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Nepal at a glance

Nepal at a glance - Uday Lama

Nepal is a place to visit once for that lifetime of experience and must be included in anyone's itinerary. With breathtaking sceneries and a friendly, hospitable people it is a must see and one for a stopover.

Bookings and reservations can be made and all one need to do is drop in at the local travel agent. The guidebooks, brochures and travel magazines do not give a complete picture and one must explore first hand. Geographically speaking, it is situated between two giant neighbours to quote a phrase like a yam between two boulders. Thus it has its own unique culture, a babble of tongues and a mix of people. Even though it is landlocked it is criss-crossed with snow-fed rivers. The land has a range of glittering, snowy mountains to the north and lush, green-forested belt to the south. Cataracts thunder down deep gorges and slopes are terraced in neat even rows. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy where even today indigenous methods of farming and tilling the soil are used.

The people are of two types; those having Mongoloid features with straight black hair and sturdy frames and the other with aquiline faces spotting dark skin. A host of languages are spoken but the official one is Devanagiri. Used for all and every occasion it is this lingua franca that has united adiverse race of people. All documents, records are in this script and are acceptable to the majority. There are two great religions; Hinduism and Buddhism; practised and followed and is widely prevalent. The two beliefs have flourished and grown side by side with no murmur of dissent. On the contrary both have contributed to a code of conduct and modes of behaviour. There is no act to suppress the other and both religions have been accepted as the norm. Temples and pagodas built ages ago by master craftsmen still dot the landscape. With renovations going ahead aided and funded by foreign agencies these have been preserved in all its glory. The various gods and goddesses are enshrined and worshipped by their followers and offerings of fruits, flowers and incense and animal sacrifices duly made. Festivals mark the passage of days and are celebrated with zeal, enthusiasm and even fanfare. Each and every festive occasion is given over to a frenzy of music, dance and the lighting of wicks. There is more to it than just a show of ardour and devotion for it unites every Nepali.

Adventure Sports attract many enthusiasts round the year. There are treks either to the Annapurna Circuit or the Everest Base Camp for the hardy souls and enterprising spirits. And there is no looking back once everything is arranged and the down payment made. Rafting down the frothing rivers is not to be missed for it provides thrills and spills, as nothing will. Of course everything is done to ensure against accidents and unforeseen emergencies.

Bungee jumping is a newly developed sport and has its own share of takers. There are any numbers of heights from which to jump secured only by a thin elastic rope to the ankle. Whilst paragliding has come into its own and makes the use of ultra light planes or thermals to rise and float above the ground. No exertion is required since one is at the mercy of the elements.Mountain biking for the physically fit can be done on any number of trials that snake up and down and in and around bends. Needless it taxes ones endurance, stamina and muscle power. Canoeing down the rapids can be fun but it must be remembered it is a solo effort and there is also a back up team. For all that the adventurer can take pride in negotiating the whirlpools and in making a safe journey.

Bird watching is an activity, which can be engaged by anyone with a certainamount of enthusiasm. Armed with a pair of binoculars birds of different hues can be spotted amongst the branches and bushes or sighted in a flash of colours as it takes flight. Elephant safari on the backs of four legged pachyderms takes one through tall swathes of grasses. Wild animals are best observed in their habitats and in all their naturalness.

For the less adventuresome there are organised tours to the countryside with exotic names and even more exotic surroundings. Including mountain flights chartered by one of the many private airlines that afford a view of the Himalayan peaks. Sight seeing by professional guides can also be included to get a glimpse of ancient monuments and artifacts and a feel of the cityscape. For those who would like to stay closer to home there are plenty of lodges, guesthouses and five star hotels that provide prompt and efficient service. Accommodations are available to suit every pocket from the client with money to splurge on a deluxe suit to a backpacker who rents out a room with an attached bathroom.