Chitwan National Park
Nepal's first and most famous national park is situated in the Chitwan Doon or the lowlands of the Inner Terai. Covering an area of 932 sq km. the park includes hilly areas of the Siwalik Range covered by deciduous sal forest. One fifth of the park is made up of the floodplains of the Narayani, Rapti, and the Reu Rivers and is covered by dense tall elephant grass interspersed with riverine forests of silk cotton (kapok), acacia and sisam trees. This ecologically diverse area is the last remaining home in Nepal for more than 300 of the endangered Asian one-horned rhinoceros and harbours one of the largest populations of the elusive and rare Bengal tiger. Besides rhino and tiger, Chitwan also supports a great variety of flora and fauna. There are four species of deer, including the spotted chittal, leopard, sloth bear, wild boar, rhesus monkey, grey langur monkey, wild dog, small wild cats, the white stockinged gaur (the world's largest wild cattle) and many other smaller animals. The swampy areas and numerous oxbow lakes of Chitwan provide a home for marsh crocodiles. In a stretch of the Narayani river is found one of the few remaining populations of the rare and endangered fish-only eating gharial, or Gangetic crocodile. Here also is found one of the world's four species of freshwater dolphins. For the ornithologist and the amateur bird-watcher the park offers excellent possibilities with more than 450 species recorded. Some of the resident specialities are several species of woodpeckers, hornbills, Bengal florican, and red-headed trogons. Winter birds such as waterfowl, Brahminy duck, pintails and bareheaded geese, amongst many other cold weather visitors are drawn by the sanctuary of the park's rivers. In the summer the forest is alive with nesting migrants such as the fabulous paradise flycatcher, the Indian pitta and parakeets.
Entry Fee Per Person Per Day:
For Nepalese Nationals, Rs. 20/-
For SAARC Nationals, Rs. 200/-
For Other Foreign Nationals, Rs. 500/-
Entrance fee not required for children under 10 yearsPark
Entrance fees is regulated by Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (Phone: 4220850). Entrance fees for mountain National Parks can be paid at ACAP counter (Phone: 4222406) at Sanchaykosh building in Thamel, Kathmandu, or at the Park gate. For other National Parks entrance fees are to be paid at the Park gate
Chitwan is easily accessible from Kathmandu, being well connected by a national highway to Bharatpur and to Sauraha. There are daily fights from October through May to Meghauli airstrip just outside the park boundary. Another exciting alternative is a two to three day raft trip down the Trishuli river to Narayanghat or directly into the western edge of the park.
Visitors can stay in one of the several lodges and camps inside or outside the park. Visitors can actively participate in exciting stalks through the forest looking for animals signs. One unique Chitwan experience is elephant back safaris in search of the one-horned rhinoceros, leopard, deer, bear, monkey and crocodile. Few visitors can ever forget the excitement of crashing through 20 feet high elephant grass and sightseeing wildlife. Apart from elephant safaris, the traveller will be happily occupied for several days with nature walks, canoe rides down the park rivers, and land-over drives through the forest.
Sagarmatha National Park
Unique among natural heritage sites world-wide is the Sagarmatha National Park, which includes Mt. Everest (8,848 m) and other high peaks such as Lhotse Shar, Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam, Pumori, Kangtega, Gyachung Kang, Thamserku and Kwangde. Located North-east of Kathmandu, Sagarmatha National Park is 1,148 sq km. in area and consists of the upper catchment areas of the Dudh Koshi, Bhote Koshi and the Imja Khola rivers. Much of the park lies above 3,000m. Sagarmatha is rugged, with deep gorges, glaciers and unnegotiable ice and rock faces. Locally known as the 'Khumbu', it is the home of the famous Sherpa people. The Sherpas make a living by farming barley and potatoes and graze their yaks in high altitude pastures. Young Sherpas have also made their name in mountaineering and the trekking industry has of late become the community's economic mainstay. In 1979 the park was declared a World Heritage Site.
Trees such as rhododendron, birch, blue pine, juniper and silver fir are found up to an altitude of 4,000 meters above which they give way to scrub and alpine plants. In late spring and summer, the hillsides around the villages of Namche Bazaar, Khumjung, Thyangboche and Thame are a riot of colours with several species of rhododendon in bloom. Wildlife most likely to be seen in Sagarmatha are the Himalaya tahr, ghoral, musk deer, pikka (mouse hare) weasel and occasionally jackal. Other rarely seen animals are Himalayan black bear, wolf, lynx and snow leopard. Birds commonly seen are Impeyan pheasant, blood pheasant, snow cock, snow pigeon, red billed and yellow billed chough, Himalayan griffin vulture and lammergeier.
Entry Fee Per Person Per Entry:
For Nepalese Nationals, Free
For SAARC Nationals, Rs. 100/-
For Other Foreign Nationals, Rs. 1,000/-
All of Khumbu is road-less, all travel and exploration must be undertaken on foot. Quick access are by helicopter at the Syangboche and via the Lukla airstrip from where the park head-office at Namche Bazaar is a two-day walk. Alternative approaches are from Jiri in the south-west and through Arun Valley in the south-east. Namche is 10 to 12 days trek on both these approaches. The best time to visit is in October and November and from March to May when days are warm and clear. However night temperatures can reach zero levels. A two to three-week stay in the park is ideal and the best areas to visit are Gokyo Valley, Lobuche-Kala Pattar-Base Camp, Chukung Valley and Thame valley. Travellers should come with camping, food and fuel support to enable them to move freely although room and board are available in most villages. To enjoy the visit thoroughly it is best to arrange services of guides and porters with government registered outfitters in Kathmandu.
Entrance fee not required for children under 10 years Park
Entrance fees is regulated by Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (Phone: 4220850). Entrance fees for mountain National Parks can be paid at ACAP counter (Phone: 4222406) at Sanchaykosh building in Thamel, Kathmandu, or at the Park gate. For other National Parks entrance fees are to be paid at the Park gate.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
A very old Hindu text has described Kathmandu as the land of gods surrounded by beautiful mountains around. Some two hundred years ago a western Visitor wrote that there were as many temples as there were houses and many idols as there were people. In fact Kathmandu boasts one of the largest congregations of magnificent historical monuments and shrines ever built. Duly recognized as a world Heritage Site by UNESCO- this particular area best known as Kathmandu Durbar Square lies in the heart of this city. Locally also called as Hanuman Dhoka Palace Square-an ancient seat of the Nepalese Royalty.
Hanuman Dhoka Palace Complex consists of a huge Royal Square imposing a tremendous variety of temples dedicated to different Hindu gods and goddess. Most of the buildings we see here date from 15th to 18th century.
The entire Palace Complex here is named after a monkey god called Hanuman. One can see a huge stone statue of Hanuman painted all red right next to the main entrance ( the golden gate) of the palace. Hanuman here is regarded as a powerful protector of the entire Durbar Square.
Some of the important monuments to be seen here are:
Taleju temple- tallest of all structures built by king Mahendra Malla in 1549 A.D.
Jagannath temple- built in the 16th century, known for fascinating erotic figures carving I the wooden struts eaves.
Kal Bhairav- one of the largest stone idol in Kathmandu representing the terrifying aspects of Shiva.
Statue of King Pratap Malla in praying gesture to Digu Taleju the royal family deity right across.
Kumari Ghar- 17th century Kumari temple, an example of the highly developed Nepalese temple craft.
Kasthamandap- built from the timber of a single tree. The Kathmandu City derives its name from Kasthamandap.
Besides this other fascinating part of this palace complex is the towering Nautale Durbar overlooking the beautiful cityscape and the vast Basantapur square where Prithivi Narayan Shah built mansion to commemorate his victory in 1768 A.D. This building complex is known for the most intricately carved wooden doorways roof struts and massive lattice windows full of mythical figures
Swoyambhu Nath Stupa
Located in a lovely little hill rock Swoyambhu Nath Stupa is one of the most fascinating architectural jewels of the world. This great Stoup is said to have been built around 250 B.C.
Generally a holy memorial site Stoup represents a typical Buddhist architecture. Its main feature the white dome is identified with a spotless pure jewel of Nirvana and a thirteen tiered golden spire in conical shape surmounted on the dome. Underneath this towering structure are a pair of all seeing eyes of Buddha painted on all four sides of the Stupa.
The Stupa of Swoyambhunath stands on a typically stylized lotus mandala base-a long time ago believed to have originated from a legendary lake of Kathmandu Valley.
As the ancient legend goes Kathmandu Valley was a lake a long time ago. Right in the centre of this lake was a full blown lotus with the divine light a top. When Maha Manjushri a saint from China heard about this he came rushing all the way from China to the Valley. He cut through the southern wall hill of the valley with his divine sword. The cleft made by the sword immediately drained the entire lake water making the valley floor open for a close up view of the divine lotus light.
This holy site in fact is the massive stupa complex ever built in Nepal. Hundreds of votive shrines and other historical monuments built in and around this stupa speak a lot about the significance and antiquity of this famed stupa.
It lies about 3k.m. west of down town Kathmandu. There are two different ways to reach for this site. One is from the west side which is relatively a short cut and another is from the east side where it leads to the main entrance with 360 steps leading all the way to the top, where the most venerated Swayambhu Stupa stands-commanding a magnificent view of Kathmandu Valley and the breathtaking panorama of the north eastern Himalayan range.
Other important things to be seen here include a magnificent two tiered golden temple dedicated to Harati. She is the grand mother deity of children and small pox who was said to be the Ogress until Lord Buddha converted her to be the great caretaker of the children. Not to far from this temple is Dewa Dharma monastery-noted for a bronze icon of Buddha and traditional Tibetan paintings .
The huge gold plated vajra ' tha priestly symbol of Vajrayana Buddhism set on the Dharmadhatu mandala at the side of the stupa is worth a close look.
Important days to visit this holy site:
1. Buddha Purnima, the birth day of Lord Buddha which fails on the full moon day of Baishak (April-May)
2. Gunla the holy Buddhist month according to Newari calendar (Aug.-Sept., early Morning).
3. Kojagrath Purni (Sept.-Oct.)
4. Samyak day of the Magh (Jan.Feb.) (every twelve years)
Boudha Nath Stupa
One of the oldest and the biggest Buddhist monuments ever built in Nepal, Boudhanath is an imposing structure standing some 36 meters. The Stupa stands on the massive three level mandala style Platforms surrounded by colourful private family houses.
The basic feature of this great stupa is very much like that of Swoyambhunath stupa except its finial displaying. It is much bigger than Swoyambhu stupa and lies on the valley floor whereas the former one stands on the hill top. This stupa is said to have been built in 5th century A. D. The site is considered very much like Mecca for the Tibetan Buddhists and every year tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over the Himalayan region visit the stupa.
According to a very popular legend long time ago the kingdom of Kathmandu was under terrifying draught. King Dharma Deva was very worried. An astrologer advised him that only the sacrifice of an ideal man with 32 virtues in front of the dry royal water spout could make the rain fall in the country. And in the following night he commanded his son to go to the dry water spout inside the royal palace compound at mid night and behead the person shrouded in white robe without looking at him. The Prince obeyed his father but to his great horror only to find it was none other than his own father.
In order to atone the big sin and in removal the prince said to have built this great stupa. As an entry point of ancient Nepal-Tibet trade rout, the site is popularly frequented by Tibetan visitors.
During Lhosar festival the pilgrims worship the Buddhist deities, light the increase and butter lamp day and night.
Every twelve year a special ceremony is observed with great gusto and fervor . During that time they dance, play musical instruments, chant and hymns.
Pasupatinath is considered one of the holiest shrines of all the Hindu temples. The temple has remained the presiding deity of ruling Nepalese Royalty. Located on the banks of the Bagmati river, this two tiered magnificent golden temple with four triple silver doorways is unique example of the Nepalese temple architecture. It is one of the largest Hindu temple complex in South Asia with hundreds of Shiva lingams, shrines icons of various Hindu god and goddess insides. This temple site occupies an area of 281 hectares in total. The main entrance of this temple is in the western side facing a small street of Deopatan market. As non Hindus are not allowed to enter this temple courtyard. They are advised to go on the other side of the river in the East to have a glimpse of the temple complex. In the middle of the spring (Feb.-March) every year there occurs a festival called Shivaratri. The world Shivaratri means the holy night of Lord Shiva. On this day many devotees visit the Pashupati Nath temple and make the ceremonial fire. Most of the devotees spend the night offering prayers to Shiva. This festival attracts tens of thousand of pilgrims from India besides the locals. Historically pre-Christian era this temple seems to have its origin away back to the early Kirat period. Stone sculptures found in the vicinity support the antiquity of this place. This holy site is 6 km. east oil down town Kathmandu. Regular bus and taxi services are easily available from a city points.
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