Indra Jatra festival in Nepal

Indra Jatra festival in Nepal

Indra is Lord of Rain and the king of Heaven. Jatra is procession. Indra Jatra is celebration of God Indra’s Day.  Indra Jatra is festival of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.  Some believes Indra Jatra is thanking day to lord Indra for the rain. According to others, the festival is celebrated in the honor of Bahirab, who is Shiva’s manifestation and is believed to destroy evil.

Indra-jatra-festival-nepal

Indra Jatra begins every year from the day of the Bhadra Dwadasi to Ashwin Krishna Chaturdasi. It is an eight day long festival.

The festival begins with the carnival-like erection of The Linga (Yasingh), a ceremonial pole, accompanied by the rare display of the deity Akash Bhairab, represented by a massive mask spouting Jaad and raksi (Nepali local liquors). Households throughout Kathmandu (especially Newars) display images and sculptures of Indra and Bhairab at this time of year. This thirty-six feet long wooden pole (The Linga (Yasingh)) is chosen with great care from the Nala forest in Kavre district east of Kathmandu.

Indra Jatra Festival

According to traditional beliefs, Indra had received this flag from Lord Vishnu for protection.

Finally, the Kumari (living goddess), leaves the seclusion of her temple in a palanquin and leads a procession through the streets of Kathmandu to thank Indra the rain god. The main attraction of the festival is the procession of chariots and masked dancers representing deities and demons. Indra is called Yanya in Newari. Jaad (Nepali local liquor) flows from the Bahirab statue, which is remarkable to look at in Hanuman Dhoka.

Indra Jatra Festival
The procession consists of:
•    Majipa Lakhey
•    Pulukishi
•    Sawan Bhaku
•    Ganesh (Chariot)
•    Kumar (Chariot)
•    Kumari (Chariot)

Besides these, there are various dances held on the open stages of the city called dabu. There is display of Swet Bhairava as well as various deities of the city.

NTB announces 2073 as Ghumphir Barsa

NTB announces 2073 as Ghumphir Barsa

Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) on Monday announced Bikram Sambat 2073 as Ghumphir Barsa, which means travel year, in a bid to promote domestic tourism. The initiative is part of the governments preparations to organize International Tourism Year 2017-18.

A minister-level decision had approved the proclamation of Ghumphir Barsa last Friday.

Living Goddess Kumari in Kathmandu

Living Goddess Kumari in Kathmandu Durbar Square

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli will make a special announcement of the programme, the first of its kind, on April 24 to commemorate the first anniversary of the April 25 earthquake.

As our domestic tourism requires promotion, we have decided to conduct a wide promotional campaign to encourage domestic sightseers to travel in Nepal, said Deepak Raj Joshi, CEO of the NTB. The programme is part of the preparations to declare 2017-18 as International Tourism Year.

The NTB has allocated a budget of Rs2 million to carry out promotional activities to make the programme a success.

The board will encourage the private sector to create special packages targeting Nepali travellers. NTB will help the private sector to promote the tour packages, said Joshi.

Boudhanath Stupa

Boudhanath Stupa (Buddhist Pilgrimage)

Likewise, the tourism promotional body has suggested to the government to allocate a separate budget for travel leave concessions for government employees in the next fiscal year. Besides, the NTB has also planned to encourage the corporate sector to provide travel leave holidays.

As per the plan, a booklet will be published describing the tour packages developed by travel and tour operators, the board said. In a bid to promote new destinations, travellers will be offered schemes and incentives, said Joshi.

We are not aware of our geography as we have not travelled in Nepal, said Ambica Shrestha, senior tourism entrepreneur and president of Dwarikas Hotel. visit Nepal and let the country move ahead. I believe this programme will encourage Nepalis to explore their country and promote tourism, said Shrestha.

Trekking in Nepal

Trekking in Nepal

There are no statistics regarding domestic tourism in Nepal, but travel trade entrepreneurs said that the trend was on the rise owing to young travellers and adventure lovers who are exploring new ways of recreation.

They said that places like Pokhara, Chitwan, Muktinath and the Annapurna Circuit, among others, have been receiving a large number of domestic visitors due to a growing middle class.

Source: The Kathmandu Post

Anniversary at Kalapathar with ‘Nepal is safe’ message

Anniversary at Kalapathar with ‘Nepal is safe’ message

How do you celebrate marriage anniversary ?

Decorate your bedrooms, blow up balloons, cut cakes, go on a breakfast, lunch or dinner date, wear your favorite dress, throw party, plan traveling to different places and take pictures for memories. These are all what we do. But for David Richardson and Jessica Richardson who are based in California, United States and are currently working at Mauritius, planning for making their anniversary unique is a tough task.

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As people say that marriages are made in heaven, this couple wants to do something different, unique and heavenly as each year passes. They decided to come to Nepal in November back in January to celebrate our fifth anniversary as this is the best time to visit Nepal though our anniversary in on September 18. They planned to celebrate their anniversary at Kalapathar (5644m), feel the Everest (which they say is a part of heaven) and at all the UNESCO listed heritage sites in Kathmandu Valley as far as possible.

“Yes! What we dream has been materialized. Despite of the earthquake in April and the problems caused due to economic blockade, our dream came true and we didn’t find any difficulties celebrating our anniversary,” said Jessica after accomplishing their dream anniversary and having a photo shoot on their bridal wears at all the places.

Jessica added the only problem to them was fitting on the same bridal attire for the last 5 years. “It was indeed a challenge for us,” added David.

The couple said that they are highly inspired by the incredible warmth of the people here, their patience shown at the gasoline lines, their resilience and friendly behavior and then they fell in love with the mountains.

This couple who celebrated their first to fifth anniversary in Salzburg, Brussels, Rome Mauritius and Kathamndu Valley and Kalapathar respectively said that now it’s hard for them to beat their unique, memorable and most expensive anniversary in Nepal.

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“We were googling if anybody has celebrated their anniversary on bridal attire at Kalapathar but we failed to find out and hence we also feel that we have set a record on this,” David and Jessica said in a common voice.

“We are going back today, with a message that Nepal is safe, secure and beautiful as before despite of all the problems it is facing. Hey, travelers do visit this beautiful country now as there are less tourist in many mountains and you can enjoy a lot”, said David and Jessica.

Source: Myrepublica

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We will try our best to bring back Nepal to No 1

We will try our best to bring back Nepal to No 1

Glenn Rowley, founding director of UK based KE Adventure Travel was in Nepal for almost a month, visiting Everest Base Camp (EBC) and Annapurna Base Camp (ABC), among others. Kriti Bhuju of Republica talked to Rowley on how KE has been supporting Nepal for the last 30 years and how KE can help in the revival of Nepal’s tourism industry. Excerpts:

Glenn Rowley

How did KE Adventure Travel start its journey in Nepal?

I have always been into climbing and trekking. In 1984, I just wanted to see the mountains in the Karakoram Range in Pakistan where nobody had taken any trekkers or been to. We trekked to the K2 Base Camp. It took three weeks and we found it was one of the hardest trekking routes. After coming back, we decided to take a group there to share the Karakoram experience which became the basis for the companys name KE). We spent the 1984/1985 season there. About the time we finished there, they opened the Khunjerab Pass that connects Pakistan with China for the first time, traveled there and then down through Tibet on road and came to Kathmandu in October 1986.

I then had the idea of offering trekking packages to peaks in Nepal as nobody was offering this type of destination as a holiday. I then climbed Chulu East peak and trekked through the Annapurna Circuit. The following year we named our experience KE Adventure Travel. In those days all we were interested in were new trek routes, so we did Dolpo, Humla, Kanchanjunga, Makalau and the Mera Peak.

In 1989, I took our first group to Tashi Lapcha across Rolwaling and from Tumlingtar to the Mera Peak. We promoted many peaks beside EBC and ABC and it was only in 1990 that we became more commercial and advertised these two most sought after destinations.

You focus mostly on adventure travel holidays. How do you ensure that you can still bring guests during times of crisis like now?

Nepal was the number one destination for us until 2013 when we used to bring 700 to 800 clients a year here. When the earthquake hit, we stopped getting new bookings for Nepal, but we also had no cancellations. We called all our clients and told them that Nepal was safe and that we could still organize trips here. We convinced them not to cancel even as all other companies were canceling.

We did face a few problems as our Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) had issued a travel advisory asking citizens to practice some cautions about coming here. So we contacted our insurers and they agreed to continue coverage for us for operating in Nepal despite the foreign office advisory. We told our clients that the FCO would change its advisory soon and it did change in October. Till then we didn’t have any cancellation. This way, we managed to bring guests and now we are focusing aggressively in promoting Nepal in the best ways we can.

How did your clients respond right after the earthquake? How many tourists have you sent to Nepal after April 25?

We have brought around 400 clients post earthquake but we couldn’t convince our clients until we got a proper picture from feedback of people who were still trekking here and enjoying the beauty of Nepal. So far, we have sent more than 15,000 clients to Nepal for trekking, of which 80 percent are from the UK and 20 percent are from the US. Nepal was our top selling destination among 200 destinations before April 2015 and now it has dropped down to Number 10 not only because of the earthquake but also as more people are showing preference for Europe these days. However, we are trying our best to bring it back to Number 1 again by spring 2016.

Its only old houses and structures that collapsed. Solid structures are the same as before. People were surprised with the smiling faces, fantastic quality of service and all the still standing structures as back in the UK they were still thinking that everything had collapsed. They found less traffic, easier roads to cycle around, and trekking areas quieter. Most of our clients think its the right time to come to Nepal.

How are you planning to pull Nepal back to your No 1 destination?

We did a Back to Nepal campaign a month ago, with pictures from Annapurna, Everest, Dolpa, Mera Peak, etc, showing that everything was good and safe here. We also launched a “Save Pound 100” campaign on November 17 for all our packages to Nepal for the spring if they booked before December 31 for the spring season, and before February 29 for the autumn. We have also waived rental charges on trekking equipment.

We have been posting best pictures of Nepal from Annapurna, Everest, Dolpa, and Mera Peak, among others showing travelers that everything is good and safe.

Through the Juniper Trust a partner organization of KE we have raised US Dollar 150,000 and are building 10 schools at various earthquake affected areas in Nepal.

In your opinion, what is the USP of Nepal?

Its people and their friendly behavior, smile and resilience, the weather, and definitely the mountains. Of our total clients, 20 percent are repeat customers to Nepal and they come back here for the people.

What should Nepal do in the current situation to revive the tourism industry? How can the government here support private companies like your who have been supporting Nepal?

First, solve the current problem and solve the supply crisis of daily essentials and fuel that has a direct impact on prices. Right after the earthquake, the monsoon started and nobody knew what the situations were like in the trekking areas. The government could have done a lot during the monsoon period to revive tourism for the autumn but nothing was done.

The government can facilitate getting climbing permits processed faster as it has become slower with Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) not giving permits now. The government can reduce permit fees for trekking peaks for even a year i.e. for 2016. The government can come bring out campaigns like “Free Permit Year 2016” or something like that which will help Nepal revive faster.

We are trying to extend the season in December and January i.e. the Christmas New Year season as prospective clients have holidays. The government should also think of extending the season.

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Source: My Republica

Finnish Rock Band, Sign Language Rapper Perform Near Everest

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

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