charming country presents a very rich culture preserved and
maintained intact for centuries by its beautiful people, who
are known all over the world to have "as many gods as
the people, & as many temples as houses" in their
land. And nowhere else is this fact more evident then in the
Kathmandu Valley itself.Visitors to Nepal spend their few
early days exploring the temple palaces of the three ancient
cities of Kathmandu Valley, Kathmandu, Patan& Bhaktapur,
which were once three independent states. The temples and
stupas are rich repositories of wood carving, metal work,
terra-cotta & stone sculpture.
once a time machine and a magic carpet, Nepal sweeps you along
crooked, timeworn streets flanked by irregular, multi-roofed
pagodas, stupas and stone sculptures, and into rooms cluttered
with horror-eyed masks, spinning prayer wheels, trippy thangka
scrolls and Tibetan carpets. Muttered chants, esoteric tantric
hymns and Nepalese music, whether it be the twang of a four-stringed
saringhi or the plaintive notes of a flute, hang in the air.
Traditional folk musicians or gaines gather for an evening
of singing and socialising, classical dancing and trance-like
masked dances enliven the Kathmandu Valley and Bhaktapur regions,
while no wedding would be complete without the raucous damais
- Nepal's modern ensembles.
is the lifeblood of the Nepalese. Officially it is a Hindu country,
but in practice the religion is a syncretism of Hindu and Buddhist
beliefs with a pantheon of Tantric deities tagged on. The remainder
of the population that isn't Buddhist or Hindu are either Muslim,
Christian or shamans.
meals most of the time consist of a dish called dhal bhat
tarkari which is a combination of lentil soup, rice and curried
vegetables - hardly the makings of a dynamic national cuisine.
On the other hand, Nepal has adapted famously to Western tastes,
markedly evident in Kathmandu's smorgasbord of menus: Mexican
tacos; Japanese sukiyaki; Thai chocolate; Chinese marshmallows;
onion and minestrone soup; borscht, quiche and soyburgers;
and some of the best desserts - apple and lemon pies, almond
layer cakes, fruit cakes - found anywhere in the world. To
wash any (or all) of these offerings down, try a lassi (a
refreshing mixture of curd and water), the locally produced
beer or chang, a Himalayan home brew made from barley.