When you hear about Nepal, you most likely would think of glorious Himalayas, trekking, exotic national parks and mo:mo.
For the most part this is an accurate representation of what the country is.
But surprisingly, Nepal’s diversity is immense — the country has its quirks that make it one of the most fascinating countries to visit.
Back in the ’60s, it was an ideal ground for hippies. Tourists would flock to Nepal to enjoy Nepali hospitality and weed in small shops of Patan and Thamel.
Alleys and tourist spots around the streets of Kathmandu full of clothing stores and cafes doused with trippy designs and psychedelic prints will definitely take you back in time if you ever plan to make a visit.
Sandwiched between India and China within the area of 56,827 square miles (1,47,181 square kilometers), the country is a small world in itself.
From the highest landmarks to the deepest valley, the finger-numbing cold temperature to the scorching sun, serpentine roads and friendly people, Nepal is a place like no other.
Here are the 20 of most interesting facts about Nepal.
1. Home To The Highest Mountain In The World
The first ray of the sun falls here on Nepal – right on the glazing snow on top of Mount Everest.
Situated at the breathtaking height of 8,848m ( 29,029 ft.) from sea level, Mt Everest boasts as the final ribbon for the adrenaline junkies – the final piece of jewel on the crown of any adventure lovers.
Translated in the national Nepali language as “Sagarmatha,” meaning the forehead of the sky, the Everest is paraded as the highest peak of the world reflecting the measure of the grandeur of this astonishing country.
2. Birthplace of Gautam Buddha
The messages of Buddhism, the hymns of “Om Mani Peme,” the wisdom to live the life without suffering, anxiety, unsatisfactoriness all traces back to Nepal.
Siddhartha Gautam, the child of the king who refused a lavish lifestyle and went in search of enlightenment to be later known as Gautam Buddha, the light of Asia, was born here.
Ashoka pillar in Lumbini proudly makes the world remember this magnificent fact adding one more tally to visit Nepal.
3. Surrounded By The Glorious Himalayan Range
One of the youngest mountain ranges of this planet, “The Himalayas” feature the catalog of Nepal.
With 8 out of the 10 tallest mountains in the world, Nepal can successfully sing its triumph when it comes to the heights providing tourists and adventure lovers a menu which just can’t be rejected.
4. Kathmandu The Urban City With A Twist
“There are as many temples as there are houses and as many gods as there are people,” a quote which Kathmandu Valley, the capital of Nepal lives up to.
Often referred to as, “living museum of the world,” Kathmandu tends to be the center of attraction when it comes to going to culturally significant places.
Kathmandu takes its visitors to the historically significant spaces that are drenched in culture.
A bit of everything can be found in Kathmandu from the bustle of the busy city scapes to the presence of strongly embossed culture.
5. The Amazon Of Asia
Nepal seems to be the preferred shelter of flora and fauna.
Nepal has 8% of the total species of birds found in the world, has the second largest population of one-horned Rhino and is one of the best habitats for Snow Leopards.It also harbors the largest herd of Swamp deer.
Also, the country holds an impressive 360 species of orchids, which constitutes over 2% of the world’s orchids. One could almost use one for every day of the year.
So referring to Nepal as the Amazon of Asia is not an overstatement.
6. Has Striking Altitude Variations
The land of Nepal ranges from 70 meters to 8,848 meters.
From wearing a light T-shirt in the scorching sun of the south to wearing the warmest jacket in the mall is the range of what this country offers within 100km from going south to north.
The extreme hot tropical climate in the south and breathtaking and numbing cold in the North shouts the altitudinal variation of this magnificent country.
This extreme variation makes Nepal a small world in itself giving its visitors the feel of roaming around the entire world.
7. Most Extreme Places On Earth
The superlatives are the only words that seem to fit this majestic country.
From the highest peak in the world –Mt. Everest to the highest valley (Arun Valley), from the lake at the highest altitude Tilicho lake (4800 meters) to the deepest gorges in Kaligandaki (1200 meters) to the tallest grassland of the country in Chitwan, Nepal has them all.
With all these, the country boasts in superlatives form, having if not the most, then one of the most extreme places.
8. A Four-Season Destination
It may always be sunny in Philadelphia, but the same is not the truth when it comes to Nepal.
With all the seasons: summer, winter, autumn, and spring, the country ensures that everyone within its territory experience all the flavors of the seasons.
Within 1,47,181 square kilometers of wonderland, Nepal keeps on ensuring in every way that its habitats experience the entire planet within its territory.
9. The Urban Legend Yeti Is Said To Live Here
Yeti is the gigantic snow animal which many have claimed to have seen.
Another Loch Ness monster of the world, named as Yeti is found to reside within the snowy slopes of the Himalayas.
The mysterious creature of the Himalayas is said to be spotted by many people.
Sir Edmund Hillary even led an expedition to find the Yeti in 1958. The land of Nepal thus successfully draws the attention of those mystery lovers.
10. The land of the “Gurkhas.”
“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or a Gurkha,” said Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw which does justice to the exceptional bravery of Gurkhas.
The Gorkhali Spirit rings in everyone’s ears and minds, Hitler once said, “If I had Gurkhas, no armies in the world will defeat me.”
Nepal is well known in the world for its brave fighting soldiers who spare no pain to discharge their duties.
The Gurkha regiments have received 26 Victoria Crosses, the highest military decoration awarded for “valor in the face of the enemy.”
11.Boast Several World Heritage Sites
Nepal has a large concentration of World Heritage sites. Kathmandu valley alone has 7 World Heritage Cultural sites within a radius of 15 kilometers.
So, rightfully Kathmandu is called the living cultural museum of the world. Nepal altogether proudly contains ten world heritage sites.
From the largest pilgrimage place of Hindus at Pashupatinath to Swayambhunath and Boudhanath of Buddhists, from the flat lands of Chitwan National Park to the steep slopes of Sagarmatha National Park, all the world heritage sites blossom together in this country.
12. Has A Standout Flag
Flags are either rectangular or square, right? Well yes, but Nepal is an exception.
The national flag of Nepal is the world’s only non-quadrilateral national flag.The two Triangles of the flag represent Himalayas Mountains.
Its crimson red is the color of the rhododendron, the country’s national flower.The blue border symbolizes the peace and harmony that have prevailed in the country.
13. Only Place With A Living Goddess
Nepal has the only living goddess of the world. She’s called a Kumari, which means “young, unmarried girl”.
She’s worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal, who believe that she is a reincarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga.
She must not go out except in festivals and when she does her feet must not touch the ground.That means someone has to carry the young goddess.
Furthermore, the Kumari is not permitted to speak to anyone besides her family and close friends.
The goddess no longer remains goddess on the day she menstruates for the first time.
Then, the country begins its search of new Kumari who is selected on the basis of physical features and other series of tests.
14.Not For The Beef Lovers
Cow is not only the national animal of Nepal but a holy animal for Hindus as well. Nepal is secular country but it still has the highest percentage of Hindus.
This forbids the slaughter of cows in the country.
The national animal is a symbol of the Earth, the one who nourishes, the ever-giving, undemanding provider.The cow symbolizes life and its sustenance.
The cow is generous as it demands nothing but water, grass and grain. It its milk that can take varied food forms.
The cow is thus a symbol of grace and abundance and is not slaughtered in Nepal.
15. Place of Elephant Polo World Cup
Originated in Meghauli of Nepal, Elephant polo is a different version of polo played while riding elephants.
The game is played in Nepal, Srilanka, India, and Thailand. The game needs a standard polo ball and six to ten-foot cane sticks with a polo mallet head on the end.
Two people ride each elephant; the elephants are steered by Mahout while the player directs the mahout which way to go and hits the ball to score.
16. Favorite For The Extreme Sport Lovers
Due to the extreme variation in the topography and land structures, Nepal hits the list of the most visited area when it comes to extreme and adventure sports tourism.
The landscape of waterfalls, deep gorges, rapid white waters makes for a wonderful natural playground, one most adventure junkies can’t do without.
The sports and adventures such as mountaineering, canyoning, paragliding, mountain biking, rafting, bungee jumping, high altitude marathon etc. are some of the breathtaking sports Nepal is famous for.
Nepal also holds many places for the trekking lovers. The Annapurna region of Nepal was voted one of the top 10 best trekking places on earth.
17. Once The Weed Capital Of The World
When smoking weed was already punishable by law in most countries, Nepalese would sell them at street side shops.
This made Nepal the favorite destination of hippies in 60s and 70s.
Although cannabis is now illegal in Nepal, it is permitted as a religious ritual for ascetics during the festival of “Shiva Ratri” which translates into “Night of God Shiva.”
The reason behind this is that these imitate the mighty god of Hindus Shiva. The ban is ignored for holy men during the festival so as to perform an abstinence from worldly pleasures.
The holy men are the ones who are allowed to smoke inside the temple complex but not sell or distribute it to pilgrims.
Authorities themselves supplied the drug to holy men in the past but the practice was discontinued in the 1990s after critics said it amounted to promoting its consumption.
(Imagine the government handing you weed to smoke, cool huh?)
18. Welcomes All Religions
“Nepal is a common garden of four castes and thirty six ethnic groups who live in perfect harmony”, said the founder of Nepal, king Prithvi Narayan Shah in the 1700s which still holds true.
So many ethnic groups and so many castes and religion reside in Nepal, still, Nepal accommodates them all under the single proud umbrella.
All the people coexist together.
There are Hindu sculptures in Buddhist monasteries and Buddhist stupas in Hindu temples.The country proudly gives everyone same respect and dignity.
Not a single drop of blood has been poured in the name of religion and ethnicity in Nepal.
19. Unique Greetings, The tradition of The “Namaste”
Handshakes are not the usual way to greet each other.
Sure handshakes are also done.
But rather, people fold two hands together to greet each other. It is a respectful greeting in Hindu culture performed throughout the country.
Namaste is usually said verbally with a slight bow and hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest.
It means, “I bow down to the god in you.”
(With the viral disease like swine flu being rampant just upon the handshakes, maybe it’s time the world adopts Namaste too? is it?)
20. Dogs Are Worshipped
Having dogs as a pet is common, but what about worshipping them? Yes, that’s a festival in Nepal.
Dogs, which are thought to be messengers of Lord Yamaraj, the God of Death, are worshiped annually on the day called “Kukur Tihar.”
People offer garlands, Tika, and delicious food and acknowledge the cherished relationship between humans and their furry friend.
Nepal is an alluring place for every travel enthusiasts to come to. Don’t these facts make you come to Nepal already?