I very nearly made the visit to Tibet earlier this year, but opted at the last minute to switch my plans to Xinjiang due to the difficulties in gaining access to China’s most enigmatic province.
While it’s obviously not Nepal, the two regions share a similar sense of mystery and scale. There’s a beauty in the Himalayas that I someday hope to experience, and this guest post paints a picture that makes Nepal all the more alluring. Enjoy!
Discovering the Mystique of Nepal
Nepal invites visitors to embrace its ancient spiritual view of life while indulging in the comforts of modern luxuries. From secluded monasteries nestled into mountaintops to the bustling city of Kathmandu, Nepal is a land of extremes full of exotic beauty and natural wonders. Sightseeing tour packages (such as through Bales Worldwide) allow guests the chance to truly absorb this land’s diverse personality with hikes into the wilderness, tours of holy shrines and a safe escort through fascinating, yet rough, areas like Kathmandu’s Freak Street.
Garden of Dreams
Tucked away near the old Royal Palace is a secret garden that is like an oasis from the bedlam of Kathmandu’s busy streets. Tour guides can direct you to the tiny ticket booth that opens into this sanctuary of restful quiet where the deep shade provided by the lush plants make an excellent place to relax and unwind. Around the park are restaurants and tea rooms housed in romantic neo-classical buildings that reflect the serene mood of the secluded garden.
This beautiful lake in Pokhara is a favourite destination for shutterbugs and fishermen alike. Surrounded by a lush, tropical valley, the placid waters are excellent for paddling around in a rowboat, either self-propelled or manned by local boatmen. On a forested island in the lake is the two-tiered Varahi Temple made entirely of wood.
The largest structure in Nepal, this Buddhist stupa has been constantly upgraded since it was built sometime before 600 AD, and its significance has grown through the centuries. Visitors can climb into the upper layers of the stupa to watch the pilgrims below who circumnavigate the building, pausing at various places along the surrounding brick wall to turn the prayer wheels and chant prayers.
Know to movie fans as the setting for “Little Buddha,” this cultural gem of Nepal is home to Durbar Square with its massive 55-Window Palace accessed by the Golden Gate, a spectacular display of Hindu mythology captured in stone. In the Pujari Math district, art enthusiasts enjoy the Woodcarving Museum with its fabulous Peacock Window. Right across the street is the Brass and Bronze Museum displaying ancient examples of everyday house ware items and metal tools used in rituals. Take a hike to the top of Nagarkot Mountain, the second-highest point in Nepal, for an excellent view of Mount Everest and the Himalayas.
A favourite hangout of the counterculture, its real name is actually Jochne, but in the 1970’s it acquired the name “Freak Street” and it has stuck ever since. Although it has its dodgy moments, the “far out” fashions found in the shops, the incense stands and inspirational prayer flag vendors appeal to souvenir hunters and iconoclasts.
Ever been to Nepal or any of the above spots? What are your Nepal recommendations? I’d love to hear them!