool that gets better with age. The wool comes from sheep of different parts of Tibet and the higher the altitude, the better the wool. Another reason was their exotic designs. Color is an arresting feature with strong contrasting hues like red, blue, yellow or gold masterfully combined. Most weavers still use vegetable dyes and the carpets are loop-knotted; usually, 60 knots per square inch (the norm); 80 (fine); or 100 (top quality). Most traditional designs are symbolic in nature and the colors, too, are chosen on the basis of their symbolism. The production of a carpet consists of the following steps: cleaning of wool; carding (combing), spinning (into yarn), dyeing, warping, weaving, correcting, washing, and finally, trimming and brushing. The weaving follows an elaborate graphic design, which is actually the first step in the process.

5 Paubhas and Thangkas
(Religious Paintings)    Religious painting is mostly on subjects based on religion or from Nature, and such paintings are denoted as paubhas in the valley. Tibetan thangkas are paintings depicting Buddhist icons and filled with religious symbolism. Both paubha and thangka artists follow age-old techniques and strictly prescribed iconographical rules. Such a painting may take several months, or even years to be completed. Paubhas and thangkas are painted on coarse cotton, silk or canvas stretched tightly on wooden frames and treated with a mixture of lime plaster, flour and glue. When dry, they are rubbed with something like a conch shell to smoothen the surface. The outline is first drawn with oil lamp soot or charcoal, and later traced in ink. The outline always begins with the central figure around which the secondary scenes are drawn. Brightly hued colors mixed with thin glue are then filled in.

6 Metal Craft Metal craft has been prevalent for ages in cities like Patan, and in Bhojpur District of east Nepal, which is also renowned for the famous khukuri knives of the Gurkhas.  For making statues, the lost wax method of metal casting is employed. A wax model is first made and covered with clay. This is heated to a high degree and the melted wax is extracted through a cavity after which, molten metal is poured inside. After cooling, the clay is broken open to reveal the metal image. The craftsman then etches in the finer details after which it is painted according to traditional specifications. Age-old designs and production technologies are still used. One of the most famous areas for metal craft in Patan, is Okubahal. Copper, bronze and brass are the most common metals used.

7 Stone Craft The oldest existing works of art in Nepal are statues sculpted of stone, some dating back to the 1st century AD (and earlier). The techniques and tools have remained unchanged over the centuries. The ancient history, as well as the exquisite craftsmanship, is obvious in many old stone images in and around temples and heritage sites. The dhunge dharas (stone water spouts) at the hitis (sunken bathing sites) are also testimony to Nepal’s mastery of stone carving. Like wood carving, stone carving skills have been passed down for generations in the cities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. Among contemporary examples, the massive stone lions in Kathmandu Durbar Square were made by Dharma Raj Shakya who’s studio is in Patan. Jaya Raj Bajracharya is also well known for his impressive stone statues, including an eight foot Milarepa, a statue of the revered Tibetan Buddhist saint.

8Silver Jewelry The Shakyas of Patan are renowned for their exquisite silver craftsmanship. They create intricate patterns, consisting of thousands of tiny sterling silver wires that are arranged on a back-plate and soldered on with great precision. Further detail is added by fine hand carving of traditional motifs, including dragons, peacocks, sacred letters (like ‘Om’) and the eight auspicious Buddhist symbols. Among all the techniques employed in filigree crafting, pierce work is one of the most demanding. Another traditional technique is repousse, in which a plate of sterling silver is hammered over a copper plate to bring out patterns and forms. Details are added by hammering the silver from behind until the desired design is created. The silversmithing community of Patan has retained age old traditional methods of silver jewelry production that appear to be long lost elsewhere.

9Handloom Weaving  A popular handloom fabric is Dhaka shawl and cloth. The traditional pattern weaving is done on wood and bamboo treadle looms by Limbu and Rai women of the eastern hills of Nepal using mercerized sewing cotton with intricate and colorfully stranded patterns. Nepal is also renowned for pashmina scarves and shawls handmade of wool sheared from mountain goats. After shearing, the wool is cleaned and carded, then hand spun into a fine soft yarn that is hand woven on a loom along with cotton and silk threads. Allo is also much in favor nowadays as a natural fabric and is derived from the fiber of the giant nettle Girardinia diversifolia. The fibers are boiled in water to which wood ash has been added. After drying, the fibers are beaten to remove any foreign plant matter, and coated with a white micaceous clay soil to lubricate and make their separation and spinning easier. Allo is traditionally woven into cloth on an open back strap loom.

10 Wood Carving Woodwork has been part of Nepal’s traditional architecture for centuries. The Shilpakar caste of Patan is renowned for craftsmanship in wood works. Another town that is famous for the craft is Bungamati, south of Patan. Exact instructions in old texts are meticulously followed and great skill is needed to execute the precise decorative work so that even the tiny parts of a pattern fit perfectly, since no nails or glue can be used. A most famous large wood monument is the Kasthamandap Temple near Kathmandu’s Durbar Square (and from which the name Kathmandu is derived.). The old wooden temple is said to have been built from a single sal tree. Today too, mainly sal, agrath and chapa wood are used. Since wood has traditionally been the main building material here, it was natural that wood would also be used for decorative purposes, particularly evident in the carved doors and windows of Newar houses.

11 Pokhara First discovered by Peace Corps’ volunteers and wandering hippies in the 1960s, Pokhara and spectacular Fewa Tal Lake have become a magnet for tourism. A pleasant alternative to chaotic Kathmandu, offering just about everything you need: clean air, good hotels, fine food and great views (the mighty Himals shine so bright on clear days), a lake to row around and a functioning transport system. Day trips are aplenty here; across the lake and up to the World Peace Pagoda, or up to Sarangkot village on a ridgetop overlooking the lake for spectacular views at sunset. Some of Nepal’s best paragliding also takes off from there. Pokhara has also become home to many of the Tibetan community as well as retired Gurkha soldiers, helping immensely in its development and attraction. It is also well known for its excellent education facilities and enterprising residents.

12 Ilam  Nepal’s equivalent of India’s Darjeeling (sharing the same border), Ilam has become the country’s destination for tea. From the flatlands of the Tarai the hills on the way to Ilam rise up slowly, with various plantations washing the landscape in a host of greens. Here some of the world’s most fragrant teas are planted, picked, processed and packed, ready for the national and international markets, where Ilam tea has a stellar reputation. Activities are plenty, like short treks to heights over 3,000m with spectacular views, many holy sites to visit, and a trip to Mai Pokhari, a splendid forested lake area known for its orchids, rhododendrons, deer, leopards and porcupines to name but a few. The goddess Bhagabati is believed to reside in the lake. Getting there requires a significant drive or you can fly to Biratnagar and go on by bus or hired car.

13 Khumjung  To some, Khumjung is known as ‘the hidden village’, just over an hour’s walk from the Sherpa trading town of Namche Bazaar. Khumjung is quite and gentle, with a spectacular view of nearby Aama Dablam, one of the most impressive mountain peaks in the world. Between Namche and Khumjung is the high-class Everest View Hotel. For those who are trekking further up-valley, Khumjung offers good views of the trail on to Tengboche monastery. Not over-developed, this village is clean and friendly. It is also well known for one of Sir Edmund Hillary’s schools. Internet is available and there are bakeries making excellent apple pie and pizza.

14 Janakpur  One of the most historically rich cities in Nepal, Janakpur is located in the eastern Tarai on the border with India. Awash with temples and ponds, Janakpur was ruled by King Jhanak in the Videha period when the city was known as Mithilapuri. The city has immense significance for pious Hindus (as mentioned in the Ramayana) and for followers of the Jain religion. There are famous temples to Ram and Sita and various deities, and important ghats. The best time is around November-December (when the weather is cool) for the Vibhaha Panchami festival when images of Ram and Sita are carried by thousands of pilgrims from across the sub-continent. The parade includes elephants and horses gaily painted. The occasion is the commemoration of one of Hinduism’s most favorite couples. Access to Janakpur requires a long drive, or by bus or hired car from the airport at Janakpur.

15Lumbini  One of the most famed holy sites in the world, Lumbini is the birthplace of Siddartha Gautama (Lord Buddha). Only a few miles from the Indian border, it’s another perfect stop to make while going overland to India. Within Lumbini is a world of immense creation and splendor. Many Buddhist countries have come here to build a shrine or monastery within the forest, each in its own style, providing visitors with an amazing way to view the Buddhist world without leaving Nepal. There are over 30 national Buddhist edifices to see, many with their own monks. Give yourself more than one day here. It deserves it. The forest has been divided in two to represent the two schools of Buddhism and each temple is hidden from the other. The garden, pond and Maya Devi temple, the archaeological site where Buddha was born, is a serene place to spend sunset, listen to chanting monks, and meditate under a colossal pipal trees. Be sure to see the ancient Ashokan pillar, also.

16Daman Daman’s claim to fame is its impressive views; the best that a short trip from the valley has to offer. Unlike Dhulikel or Nagarkot, Daman is not developed with large hotels and fancy restaurants. Home to many Buddhists, it is a place of quite devotion and farming, with a monastery, a few small guesthouses and a couple of chiya shops. Getting there takes about four hours by bus, micro or private car. If going by bus, smile and the driver may even let you ride on the roof. For sunrise and sunsets the snow-capped Himals shine so bright, showing their great expanse along the horizon. If you intend to spend a night there, bring a sleeping bag and extra batteries for your digital camera.

17 Rara Lake Luxury, convenience, hotels; these are not words associated with Rara Lake. Rather, think self-sufficency and remoteness, spectacular and beautiful. Here is Nepal’s largest lake, its depth is 167m, at an elevation of at 2,990m above sea level. The highest point in the park is 4,039m, at Mt. Chuchemara. To go to Rara Lake takes about three days trekking from Jumla (the nearest airport) or ten days from Surkhet, farther south in the foothills. The lake with its startling blue color is home to snow trout and otters, and it is surrounded by alpine forests, rhododendrons and juniper, with red pandas, black bear, deer and over 200 species of birds. September-October and March-April are the best times to go (the trail is closed by snow in the winter). Be prepared! There are no health posts or hotels.

18Shey Phoksumdo With an altitude range from 2,130m to 6,188m, Shey Phoksumdo is probably one of the most unique places in the world and most certainly in Nepal. It is also the nation’s largest National park covering an area of 3,555 sq/km. The region is home to 9,000 people living in one of the highest inhabited places on earth. Most of the locals practice Bön (a pre-Buddhist faith) with its heavy emphasis on animism. The park also contains the country’s second largest lake, Phoksumdo, as well as the largest waterfall. There’s an entry fee; as there is to all national parks and preserves in Nepal, and visitors must be self-sufficient, even bringing your own fuel with you. There are a number of guide services available in Kathmandu to consult and help with your trip. In the park are many endangered species including the snow leopard, grey wolf, musk deer and blue sheep. Three rivers flow through the park, the Khung, Nmajung, and Panjang. And for butterfly fanatics, look no further as the world’s highest butterfly the Paralasa nepalaica as well as 29 other varieties live here.

19 Chitwan National Park Chitwan is Nepal’s most developed national park. It began as a royal hunting preserve. Back then royals came from all over the world; most notably the English―to hunt the mighty Bengal tiger, one-horned rhino, leopards, wild boar, various deer, and just about anything else that moved. Today, however, Chitwan is open to all, hunting is illegal, and elephant rides searching for the park’s wild residents is the major attraction. Quality resorts and guesthouses are plentiful and transportation is excellent (as close as four hours’ drive from Kathmandu). The park is host to a great variety of wildlife, and spotting a tiger is top of the list. There are 47 species of mammals and another 47 of reptiles, 150 species of butterflies and about 500 species of birds. At the end of an afternoon of wildlife spotting you can go bathing with the elephants. Other activities include jungle walks, dugout canoe rides and jeep safaris, or just relaxing in a fine jungle resort ambience. The wildlife population has bounced back since the old days, making it a wonderful place to explore the rich variety of Nepal’s wildlife mixed with serene comfort.

20 Bardiya National Park Covering a total of 968 sq/km, Bardia is one of Nepal’s largest national parks and home to a host of the most amazing wildlife: the greater one horned rhino, the Bengal tiger, swamp deer, gangetic dolphins, snakes, lizards and about 400 different species of birds. Unlike Chitwan, getting to Bardia in the far west requires either a long (14 hour) bus journey from Kathmandu or a short flight coupled with a short bus ride to your destination. For the more adventurous there is the option of riding down the mighty Karnali River, straight into the heart of Bardia National Park.

21 Limbu Dhaka weaves adorn the Limbu women who wear shawls and blouses made from it. Another striking feature is their use of jewelry. Large decorative pieces of gold known as samyanfung are worn on the head, made of flat circular gold plates with red stones embellished in the center. Bulaki and dhungri (nose pieces) made of gold are worn in the center and the left side of their noses respectively. Taga, a long costume, is worn over other clothes and is unique to their culture. The Limbu women also cover the back of their heads with a shawl.

22 Sherpa  Residents of the high, cold Himalayan zone, the Sherpa is usually clad in heavy woolen clothing. The women wear long robe of silk as well as wool known as bhakhu. A rectangular piece of multi-colored cloth called pangi is tied around the waist, which also determines the marital status of Sherpa women. Hats, called apshe shamung, are an important part of each individual’s attire and are worn by both men and women.
The style sense of Sherpa men is similar to that of the Tibetans. They wear a shirt known as tetum with extremely long sleeves almost touching the knees, and above it they wear a long shirt like attire, called chuwak.

23 Magar Dwellers of the central and western hills, their culture shares slight similarity with the Gurung’s and other hill groups. A Magar woman is heavily dressed in velvets and shawls, usually in a maroon lunghi, a long cotton skirt, paired with a velvet chaubandhi cholo (a wrap-up blouse) and fastened by patuka, a bright yellow or blue colored cotton cloth wrapped around the waist. The mujetro, a shawl like garment worn on the head, is one of their attire’s main features. For warmth they wrap a velvet shawl called a ghalek across the body over the left shoulder.
The men are seen in a plain kachhad- a wrap-on, knee-length loincloth, with a bhoto (short vest tied at the shoulders). The Dhaka topi is an essential part of their attire. Both the men and women carry a Gada- a bag made of cloth to hold necessities, strung around the shoulders.

24Tharu  The indigenous people of the Tarai region, Tharu women are acknowledged by their unique way of wearing the saree, which is wrapped around the body from below the shoulders. Shawls are a popular choice for both the men and women, and are known as chhadari and gthya, respectively. The women wear necklaces made from a large number of coins sewn together. They are called haikal and some with spear like projections are called humel. Traditional tattoos and silver ornaments are common, and the women wear silver rings on their upper arm that add uniqueness to their attire.

25Thakali  Traditional salt traders from Thak Khola, the high valley of the Kali Gandaki river in Mustang District, the Thakali have been influenced by many cultures (especially Tibetan and Nepalese), which is very apparent in their varietal attire. A Thakali woman may dress in a red chaubandi cholo and has a distinct style of wearing the saree by wrapping a black shawl over it, with a dark green patuka around her waist. Dhaka weave shawls are an important part of a Thakali woman’s attire and so are beaded necklaces of different sizes.

26Rauté The men of this nomadic hunting people of west Nepal, simply wrap a blanket around their body, over a loincloth. The white wrap is a long garment, usually white in color, which is affixed by crossing the ends over the shoulder to look like a cloak. Every Rauté man, young or old, wraps a shawl over his head to make a turban, and he usually walks barefoot carrying a stick to guide him along the forest trails. The Rauté are rather traditional in their approach of dressing up and refuse to wear stitched clothing; they prefer hand made clothes in general.

27Newar  The color black is common in Newar costume. Both men and women are clad in all-black attire accentuated with red. Owing to the diversity of sub-cultures within the larger community, the Newar have many different styles of dress among themselves. The most commonly seen Newar woman’s dress is the hakku potashi, a black knee length saree with red borders. The saree is complimented by a white patuka wrapped around the waist and a choubandi cholo is worn on top. (Some articles of dress, like the patuka and cholo, described above, are common in the dress styles of many ethnic groups.) A hakku gacha, cotton shawl, is also wrapped diagonally over the chaubandi cholo.
With their traditional professions in artistry the Newar are proud to wear elaborately crafted ornaments, especially Newar women, young and old alike, from head to toe. It often shows their great wealth in gold and silver.

28 Gurung 
Pote or beaded necklace of striking green color and necklaces with nine beads and nine pieces of gold called naugedi, adorn the slender neck of a Gurung woman. These ornaments rest gracefully on her thute choli, a blouse similar to chaubandi cholo (described earlier). She wears a dark colored saree with a patuka wrapped around the waist. Her shoulders are covered by a shawl known as mujetro worn diagonally over her right shoulder. A teiki is a small piece of cloth folded and worn at the back to complete her traditional look.
Some Gurung men are recognized by ghum, a long piece of cloth worn on the head while others wear the more common Dhaka topi.

29 Tamang 
A traditional Tamang dance, the selo, provides the best overview of Tamang culture and apparel. The women dress for this dance in a chaubandi cholo of either red or black color. A navy blue saree with red horizontal patterns is a unique feature and so is a round golden hair clip worn on the left side of the head. A necklace made of silver coins and beads is also common.
A Tamang man wears a special kind of woolen cap that is paired with a white waist coat worn over the standard daura suruwal.

30 Daura-suruwal 
The daura suruwal (also known traditionally as labeda suruwal) marks the official Nepalese attire for men. The top of the daura suruwal is called the labeda or daura, a double-breasted kurta (blouse) with flaps fastened by ties diagonally across the chest. The suruwal is the bottom part of the attire similar to Jodhpur pants. The daura-suruwal look is accompanied by a black waist coat and Dhaka topi―the traditional cap made from Dhaka weave. In modern times, a pair of black shoes and a long umbrella typifies and completes the outfit.
The origins of the apparel remain relatively obscure, though the Shah kings are thought to have popularized the wear. Several religious beliefs are also attached to it, such as the eight daura strings named after different deities. The number eight is also used because it is considered a lucky number in Hindu mythology. 

31 The Yak (Bos grunniens) 
Yaks live at high altitudes up to 6,000 m. They are thick coated and sturdy by nature. Life at such heights requires strong lung power and so yaks have large ones enabling them to absorb more oxygen than is usually required down low.Yaks can weigh up to 550 kg each. The males are called yaks while the females are known as naks or dris in Sherpa and Tibetan languages. One yak can carry up to 100 kg, plow fields, give rich milk for churning butter, meat and wool for clothing, dung for fuel and hides for making leather goods. Various artifacts are made from yak bones and ropes, sacks, blankets, and tents are made from their hair and wool. Even the horns are adorn doorways and roof tops, and bushy yak tails are dried and used as dusters. Yak blood is said to cure many diseases. When Yaks are crossbred with cows, the offspring are called dzo (male) and dzomo (female).

32 The Sno Leopardw (Panthera uncia)    They are large cats that live between 3,000 and 5,500 m above sea level, generally weighing between 27 and 54 kg. The body length ranges from 0.75 to 1.30 m, with a tail of nearly equal length. They have thick fur, and dark grey to black rosettes on their body with small spots of the same color on their head and larger spots on their legs and tail. Their bodies are stocky and their ears are small and rounded. Their feet are wide and they have fur on their undersides to increase their traction on steep surfaces. Snow leopards’ tails are long and flexible, helping them to maintain their balance. Snow Leopard Conservancy, an international agency, has entered into conservation programs with local bodies in Mustang (in the northern part of Annapurna Conservation Area), Dolpa (the greater Dolpa District encompasses Nepal’s largest national park, Shey Phoksundo) and Humla (in the remote northwestern corner of Nepal).

33 The Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris bengalensis) According to the World Conservation Union’s Cat Specialist Group, there are 3,250 to 4,700 Royal Bengal tigers in India, in 66 protected areas; Bhutan has four areas (with 50 to 250 tigers), Bangladesh has three (with 300 to 450 tigers) and Nepal has three protected areas (with 150 to 250 tigers, greatly reduced from previous numbers). Tigers are endangered! Male tigers have a total length of 2.7 to 3.1 m, and females 2.4 to 2.54 m. The big cat’s tail alone can measure up to 1.1 m in length. The height at the shoulder is 90 to 110 cm. Nepal’s tigers weigh around 235 kg (males) and 140 kg (females). A Royal Bengal tiger’s coat is yellow to light orange with stripes that range from dark brown to black. It has a white belly, and the tail has dark rings with a white tip. Its roar can be heard for up to two miles away.

34 Daphne or Monal Pheasant (Lopophorus impejanus) The monal pheasant, or daphne, is Nepal’s national bird and the most exotic amongst pheasant species. It inhabits the high regions of the Himalayan range. When it dances, the danphe spreads its wings and tail feathers displaying a glorious range of colors. About 70 cm in length, each bird weighs around 2 kg. Adult males have multicolored plumage throughout their body and possess long metallic green crests, while the females are dull in color with dark brownish feathers. The necks of males have reddish copper color on the back and sides and they display a prominent white back and rump when in flight. Females have a prominent white patch on the fore neck and a white strip on the tail.

35 Rhododendron Over 30 sub species of Rhododendron arboreum are found in the country. This rhododendron of the sub-species arboretum has rose-red flowers that remain hardy down to about -10° C. This subspecies is found in the western Himalayas and also at lower elevations. It is also known as ‘Lali Gurans’ in Nepali and is the national flower. Rhododendrons bloom in spring (March to May) when one will find the hills deep red in color. Rhododendron arboreum ssp. cinnamomeum flowers can be white, pink or red, and can resist temperatures as low as -15° C to -18° C. This subspecies is found in the central Himalayas. Rhododendron trees have evergreen leaves and the inflorescences measure from 4 to 8 inches in width.

36 Orchids There are 386 registered orchid varieties in Nepal. The local name is sunakhari. The central part of Nepal, especially Pokhara Valley with its abundant rainfall, is rich in orchid flora and has the highest number of epiphytic orchid species. Orchids that grow at higher altitudes are alpine terrestrials which typically bloom during the summer monsoon. In Dolpa District of west Nepal, at altitudes of 2,500–5,000 m, the species Dactylorhinza hatagirea is found. It is locally known as panch aunlle (literally, ‘five fingered’). It is highly prized for its medicinal property of imparting great vigor. Flickingrea macrei and Pholidota articulata, both called jivanti (loosely translated as ‘giving life’) are orchids of great value, used in popular tonic preparations like chaywanprash.

37 The One Horned Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) The rhino in Nepal is an endangered species and can be seen in Chitwan National Park where they number about 408 currently, up from 372 in 2005 (according to a 2008 National Geographic Society report). They are from 1.5 to 1.8 m tall with the males slightly larger than the females, and weigh up to 2,700 kg each. The NGS report also states that there are 31 rhinos in Bardiya National Park and six in the Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, both in west Nepal. The rhino’s horn is reputed to have aphrodisiac properties.  

38 The Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)  
The gharial is a rare and unique crocodile that gets its name from the bulbous growth on the nose of mature males. The name gharial is derived from the Hindi word ghara, a stout clay pot that people think the gharial nose looks like. Long and slender, this crocodile can reach lengths of five to six meters and they have a light olive tan coloring and oblique dark blotches running down the body and the tail. They have webbed feet and are sexually dimorphic (males and females being different) which makes them unique among the crocodiles. Gharials spend most of their time submerged in water, but females lay their eggs on sandy riverbanks. The Tharus, indigenous people of Chitwan and Bardiya District (where gharials are found in the Narayani and Rapti Rivers), believe that gharial eggs have medicinal and aphrodisiacal value. Chitwan National Park has a breeding program for this endangered species.

39 Bharal or Himalayan Blue Sheep (Pseudois nayaur)
The bharal is neither blue nor a sheep, but is a caprid, with both wild sheep and goat-like characteristics.  Its horns are rounded, smooth and curve backwards. Bharal are very sure footed and are usually found grazing at altitudes of over 4,000 m (upwards to 14,000 ft), descending only in the winters. They move about in large herds and can scramble up and around the roughest hillsides.

40 Himalayan Griffon Vulture (Gyps himalayensis)
This large bird breeds on crags in mountains in the Himalayas and Tibet, laying a single egg at a time. Adults are 1 m or more long, have a wingspan of 2 to 2.6 m and weigh between 8 to 12 kg. Like other vultures, the griffon is a scavenger, feeding mostly on the carcasses of animals. The Himalayan Griffon Vulture has a bald white head, a white neck ruff, yellow bill, very broad wings, and short tail feathers. It is larger than the European Griffon Vulture.

41 Bisket Jatra A Nepali New Year celebrated in Bhaktapur, a town 15 Km east of Kathmandu. It is popularly known as Bisket Jatra or Festival of Bisket. On this day Yosin, a tall wooden ceremonial pole, is raised in Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square. The chariot of Lord Bhairav, incarnation of Lord Shiva is pulled during the festival, which is followed by an entertaining tug-of-war between neighboring communities.

42 Kartik Nach
This celebration was first established by Siddhi Narsingh Malla, former king of the Malla period who made Patan what it is today. A spectacular tantric masked dance is part of Kartik Nach, which is a seven day festival. The dance is perfomed on a particular and special stage in Patan’s Durbar Square.

43 Chhath Chhath, festival of the setting sun, also known as Surya Puja. It is best observed at the ancient capital of Mithila region, Janakpur. The rising and setting sun is worshipped during the four day festival. Various items of devotion are offered to the Sun God and people take a dip in the rivers of Ganga Sagar and Dhanush Sagar in the hope that their deepest wishes are fulfilled.

44 Indra Jatra
The festival of Indra Jatra lasts for five dance and music-filled days. It is celebrated by Hindus and Buddhists, especially by the people of Kathmandu. It is a time to eat, drink and be merry. More importantly, Kumari, the living goddess comes out in public. At this time, families get together to feast and catch up on the latest news.

45 Gai jatra  Celebrated in the month of Bhadra (August/September), the fifth month of the Nepali calendar, Gai Jatra literally means procession of cows. Observed in the Kathmandu Valley, young boys are dressed as cows and taken around the valley in a procession. Gai Jatra is celebrated by those who lost their family members in the past year.

46 Shiva ratri  On the day of Shiva Ratri, literally night consecrated to Lord Shiva, pilgrims and yogis (holy men) from all over Southeast Asia gather at Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu and pay homage to Lord Shiva. Devotees fast through out the day and are free to indulge in smoking the intoxicating substances marijuana and bhang. Ancient Hindu scriptures state that worshipping Lord Shiva on this day forgives the sins of people.

47 Rato Machhindranath The Rato Machhindranath festival is the longest running chariot festival of Nepal. People believe that this festival will stimulate rainfall. The chariot is constructed every year at Pulchowk and ends with the Bhote Jatra Festival in Jawalakhel. It is celebrated by most of the Newars, Buddhists and Hindus of Kathmandu. Young men often fueled with Aila (a traditional Newari alcoholic drink pull the chariot using brute force.  Following tradition, they yell out “Hostey Haistey!” as they pull the centuries old chariot.

48 Ilan Samyek
  Believed to have been started by King Sarvananda to honor an old woman, who went out of her means to honor Dipankar Buddha, this festival takes place once in every five years. Ilan Samyek is observed in Nag Bahal in Patan and the two day long Jatra reveres Dipankar Buddha, together with idols of 28 other deities bought from all over the valley.

49 Shanku jatra  Popularly known as Bajrayogini Jatra, the festival is celebrated for eight days in the village of Shanku, to the North East of Kathmandu. The idol of Goddess Bajrayogini is carried from her temple on a hilltop and taken around the town. People from different parts of the valley pay homage to the goddess and in the final day, the idol of Bajrayogini is carried back to her temple.

50 Kahni nabhayeko jatra Handigaun Jatra
Hadigaun is a town in the east of Kathmandu where the Handigaun Jatra is observed, it is considered a unique festival. Chariots of three deities, Brahma, Bishnu, Maheswhor are taken around Handigaun and the festival is considered strange because the gajur or pinnacle of the chariot is upturned where the deities are worshipped.

51 Yomari  Yomari is a unique food in every sense. It is shaped like the roof of a chaitya or stupa. Newars believe that the length of a winter’s day is directly proportional to the sharpness of the tail of the yomari treat. It is made by mixing rice flour with water, then shaped by hand. More importantly, it is filled with chaku, a highly sweet sugar cane extract. Yummy! On Yomari Pune, the yomari full moon festival, this special sweet is collected in a bhakari(basket) and offered to the gods. In the end, it is a sweet alternative to all the spicy Newar foods, and a “must have” treat for all who have not tried it yet.

52 Dal-bhat The staple diet of all Nepalese, dal-bhat is a balanced meal which has proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins all in one. The bhat, also called bhuja (Newari for rice) is served with lentils, vegetables, achar (pickle), and meat (unless you are a vegetarian). It tastes best when it is eaten with your fingers. So be sure to wash your hands first. The variety of taste in a meal of dal-bhat varies as much as the number of houses in the Kathmandu Valley. Every household, and every individual conjures up a different combination of meat, vegetables, lentils and pickle. The Thakali people are especially skilled cooks, well known for making delicious dal-bhat. Sometimes it is served with a soothing dahi (yogurt), either plain or sweet. And a sudsy beer is a nice accompaniment, as well.

53 Kwati 
This is a Newari dish that is prepared by soaking a variety of beans (traditionally nine) from one to three nights. Some cooks consider that they are better if slightly sprouted. Garlic and Ginger pastes and Cumin powder are then added and a stew-like dish is prepared. Kwati acts as a substitute for the regular dal (lentil) soup. This dish is compulsively eaten during Janai Purnima (a religious day) and during other festivals too. There are several types of Kwati: regular kwati and ga kwati (dry kwati). The ga kwati doesn’t go through the soaking process. It is traditionally eaten twice a year by the Newars.

54  Momocha The momocha is a delicious evolution of the Tibetan momo, a taste treat that everyone knows about. The momocha was probably brought back to Kathmandu from Lhasa centuries ago by traders. Besides the shape, and a subtle difference in taste and variety of achars (pickles), it is the same. Today, it is the favorite fast food of all Nepal, and has spread to Europe and America as well. Inexpensive, tasty and easy to make, momochas can be filled with buff, chicken, pork or vegetables. A special sauce doubles the taste of the momocha. This sauce is the key to the awesome taste of the momocha. It can either be a thick, tomato based sauce or a watery soup which tastes sour, in a good way.
Momocha is made in different types of restaurants and momo shops all over Nepal. A mouthful of momocha and its sauce is particularly tasty on a cold winter’s afternoon. It’s a true palate tingler. The low cost per plate (from 20 to 100 rupees), makes it even tastier. Although most of the local momo shops give very little attention to hygiene, there are hygienic restaurants where cheap and tasty momochas are served within ten minutes. If you haven’t tried them, you haven’t tasted Kathmandu yet.

55  Aila and Chang  Chang or thoen is a beer made out of fermented rice. First the rice is cooked and then mixed with yeast and water and left to ferment for five to eight days. When it is ready, it is poured onto a clay saleicha or a kholcha (a tiny clay bowl, the Newar equivalent of a goblet). The chang that is drunk from a saleicha tastes the best. It is probably the most delicious and cheap local alcoholic drink that can be found in Kathmandu. It tastes particularly good when served with khaja, which can be anything from a whole Samaya Baji to just choela and chiura. Chang at its prime will have a unique sweet-poppy taste. As it matures, it becomes stronger and tastes less appealing. Aila (or raksi) is a strong organically-fermented spirit and is a byproduct of chang. That is, the rice that is cooked and used in chang is strained out before drinking, saved, and mixed with molasses and left to ferment awhile longer. The final product is a clear liquid that burns your throat if you drink it too fast.
Good news: both chang and aila are made, consumed and used at different Newar (and other ethnic group) occasions all year round. Bad news: if the good news excites you, be careful not to imbibe too much! It’ll make you drunk.

56  Gundruk ko Jhol 
Gundruk is a fermented green vegetable that is common in most Nepali households. A special kind of soup is made out of it. The soup is somewhat sour and tangy and is relatively easy to prepare. After the gundruk is properly fermented, it is fried and then boiled with water and some spices like crushed red peppers and crushed garlic (voluntary) are added to complete it. Stews and curries can also be prepared with this dish although it tastes best as a soup. This dish is very popular in most villages around the country.

57 Dhendo and Sukuti
  Dhendo is the staple diet of people living in the mountains. It is prepared of wheat or millet, which is boiled until thick. It is also eaten by city people occasionally with a side dish. Dhendo tastes best when it is served with sukuti (dried buffalo meat), which is prepared by hanging chunks of buffalo meat for two to four weeks.

58  Juju Dhau Juju dhau or ‘king of yoghurts’ in the Newari language is a sumptuous sort of yoghurt that is mostly savored by Newars during special occasions. Juju dhau is creamier and sweeter than the regular dhau (or dahi, in Nepali). Bhaktapur is famous for this delicacy and although plentifully available in Kathmandu these days, a lot of Kathmanduites actually go all the way to Bhaktapur in search of the old traditional Newari shops that have been selling yogurt for generations. The tradition of people walking around carrying the yoghurt in clay pots stacked on top of each other and supported by a special kind of rope around the shoulders to sell them is known as kharpan, and is still practiced. The reason for juju dhau’s excellent taste is the addition of khuwa (an elaborate preparation made from concentrated milk.)

59 Samaya Baji This is a delicious assortment of Newar foods served with an honest smile and positive vibes. It includes chiura (beaten rice), tukocha (green leafy vegetable), sadheko bhatmas (marinated beans), choela (barbequed meat), sadheko alu (marinated potatoes), bodi (beans), panchakol (a curry of five ingredients), and bara (fried cakes of ground black lentils mixed with egg and meat). These are laid out decoratively on a large platter. At first sight, Samaya Baji looks like more than enough for one person, but as you start sampling centuries of taste evolution here you’ll undoubtedly ask for more. Try eating tiny portions of all the food items in a single mouthful for a taste-bud overload.

Samaya Baji is usually eaten as khaja (a light afternoon snack). To further the experience, thoen or chang (rice beer) is served with it. Besides making you light-headed, the chang will wash away the chili stings in your mouth. It’s a useful drink when you are eating spicy food.

60 Sel-roti and Mula ko Achar Sel-roti is one of the most enjoyed dishes in Nepal and a popular fare during Tihar, one of the most popular festivals. Circular in shape like a thin ring, the dough is prepared with milk, water, sugar, butter, cardamom, and cloves. The dough is then fried in shortenings or oil until it reaches a mild brown color. Sel-roti can be prepared in bulk and stored and eaten over several days. Sel-roti is often served with mula ko achar (radish pickle), which is prepared by mixing finger sized radishes in oil and spices.

61  Peak Climbing  Mount Everest, the pride and joy of Nepal and the world, is not only the highest mountain on earth but the most sought after. This gargantuan lump of rock on its own makes Peak Climbing the most intense adventure sport Nepal can offer. Aside from the giants like Everest, there are 33 lesser peaks that can be scaled with the help of a local trekking agency. Mera Peak (6,461m), Hiunchuli (6,441m) and Singu Chuli (6,501m) are some of the ‘minor’ peaks to consider. Mera Peak is one of the most popular. It can be scaled by amateurs and takes you to one of the most untouched parts of the world. Hiunchuli, in the Annapurna range north of Pokhara, is connected to Annapurna South and is considered to be the toughest of the minor peaks. Although the Gurung people consider it to be a sacred area it is dangerous because rock falls are very common. Singu Chuli Peak (also known as the ‘Fluted Peak’) is the highest of the ‘minor’ peaks and requires alpine and ice climbing expertise. It will surely induce large shots of adrenaline to your body.

  Although a new sport, paragliding has grown in popularity in Nepal and is firmly established at Sarangkot, above the lake in Pokhara. The main take off point is at a height of 6,000 feet (about 1,800 m) above sea level in the small mountain village of Sarangkot. Compared to other take off points, Sarangkot is popular because the intense thermals that rise up are most powerful when the cold and warm air collide. Sarangkot is also easier to reach than most other take off points. Paragliding above Pokhara’s Phewa Lake is a unique experience and can be done by both Nepalese and foreigners. For the Nepalese, the price for paragliding is 4,500 rupees and for foreigners is 75 dollars. Although it is a weather dependant sport, paragliding has achieved international fame. If things go right, the next Paragliding World Cup could be held here!

63 Rafting  In a country littered with mountains and criss-crossed with rivers, rafting is nothing less than exhilarating. Here, there are many professional rafters who will happily take you on a wild water ride for a small price. The Bhote Koshi, Karnali and Marsyangdi are some of the best rafting rivers, ranging from Grades I to VI in intensity. The Bhote Koshi is considered one of the most enjoyable rafting rides in Nepal and offers you a white water madness ranging from Grades III to VI. Moreover, the Marsyangdi is one of the world’s most technically difficult and still enjoyable rafting rivers. It requires the skill and commitment of the entire crew; in other words, you’ve got to be crazy to take on the Marsyangdi. But if you do succeed, you will see unique views of the Annapurnas. If heaven was a place on earth, it would look like this.

64 Canyoning  Canyoning is also a relatively new adventure sport in Nepal. It shares a similar experience to trekking and mountaineering, but is unique in its own way as it consists of a combination of trekking, rock climbing, rafting, etc. In Nepal there are numerous canyoning sites such as the Marsyangdi, Bhote Koshi and Sun Koshi rivers. The main advantage of canyoning is that you can access forbidden areas such as otherwise unreachable places around waterfalls. Canyoning can take you to places and treat you to views that are impossible any other way. There are agencies in Nepal that employ professionals with many years of experience and modern equipment. If you love Nature, like getting down and dirty, and want to go on an adventure through a terrain of lush forest, water ways and surprises, then canyoning is the sport for you.

65 Mountain Biking  In a country where fuel supply is as unpredictable as the weather and where there are vast areas unconnected to roads, cycling is a good method of transportation. All you need is a good mountain bike, a reliable map and a thirst for adventure. A mountain bike in Nepal can take you to places cars or buses cannot go. Most of the major trails can be found on the map, but the real fun starts when you go into unchartered territory over the often immensely rough terrain. A mountain bike does not need to be refueled thus making it a very efficient means of transport–that is, if you are physically fit. There are many travel agencies in Nepal that can arrange special mountain biking trips around and out of the valley. The mountain biking trail in Chobar, at the south side of Kathmandu, for example, is for the adrenaline junkie. The average cyclist cannot complete the course without breaking a few bones. Go for it!

66 Ballooning 
No, it is not possible to fly cartoon style hanging onto a bunch of helium filled balloons. But it is possible to fly above the clouds on a giant balloon filled with regular bursts of hot air. Ballooning is a slow but safe method of enjoying not only the panorama of the Himalayas but everything within the view up, down and sideways. Views of the Himalayan peaks are especially spectacular from a high flying balloon. In order to qualify for a balloon flight, one must be fit. Also, clients are encouraged not to bring small children. The cost of such a flight is 195 dollars per person, which includes hotel transfers, a souvenir pack and a flight certificate. The basket can hold up to 12 people and can last from two to four hours. Up and away!

67 Elephant Polo  Legend has it (according to Wikipedia) that elephant polo was first played in India, but its modern version was started in Meghauly, Nepal, by a bunch of people who had too much to drink one night. Today, elephant polo is an exclusive sport, played in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand only and governed by the WEPA (World Elephant Polo Association). WEPA’s job is to keep the elephants safe from abuse and all types of harm. Elephant Polo requires an elephant, one player and one mahout, a nine-foot polo stick, a ball and a unique taste in sports. Today, the tournaments held in Nepal have eight teams all fighting for the title. The games are divided into three sequences: the quarter final, semi final and grand finale. All together 16 elephants are used for the tournaments, half of which come from the national park and the rest from Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge. The elephants are well cared for and generally live and work with the same mahouts for many if not all of their years. If you enjoy elephant rides, this is a rollicking good sport for you.

68 Bungee Jumping  When it comes to bungee jumping in Nepal three words come to mind: The Last Resort, Nepal’s only bungee jumping facility and only a three-hour ride from the city. The idea is to jump from a bridge that is 160 m above the raging Bhote Koshi River: attached to a bungee cord, of course. It is also one of the world’s highest bungee jumping facilities. In addition, The Last Resort offers a near death (like) experience called the Canyon Swing where one swings off of the bridge over an arc of 240 m at a velocity of 150 km per hour. Where do I sign up?

69 Kayaking  Kayaking, a water sport similar to rafting, is usually an individual activity. Kayaks are made from a special type of plastic and have floatation devices inserted to aid buoyancy. In order to kayak, one must use a double bladed paddle and tackle various levels of rapids and other obstacles. In a country like Nepal, where water is abundant, such water sports are popular. There are agencies that can take experienced kayakers to rapids that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. For those who have always wanted to try it, but haven’t had the courage or the know-how, Nepal’s adventure sports agencies such as Himalayan Water Fun, in Thamel, will teach new comers how to kayak. 

70 Rock Climbing  Here’s another way you can knock on the Devil’s door: climbing ridiculously high rocks for the thrill of it. And you can do that right here in Nepal. Even better, all you have to do is drive for half an hour north of Kathmandu city to Shivapuri National Park to get a rock climbing experience at all levels of difficulty. If you’d rather climb an artificial wall then the Pasang Lhamu Mountaineering Foundation is the place to go, on the north side of Ring Road. There’s a wall there 10 meters high and 10 meters wide, and as good as the real thing. But if you think an artificial wall is a piece of cake, then move on up to the godly mountains of Nepal. You can consult the many agencies located in Thamel or Pokhara, who will gladly take you on a rock climbing trip. You can also choose to visit the hills of Siddha Lake near Dhading to the Shreeban Rock Climbing Nature Camp at Patlé Village.

71 Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur Durbar Squares  Kathmandu Durbar Square holds the palaces of the Malla and Shah kings and is also known as Hanuman Dhoka. Some famous temples here include Taleju, Maru Ganesh, Shiva Parvati Temple, Bhagwati Temple, Saraswoti Temple and Krishna (an octangular) Temple. At the west end is the palace of the Living Goddess, Kumari. Another famous temple here is Kasthamandap from where the name of Kathmandu City is derived. Mandap means pavilion and kastha means wood.

Patan Durbar Square in Patan served as the seat of the former royal family of Patan. Of the three main courtyards in the palace—Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk, the first is the oldest. Sundari Chowk has a sunken water spout known as Tusha Hiti, and Keshav Narayan Chowk is the site of the earliest Malla palace. A number of temples built in different architectural styles occupy the western part of the complex. The most famous of them are Krishna, Kumbheswor and Bhimsen Temples, as well as the Golden Temple or Hiranya Varna Mahavihar.

Around Bhaktapur’s 55-Window Palace of wood and brick is a conglomeration of pagoda and shikhara–style temples. This square has images of ancient kings atop stone plinths, deities gazing out from their sanctuaries, and wood carvings everywhere. Here one will find the impressive Lion Gate and the richly crafted Golden Gate, at the entrance to the main courtyard of the 55-Window Palace. Among the sculptural design of the brick walls, the balcony with the famous 55 windows is a unique woodcarving marvel.

72 Swayambhunath Stupa  Swayambhunath Stupa with its white dome and golden spire stands atop a wooded hill on the east side of Kathmandu city. It is reached by climbing 365 steps on the east side, past the gilded Vajra (sacred thunderbolt) and two lions that guard the entrance. Another way up is by a paved road that winds up the hill from the west. Here too, are the all-seeing-eyes of the Buddha on top of the stupa and above each pair of eyes is another eye, the third eye. Around the Stupa are chaityas, smaller temples and painted deity images, including a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Harati. Newer construction has included a thousand idols of Buddha and countless prayer wheels on the hillsides, and a 57-foot statue of Buddha on the west side within a park. 

73 Changu Narayan Temple 
Changu Narayan Temple is the oldest temple in the Kathmandu Valley, displaying some of the valley’s finest examples of stone, wood, and metal craftsmanship of the Licchavi period (c. 400-750 AD). The temple is devoted to Lord Narayan (another name for Vishnu) whose ten-headed and ten-armed 5th century stone image is one of the major attractions. Another famous figure here is the life size 5th century statue of Garuda, the mythical man/bird and vehicle for Lord Vishnu. The site also holds one of the oldest Licchavi stone inscriptions ever found. Stone lions stand guard beside the gilded door with intricate gilded windows on either side. Other impressive sights are the shrines of many more gods and goddesses.

74 Lo Manthang  Lo Manthang is an earthen walled village in uppermost Mustang District of Dhaulagiri Zone of west Nepal on a plateau at 3,800 m. It was the capital of the ancient 15th century Kingdom of Lo. The population includes ethnic Lobas and Bhutias. The compact settlement of rammed earth structures is surrounded by a six meter high wall (also of rammed earth) with square towers or dzongs at the corners. The town of Lo Manthang is noted for its white washed Walls, gompas and the raja’s (king’s) palace. There are four major temples: Jampa Lhakhang, and the Thubchen, Chodey, and Choprang gombas. A submission was made to UNESCO in 2008 to list the earthen walled city of Lo Manthang as a World Heritage Site.

75 Pashupatinath Temple Complex  Regarded as the most sacred temple of Lord Shiva, Pashupatinath dates back to 400 AD and houses the linga or phallic symbols of Shiva. Located on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River, the temple has a two-tiered gold plated roof and silver doors. A bronze figure of Nandi, Shiva’s bull, faces the front of the main temple. The lingam inside has four faces and dates back to the 14th century. The cremation ground is near the temple with the Bachhareshwari Temple dedicated to goddess Parvati, nearby. Also around the complex are many other temples dedicated to various gods and goddesses, including the Guhyeshwari Temple, dedicated to Kali.  

76 Lumbini  Lumbini was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1997 and is located in the central Tarai in Kapilvastu District. This is where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama who, as Gautam Buddha, propagated a new way of life that became the Buddhist religion. Buddha lived here till the age of 29. The most historic site is the Mayadevi Temple. The Holy Pond is close by where Buddha’s mother took the ritual dip before giving birth. The site also has a sacred bodhi tree and an inscribed Ashokan pillar near the exact place of Buddha’s birth. Lumbini is separated into an eastern and western monastic zone, the eastern having Theravada monasteries and the western having Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries (different schools of thought in Buddhism).

77 Janaki Temple  The Janaki Temple in Dhanusha District, Janakpur Zone, in the central Tarai, is located in Janakpur, birthplace of the goddess Sita, wife of Lord Rama. Janakpur, also called Janakpur Dham, was once the capital of an ancient Mithila kingdom. Janaki Temple was built in 1911 AD and is architecturally unique because it displays considerable Mogul influence even though the region has more or less remained outside direct Muslim cultural influence. Janakpur has numerous sacred ponds for ritual bathing. Two of the important ponds, namely Dhanush Sagar and Ganga Sagar, are located near the Janaki Temple. Also nearby is another temple called Sita-Ram Vivah Mandir. A submission was made to UNESCO in 2008 to list the Janaki Temple as a World Heritage Site.

78 Bouddhanath Stupa 
With a diameter of about 100 m and a height of 40 m, Bouddhanath is claimed to be one of the largest stupas in the world. It is also known as Khasti Chaitya. The large all-seeing-eyes of the Buddha gaze out on all sides from the upper tower, which is capped with a pyramid. All this stands atop a large dome and a three-layered base. Around the circumambulatory path of the Stupa are 108 Buddhist deities and rows of brass prayer wheels that devotees spin while walking around the shrine. Within the larger complex are many monasteries colorfully adorned, from all four schools of Mahayana Buddhism. 

79 Vajrayogini Temple
The 17th century Vajrayogini Temple is located 1.5 km north of Sankhu in the northeast of Kathmandu District. It is dedicated to the tantric goddess Vajrayogini (also called Ugratara-Vajrayogini) who is the Hindu/Buddhist manifestation of the goddess Kali. The Licchavi period town of Sankhu is a Newar settlement that still retains its medieval character. It is located 16 km from Kathmandu. The three-tiered Vajrayogini Temple still stands in its original state and a large part of the town has been preserved nearly to original character. A submission was made to UNESCO in 2008 to list it as a World Heritage Site.

80 Gorkha Palace The medieval palace complex of Gorkha is located in Gorakhkali Village, Gorkha District, Gandaki Zone in the mid-hills of Nepal. Gorkha, in fact, is almost in the exact center of Nepal. It is the home of the legendary Gurkhas whose battle cry, “Aayo Gorkhali”, has in the course of history, struck terror into enemy hearts on many battlefields of the world. King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of the `Shah Dynasty’ was born here and from Gorkha he began his campaign to unify Nepal. Prior to that, Nepal was divided into 46 tiny and loosely confederated principalities. His 16th century Gorkha Durbar (palace), a fort and temple complex, is situated on a hilltop at an altitude of 1,000 m (3,281 ft). A submission was made to UNESCO in 1996 to list it as a World Heritage Site.

81 The sight of an empty vessel or an overturned shoe is unlucky (Khali bhadda, ulta jutta)  It is believed that sighting an empty water vessel in the morning ruins a person’s entire day. It is considered extremely inauspicious and is believed to cause hindrances in work. The same is true of upturned footwear. People generally relate to these incidents as half done work, which is bound to have similar effect in their future undertaking. A person carrying an empty vessel is often yelled at for their misconduct and asked to fill it to counteract the negative effect. Sighting of a filled vessel, however, is thought to