14 Chitwan Elephant Festival 2017

14 Chitwan Elephant Festival 2017
14 Chitwan Elephant Festival

14 Chitwan Elephant Festival 2017

An elephant festival has kicked off in Sauraha of Chitwan with a view to boosting up local tourism.

The festival, aimed at prolonging stay of tourists in the town, is organised coinciding with Christmas and the English New Year, according to Regional Hotel Association, Chitwan, the event organizer.

Landmark Forest Park Chitwan

Landmark Forest Park Chitwan

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11th Chitwan Mahotsav to begin from Monday

11th Chitwan Mahotsav to begin from Monday
11th Chitwan Mahotsav 20173

11th Chitwan Mahotsav 20173

Chitwan Mahotshav 2073 will kick off at Naryanghat on Monday with a host of events ranging from trade fair, cultural shows, food festival and water sports.

The 11th edition of the festival, which will continue till January 18, is being organised by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Chitwan (CCIC) in collaboration with District Development Committee of Chitwan and Bharatpur Sub-metropolitan City to promote local trade and tourism.

The festival being held on the banks of the Narayani River will showcase local agricultural and industrial products, and traditional cuisines in 475 stalls. Other attractions of the event are cultural and literary shows, and water sports, such as rafting.

One of the highlights of the festival is different food products made of banana, as Chitwan is one of the major producers of the fruit in the country. Visitors of the fair will also get to see a sample banana farm, where techniques of producing and processing the fruit will be exhibited. Moreover, dairy and poultry products will also be showcased.

Chitwan Mahotsav 2073

A group of women take part in the inauguration ceremony of the Chitwan Mahotsav 2073 in Narayangadh of Chitwan district, on Monday

The festival will also host a special food festival at Campus Chaur, where traditional cuisines will be served. The event is being organised to promote the local economy and contribute to development of the district. We hope the event will also promote Chitwans culture, CCIC President Rajan Gautam told journalists on Wednesday.

So the whole idea of hosting the event is not only to entertain and amuse our guests, but also to promote local trade and culture.

The event is expected to be attended by 500,000 visitors, including locals and foreigners. The organisers hope that transactions at the festival will surpass Rs 200 million.

Chitwan National Park

Chitwan National Park

The event will feature stalls where local products, automobiles, information technology products, paintings, sculptures and financial products, among others, will be displayed. All the stalls have been covered by an insurance package worth Rs50 million, said Gautam.

The festival, which is held every two years, is mainly targeted at locals, Nepalis from different parts of the country, and foreign visitors who want to know more about the region, said Raju Shrestha co-chairman of CCIC.

Tickets have been pricedat Rs50 for general visitorsand Rs25 for students. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is scheduled to inaugurate the Chitwan Mahotsav.

Source: Kathmandupost

13th Chitwan Elephant Festival begins in Sauraha

13th Chitwan Elephant Festival begins in Sauraha
13th Chitwan Elephant Festival 2016

13th Chitwan Elephant Festival 2016

The festival began with the eye-catching procession of bedecked elephants that originated from the eastern sector of the Chitwan National Park and passed through Sauraha. A Tharu cultural rally was also the part of the inaugural session of the festival.

Tharu Dance

Tharu Dance

The nine various programs including elephant ‘fast walk’ tournament, elephant Polo, a football match among elephant calves, cart race, elephant painting, picnic for elephants, a cultural program and a boat riding competition are the parts of the festival.

Elephant Polo

Elephant Polo

The festival is the continuity of the Elephant Race Tournament that used to be held in Sauraha 12 years ago.

Landmark Forest Park Chitwan

Landmark Forest Park Chitwan

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Back on its feet, Nepal ready to receive tourists

Nepal’s economy, which was largely dependent on its tourism industry, had suffered a sharp decline of over 50 per cent after the earthquake.

pokhara1

Than three months since Nepal was hit by a massive earthquake which had taken a toll on its economy, the country is finally ready to receive tourists like before, said Deputy Consul General of the Nepal government Surendra Thapa in Kolkata on Friday. Speaking on the occasion of the Travel and Tourism fair being held in Kolkata, Thapa said Nepal, which used to receive 800,000 tourists annually, of which 150,000 were from India alone, has recovered from the devastating earthquake and urged Indians to make Kathmandu their next travel destination. Nepal’s economy, which was largely dependent on its tourism industry, had suffered a sharp decline of over 50 per cent after the earthquake. However, everything has gradually come back to normal, said an official of the Nepal Tourism Board. He pointed out that out of 75 Nepalese districts; only 11 surrounding Kathmandu were affected by the earthquake. But the tourist infrastructure such as roads, drinking water, healthcare, flights, airports and others are fully operational.

Urging Indian tourists to visit the neighboring country, the official said, “It is time to get over the psychological barrier and enjoy Nepal once again.” Further, he added that of the eight UNESCO-recognized tourism circuits recognized by the government, only three had been affected by the earthquake. The official also pointed out that more than 90 per cent hotels are back to business and telephones lines have also been restored. The tourism officials said a Japanese agency that came to assess the damage has identified that only 4 km of a total circuit of 210 km in about 36 trekking routes around Annapurna region was destroyed and the rest was safe for trekking. The popular Pokhara valley is also fully operational, they said.

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Source: www.indianexpress.com

Help Nepal: take a holiday there

Help Nepal: take a holiday there

A recent event hosted by the Nepal Embassy in Bangkok makes it clear that the country needs visitors to aid recovery

Bhaktapur-durbar-square5

Local artists arrive for a ritual dance as part of the opening of Bhaktapur to tourists at Darabar Square, Bhaktapur. EPA

Following the earthquakes that brought death and destruction to Nepal on April 25 and May 12, the government of Nepal recently assured visitors that Nepal is once again safe and ready to welcome tourists.

Out of 75 districts, only 11 are affected and only three trekking routes remain closed.

“While the damage from the earthquake was extensive, the vast majority of the country was unaffected. The safety and security of visitors is one of the government’s top priorities, as re-establishing the tourism industry is vital to Nepal’s recovery,” stressed Nepal’s ambassador to Thailand, Khaga Nath Adhikari, at the recent “Nepal is Safe: Visit Nepal, Help Nepal” event held at the Holiday Inn Silom Hotel in Bangkok.

Major tourist sites such as Lumbini, Kathmandu Valley, Chitwan National Park and Sagarmatha National Park have not been affected. Popular tourist activities such as trekking, kayaking, ziplining and mountaineering are still operating. The only exceptions are the three trekking routes of Langtang, Manaslu and Gaurishankar, which remain closed.

A strict examination process by expert committees has determined the safety of all affected areas. Any roads or structures that are not safe have been identified and are closed to the public, added deputy ambassador Dornath Aryal.

Thousands of Thais visit Nepal every year. The country does not want this to change and thus is enthusiastically promoting all that Nepal has to offer, such as the unique cultural diversity, beautiful natural scenery and the wide range of outdoor pursuits.

To encourage visitors, many hotels, attractions and agencies are offering discounts, sometimes of up to 50 per cent to help businesses recover. Even the visa office will be working overtime to try and ensure same day visa processing to make visiting Nepal as easy as possible.

The government’s push to promote tourism in the country comes after the earthquake that killed 8,789 and destroyed 511,390 houses and resulted in an estimated loss of 81.25 billion Rs (Bt26.8 billion) for the tourism industry. A second quake on May 12, while not as powerful as the first, is estimated to have killed more than 100 people.

“Despite concerns over continuing aftershocks, these pose no danger and do not indicate any further risk. While tourism will obviously assist with the economic recovery of Nepal, it is also hugely important for our country to return to normal to facilitate the psychological recovery of the its people,” the ambassador said.

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Source: nationmultimedia.com

Got vacation days? Consider a trip to Nepal

Got vacation days? Consider a trip to Nepal

Normally May is the busiest month in Bhaktapur, the decorated old city on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Tourists throng through the narrow alleyways, admiring the intricate wooden carving on temples and stupas (Buddhist holy places) and houses.

Seven UNESCO world heritage sites stood in the valley of Kathmandu, their beautiful pyramid roofs reaching towards the sky.

Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square was one of the most well known sites, located just 10 kilometers from downtown Kathmandu. Each year, more than 100,000 tourists strolled through Bhaktapur, which means “City of the Devotees,” to admire the old city.

A view of Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square before the April 25 earthquake (Flickr Creative Commons)

A view of Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square before the April 25 earthquake (Flickr Creative Commons)

But Bhaktapur was also one of the most visible sites of destruction after April 25’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Many temples crashed to the ground, destroying more than a century of Nepali patrimony.

Some 10,000 people live in this old and beloved neighborhood. About 300 of them died, and two thirds of the houses were destroyed, according to a local tourism information officer.

As most Nepalis focus on solving the immediate problems of food distribution and semi-permanent housing before the monsoon season begins in June, those involved in the tourism industry are beginning to think about the future. They know that tourism must rebound as quickly as possible in order to minimize the economic damage of the earthquake, and help people begin working again. If tourism doesn’t return to previous levels, the impact of the earthquake will continue to echo for decades to come.

In the aftermath of the quake, the square in Bhaktapur, until recently filled with tourists, was still a hive of activity. Chinese organizations set up a drinking water distribution point. Norwegian doctors erected a small mobile clinic. Samsung ran a “communication hub” with a place to charge phones, use the Internet, and call relatives free of charge.

Hundreds of local Nepalis wandered around the square in shock, standing and looking at the holes in the sky where the temples used to be. A YouTube video from the moment of the quake shot in Durbar Square, the center of Bhaktapur, looks like a bad movie set, towers just crumbling to the ground as people pushed in panic toward the center of the square.

“Here in Bhaktapur, when we saw the Temples were gone, it was like the loss of a child,” said 58-year-old resident Jagat Sherhosai.

“I was born four months after the last earthquake [January 15, 1934],” said Sherhosai’s neighbor, Ratnamaya Suwal, 82. “I was pumping water when this earthquake hit, and that saved my life [because I was outdoors],” she said. “But my heart is beating so fast now. Bhaktapur has lost our pride. And I’m so scared it will happen again.”

Ratnamaya Suwal, 82, was born four months after the last massive earthquake in Kathmandu. Her house was demolished in the quake. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

Ratnamaya Suwal, 82, was born four months after the last massive earthquake in Kathmandu. Her house was demolished in the quake. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

“Tourism is one of the most important sectors in Nepal. In terms of our GDP it’s only about 4%, but in terms of employment it’s at least a million people,” said Tourism Department Director General Tulasi Prasad Guatam.

Nepal’s population is approximately 31 million, with more than 70% of the labor force working in agriculture. The million tourism employees include seasonal workers, like porters, as well as ancillary sectors like handicraft production, restaurants, and transportation.

The initial recovery effort will focus on Kathmandu, to ensure that hotels for international tourists (three stars and above) are structurally sound, explained Guatam. Then experts will check popular tourism sites within the Kathmandu Valley, which experienced significant damage during the quake. Finally, they will start assessing the popular treks and the Lang Tang region to determine how to best rehabilitate those areas.

“For a certain period of time, there is a negative impact, particularly outside of Kathmandu,” said Guatam. “But now you have medical support teams and aid agencies staying in hotels and spending money,” he said.

Tourism is a fast-growing industry in Nepal. In 2014, the Himalayan country hosted 800,000 international tourists, and in 2015, it was expecting 900,000. “For the past five to six years, we’ve been growing in 11%-12% increments each year,” said Guatam. This is largely due to the stabilization of the political situation, after a decade-long civil war against Maoist rebels ended in 2006.

Nepal’s stunning natural beauty drives the majority of tourism. According to government tourism statistics, 46% of visitors went to a National Park or wildlife area.

While some of the most popular treks, including the Lang Tang treks and Everest Base Camp, were devastated by the earthquake, Guatam wants to remind tourists that there is a whole country to discover. “This is an opportunity for new areas of the country that are little explored by tourists,” he said. “The east and far west of Nepal are equally beautiful. People can go visit there, though they may not have the same tourist-level hotels as in the middle areas like Pokhara,” he said.

Due to extreme rain during the monsoon seasons, tourism is highest during March-May and October-November. Trekking agencies know that the current season is no longer an option, as aftershocks continue to terrorize the area, notably a second strong quake on May 12.

But there is great hope that adventurous tourists will return in the fall. “Nepal is the name of adventure tourism,” said Bachchu N. Shrestha, the director of the Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Foundation and World Expeditions Trekking Company. Pasang Lhamu Sherpa was the first Nepali woman to summit Everest, though she died in an avalanche during the descent. Tourism and trekking operators started a foundation in her name to help small entrepreneurs launch tourism businesses in the trekking regions as well as promote women’s empowerment.

“If you love adventure, come to Lang Tang and do tented camping there,” said Shrestha. “The history of Nepalese tourism is very basic. You used to have to carry everything from Kathmandu. If you go back even 15 years in the Lang Tang area, there was tented camping and you had to bring everything.”

Before the quake, tea houses dotted most of the popular routes, so trekkers did not need to carry tents or their own food.

Then there’s also the small but growing segment of “disaster tourism,” harnessing peoples’ curiosity in the disaster to encourage tourism, Shrestha explained. “They did tsunami disaster tourism in Asia,” he said. “Disaster tourism is not a long-term plan; it’s about coming to visit now. Nepal is not dead. Your visit here, your expenditures can make sense to rebuild the community. It’s really to teach people to restart their businesses.”

He knows that people are curious what such a devastating earthquake looks like on the ground, even though there are serious ethical concerns about promoting this type of tourism.

But it’s difficult to imagine how tourism can reemerge in places like Lang Tang, which was completely demolished by the quake and ensuing landslides and avalanches.

Shrestha suggests quickly building houses with an extra room for tourists, who can experience homestays rather than traditional hotel experiences. This kind of travel also appeals to more adventurous tourists who are likely to be the first ones to return to Nepal.

There are also many treks that are unaffected by the quake. The popular Annapurna Circuit is still accessible and did not suffer much damage. Shrestha recommends The Great Himalaya Trail, a 1,700-kilometer walking path that traverses the country from east to west. Some sections will be unusable, but the majority of the trail is still hikeable, he said.

Back in Bhaktapur, shops slowly opened in the alleyways, even though the area was empty of tourists. Some stores opened in buildings hastily propped up with big wooden planks. Other shopkeepers hurriedly tried to remove their merchandise from buildings that looked about to collapse.

“I opened my store because it was too silent in this area,” explained Sanjay Darshandhari, 20, whose store sells the usual tourist offerings of brightly colored bags, magnets, and postcards. “I wanted to help people feel more relaxed. When we didn’t open, it was looking like a ghost place. When we started opening the stores, it’s a psychological thing, that things are getting back to normal.” Since opening, Darshandhari has had about one customer per day make a purchase, compared with more than 100 per day before the quake.

Work is already underway to rebuild the area. Two UNESCO volunteers in hardhats mapped some of the damage at one of the temples. The pair, Ludovic Dusuzeau and Pierre Gerard Bendele, are architects from Paris who were in the country for a month on a private research trip to study old Nepalese architecture. They visited Bhaktapur less than a week before the earthquake.

After the earthquake, they realized that they had detailed drawings of buildings that no longer existed. They decided to extend their trip by three months to volunteer with UNESCO. “It’s quite good to be useful as architects,” said Dusuzeau. “With UNESCO, it’s not only the buildings and temples that are important to preserve but also the urban plan, the streets, the houses. All of it is important from a patrimony point of view,” he said.

Ludovic Dusuzeau (left) and Pierre Gerard Bendele are two architects from Paris who were on a private research trip to study Nepalese patrimony when the earthquake struck. Now they are volunteering with UNESCO, using drawings they made just a week earlier of things that no longer exist. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

Ludovic Dusuzeau (left) and Pierre Gerard Bendele are two architects from Paris who were on a private research trip to study Nepalese patrimony when the earthquake struck. Now they are volunteering with UNESCO, using drawings they made just a week earlier of things that no longer exist. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

Damodar Suwal, a tourist information officer in Durbar Square, has trouble imagining what the rebuilt square will look like. For now, he’s concentrating on clearing the rubble from the square and protecting the national artifacts that lay strewn across the ground. Dozens of municipality workers and residents come every day to clean the square, even though their homes have also been destroyed.

They work on their homes in the morning and evening, but spend most of the daytime at the square, helping transform the piles of rubble into neat rows of bricks.

While debris still blocked alleyways in hard-hit parts of Kathmandu, Darbar Square was already partially cleaned and swept, highlighting the pride that locals take in this site.

“The earthquake will affect us positively and negatively,” said Suwal. “The positive part is that it has advertised all over the world that there is this place in Nepal called Bhaktapur that’s very beautiful. The negative aspect is that it destroyed all the temples and palaces. It will take at least ten years to recover. So we’ve been moved ten years aback. But the earthquake has also united all the people of Nepal for Bhaktapur.”

As the neatly stacked piles of rubble grow and the country moves from emergency to recovery phase, rehabilitating the economy is an essential part of rebuilding the country, officials said. Tourism is an inseparable and growing part of the Nepali economy, and one that the international community can affect directly.

“If you love Nepal, come here,” said Shrestha. “That is the message you need to take to the world. Come visit. We need to support the local economy so we can revive ourselves.”

Source: http://www.timesofisrael.com