All visitors to Nepal except the Indian nationals must hold valid
passports and visa. Single entry tourist visa can be obtained from
the entry points of Nepal or from the Royal Nepalese diplomatic
mission abroad. US$ 30.00 is required for single entry visa for
60 days and US$ 50.00 for multiple entry. No visa charge for one
day. Tourists can extend their visas at the Department of Immigration,
Nepal Tourism Board Bldg., Bhrikuti Mandap, Kathmandu (Tel: 4222453,
4223127, and 4223590) and the Immigration Office in Pokhara (Tel:
521167). Indian nationals are obliged to produce one of the identification
papers e.g. Passport, Voters Identification Card, or Ration Card
if s/he has to fly to Nepal/India.
Nepal has a population of 22 million, made of different races and
tribes, living in different regions, wearing different costumes,
and speaking different languages and dialects. The Gurungs and Magars
live mainly in the west. The Rais, Limbus and Sunuwars inhabit the
slopes and valleys of the eastern mid hills. The Sherpas a live
in east Himalayan region up to an average altitude of 4570m. The
Newar is an important ethnic group in the capital valley Kathmandu.
There are Tharus, Yadavas, Satar, Rajvanshis and Dhimals in the
Terai region. The Brahmans, Chhetri, and Thakuris are spread over
regions of the Kingdom.
Many different ethnic groups have their own languages or dialects.
Nepali is the official language of Nepal. Almost all the educated
community in the cities can understand and speak English as well.
Hindi is also widely understood and spoken.
Religion: Nepal is the only Hindu Kingdom in the world. Nepal is
the birth place of Lord Buddha. Hence Hinduism and Buddhism are
two major religions of Nepal. Majority of the Nepali are Hindu 90%,
Buddhist 7% and other 3%. There is no distinct between Hinduism
and Buddhism in Nepal. Both play a vital role in lifestyle of the
The Caste System: The caste system is still intact today but the
rules are not as rigid as they were in the past. Because of western
education, contact with foreigners, media, and modern communications,
people are progressive in many aspects. In 1962, a law was passed
making it illegal to discriminate against the untouchable castes.
Hence all castes are equally treated by the law. Education is free
and open to all castes.
Nepal has a long glorious history. Its civilization can be traced
back to thousand of years before the birth of Christ. A Hindu-Buddhist
culture flourished in the Kathmandu valley by the 4th century A.D.
In the Middle Ages many small principalities were established. The
Gurkhas, one of these, became dominant in 1768. In 1816, after a
war with the British, Nepal adopted a policy of seclusion from foreign
contacts. Internal power struggles led in 1846 to the dominance
of the Rana family, which controlled the country until 1951. Under
the Ranas, Nepal was isolated from foreign influence, and there
was little economic modernization. Nepal was granted independence
in 1951 and a limited constitutional monarchy was established. After
a brief period of democracy (1959-60), political activity was banned.
A form of party less government, the Panchayat system, was set up
(1962), with executive power resting in the king. This system was
narrowly approved (1980) in a national referendum. In 1990 protests
led to the abolition of the Panchayat system and the reestablishment
of democracy and a constitutional monarchy. Long influenced by India,
Nepal has recently developed closer ties with China. During the
past 40 years Nepal has diversified its economy and developed a
basic infrastructure with Herculean efforts.
What to wear
Medium-weight and easy-to-wash cottons are a good choice year-round
in the Kathmandu Valley. From October to February ,woolen sweaters,
jackets or similar other outfits are essential. Short or long sleeved
shirts are comfortable for March to May. From June to September,
light and loose garments are advisable. Down quilt jacket and under
trousers are recommended for high altitude trekking.
Vegetation and Wildlife
Nepal possesses some of the most outstanding bio-diversity in the
world, ranging from sub-tropical Rain forests to Alpine deserts.
There are more than 6000 flowering plant species in Nepal. There
are several native plants which are originated in Nepal. Himalayan
Rhododendron is the most famous one.
Nepal has 30 species of large wild animals and approximately 180
species of mammals .The one horned rhinoceros, Royal Bengal tiger,
crocodile, snow leopard, red panda, Himalayan black bear, and many
other wild animals are found in the forests of Nepal. Nepal has
840 different species of wet-land, migratory and residential birds.
Foreign currency regulation
Nepalese currency can be purchased at foreign exchange counter at
the airport. Foreign currency exchange counters of different banks,
authorized moneychangers are found in most tourist area of various
cities. Foreign currencies must be exchanged only through the banks
or authorized moneychangers. The exchange rates of the foreign currencies
are announced in the daily newspapers. Foreign visitors other than
the Indian nationals are required to pay their hotel bills and air
tickets in foreign currency. Indian rupees are not accepted from
any nationals except Indian or Nepalese. As per Government regulation
Indian 500.00 or 1000.00 bank notes are not accepted in banks, hotels,
Cultural shocks and a few tips
- The Nepalese people are friendly and hospitable by nature and
the tourists in general will have
no difficulty in adjustment.
- Visitors must take off the shoes to enter Hindu temple or Buddhist
shrine or your host's room. In
fact, a pair of open sandals is more convenient and comfortable
while visiting the temples and
- In some of the temples, entrance may be prohibited for the non-Hindus.
- Leather articles are also prohibited inside the temple precinct.
It is better not to touch offerings
or persons when they are on way to shrines.
- Beef is strictly prohibited among the Hindus. No female animal
is killed for food.
- Walking around temple or Stupa is traditionally done clockwise.
- Generally in Temples, Stupas, Monasteries, and monuments photography
is allowed but it is
better to seek permission first.
- It is better to be decently clad when visiting any place. Sun
and beachwear is not ideal when
roaming around the city or village. Brief shorts, bare shoulders
and backs may not be
appreciated. One need not to be stiff, and overdressed but just
comfortably and decently
- Do not be offended if a Nepalese lady hesitates to shake hands.
In Nepal, people and specially
the ladies, do not normally shake hands when they greet one another,
but instead press the
palms together in a prayer-like gesture known as "Namaste".
- Do not use your spoon, fork or a hand being used for your eating
to touch other's food, plate,
cooking utensil, or the serving dish. Do not eat from other people's
plate and do not drink from
other people's bottle or glass. It is considered soiled by the
- Public displays of affection between man and women are frowned
upon. Do not do something
that is totally alien to our environment.
- Remember it when a person shakes his head from left to right,
he means "YES".
- We are hard on drug abuse; trafficking and possession of drugs
are taken as serious offences.
- Cheap charity breeds beggars but does not solve their basic
problem. Therefore, do not
encourage beggary by being benevolent.
Festivals and calendar
Nepal has more festivals than the number of days in a year. A festival
is always a meaningful and memorable event in the life of Nepalese
people. Every festival has some purpose to serve. From bringing
in the rain to honoring the dead or averting calamities, every festival
has something spiritual about it. Festival is a way of life in Nepal.
With the number of festivals that Nepal has, it is one of the best
ways to understand and appreciate the Nepalese ways of life. The
date of Nepali festivals are according to the lunar calendar. Hence
the date of festivals varies from year to year. The list of festivals
is as follows:
April - May
Nepali New Year
Bisket: Festival of the God Bhairab in Bhaktapur. Four days of colorful
parades and processions
Rato Machhendranath: The festival of Lokeswar, one of the patron
Gods of Kathmandu. A 40-foot tall chariot with the God's image installed
is pushed and pulled through the streets by hundreds of worshippers.
Buddha Jyanti: Celebrating the birth of Lord Buddha
May - June
A celebration of the birth of the Hindu warrior God Kumar marks
the beginning of the rice planting season. It's also celebrated
by groups of boys who indulge in stone throwing fights.
June - July
No major festivals in the worst of the monsoon season.
July - August
Ghanta Kharna: A festival commemorating an ancient
victory over a particularly malevolent devil, Gathemuga. Mock funerals
are held and figures burned in effigy.
Gunla: A Buddhist Lent or Ramadan-like holy month
of penance and pilgrimage, climaxing in a rollicking celebration.
Naga Panchami: A festival devoted to the snake gods, who most Nepalese
believe ruled the Valley before the coming of people.
Janai Purnia: Tthe festival of changing of the sacred thread which
every Brahmin caste Hindu male wears around his torso.
August - September
Gaijatra: A festival to the sacred cow. Among other
symbolisms of the cow, cows are believed to lead the souls of the
dead to the underworld; and on Gaijatra Newar households process
around an ancient path believed to mark the city walls of times
past, in honor of recently deceased members of their families. It's
also a carnival celebration with practical jokes - something like
Mardi Gras combined with April Fool's day.
Krishna Asthami: Celebrating the birth of the Hindu
Tij Brata - A woman's' festival . Worshippers undergo
fasting and penance and seek good fortune and long life, and a ritual
purification of self. The three (or four) day celebration ends with
a great feast.
September - October << TOP>>
Indrajatra - This festival officially begins with
the raising of a 50-feet tall ceremonial pole at Hanuman Dhoka Durbar
Square in Kathmandu. A weeklong traditional display of old images
of Akash Bhairavs is one of the highlights of this festival. The
ceremonial pulling of the rath (chariot) of the Kumari, the chariots
of Ganesh and Bhairav accompany the Virgin or Living Goddess.
Dasain: The biggest and most widely celebrated
national festival in Nepal, usually falls in early October. It begins
with Ghatsthapana. Of the two full weeks of celebrations, the 8th,
9th and 10th are the most eventful and auspicious days. The main
deity worshipped during Dashain is Goddess Durga. On
the 9th day, thousands of devotees visit important Durga temples
to worship her. The tenth day is climax day. People visits to seniors
for Tika (blessings). The ministers, high ranking officials, general
public queue to get Tika from their Majesty in Royal Palace.
October - November
Tihar: It is also known as Diwali or Deepavali,
is the festival of lights in Nepal. The celebrations continue for
five days. It is an annual festival celebrated in the bright blue
days of autumn. The festival begins with the worship of crows, followed
by the worship of dogs on the 2nd day. On the 3rd day, Laxmi, the
goddess of wealth, is worshipped. On the 5th day, one's own soul
is worshipped. Sisters also worship their brothers on this day.
This is called Bhai Tika, and is a great day and the grand finale
November - December
Indriani Puja - Festival of the Goddess Indriana and of the carious
mother goddesses which protect each village in Nepal.
Sita Bibaha Panchami: Celebrating the wedding of the Goddess Sita
and the God Ram with mock wedding processions
Dhanya Purnima: A full moon festival celebrating the end of the
Mani Rimdu: It is one of the most fascinating High Himalayan Buddhist
festivals observed every year, usually in November. Tengboche, the
world's highest monastery located in Solu Khumbu district of Nepal,
is the focal point for the celebration of this festival. The main
attraction of this festival is the various masked dances of religious
December - January
Seto Machhendranath - A cleansing ritual for the
White (seto) Machhendranath, a counterpart god to the Red (rato)
Machhendranath who's chariot procession is in April-May.
January - February
Losar: It is one of the greatest festivals of significant
importance to the Sherpas and peoples of Tibetan origin. It is celebrated
every year in February. The focus of this festival centers around
the celebration of the Tibetan New Year. Many fascinating rituals
and celebrations may be observed in Boudha and in Tibetan settlements
such as the Tibetan Refugee Camp at Jawlakhel, Patan.
February - March
Shiva Ratri - The all day and all night festival
of the great God Shiva. << TOP>>
Holi - a rowdy festival of "colors",
in which participants douse themselves (and sometimes unwary onlookers)
with colored powder and liquid, and generally have a great time.
March - April
Ram Nawami is a big day for the Nepalese Hindu.
It is celebrated in the honor of the great Hindu King Ram, and takes
place around March. The main deity to be worshipped on this occasion
is Goddess Durga. The holy Hindu scriptures say that Ram was able
to kill his archenemy, Ravana, the dreaded demon, by the blessings
of Goddess Durga. This day symbolizes the victory of virtue over
vice, or of good over evil.
Ghodejatra: A horse festival, celebrated with coach
processions, horse racing, and military displays on the main parade
ground in Kathmandu.