Nepal is a country in south Asia sandwiched between two powerful countries of the world, China, and India. Although Nepal is a small country with an of 147,181 km per square, it is home to various cultures, ethnicities, wildlife and a population of 27.8 million people as well as a tremendous geographic diversity. There are 208 mammal species in protected areas and 28 species outside the limits of the protected areas. It is a multicultural and a multilingualism country with Nepali as the official language. It is also a secular parliamentary republic, with the fifth-largest economy among South Asian nations. Nepal is home to eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, which is the tallest mountain in the world.
Geography of Nepal
The geography of Nepal is so diverse that, it starts from only 59 meters at the tropical terai region and goes up to 8848 meters, mount Everest which is also the highest point on earth, above sea level. Adding to this, the average annual rainfall varies from as low as 160 millimeters in the Himalayas to as high as 5,500 millimeters (216.5 in) on windward slopes. Nepal is classified into three geographical regions that are, from north to south, Himalayan region, hilly region and the terai region.
The terai region starts from 700 meters (2,297 ft) to 1,000 meters (3,281 ft) which are known as the churia or Siwalik range. It covers 17% of the total land.The altitudes below the churia or Siwalik range are known to extremely fertile and are capable of growing countless variations of subtropical as well as tropical fruits This region is home to numerous tropical and subtropical fauna and flora. The most notable wildlife found here are the Bengal tiger, the one-horned white rhinoceros, and the Asian elephant. The Bardia National park located on the western side of Nepal is home to the most number of Bengal tigers in the world.The Outer Terai is culturally similar to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh of India than to the hill region of Nepal. The people in this region speak languages such as Maithili, Bhojpuri and Tharu languages.The Outer Terai ends at the base of the first range of foothills called the Siwaliks or Churia, mentioned above. In several places beyond the Siwaliks, there are dūn valleys called Inner Terai. The first ethnic communities of tarai are Tharu people, Maithili people, Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Kisan, Sunuwars, Satar. Some notable places of terai are Janakpur, Lumbini, Janakpur, Chitwan, Jhapa etc.
Janakpur is a city in terai that plays a significant role in the Ramayana and is the birthplace of lord Sita, the wife of Ram. So it is also a very important place of pilgrimage for Hindus all over the world. This city is densely populated by pilgrims throughout the months of November and December during the festival of Vivah Panchami. Bardia national park is Nepal’s largest national park and is described as what Chitwan was like about thirty years ago. Although the Bardia national park is known for being one of Asia’s largest reserves for tigers, there are also a good number of wild elephants and one-horned rhinos along with the 30 species of mammals found there. The Chitwan national park is also a major tourist attraction, including domestic tourists. It is the first national park of the terai region. It was established in 1973 and granted the status of a World Heritage Site in 1984. It is located 100 m (330 ft) in the river valleys to 815 m (2,674 ft) in the Churia Hills.
The hilly region starts from 700 to 3,000 meters (2,000 and 10,000 ft) altitude. It covers 68% of the total land. This region begins at the Mahabharat Range, which is right above the churia or the siwaliks. It spreads from Mechi in the east to Mahakali in the west. It has high hills and rocks. The hilly region is surrounded by valleys such as Kathmandu, Pokhara, Surkhet, Dang-Deukhuri, and so on. During summers, the temperature can go up to 40 degrees Celsius and as low as 3 degree Celsius during the winter. There is heavy rainfall from June to September. September. It also receives winter rain. The summers are very hot and humid. The Hilly region is home to various birds and animals. The most commonly found animals in the hilly region are.This region is also suitable for horticulture and livestock. The farmers raise animals such as cow, buffalo, and sheep. The people who live in the Hilly region are Brahmin, Chhetri, Rai, Limbu, Tamang etc. Newars are the highest in number in this region. A few notable places of the hilly region are Kathmandu, Pokhara, Bhaktapur, Gorkha and plan.
Kathmandu, formerly known as Kantipur is the capital and also the most urbanized city in Nepal. It is located in the Bagmati zone. All the government offices such as the head office and the parliament are located here. A number of sacred places for pilgrimage, Pashupatinath, for Hindus and swayambhunath, for Buddhists also lie in Kathmandu. It is the known as a treasury for Nepali art, architecture, and culture. The temperature of Kathmandu goes below 1 Degree Celsius (34 Degree Fahrenheit) in winter and rises to an average of 25 Degree Celsius (77 Degree Fahrenheit) in summer. Patan or Lalitpur is located in the south of Kathmandu. It is famous for its durbar square and it’s art and crafts. Patan is also the oldest city of Kathmandu.
Bhaktapur, which was formerly known as Bhadgaon, lies at the east side of Kathmandu. It is one of the oldest and the third biggest city in the valley. It is renowned for Nepalese art and architecture. The people of Bhaktapur are known for their skill in making earthen pots. Bhaktapur is also known for its nine-story Nyatapola Templar and the durbar squares.
Pokhara, located in the Kaski district of Gandaki zone, is the main headquarters of the Western Development Region, Gandaki zone, and Kaski District. This city houses roughly 200000 people of Nepal and is located at 28.25°N, 83.99°E, 198 km west of Kathmandu. Pokhara is the third largest city in Nepal after Kathmandu and Biratnagar. Pokhara is divided into 18 Wards by the Pokhara Sub-Metropolitan City office for administration. It is the also starting point for most of the treks in the Annapurna area. Pokhara is known for its natural beauty and it’s climate. It is a major tourist attraction. Some notable places in Pokhara are the Mahendra Cave, Chamero Gupha, David Falls, etc. Gorkha is a place in the Hilly region that holds a lot of history of Nepal. It is in the Gorkha district of Gandaki zone. It is the place where the first King of Nepal, Prithvi Narayan Shah was born. It was the capital of Gorkha kingdom in ancient times. Gorkha’s major attractions are the Gorakhnath temple, Gorkha Palace, and manakamana temple.
The Himalayan region, also known as the parbat in Nepali, covers 15% of the whole land and is starts at 4,000 meters from sea level and is situated to the north of the Hilly Region. This region is also home to the mythical creatures of the mountains known as, the yeti in Nepal, and the abominable snowman elsewhere. In this region, the snow lines of the mountains begin at 5,000 or 5,500 meters. The region is characterized by its harsh climates rugged and diverse topography. In this region human habitation and economic activities are very limited with nomads who travel there during summers and stay further down during the winter months. The mountain ranges of this region form a climatic barrier between the monsoonal (wet-dry) Indian lowland plains and the Tibetan desert high plateau. It also forms a natural border between Nepal and China.This region also houses the world’s highest and most famous peaks, namely, Mount Everest at 8,850 metres, which is the highest point of the world above sea level, Kanchenjunga at 8,586 metres,Dhaulagiri I at 8,167 metres, Manaslu I at 8,163 metres, Makalu at 8,463 metres, and Annapurna I at 8,091 metres. Although the climatic conditions of this region are very severe, it also has it’s own unique plants and animals that have adapted over the years. Some of the few animals found there are the yak, the snow leopard, Red Panda, Tibetan fox, and the Tibetan wolf.
Rainfall and climatic seasons
Just like the topography, Nepal also has all four of the climatic seasons. The climatic seasons of Nepal are spring, summer, autumn and winter.
Spring season can be experienced in Nepal between the months of march and may. The temperature during this season is warm in the terai region and moderate in hilly Region. The average temperature during the spring season ranges between 16-23 Degree Celsius (61-73 Degree Fahrenheit). In this season there is little rainfall but the sun is not that harsh compared to summer months. This season also supports the growth of new flowers and plants and allows a good view of the Himalayas with the very calm weather during the evening hours.
Summer is the second climatic season of Nepal which occurs between April and summer. However, this year summer has been Prolonged most probably due to the global warming, pollution and the destruction of the ozone layer of the atmosphere. The temperature during the summer months ranges from between 23 to 25 Degree Celsius (73-77 Degree Fahrenheit). This is also the monsoon season in Nepal. The weather is hot and wet at times. It rains very frequently during this time and can rain for a week or sometimes two. This continues rain leads to problems such as landslide and flooding that is responsible for countless deaths every year.
Autumn is the season that during September and November. The weather is highly pleasant and is perfect for sightseeing, with splotches of orange and yellow. This is also the most popular months in Nepal for tourists to visit Nepal since the scorching heat has just subsided and the winter hasn’t come yet. These months are also a major part of Nepali’s lives because of the two most widely celebrated festivals, Dashain, and tihar fall during these months. The average temperature during the Autumn season stays between 15 degree Celsius to 24 degree Celsius (59-75 Degree Fahrenheit)
Winter falls between December and February. It generally moist compared to other countries but very dry in comparison to the summer months.The Winter season ranges between 9-12 Degree Celsius (48-54 Degree Fahrenheit) This season is good for trekking in lower altitudes. The higher altitudes get occasional snowfall. The morning and night are pretty cold but the days are generally warm when it is not cloudy.
Just like the temperatures, different regions, and topographies of Nepal experience rainfall differently. During summers the plains of terai experience heavy rainfall and tropical temperature as well as lots of mosquitoes. The Himalayan region experiences very cold temperatures below zero degrees Celsius but it also experiences some amount of warmth because of the sunlight. During the rainy monsoon season between June to August, it rains to an average between 200-375 millimeters in Kathmandu. There is occasional rainfall during the other seasons too. In an average, 1300 millimeters of rain falls in Kathmandu every year.
The rivers of Nepal
Rivers are the large natural stream of water that deposits into an ocean, lake, or another body of water. There are many rivers in Nepal, all of them which start from the Himalayan region of Nepal. Since the rivers in Nepal originate from the Himalayas, the rivers were initially very clean. However, now all the sewage systems of Nepal deposit in rivers which have polluted them to a such a great extent that they give off a pungent odour. The main rivers in Nepal are Mechi, Koshi, Bagmati, Narayani, Gandaki, Rapti, Mahakali etc. In Nepal, rivers are considered to be holy and a gift of God. The largest river in Nepal is the Koshi river. Similarly, the deepest river is the Narayani and the longest is the Karnali river.
The Koshi river is found in the eastern part of the Nepal. It is not only the largest river of Nepal, but it is in fact a combination of seven different rivers. These seven rivers or tributaries is the reason behind the name Saptakoshi. The seven tributaries of the Koshi are Arun, Tamor, Dudh Kosi, Likhu,Tamakoshi, Bhotekoshi, and the Sunkoshi. The largest river among the seven is the Arun river and the smallest is the Likhu. When the Bhotekoshi river meets with Indrawati, it is rendered to as Sunkoshi.
The Karnali river is the longest river in Nepal and is found in the western part of Nepal. This river has six tributaries. The six tributaries of the Karnali are the Sani Bheri, the Thuli Bheri, Mugu Karnali, Humla Karnali, the Ganga, and the Seti.
The Gandaki is found in the central part of Nepal. Similar to the sapta koshi, the Gandaki is also known as the Saptagandaki because of its seven tributaries. The seven tributaries of Gandaki are the Trishuli river, the Kali Gandaki, Budhi Gandaki, Daraunda, Seti Gandaki, and finally Marsyangdi.Among these rivers, Kali Gandaki is the largest and the Daraunda is the smallest.
Religions of Nepal
There are various religious groups in Nepal. Just like the land from and the topography. Nepal also has a diversity of the people living in it. Some of the most common religions in Nepal are Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, and Jain. These are probably the most common religions found in Nepal. However, even though there are so ss many religious groups in Nepal, there are very rare cases of people fighting over religion. People respect each other no matter what their religion. According to statistics, there 81.3% Hindus, 9% Buddhists, 4.4% Muslims, and 1.4% Christians.
Hinduism basically has three major gods-Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. Most Hindus do not carry out rituals or worship Brahma during religious occasions because it is believed that his task is complete in this universe. But Vishnu and Shiva are very important gods for all Hindus in Nepal. It is believed that Vishnu came to earth multiple times in 10 different forms or avatars to ensure peace and-and preservation including the forms such as a Varaha, as Prince Rama, as the god Krishna and as Lord Gautam Buddha. Shiva is believed to have three forms-Natraj, anthropomorphic form and the Lingam form. The Lingam is situated on the north-western side of Kathmandu.
Two of Vishnu’s other incarnations- Rama and Krishna-are especially important to the Hindus. Rama and Krishna are the heroes of the classic Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata respectively.
Another majorly worshiped god. In Nepal is Lord Ganesh or Ganesha, who is the son of shiva.
Buddhism is a religion that is practiced throughout Asia. Buddhism was started about 25000 years ago by Buddha. Buddha is believed by Hindus to have been an avatar of lord Shiva. Although Lord Buddha was born in Nepal in a place known as Lumbini, the religion itself did not start in Nepal. Buddha traveled to India where he started the religion and attained enlightenment.
According to legend Buddha was a young prince of Lumbini in Nepal who was selected from all kinds of sadness and grief by his father. Once when he sneaked out of his palace, he was shocked by the suffering he saw outside the walls, so he left his life of luxury to seek answers. Eventually, he succeeded, becoming the Buddha–the “Enlightened One.” He spent the remaining 45 years of his life teaching the dharma establishing Sangha or to live as a monk. According to Buddhist scriptures, a monk has to live as a beggar and should not consume any meat products unless someone offers. The only way to attain enlightenment is to be truly content with what you have or to not have any desires.
Islam is believed to have been started in Nepal when Muslims from different parts of South Asia and Tibet during different epochs. The Muslims in Nepal can be brought down to 4 distinct groups that are Tibetans, Kashmiris, the Miyan and the Madhesi. According to statistics, 97% of the Muslims live in the Terai region, while the other 3% are found mainly in the city of Kathmandu. According to researchers, the major districts that contain Muslims are Rautahat (17.2%), Bara (11.9%), and Parsa (17.3%) in the central Terai bordering the state of Bihar, Kapilvastu (16.8%) and Banke (16%) in the western Terai and Sirahi (7%) and Sunsari (10%) and Saptari (10%) eastern Terai.
“Tantra” is a Sanskrit word which refers to the basic warp of threads in weaving. Tantrism is defined as “a movement within Hinduism combining magical and mystical elements and with sacred writings of its own.” There are two major types of Tantric gods and goddesses known as the Dharmapalas and Yidams. Dharmapalas are usually shown with flaming red hair, several limbs or heads with three eyes. Yidams in the other hand are goddesses found in Buddhists thangkas. Tantrism is often viewed as evil because it is believed that in the medieval times, Tantrikas were seen as sorcerers, and many tantras were seen as black magic or rituals that used supernatural powers to harm others. Moreover, tantrism was also banned for Buddhists. Although the development of Tantrism is said to have reached its peak about 1000 CE, it has never died out and has exerted considerable influence on modern movements.
Christians believe and practice in much the same way all over the world. Christianity was started by Jesus Christ about 2000 years ago in the city of Jerusalem. Christianity is one of the most influential religions in history. It began as a small sect of Judaism during the first century in ancient Israel. But the religion has nearly 2 billion followers at the beginning of the 21st century and can be found in virtually every corner of the globe. In Nepal Christianity was started after the collapse of the Rana rule in Nepal in 1950, when Christians living in India returned to Nepal with other western missionaries to spread the religion.The first Christian missionary to step foot in Nepal was in 1628 during the reign of King Lakshmi Narasimha Malla.