Shree Ram Nawami (Festival of Nepal)

Happy Ram Navami

Happy Ram Navami

Festivals of Nepal: Ram Nawami
Ram Nawami is celebrated in the mid of Chaitra (March/April) as Lord Ram’s Birthday. It is celebrated with much pomp at Janaki temple in Janakpur city, which lies in southern Nepal. Lord Rama is regarded as another incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Nepalese, therefore, have deep belief and extreme faith in him. His strength, courage, purity of heart, compassion, sweetness of speech, serenity and abiding wisdom made him the favorite idol of his people. His life story is told in the much beloved epic- the “RAMAYANA”.

Janaki Mandir of Janakpur Dham

Janaki Mandir of Janakpur Dham

Before the birth of Sri Ram, the world was under the reign of an evil and fiendish demon king Ravana. Ravana had pleased Lord Brahma, who bestowed on Ravana the boon that no God or demon could kill him. This gave Ravana immunity from everyone except a mortal man. Thus, to save the world from evil, Lord Vishnu took birth as Ram in the city of Ayodhya. King Dasharath, who ruled over Ayodhya, had one misery – his three queens bore him no sons. Lord Vishnu gave them nectar to drink, and soon the eldest produced Ram, the next gave birth to Bharat and the third had twins, Lakshman and Shatrughana. All four of them became exemplary youths but it was Ram who grew in grace and virile beauty.

Source: SamratNepal

Finnish Rock Band, Sign Language Rapper Perform Near Everest

Finnish rock band Ancara and sign language rapper Sign mark performed in the foothills of Mount Everest over the weekend to raise funds for a music school for children with hearing disabilities.

Finnish Rock Band near everest

In this Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015 photo, Signmark, whose real name is Marko Vuo, in red jacket, who was born deaf, along with Olli Pekka, in blue jacket, performs with the Finnish rock band Ancara at Dingboche, a village at an altitude of 4,550 meters (14,900 feet) and a popular stop for trekkers and mountaineers heading to Everest and other peaks, Nepal. Ancara and the sign-language rapper performed in the foothills of Mount Everest over the weekend to raise funds for a music school for children with hearing disabilities. (AP Photo/Tashi Sherpa)

Dozens of music lovers cheered the musicians at Dingboche, a village at an altitude of 4,550 meters (14,900 feet) and a popular stop for trekkers and mountaineers heading to Everest and other peaks.

The performers flew to Lukla, the only airstrip in the Everest region, on Nov. 3 and trekked to the village, stopping along the way to acclimatize to the altitude.

They had hoped to perform at Everest base camp, where climbers prepare for summit attempts, but Nepalese authorities said concert permits could only be issued for areas with settlements.

Signmark, whose real name is Marko Vuo and who was born deaf, performs his raps in sign language, sometimes with others speaking the lyrics. He has performed in dozens of countries.

Funds raised by the performances will support a music school in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu.

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Source: abcnews.go.com

Cycle tourism becomes popular in Mustang

MUSTANG: Cycling has become an attractive activity among tourists in Mustang district. It is not only the fuel shortage that has encouraged visitors to take to cycling; the lower part of the district, in particular, offers excellent terrain and stunning scenery for adventure seekers.

Bidur Bikram Kuikel, chief of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project, Jomsom, said the region was becoming an increasingly popular destination for sight-seeing and cycling. As cyclists can stop at any place to take panoramic photos of the Himalayan region, the activity has been drawing an increasing number of tourists in recent days he said.

Mustang-cycle-tour

Michel, a visitor from Poland, said he had been attracted by the snow capped mountains and hair pin bends on the trails in the region. It is fascinating to ride a bicycle in the pleasant environment, said Michel, who was one of the participants of an eight member European team which plans to bicycle all around lower Mustang.

The present time being the main tourist season, the favourable climatic condition has also added to the enjoyment of the bicycle riders.

A bicycle trip around lower Mustang takes three to five days. Many tourists bring their own bicycles while some hire them in Pokhara before visiting the Himalayan region.

Dhruba Bahadur Thapa, an entrepreneur from Pokhara, said he had been renting bicycles to tourists for the last eight years. According to him, he has rented dozens of bicycles this year too. He added that he recently accompanied a group of cyclists travelling on the Jomsom Kagbeni Muktinath Magi route.

Thapa said most visitors who like to travel by bicycle choose the Himalayan region. The scenery and the trails are the main attractions, he added.

Meanwhile, the flourishing bicycle renting business has led to the establishment of more than half a dozen mountain bike adventure services in Pokhara, the gateway to Mustang. According to the entrepreneurs, the Jomsom Muktinath Marpha cycling route in lower Mustang is the most popular route among cyclists.

Pradeep Thakali, an entrepreneur from Thini, said tourists enjoy the snow capped mountains, lakes, traditional villages and wildlife along the cycling routes.

If we can manage the cycling route properly, we can attract a greater number of tourists, he said.

The growing popularity of cycling among tourists has encouraged the authorities in Pokhara to plan to develop it as a bicycle friendly city.

Apart from Mustang, Pokhara rural areas are also highly popular destinations among bicycle riders.

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THE KATHMANDU POST

Is it time to go back to Nepal?

On 25 April and 12 May 2015, deadly earthquakes struck central Nepal, causing catastrophic damage to Kathmandu and the surrounding valleys. Harrowing pictures of magnificent temples turned to rubble and concrete hotels collapsed on their foundations were beamed around the world. Five months on from the disaster, Nepal has declared itself open for tourism, but is now the right time to come back to Nepal, and what exactly will you find when you get here?

ADB photo

Image by Asian Development Bank

Assessing the damage
Media images at the time of the earthquakes made it look as though Nepal was completely destroyed, with its astonishing cultural heritage in ruins. The truth makes for less sensational headlines: while 130 historic temples collapsed across the country, only 14 of Nepal’s 75 districts suffered damage, and many of Nepal’s most famous sights escaped completely unscathed.

Even at the height of the disaster, travellers were relaxing in the resort town of Pokhara, unaware of the destruction to towns just 50km away. In Kathmandu, the vast majority of hotels reopened within days of the earthquakes, with just a handful of historic heritage hotels remaining closed for repairs.

This is not the first time Nepal has faced an earthquake of this scale, and as in 1934, Nepalis have stepped in to save what can be saved, and are now rebuilding for the future. How quickly this can happen will depend to a large degree on how quickly tourists return to the country and invest in the local economy.

Here is an overview of how different parts of Nepal are recovering after the disaster.

Kathmandu suffered the full force of the earthquakes, and damage was extensive, but localised to specific parts of the city. Four of the iconic temples in the UNESCO-listed Durbar Square collapsed completely including the multi-tiered Maju Deval Temple, one of Kathmandu’s most famous landmarks but the majority of temples still stand and the square is once again open to sightseers.

The royal palace of Hanuman Dhoka remains closed due to structural damage to the southern courtyards, but work is underway to reopen the museum and palace chambers. Perhaps the most photographed casualty of the earthquake was the Bhimsen Tower, which collapsed completely for the second time in its history (it was also destroyed in the 1934 earthquake). Today, it stands as a ruined plinth, but developers have pledged to rebuild it.

Other major World Heritage Sites such as the magnificent Buddhist stupas at Swayambhunath and Bodhnath were only mildly affected; restoration work has repaired the most obvious damage and the most tangible evidence for the disaster is some lingering scaffolding. The sacred Hindu pilgrimage site of Pashupatinath saw a terrible tide of funeral cremations following the earthquake but the site itself was mostly undamaged.

Patan krishna Mandir

Image by Rene C. Nielsen

Patan, Bhaktapur & the Kathmandu Valley

Despite the loss of some landmark monuments, including the famous Char Narayan and Hari Shankar temples, Patan’s Durbar Square and its stunning Patan Museum are open as normal. The quakes took a heavy toll on the traditional brick buildings of Bhaktapur, but here too, most of the medieval temples are still standing, including Nepal’s tallest, the five-storey Nyatapola Temple.

Elsewhere in the Kathmandu Valley, the damage was patchy. Some places escaped with minor cracks, while towns like Sankhu and Bungamati saw temple after temple crumble to rubble. While the valley is definitely open to travellers, it’s worth checking with locals before heading off from Kathmandu to be clear on which areas are still off-limits due to reconstruction following the disaster.

pokhra-nepal

Image by Mike Behnken

Across the country

Looking beyond the Kathmandu Valley, the historic towns of Nuwakot and Gorkha and their fortress-palaces were particularly badly affected due to their proximity to the epicenters of the two tremors, and the quakes caused extensive damage to the road to the Tibetan border and the Langtang Valley. However, away from the center of the country, there are few signs that the earthquake ever happened.

The east and west of the country were not seriously affected by the disaster, and most damage is restricted to trekking routes in remote areas. The tourist and trekking hub of Pokhara was effectively untouched and the trekking routes around it have been surveyed and declared safe. Despite damage to some villages along the trails, trekking in the Everest region has also been declared safe.

In the lowlands, the towns and national parks of the Terai were almost entirely unaffected. Wildlife safaris in Chitwan National Park and Bardia National Park continue as normal and the number of tigers in Nepal is actually on the rise, bucking the regional trend. The birthplace of the Buddha at Lumbini – an increasingly popular stop on the overland route between India and Nepal – also escaped unharmed.

lukla-airport

Image by Chris Marquardt

Travelling to Nepal after the earthquake

The key thing to note is that infrastructure for tourists was remarkably unaffected by the disaster. Airports are operating as normal and almost all of Kathmandu’s tourist hotels and restaurants remain open, or will reopen for the winter tourist season, though business is currently slim. Kathmandu’s traveller district of Thamel is much as it was before the disaster, and transportation around the city, the Kathmandu Valley and the country continues as normal.

The main roads across Nepal are open to traffic (or as open as they ever were!), and the Arniko Hwy/Friendship Hwy to Tibet and Everest’s North Base Camp (in Tibet) is due to reopen for the 2015 winter season. However, roads are still cut off in some rural areas, where earthquake damage has been worsened by monsoon landslides. This situation is likely to persist for some time, so it pays to confirm that roads are clear and that accommodation will be available before leaving Kathmandu.

local

Image by Wonderlane

So should I go ?
In August, the US and UK lifted their country-wide travel advisories against travel to Nepal, meaning that travellers and companies can once again get travel insurance for upcoming trips. Most western travel companies plan to run trekking trips as normal for the 2015/16 winter and spring seasons and some companies are even offering special reconstruction treks, though it’s now more important than ever to do some research and partner with a reliable NGO that has long-established links with the country.

Of course, Nepal still has its problems – including a fuel shortage caused by a political stand-off with India over the new Nepali constitution – but these kinds of issues are part of the landscape when travelling in the subcontinent. Despite these problems, in many ways now is a great time to visit Nepal.

The infrastructure that travellers need is in place, but tourism is down by over 50%, which means fewer crowds on the popular trekking routes and discounts for hotels and airfares. More importantly, the money you spend when hiring a guide or porter, staying in a lodge or hotel, or eating in a restaurant will directly help local people. Given that 500,000 Nepalis work directly in tourism, the country needs travellers more than ever to rebuild its economy and bounce back stronger for the future.

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Source: www.lonelyplanet.com

Asia’s Top 10 Destinations for Vegetarian Travelers

Living as a vegetarian is often a challenging life in many parts of the world. The problems may get worse if you love traveling. Luckily, there are many places which are veg-friendly. Some countries listed below have vegetarian tradition deeply rooted into their culture for ages while some of them have recently developed as veg-friendly destinations.

  1. India

India has more vegetarians than anywhere in the world. Traditional beliefs in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism inspires people to be vegetarian. The Indian menu is often filled-up with majority of veg dishes. Ingredients like heat, rice, roots and pulses are major ingredients of Indian food. You will find variety of dishes as you move to different parts of India. Dishes like Idli, Dosha, Uthappam with rice as major ingredient is found in Southern India. Northern India offer dishes like Roti, Naan, Samosa with wheat as major ingredient. Happycow has listed 440 veg-friendly restaurants but you will find thousands more when you visit the country.

Idli and Samber found in Southern Part of India.

Idli and Samber found in Southern Part of India.

  1. Thailand

With attractions like diving sites, sandy beaches, tropical islands, Buddhist Temples and archaelogical sites, Thailand is one of the major tourist destinations in Asia. Thanks to its large Buddhist population, you will be able to find plenty of vegetarian restaurants in Thailand. Chiang Mai alone has over 80 veg restaurants. Happycow list 612 veg-friendly restaurants in Thailand. Dont miss out tom yum soup, pad thai, salads and coconut-milk based curries.

Tom Yum soup in Thailand

Tom Yum soup in Thailand

  1. Israel

With numerous tourist attractions including Dead sea, Negev desert and plenty of religious and cultural places, Israel has been a major tourist attraction. There has been a vegan revolution all over Israel in past few years. 8% people in Israel follow vegetariasm and you will be able to find veg dishes almost everywhere. Vegan restaurants are being established everywhere. Happycow lists 279 veg-friendly restaurants in Israel. Dont miss out Hummus, Sambusak and Pita bread if you ever visit the country.

  1. Nepal

With 8 of worlds highest ten mountains, Nepal is a paradise for trekkers and people who love extreme sports. As the majority of the people in Nepal are Hindu or Buddhists, vegetarianism is widely adopted all over Nepal. You will often find at least one vegetarian dish in Nepalese menu. Indian veg-dishes are also available all over Nepal. Happycow lists 56 veg-friendly restaurants in Nepal but you will find thousand more if you visit the country. Dont miss Nepali Veg thali (Dal, Bhat and Tarkari), Veg Momos (Dumplings) and Ju Ju Dhau (Yoghurt made in Bhaktapur) in Nepal.

Assamese_thali

Typical Nepali Thali (Dal, Bhat and Tarkari)

  1. Taiwan

With 13% people following vegetarian diet, Taiwan is often considered a heaven for vegan travels. There are more than 6,000 places serving vegetarian dishes in Taiwan. Taiwan has the best vegetarian labelling laws in the world. Dont miss shuǐ jio (Dumplings), glǐ (Japanese style curry) and tiey ban fàn (Steel-Cooked rice) if you are vegan visiting Taiwan. Happycow has a list of 436 veg-friendly restaurants in Taiwan.

Shuǐ Jiǎo (Dumplings) popular in Taiwan

Shuǐ Jiǎo (Dumplings) popular in Taiwan

  1. Vietnam

Vietnam has risen as one of the most affordable travel destination for people who love landscapes, beaches and rich culture. Buddhism is practiced by majority of the population due to which you can find vegeterian food almost everywhere. Its better to say I only eat Buddhist foods as a way to explain being vegan as word vegan or vegetarian can often confuse people. The country has dedicated Buddhist restaurants in major cities. Dont miss out pho and spring rolls. Happycow has a list of 405 veg-friendly restaurants in Vietnam.

  1. Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka can be great travel destination if you love beaches, mountains, wildlife and Buddhist Tradition. Vegetable curries are sold everywhere in Sri Lanka as most people are Buddhists who dont eat meat. Sri Lanka ranks as one of the least meat consuming countries in the world. You would find plenty of dishes with rice and coconut being the key ingredients. Dont miss out wonderful Lankan dishes like Kottu, Happer and Kevum. Happycow lists 39 veg-friendly restaurants in Sri Lanka but you will find plenty more there.

Hoppers(appa) made from coconut milk and rice

Hoppers(appa) made from coconut milk and rice

  1. South Korea

South Korea is often considered as a paradise for meat lovers. But you will find plenty of options for vegetarians as well. The best option is to go for a vegetarian restaurant like Loving Hut which has vegan chains all over the country. Vegeterian dishes are also common in South Korean menu but its best to double check if there’s meat in any of the specified menu. Happy has listed 102 veg-friendly restaurants in South Korea. Don’t miss out wonderful South Korean dishes like Kimchi – fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables, Bibimbap (mixed rice) and Somandu (dumplings) made solely from vegetables.

  1. Singapore:

Singapore has been considered as one of the best city attractions in Asia by many travelers. It is often associated with the words safe, clean, green and efficient. Traveling in Singapore as a vegetarian is not a problem. Almost every food court or stall will have an Indian stall with more than one vegetarian option. Apart from Indian, you can also find Japanese, Malay and Mediterranean vegetarian dishes. Happy Cow has listed 362 vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the country.

Indian Rojtak, a popular dish

Indian Rojtak, a popular dish

  1. Jordan

Situated in Middle east, Jordan is often considered as a safe heaven in the middle of conflict. Meals in Jordan start with Mezze — an array of appetizers followed by a main course. As most of the main course are meat-based, mezze dishes like Taboon(bread), Tabbouleh (salads), hummus (Dips), falafel and gourmet can make an excellent meal for vegetarians.

Tabbouleh (salads)

Tabbouleh (salads)

Source: Travel Helpr

Nepal hopes for more Indian tourists for rapid recovery

Only a third of a total 30,000 seats a week under an air service agreement with India is available due to the limited number of flights between Nepal and India. Tourism entrepreneurs say that gap needs to be cut airlines to help Nepal’s tourism sector recover after the earthquake of April.

Ujjwala Dali, the officiating director of the marketing and promotion department of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), says Nepal needs to bring more Indian tourists not only to fill the remaining seats but also for the tourism industry to recover faster. In an effort to get back on their feet, four months after the devastating earthquake Nepal’s tourism entrepreneurs have travelled all the way to Bangalore and are organizing promotional events there to promote Nepal as a tourist destination and attract Indian tourists.

NTB organized promotional events at the Bangalore Press Club hoping the media there will help relay a message to the people there to visit Nepal.

  • ANNAPURNA BASE CAMP TREK - 15 DAYS
    ANNAPURNA BASE CAMP TREK - 15 DAYS
    This trek is the one of best views of annapurna range, nilgiri , Dhaulagiri , Tukuche peak , Dhampus peak , Hiunchuli ,Machhapuchhre , Gangapurna, Lamjung Himal other many more greatest views of mountains you never seen before.
  • KATHMANDU-POKHARA-CHITWAN TOUR (BY FLY/LAND)- 07 NIGHTS 08 DAYS
    KATHMANDU-POKHARA-CHITWAN TOUR (BY FLY/LAND)- 07 NIGHTS 08 DAYS
    Nepal, the land of splendid nature and rich culture is waiting for you exploration through its different facets.
  • DAMODAR KUND TOUR BY HELICOPTER - 05 NIGHTS 06 DAYS
    DAMODAR KUND TOUR BY HELICOPTER - 05 NIGHTS 06 DAYS
    Many Hindus from round the globe are dreaming to take a holy bath at least once in their life time in the sacred Damodar-Kund
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    08 DAYS 07 NIGHTS NEPAL TRIP: KATHMANDU 3N, CHITWAN 2N, POKHARA 2N
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  • EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK - 17 DAYS
    EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK - 17 DAYS
    Sagamartha (Everest) Base Camp trek takes us into one of the most spectacular regions of Nepal where the Sherpa culture thrives amongst the highest peaks in the world.
  • KAILASH MANSAROVAR YATRA BY OVERLAND - 14 DAYS
    KAILASH MANSAROVAR YATRA BY OVERLAND - 14 DAYS
    Mt. Kailash (6714m) is the most sacred mountain in Asia.
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    KAILASH YATRA BY HELICOPTER VIA NEPALGUNJ/SIMIKOT/HILSA/TAKLAKOT - 11 DAYS
    Mt. Kailash, the sacred mountain and the abode of the Hindu god Shiva is one of the world's greatest pilgrimage destinations especially for Hindus, Buddhist, Jains and others.
  • MUKTINATH TOUR BY LAND/FLIGHT
    MUKTINATH TOUR BY LAND/FLIGHT
    Muktinath is one of the most ancient Hindu temples of God Vishnu.

Speaking at the event, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Nepal Chapter Chairman Suman Pandey said that recognized tour operators and renowned international organizations who had visited Nepal after the earthquake as well as positive advisories from different countries had declared Nepal a safe place to visit. Tourism was open in the country, he said.

Nepal has also launched the NEPAL: BACK ON TOP OF THE WORLD campaign to broadcast that tourism services had resumed and to help bring in foreign tourists.

At an event here in Bangalore, NTB also made public a logo and a slogan ‘NEPAL: BACK ON TOP OF THE WORLD’ to convey the message that Nepal was open for business and ready to welcome tourists.

“The logo and slogan are a part of our recovery campaign and will go on for six months. We request all of you to visit Nepal and be a part of the campaign and help Nepal rebuild,” NTB’s Dali said.

To bring in more Indian tourists to Nepal, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) launched direct flights to Bangalore on September 1, and to Mumbai on Friday after a decade’s hiatus.

“We have announced a special ‘buy two tickets get one free’ offer on round-trip tickets on Kathmandu-Bangalore flights targeting Indian tourists,” Ram Hari Sharma, the corporate director of NAC, said.

Govinda Bahadur Karki, the director general of the Department of Tourism, says that as many as 61 districts out of the total of 75 are unaffected or least-affected by the quake and were ready to welcome tourists while the 14 quake-hit districts are also getting back on their feet and rebuilding.

“After the quake, Nepal had immediately formed the Nepal Tourism Promotion Committee (NTPC) for to work on the recovery of the tourism industry. We have also formed the Nepal Reconstruction Authority (NRA) as a high-powered authority to execute recovery and reconstruction programs,” Karki said.

Pandey says Nepal is expecting to bring in visitor levels to at least 60 to 70 percent of previous times this autumn and hopes to hit the previous levels in the spring of 2016. The country received around 800,000 tourists in 2014.

NAC TO FLY TO Kolkata, SRI LANKA

NAC says it will start flights to Kolkata and Sri Lanka in the near future. Saroj Kasaju, the commercial director of NAC, says the flag carrier is working to begin flights to Kolkata directly and plan to fly to Sri Lanka via Bangalore.

NAC says it may take at least three to four months to starts flights to Sri Lanka, which would be a new destination for NAC.

“Sri Lanka as a new destination and will help augment the flag carrier’s presence,” Sharma, the NAC corporate director, said.

NepalNOW.org WEBSITE IN OPERATION

NTB and a group of tourism entrepreneurs, with support of CBI — a Netherlands-based organization — have launched a public campaign for visiting Nepal through the NepalNOW.org website. The site provides current status information about Nepal.

The NepalNOW movement has received much appreciation from tourism entrepreneurs around the globe and has already created a buzz in the social media, people from the tourism sector say.

NAC resumes flights to Mumbai

Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) began scheduled flights to Mumbai on Friday.

According to a NAC statement, its Airbus 320 made fly to Mumbai from Kathmandu on Friday, carrying 52 passengers on board. The flag carrier will fly twice a week to Mumbai — on Mondays and Fridays, according to the statement. NAC has set the one-way fare for Kathmandu-Mumbai flights at Rs 11,109, while two-way fare for the service has been fixed at Rs 22,049.Meanwhile, NAC has also announced to an offer of a free ticket with the purchase of every two two-way tickets on its Kathmandu-Mumbai flights.NAC started flying to Mumbai after a gap of 11 years. The aim of the resumption of flights to the film city is to attract religious tourists, industrialists and tourists.

Source: myrepublica