Nepal is a country that you easily forget when planning a trip, it falls into nowhere next to neighboring countries China and India. This is one of the reasons why many people don’t choose Nepal as their travel destination, because the countries around it will be more beautiful. Right?
But nothing could be further from the truth, Nepal is a unique country and takes you into a beautiful experience of different religions.
Where you often see in other countries that a difference in faith can be disastrous and can lead to war, this is anything but the case in Nepal. Nepal is a country of different religions, with Hinduism and Buddhism as two largest groups. These two groups have been living peacefully in a society with each other for a long time and have few problems with this. It has even come to the point that you gradually see a blending.
Thanks to this mutual respect and the mixing of the two religions, you see religion very clearly everywhere in Nepal. People are not afraid to express themselves to the outside world about this. Because of this, you can see the streets filled with brightly colored flags all over Nepal. When you see this for the first time, you almost think it is a holiday, but nothing is less true. These are the prayer flags, on which you see bright colors and sacred animals, each with their own meaning.
The streetscape in the capital of Nepal has a warm atmosphere which makes you feel right at home. But of course you did not come here just to look at everything aroundyou, you also want to experience the country and religion. Nowhere can this be better than in Kathmandu. The capital of Nepal is full of beautiful temples and places of worship. These hotspots should not be missed at all!
Running for monkeys in the Monkey Temple
Perhaps the biggest hotspot of the city, the Monkey Temple. The Monkey Temple is known for, and the name says it all, the monkeys! This Buddhist temple is overrun by hundreds of monkeys. At first sight a cute image, but they are well trained monkeys so beware. Any rustling of food or drink is for most monkeys a sign that the hunting season is open. So be sensible and keep your food and drink safely stored in your bag!
Before you reach the temple and most of the monkeys you will have a big job waiting for you, namely a few hundred stone steps. The holy temple is located on the outskirts of Kathmandu, and yes you guessed it, on a mountain. However, this brings a lot of advantages, because believe me, the climb is more than worth it. Once you get to the top, you’ll end up at a beautiful viewpoint, where with a bit of luck you even have a view of the Himalayas.
After you have enjoyed the breathtaking view you can only just catch your breath before you see the next photo opportunity. Namely a huge Stuppa with thousands of prayer flags stretched out from it. A Stuppa is a spherical temple which is believed to have been used to preserve the remains of Buddha. Around this Stuppa smaller Stuppas are built and smaller prayer houses and temples where you can pray to Buddha. Here you can take alook at the Tibetan Buddhist Monks, because the temple is still in daily use.
Pashupatinath the temple of Shiva
A place of silence is Pashupatinath, one of the most sacred places in Hindu faith. This place owes its name to the God Shiva and is situated on the Bagmati River. This place represents both the present and the afterlife for Hinduism and therefore the temple can only be entered by followers of the faith. But from a distance and up to a certain height you can still visit this place, and this is definitely worth it.
But I have to make a note of it because this can be a fierce experience. Because, as I said before, this place is also a place for the afterlife, because in the estuary cremations take place in open view. This happens not only on a daily basis, but dozens at a time. During this sacred ritual the male next of kin build a wooden raft on pillars above the water. They then place the body of the deceased family member on top, sealing it with piles of flower chains and colorful attributes. When the sacred rituals are finished, the cremation will take place on a clear day in front of everyone.
For us, what is a cruel sight and comes across as harsh is for these people the most beautiful thing there is when it comes to saying goodbye to a loved one. Because after the burning of the body and the wood, the ashes are automatically scattered in the holy Bagmati River. This ritual ensures, as is believed in Hindu culture, that the soul of this person will live on and continue in peace.
The holy girl of Durbar Square
But not only Buddhism and Hinduism can be seen in the streets of Kathmandu. Within walking distance of the current city center you will find the old city center, Durbar Square. Here you can find the king’s palace, which by the way is still there today. Only it is no longer inhabited by the king but here you will find the Kumari House. The Kumari House which stands for The Living Goddess House honors the gods by demonstrating humanity.
Every day the Kumari is shown several times to the people of Nepal. The Kumari is a young girl who is worshipped as a god by the people. But this doesn’t happen all her life, but until the moment she bleeds for the first time in her life. This moment often takes place during puberty, at the time of her first period. However, it is also possible that the Kumari will open up and bleed, even then her status as a god will end and her time as a Kumari will be over. When this is the case, a new Kumari is appointed who will be honored as a god until she shows her humanity through blood.
Sunrise behind Mount Everest
But for those who think that Nepal and Kathmandu only have cultural and religious excursions, nothing could be further from the truth. Nepal has a beautiful nature, even just outside the capital. Here is the Himalayan Mountains with the world famous Mount Everest located just a short drive away. Besides that you can visit this mountain or even for the real lover can partly climb it, there is also the village of Nagarkot.
Nagarkot, located at about two kilometers altitude, is the perfect viewpoint directly opposite Mount Everest. Here you can spend the night in typical stone igloos and then at four o’clock in the morning, and yes it is worth the alarm clock’s pain, to watch the sunrise. It rises from the viewpoint directly behind Mount Everest, so you can see the beautiful contours of the mountain and the sun. A moment out of thousands to dive back into your bed and dream about this moment even further.
The nightlife in Nepal
But a vacation would not be a vacation if the nightlife is not put to the test and therefore also in Nepal. And I can tell you it gets a big enough, because they can party in Nepal!
The people you meet in the clubs are super hospitable and friendly. They like to talk to you and take you with them on the dancefloor. It gives you the feeling that the whole club knows each other and you will soon be sucked into the enthusiasm of the crowd. What I personally liked best about the clubs in Nepal is that they have rules for the dance floor. This means no drinks on the dance floor, because this causes standing still, and standing still is forbidden! The guards use laser pens to keep an eye on everyone and warn you if you don’t dance on the dance floor of the club. This ensures that everyone who can be found on the dance floor goes crazy and the atmosphere is great.
Your trip to Nepal?
All in all, Nepal is a unique place in the world and definitely worth a visit. Have you become curious about this country and would you like more information about other areas in Nepal? Sign up for the newsletter and you will not only stay informed about new stories and tips about Nepal. But also about other great trips around the world, made by students!