The adage, “all big things come in small packages” stands proved when we look at Nepal as a holiday destination. This northern neighbour of ours, though about 20 times ‘smaller’ than the size of India is ‘huge’ in terms travel and tourism. Action packed, adventurous, culturally rich, geographically diverse and thick with wildlife; there is much to see and do in Nepal if a comprehensive holiday is in your mind.
The good news is that Indian Nationals do not require a visa to travel to Nepal. Indians are only required to produce a proof of identity authorised by the government of India like Passports, Ration cards, Voter ID card, Driving License, etc. at the immigration counter. Coming to the currency exchange, 1 INR amounts to 1.60 Nepali Rupees. So, no dents in the pocket nor a pinch in the heart!
Coming, to travelling, it’s cheap and easy, or not so cheap or easy depending on your attitude towards long journeys or short ones. There are different approaches to the country owing to its close proximity to India
If you want to travel by flight, it is most reasonable to fly to Kathmandu from Delhi(at normal domestic flight rates, if you are lucky!). The Delhi Transport Corporation has a direct bus service from Delhi to Kathmandu, which is rather a longish journey and costs around Rs.2300 per person.
The other by road option is to take the Sunauli border crossing to Bhairahawa in Nepal from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. The busiest and biggest India-Nepal border crossing, there are frequent vehicle connections to Kathmandu, Pokhara and Lumbini from here. The bus tariff from Bhairava starts from Rs. 700 onwards.
The Raxaul border crossing in Bihar to Birgunj in Nepal is another frequented crossing. From Birgunj you can take a 20 mins ride to Simara where you can take the 15 mins flight to Kathmandu which costs around Rs. 2500 Nepali Rupees. There are also Ac and Non-Ac buses to Kathmandu the fares for which start from Rs. 650 onwards.
One can also take the air-conditioned bus ride from Varanasi to Kathmandu which takes about 12 hours to complete the journey. The bus fare from Varanasi is Rs. 1333. There are also flights from Varanasi to Kathmandu.
The Panitanki border crossing from Siliguri in West Bengal to Kakarbhitta in eastern Nepal is also an option. There are regular buses to Kathmandu (14-16 hours) Rs. 1200 onwards and Pokhara (15 Hours) Rs. 1150 from Kakarbhita.
The banbasa border crossing in Uttarakhand to Bhimdatta in Nepal is the western-most crossing from India to Nepal. There are busses to both Pokhara and Kathmandu (15 hours) which cost Rs. 1650 onwards.
Having sorted out the journey, without further ado, we now bring to you, the places to visit, the sights to see and the things to do!
The Himalayan expansive terrain of Nepal leaves you spoiled for choice when it comes to picking up trekking spots. Though each of them is unique and beautiful in their own way, we have picked out a few which we think should not be missed.
Everest Base Camp
While reaching the summit of the highest mountain in the world is only for the experts, trekking up to the Everest base camp is no ordinary feat in itself. Imagine trekking up to a site with an overwhelming view of the Himalayas, quaint Sherpa villages and beautiful passes; one could say it’s a medium difficulty trek. The sight of the roaring Dudhkoshi river, the tranquil Imjaste valley, several Buddhist monasteries are quite a company on this beautiful trail.
Annapurna Circuit Trek
A moderate trek in terms of difficulty, the Annapurna circuit trek gives you enough time for acclimatization as it takes you through a varied landscape, beginning with sub-tropical meadows to alpine hills and finally into a semi-arid terrain. It gives us a glimpse of the richness of the cultural and natural diversity of the Annapurna region. The trek offers a spectacular view of the Annapurna, Macchupucchre, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and Langtang Himal.
Ghorepani Poon Hill Trekking
If you want an easy and not so long trek, the Poon hill trek is what you are looking for. Think terraced farmlands, rhododendron forests and friendly Gurung villages. Oh and we almost missed the breathtaking sunrise view of the Annapurna range, need we say more?
The Langtang Valley trek
An easy and a low-altitude trek, ideal for people with time limitations, this trek provides a spectacular view of the Annapurna region to the west and the Makalu region to the east. The trek is known for its diverse vegetation and cultured villages especially the unique culture of the Tamang community.
Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek
Trekking up to the base camp of the second highest peak in the world, mount Kanchenjunga, is a must for a true mountaineer. Be prepared to be enthralled by the five mesmerizing peaks, the lush and dense vegetation, a rich biodiversity and the cute Red Pandas, Musk deer, Blue sheep and other wildlife of the region. All climbs to the Kanchenjunga peak have now been banned due to its immense peril.
GO BUNGEE JUMPING
“The Last Resort”, an adventure resort which is approximately a four-hour drive from Kathmandu boasts of one Of the Top 10 Bungee Jumps in the world. Located on a suspension bridge on a ridge overlooking the gorge of the Bhote Kosi river, this 160 metres plunge is a dream come true for the adrenaline junkie in You.
WILDLIFE AND BIRD SPOTTING
Chitwan National Park
A UNESCO world heritage site, the Chitwan National Park is the first National Park of Nepal. Spread over an area of 932 square kilometres, the park has a coverage of subtropical forests grasslands, marshlands, that are home to over 700 species of wildlife. Its chief attraction is the One-Horned Rhinoceros of which they have a sizeable population, followed by the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger. Monkeys, Leopards, Sloth Bear, Wild Elephants and about 520 species of birds are also to be found within its premises. A jeep safari or an Elephant safari are the most exciting and best ways to explore. Canoe rides on the Rapti River are recommended for bird watchers. If you are keen to spot the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger, then Jungle treks are what you are looking for.
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
This unique wetland of international importance which plays an important role in conserving the biodiversity of the area is, therefore, a RAMSAR site. A bird watcher’s paradise, the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is a 17 square kilometre protected area in the Terrai of eastern Nepal. Located on the floodplains of Sapta Koshi river, the sanctuary is home to over a 280 species of Birds including 20 Duck species, 2 species of Ibises, the endangered Swamp Partridges, Bengal Florican among many other species. It also has the last remaining population of Arna, wild water Buffalos. There has been spotting of the endangered Gharial crocodile and the Gangetic Dolphins as well. A raft ride on the Sapta Koshi river is the best way to spot water birds, Water Buffaloes and Dolphins.
Sagarmatha National Park
Spread in an area of 1148 square Kilometres, the Sagarmatha is one of the most popular national parks in Nepal. Also, an ideal trekking destination, it offers a gorgeous view of the Mount Everest and the Himalayan range. It has quite a number of unique flora and fauna and is known to be the home of the Himalayan Snow Leopard. It is here that the highest peak in the world, Mt. Everest is located along with the other high peaks like Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Amadablam, Nuptse, Pumori, Thamserku, etc.
TEMPLES AND STUPAS
The famous Shiva temple, the ancient Pashupatinath is one of the most sacred places in Nepal. Situated on the outer edge of Kathmandu, the river Bagmati flows close by.
An important Tibetan pilgrimage centre, the magnificent Stupa of Boudhanath is a major tourist attraction. Located 7kms east of Kathmandu, it is a major spot for spirituality and meditation.
Another very important temple in Nepal, this temple is suspended over a conical shaped hill. It also is popularly known as the Monkey Temple owing to the large population of the monkeys in the vicinity.
A simple farming town with a breath-taking view of the Himalayas, Nagarkot is known to have one the best views of sunrise and sunset in the world. It is strategically located on a high ridge and provides a perfect view of the Himalayan range. It is located at a short distance from Bharatpur, on the suburbs of the Kathmandu valley, this hill station is as surreal and tranquil as it can get.
The most popular tourist destination in Nepal, Pokhara is a must visit for any traveller visiting the country. It is popularly known as the gateway to the Annapurna region, as all the treks for Annapurna begin from Pokhara. Tranquil lakes, sylvan shorelines and magnificent mountain views; that’s Pokhara for you. The beautiful vista of Lake Phewa, the touristy hangout of lakeside by the Phewa, the underground caves, the adventure sports at the river Seti, paragliding, old bazaar; there is much commotion in Pokhara as much there is peace and bliss.
There is so much to do in the capital city of Kathmandu. The bustling city cannot be missed, as every journey to different places in Nepal begins from here. The most popular tourist site in Kathmandu is the Darbar Square, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. Built between 12th and 16th centuries it is a complex of palaces, temples and courtyards. The Hanuman Dhoka Palace, the Kumari Ghar (Abode of the living goddess), Taleju temple are sights to behold. Thamel, the most popular district of Kathmandu is a perfect street shopping destination. The flying tours to Mt. Everest are conducted from Kathmandu. Besides all the temples and Buddhist shrines are in and around Kathmandu.
When it comes to Nepal, this is not all. There are many more places of interest. But these are the ones that stand out from the rest. So, whenever you plan a trip, make sure these places are on your itinerary.
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