Adventures and meditation in Nepal
By Zhang Lulu
Located in South Asia, Nepal boasts most of the world’s highest mountains, a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, rich culture and adventure activities. Whether you are looking for a feast of the eyes, an adrenaline rush, or some quiet meditation and an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, Nepal has it all.
More than 120,000 people from China traveled to Nepal in 2014, but half that number went in the wake of a massive earthquake that jolted the landlocked country in 2015. To invite back more Chinese tourists, Nepal announced in 2016 a visa fee exemption program for China. Nepal also designated 2017 as the China-Nepal tourism year.
The following are some of the must-sees and must-dos in Nepal.
Fly towards the Himalayas
Nepalese are proud to tell every visitor that the country is home to eight out of 14 of the world’s highest peaks (above 8,000 meters), including the most famous, and the world’s highest, Mount Everest.
Nothing beats an early morning flight towards the Himalayas. Take a 30-seat turboprop plane towards Mount Everest, and you will enjoy an hour-long trip that first gives you a panoramic view of the city landscape and then come close to the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest. The moment when you find the winding peaks topping clouds in the sky, you are reminded the figure 8,848 meters, the height of the peak imprinted on you in those early school days, and now you would finally witness its awe-inspiring sight.
Visit religious, historical sites in Kathmandu
Nepal is home to less than 30 million people, 80 percent of whom practice Hinduism and the rest embraces Buddhism and other religions. Locals like to say that Nepal has more gods and goddesses than human beings, more temples than houses, and more festivals than calendar days.
There are a number of religious, historical sites that have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One is the Durbar Square in Kathmandu, which houses the royal palace of the former Kathmandu Kingdom. Several buildings on the square were damaged during the 2015 earthquake, leaving wood and rubbles that are still scattered on the square. A visit to the damaged architecture propped up by wooden beams gives you a uniquely strange sense of the ancient work waiting for rebirth.
Another sight is Swayambhu, an ancient architecture complex atop a hill in Kathmandu. Besides admiring the Buddhist stupa, you can also take in a view of the Nepali capital. Just beware of the monkeys that may suddenly jump in front of you and grab your food away!
Take in the traditions at Pashupatinath Temple
The Pashupatinath Temple is a sacred Hindu temple in Kathmandu. The temple complex is located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Hindus often choose to be cremated there: After the bodies are cremated on the bank in a highly ritualized way, the ash is thrown into the river. Visitors are allowed to witness the funerals on the opposite river bank out of respect for the bereaved, and the solemn ceremonies often make the visit one of their most memorable and humbling experiences in Nepal.
Trekking and other adventures in Pokhara
Called the tourism capital of Nepal, Pokhara, sitting 200 kilometers northwest from Kathmandu, offers a cluster of amazing experience ranging from watching sunrise over the snowy mountains to various outdoor activities. You can marvel at the sunrise over the snow-capped Himalayas from a hotel bed, and go on boating on the tranquil Fewa Lake afterwards. Pokhara is also a heaven for outdoor enthusiasts who can choose among trekking, paragliding, canyoning, bungee jumping and many other activities.
Meditate in Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha
Lumbini, located about 250 kilometers west of the capital city Kathmandu, is the birthplace of Buddha. The Sacred Gardens of Lumbini, which are comprised of several spots related to the birth of the Buddha in 623 BC, is one of the world's four Buddhist pilgrimage sites and attracts many Buddhists every year. Spending a day meditating under a sacred, prayer flag-decorated Bodhi tree in the garden can give you a respite from the steamy weather in Lumbini and the hurly-burly of city life. Courtesy : china.org.cn , Sept. 7 2017
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