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December 2004 - January 2005
Nepal lies in the lap of Himalaya and is a land of many contrasts. It has the highest peak in the world- Mount Everest and some miles in the south it contains flat fertile land – called ‘Tarai’. Snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas are among the finest and most dramatic natural spectacles. Walking through the foothills and valleys of these mountains provides an opportunity to experience its beauty.
In Nepal, Buddhism and Hinduism flourish side by side. The population is made up of many different ethnic groups, deeply rooted in their traditions and beliefs and people keep a happy smile on their faces.
Nepal is generally called a trekker’s paradise but this ancient country has also on offer remarkable cultural heritage and abundant natural beauty.
environment: Concentration of art, architecture and archaeological
sites are in Kathmandu Valley, which covers an area of approximately
30 km in diameter. It contains the city of Kathmandu itself, Bhaktapur
and Patan. All these cities have their own Durbar Squares with a Palace
and pagoda-style temples. However, each square has its own charm and
character with exquisite buildings constructed between the 12th and
18th centuries by various kings of Nepal.
In and around Kathmandu other important architectural and religious buildings are the PASHUPATINATH temple – dedicated to the God Shiva, situated on the banks of the holy Bhagmati River; the SWAYAMBHUNATH stupa – perched on a hill overlooking the sweeping views of Kathmandu Valley; the BOUDHANATH – one of the largest stupas of the world; the remote hilltop temples of CHANGU NARAYAN; and the residence of KUMARI DEVI – THE LIVING GODDESS in the heart of Kathmandu.
Handicraft skills of the Nepalese people can be clearly seen in wooden carving on the palaces, temples and other old historic buildings, metal work, pottery and weaving.
Nature: Pokhara valley to the west of Kathmandu is an enchanting and
serene area with several lakes reflecting the high mountains, which
surround them. It is a tranquil valley with stunning views of the Annapurna
range. The main lake in Pokhara is picturesque Phewa Tal. Near by to
the west of Pokhara is the small village of Lumle, situated on the
top of a hill within the Annapurna Conservation Area with stunning
views of surrounding mountains and valleys.
Chitwan National Park, South-East of Kathmandu, is one of Asia’s premier wildlife park. It has astonishing wild life including many species of birds, deer, crocodile, Rhino and tiger.
Having visited Nepal now, I can definitely say that it is wonderful destination to soak up the atmosphere of the ancient civilisation and spectacular scenery, and also to relax in beautifully landscaped surroundings.
Bajrang Bahadur Mathur is a retired Chartered Architect and Town Planner and lives in London. Since retirement he is doing honorary and voluntary work with a few charitable organisations. He is a keen traveller. All photographs are by him.