Nepal, The Land of Gods - in a Nutshell

Author: Sue
Date: 25th November 2000

Nepal - A Brief History

  • The earliest known modern human remains in Nepal date to around 30,000 years ago.
  • Over time the Hindu religion was embedded and from 600 BC various kingdoms evolved. Gautama Buddha was a prince of one of these.
  • The centrally located Kathmandu Valley was home to the Newar peoples, who developed the region's distinct traditional art and architecture.
  • Empires, principally from India and Tibet, came and went.
  • By the middle of the fourteenth century. the Mallas dynasty ruled the valley and introduced the caste system.
  • By the middle of the fifteenth century, Kathmandu had become a powerful empire which, , extended from Sigatse in Tibet to Tirhut and Gaya in India. The Malla princes divided their kingdom in four – Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur in the valley (hence the three medieval valley cities still existing) and Banepa to the east.
  • Competition and mutual mistrust between these kingdoms eventually led to the unification of Nepal by the Gorkha Kingdom in the eighteenth century,
  • Nepal was never colonised, but served as a buffer state between Imperial China and British India.
  • The Hindu monarchy, eventually. gave way to a secular republic (in 2008).

Facts and Factoids

  • I have to recuperate in Kathmandu after I've had my appendix out, so I've plenty of time to get to know more about Nepal.
  • The predominant religion is Hinduism, as is seen in the many temples and shrines. But this is also the land where Buddha was born, in Lumbini, and Buddhism is by no means a minority religion. In the north, the culture is sometimes inseparable from that of Tibet. Nepal isn't known as The Land of Gods for nothing.
  • The cow is worshipped as the goddess Laxmi and it is illegal to kill a cow one.
  • There are several living goddesses in Nepal. The most important is the Royal ‘Kumari’ in Kathmandu. She was 5 in 2023.
  • Nepal is also notable for its flag (it's the only country with a non-rectangular flag).
  • And its renowned fighting force, the Gurkhas (also recruited from Northern India). Former Indian Army Chief of Staff Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw was reputed to say: "If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he is a Gurkha."
  • The most popular fast food is a Momo: a steamed dumpling filled with chicken, meat or vegetables.

What to see in Nepal?

This country, incorporating some of the Himalayan and the Annapurna Ranges is home to eight of the world's tallest mountains, including, of course, a share of Mount Everest, with Tibet. So its not surprising that tourism is the largest industry in Nepal. It is a hot spot destination for mountaineers, rock climbers and other adventure seekers.

But it's not all mountains. there are also hills and plains, in the south. Tigers, birds and elephants. And the Hindu and Buddhist heritage of Nepal is reflected in the medieval appearance of its cities. Kathmandu, the capital, is the fabled destination of the overland hippy trail from Europe to Asia in the sixties and seventies.

I was too late for that, but I had my share of adventures:

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