Nepal has a population of more than 28 millions inhabitants consisting of more than 100 ethnic groups having different cultures and spoken languages.
There are more than 30 languages and dialects. Nepali is the official language and English is understood and spoken by majority of people in Kathmandu Valley and other major cities.
Mainly, the inhabitants of Nepal have two different origins: some are from an Indian origin called Indo-Nepali and some are from a Tibetan origin called Tibeto-Nepali.
Nepal is a melting pot of religions which live together with much respect and tolerance. The main religion is Hinduism followed by more than 80% of the population. After come Buddhism (11%), Islam (4%) and many others.
Some Major Ethnic Groups Of Nepal:
The Chhetris are the most numerous, they represent 16.1% of the population. Chhetri people are from an Indo-Nepali origin. The have been traditionally classified as the warriors and the administrators of the country. Today they are distributed in almost all the parts of Nepal.
The Brahmins represent 13% of the Nepalese population. Brahmins are the highest cast in the country. They are the priestly class from Indo-Nepali origin.
The Newars are from a Tibeto-Nepali origin. They represent 5.1% of the Nepalese People but in Kathmandu Valley, their homeland, they are nearly 50%. These people are mainly traders, farmers or craftsmen. They are well known for their skills for architecture.
The Tharus are the only people living in the forests of the Terai. They are from Indo-Nepali origin and represent 6.8% of the Nepalese population.
The Gurungs are originally belonging to the Tibeto-Nepali. They represent 2.8% of the population and live at the foot of the high mountains of Himalaya. They are good farmers and, like the Rais, the Limbus and the Magars, they have introduced themselves as the brave Gorkha Soldiers.
The Sherpas are a minority of 0.7% but they have an international reputation as adventurous mountaineers. Sherpas are from Tibet, they speak the Tibeto-Burman language and live in the Himalayan region of Nepal. The largest Sherpa settlements are in Solu Khumbu at the foot of Mount Everest.
The Dalits are the untouchables, they are out of cast and represent 0.8% of the people. Dalits are involved in the degrading activities. Generally they are garbage collectors, blacksmiths, cleaners, cobblers...
Festivals of Nepal
A festival is always a meaningful event in Nepal where the people find more joy in participation than just watching. In Nepal every festival has some purpose to serve; such as to bring rain or to have good harvest, to honour a mother or father, to avert calamities or to nourish one's soul with something spiritual. In fact festivals are the best way to understand and appreciate the Nepalese way of life. We say that in Nepal there are more festivals than days in the calendar.
The Nepalese New Year's Day is known as Navavarsha. Nepal has its official calendar that begins from the first day of the first month Baisakh which usually falls in the second week of April. The day is observed as a national holiday.
Baisakh Poornima (April):
As Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha, the Light of Asia, the triple anniversary of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death is observed with many colourful ceremonies on this day. People celebrate the occasion with great veneration paying homage to Buddha at places like Swayambhunath, Bouddhanath and Lumbini.
Red Machchhendranath Rath Jatra (May-June):
This festival is the biggest socio-cultural event of Patan. The wheeled chariot of a deity known as Bungdyo or Red Machchhendranath is made at Pulchowk and dragged through the city of Patan in several stages. The grand finale of the festival is called the "Bhoto Dekhaune".
Dumje Festival (May-June):
Dumje Festival is celebrated in all the Sherpa settlements. It celebrates and honours the anniversary of Guru Rinpoche's birth on the lotus flower. There is much dancing, drinking and merry making in addition to the more serious rituals and dances performed by the monks.
Gai Jatra (July-August):
Gai Jatra, popularly known as Cow Festival, is a carnival that lasts eight days. As per the tradition, the family who has lost a relative during the past one year must take part in a procession by sending young boys in cow like attire and walk through the streets of Kathmandu lead by a cow.
It marks the birthday of Lord Krishna. All the devotees assemble in Krishna Mandir, the Krishna Temple in Patan Durbar Square and other temples with the idol of Krishna and offer prayers, flowers, food, sweets and chant hymns too.
Teej Festival (August-September):
Teej is a Hindu festival celebrated by women. Dancing, folk songs and the red colour of women's wedding saris dominate the day of Teej. Women pay homage to Shiva temples where the married ones pray for a happy conjugal life and the unmarried ones for a good husband.
Indra Jatra (August-September):
The festival of Indra, the God of Rain, is observed with great enthusiasm in Nepal. The festival lasts for eight days. The chariot of Kumari, the Living Goddess, is taken through the main streets of Kathmandu with much fanfare. The festival is specially noted for the echoes of drums and dancing feet of the masked dancers.
Dashain is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese of all caste and through all the country. The Goddess Durga in all her manifestations are worshiped with innumerable pujas, abundant offerings and thousands of animal sacrifices.
Tihar Festival (October-November):
Known as the "Festival of Lights", Tihar is celebrated for five days and people worship Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth. All the houses are cleaned and decorated with the belief that Goddess Laxmi will enter the house that is the cleanest and people lit candles and oil lamps. During the five days, crows, dogs and cows are worshipped and honoured with vermilion, garland and delicious food.
Mani Rimdu Festival (February):
It is a Sherpa dance drama performed in some monasteries in the Khumbu Region. The performers are monks and the occasion is highlighted by much gaiety and feasting. During the Mani Rimdu Festival we can observe the Lamas invoking the God of Compassion which assures the village a long life, peace and good fortune.
Lhosar marks the New Year"s Day of the Lunar Calendar, it is often called the "Tibetan New Year". Lhosar is celebrated for 15 days with the main celebrations on the first three days. On the first day, a beverage called changkol is made from chhaang (the Tibetan beer). The second day is known as "King's Lhosar". On the third day, people and monks begin to celebrate and enjoy the festive season.
Maha Shivaratri (February):
Shivaratri or the night of Shiva is celebrated in honour of Lord Shiva. A great religious fair takes place in the Temple of Pashupatinath in Kathmandu and thousands of people from all over Nepal and India reach the temple to worship the God. On this day, marijuana is allowed.
Holi Festival (February-March):
Holi Festival is also called the "Festival of Colours". This day is observed to rejoice the extermination of female demon Holika who planned to kill Pralhad, an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. This day, people wander through the streets in groups on foot or vehicles with various colours smeared all over them and the people in houses make merry throwing colours and water balloons at each other and also to these people on the streets.
Ghode Jatra (March-April):
Known as the "Festival of Horses", it is one of the most exciting festivals of Kathmandu. A grand horse parade takes place at Tundikhel. Although this festival does not have much of religious aspects, a large number of people, even from outside Kathmandu flock around the capital to witness the horse race and other exciting sports activities performed by the army.
Formalities of Nepal
No international certificates of vaccination regarding Cholera, Typhoid, Yellow Fever or Japanese Encephalitis is demanded but recommended.
Malaria represents a little health risk between June and September in the low plains of Nepal, including Chitwan National Park, but not in the trekking areas. The treatment is not compulsory.
Lastly, Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can be developed at any altitude over 2000 metres if your body does not adjust with altitude. The early symptoms are headache, extreme fatigue and loss of appetite. To avoid that, your body needs acclimatization, so take your time. If not, the symptoms can lead to High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) or High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). Being in a hurry while trekking in high altitude can be deadly!
It is advised to bring warm clothing while travelling from November to February and tropical wear from March to October. Apart from this, your clothes would be adapted to your activity, trekking or tour, safari or rafting...
The capital city of Kathmandu is linked by both air and road.
International flights link the Tribhuvan Airport of Kathmandu with Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai (India), Guangzhou and Lhasa (China), Hong-Kong, Dhaka (Bangladesh), Paro (Bhutan), Singapore, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Bangkok (Thailand), Abu Dhabi and Dubai (United Arabic Emirates), Doha (Qatar) and Bahrain.
By road, there are many entry points to Nepal but only seven are opened for foreigners. Six are on the Indian borderline: Kakarbhitta / Jhapa, Raxaul / Birgunj, Sunauli / Bhairahawa, Jamunaha / Nepalgunj, Mohana / Dhangadhi and Gadda Chauki / Mahendranagar. One is on the Chinese borderline: Kodari.
Visa of Nepal
No foreigner is allowed to enter into and stay in Nepal without a valid visa. The Nepalese Tourist Visa can be obtained in the different Nepalese Embassies and Consulates abroad and in the Immigration Offices located at the entry points in Nepal:
- the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu
- the Panitanki / Kakarbhitta road entry point
- the Raxaul / Birgunj road entry point
- the Sunauli / Bhairahawa road entry point
- the Jamunaha / Nepalgunj road entry point
- the Mohana / Dhangadhi road entry point
- the Banbassa / Mahendranagar road entry point
- the Kodari road entry point
The Chinese citizens can only apply for a visa in Nepalese Embassy or others Nepalese Diplomatic Missions in China.
Foreigner who intends to visit Nepal must hold a passport whose the validity is at least six months.
If you choose to apply for your visa once you have reached the country, please provide one passport size photography and your air tickets which attest of your date of departure from Nepal.
Visa Fee for a Tourist Visa in Nepal:
- Multiple Entry for 15 Days = US$ 25 or equivalent foreign currency
- Multiple Entry for 30 Days = US$ 40 or equivalent foreign currency
- Multiple Entry for 100 Days = US$ 100 or equivalent foreign currency
If you want to extend your visa, it will cost US$2 or equivalent Nepalese currency per day of extension. An additional US$20 or equivalent Nepalese currency will be charged if you ask for a Multiple Entry facility for the extended period.
The extension is allowed up to 150 days maximum in a civil year.
The tourists with passports from a SAARC country (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) are not required to pay visa fee for 15 and 30 days.