The first civilizations in Nepal, which flourished around the 6th century B.C., were confined to the fertile Kathmandu Valley where the present-day capital of the same name is located. It was in this region that Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born c. 563 B.C. Gautama achieved enlightenment as Buddha and spawned Buddhist belief. Nepali rulers' early patronage of Buddhism largely gave way to Hinduism, reflecting the increased influence of India, around the 12th century. Though the successive dynasties of the Gopalas, the Kiratis, and the Licchavis expanded their rule, it was not until the reign of the Malla kings from 1200–1769 that Nepal assumed the approximate dimensions of the modern state. The kingdom of Nepal was unified in 1768 by King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who had fled India following the Moghul conquests of the subcontinent. Under Shah and his successors Nepal's borders expanded as far west as Kashmir and as far east as Sikkim (now part of India). A commercial treaty was signed with Britain in 1792 and again in 1816 after more than a year of hostilities with the British East India Company. In 1923, Britain recognized the absolute independence of Nepal. Between 1846 and 1951, the country was ruled by the Rana family, which always held the office of prime minister. In 1951, however, the king took over all power and proclaimed a constitutional monarchy. Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah became king in 1955. After Mahendra died of a heart attack in 1972, Prince Birendra, at 26, succeeded to the throne.
In 1990, a pro-democracy movement forced King Birendra to lift the ban on political parties. The first free election in three decades provided a victory for the liberal Nepali Congress Party in 1991, although the Communists made a strong showing. A small but growing Maoist guerrilla movement, seeking to overthrow the constitutional monarchy and install a Communist government, began operating in the countryside in 1996. On June 1, 2001, King Birendra was shot and killed by his son, Crown Prince Dipendra. Angered by his family's disapproval of his choice of a bride, he also killed his mother and several other members of the royal family before shooting himself. Prince Gyanendra, the younger brother of King Birendra, was then crowned king.
King Gyanendra dismissed the government in October 2002, calling it corrupt and ineffective. He declared a state of emergency in November and ordered the army to crack down on the Maoist guerrillas. The rebels intensified their campaign, and the government responded with equal intensity, killing hundreds of Maoists, the largest toll since the insurgency began in 1996. In Aug. 2003, the Maoist rebels withdrew from peace talks with the government and ended a cease-fire that had been signed in Jan. 2003. The following August, the rebels blockaded Kathmandu for a week, cutting off shipments of food and fuel to the capital.
King Gyanendra fired the entire government in Feb. 2005 and assumed direct power. Many of the country's politicians were placed under house arrest, and severe restriction on civil liberties were instituted. In Sept. 2005, the Maoist rebels declared a unilateral cease-fire, which ended in Jan. 2006. In April, massive pro-democracy protests organized by seven opposition parties and supported by the Maoists took place. They rejected King Gyanendra's offer to hand over executive power to a prime minister, saying he failed to address their main demands: the restoration of parliament and a referendum to redraft the constitution. Days later, as pressure mounted and the protests intensified, King Gyanendra agreed to reinstate parliament. The new parliament quickly moved to diminish the king's powers. In May, it voted unanimously to declare Nepal a secular nation and strip the king of his authority over the military
Nepal is a country of highly diverse and rich geography, culture, and religions. The mountainous north has eight of the world's ten highest mountains, including the highest, Sagarmatha, known in English as Mount Everest. The fertile and humid south is heavily urbanized. It contains over 240 peaks more than 20,000 ft (6,096 metres) above sea level. By some measures, Hinduism is practised by a larger majority of people in Nepal than in any other nation. Buddhism, though a minority faith in the country, is linked historically with Nepal as the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, who as the Buddha Gautama gave birth to the Buddhist tradition. A monarchy throughout most of its history, Nepal was ruled by the Shah dynasty of kings from 1768, when Prithvi Narayan Shah unified its many small kingdoms. However, a decade-long People's Revolution by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) along with several weeks of mass protests by all major political parties of Nepal in 2006, culminated in a peace accord and the ensuing elections for the constituent assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of the abdication of the last Nepali monarch Gyanendra Shah and the establishment of a federal democratic republic in May 28, 2008. The first President of Nepal, Ram Baran Yadav, was sworn in on 23 July 2008.
Kathmandu is known as Kantipur, the kingdom of Nepal. Here you will visit the temple of the living Goddess, who acknowledges the greetings of her devotees from balcony of her temple residence, Kathmandap-the source of the name Kathmandu. It was allegedly made from the timber of a single tree. Next, on to the Durbar Square area with its array of temples overlooked by the Hanuman Dhoka Palace, the ancient palace of the Nepalese Royalty.
Lying 6 Km from central Kathmandu, Pashupatinath temple is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. Situated amidst a lush green natural setting on the bank of the sacred Bagmati river, the temple, which was built in pagoda style, has a gilded roof and beautifully carved silver doors. Visitors will be permitted to view the temple from the east bank of the Bagmati river, as entrance into the temple is strictly forbidden to all non-Hindus. Pashupatinath is the centre of an annual pilgrimage on the day Shivaratri, which falls in February or March. Behind the temples are the cremation grounds.
Literally meaning the Kali of the south, this temple is dedicated to the Goddess Kali, the Hindu goddess of power. Goats, chickens, ducks etc. are sacrificed on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The temple itself is located in a forested canyon and lies 19 Km. from Kathmandu.
This stupa, situated 11 Km. from the center of Kathmandu, is one of the biggest in the world of its kind. It stands with four pairs of eyes in the four cardinal directions, keeping a lookout for righteous behavior and human prosperity. This Buddhist stupa was built by King Man Deva at the advice of the Goddess Mani Jogini. It is built on an octagonal base and is contains inset prayer wheels. The shrine is surrounded by the homes of Lamas, or Buddhist priests.
Located approximately 3km from the center of Kathmandu, this Buddist stupa is said to be 2000 years old. The stupa which forms the main structure is composed of a solid hemisphere of brick and earth which supports a lofty conical spire capped by a pinnacle of gilt copper. Painted on the four sided base below the spire are the all seeing eyes of lord Buddha. The whole area around the Stupa contains an array of small stupas and temples. This is one of the best places from which to view the Kathmandu valley, as it is situated an a small hillock.
Also known as BHADGAON meaning the city of devotes, this place is the home of medieval art and architecture. Lying 14Km east of kathmandu city. This place was founded in the 9th century and is shaped like a conch shell. The city is at the height of 4600 ft. Above sea level. In Bhaktapur you will visit the Durbar Square with its array of temples overlooked by the palace of 55 Windows built by King Bupatindra Malla, the Nytapola Teple. This temple, which was also built by king Bhupatindra Malla, is the best example of the Pagoda style and stands on five terraces, on each of which stands a pair of figures, famous strong men, elephants, lions, griffins and goddesses. Time permitting, a visit to the museum of Thanka painting can also be considered. A 30 minute walk brings you to the Dattatraya temple and Pujari Math which can also be done provided there is plenty of time at the clients' disposal.
It is situated about 35Km. east of Kathmandu city and from here one can see Mt. Everet and other peaks of the Himalayas. Nagarkot is located between Kathmandu valley in the west and Indravati in the east. The top of Nagarkot commmands accelerating views in all direction. The altitude of Nagarkot is 2229Mt. Above from sea level. It is also very popular for the viewing sunrise and sunset.
It is situated at an altitude of 1600 m. above from sea level and 32 Km. From Kathmandu City. Dhulikhel is famous for its vantage location in viewing the Himalayan ranges, from Cho Oyu in the east to Himalchuli in the west. It is popular for viewing the sunrise and sunset.
5 Km. away from Kathmandu city. Patan, also known as Lalitpur, is a city of fine arts, enclosed within 4 stupas, which are said to have been built in the 3rd century A.D. by Emperor Ashoka. You will see Durbar square, the Patan durbar (palace), which houses a bronze collection, the Krishna temple built by King Siddi Narsinh Malla, Hiranya Varna Mahavihar, and Mahaboudha Temple. A trip to the Tibetan Refugee Centre and the Handicraft Centre will be included during your visit to Patan, where you will witness the hand weaving of Tibetan carpets and molding of metal statues.
Pokhara is Nepal's second most popular tourist destination and its adventure capital. It is overshadowed by a massive wall of the Himalayas, and dominated by the towering peak of the Annapurna range. Even more impressive is the fishtailed pinnacle of Mt. Machhapuchhare (6977 mt.) For the adventurous, the massif of Mt. Dhaulagiri (8167m) waits to be explored. Pokhara is the starting point for the most famous treks in Nepal, in the Annapurna area. Pokara is situated 200 K.M. west of Kathmandu.
The second largest lake in the kingdom, this is the center of attraction in Pokhara. The eastern shore, popularly known as lake side, or Baidam, is the favorite hang out for travelers, and is where most of the hotels, restaurants, and handicraft shops are located.
The lakes offer the perfect natural retreat because of their relative seclusion. Splendid boating and fishing oppertunities can be had here.
The most important religious monument in Pokhara, built almost in the middle of Phewa Lake, this two storied pagoda is dedicated to the manifestation of Ajima, the protectress deity who represents the female force.
Flowing right through the city, this turbulent river runs completely underground in places. Amazingly, at certain points, the river hardly appears to be two meters wide, but it is quite deep, up to over 45 meters.
Locally known as "Pataley Chhango", this is an awesome waterfall lying about two km. southwest of Pokhara airport. Legend has it that a trekker (Devin David….) was washed away by the Pardi Khola (river) and mysteriously disappeared down into an underground passage beneath the fall.
Another of nature's wonders in Pokhara is the Mahendra Gupha. This large limestone cave is locally known as the house of bats, which is an apt name for it. A two hour walk to the north of Pokhara, it is best to bring your own torch in order to see the stalactites and stalagmites, as well as the local winged residents.
The birth place of Lord Buddha
Nepal is as well known to the world as the sacred birth place of Lord Buddha as it is famous for its mountains and monuments. It attained a high level of civilization and prosperity, and its acclaim is well deserved. Buddha was born into a royal family. Immediately after his birth, he took seven steps in the four cardinal directions, and wherever he set foot, a divine lotus flower bloomed.
The main attraction at Lumbini is the Secred Garden, which is spread out over 8 sq km and contains all of the treasures of this historical area. The Mayadevi temple is the main attraction for pilgrims and archaeologists alike. Here we find a bas relief that shows Mayadevi, the Buddha’s mother, giving birth to him. Standing west of the Mayadevi shirine is the oldest monument in Nepal, the Ashoka Pillar. The pillar was erected by Emperor Ashoka in order to commemorate his pilgrimage to the sacred site.
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