All posts by Nol

Tihar Festival Celebrations

Tihar is the five-day festival of lights, worshipping Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth. Houses are lit with lights which makes it a very enjoyable festival to watch as well. You will find houses decorated with all types of combinations of flashing lights, or traditional diyos and candles.

The festival usually starts with worshipping Ganesh, the elephant-headed god of prosperity. The following days, worshipping of the crow, dog, goddess of wealth Laxmi, the cow and bull is done, followed by Bhai Tika, in which sisters pray for the long life of their brothers.

Crows, dogs, and bulls are given Tihar celebration days to themselves as they are messengers of Yama, the god of death, so they must be satisfied.

There are some variations among the different communities in Nepal on how they celebrate Tihar. Generally, all make patterns on the floors of living rooms or courtyards using colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals, called Rangoli, which serves as a sacred welcoming area for gods and goddesses, particularly Laxmi. All communities also include the Bhai Tika in their celebrations.

Kag (Crow) Tihar and Kukur (Dog)Tihar (1st and 2nd day)

The first day of Tihar is known as “Kag Tihar”, crows day, when they are offered food in the morning on a plate made of leaves, before anyone in the house has taken breakfast. Crows are the messengers of Yamaraj, the god of death.

The second day is called “Kukur Tihar” or dogs day. The dog is seen as a guardian of the house. A big red tika is put on the dog’s forehead and a nice garland.

Laxmi Puja and Guru Puja (3rd and 4th day)

Laxmi Puja on the third day is the most important one of the Tihar festival, when the goddess of wealth, Laxmi, is worshipped. Early in the morning on this day the cow is worshipped. A Tika is put on her hand and a garland around her neck, and food is offered to her. The cow symbolizes wealth and is the most holy animal in Hinduism. Threads are tied to the cow’s tail to make the journey of the soul to the afterlife easier.

In the evening the goddess Laxmi is worshipped. During the days before the puja the house is cleaned and decorated. In the evening a Mandala is painted in from of the house with an oil lamp lit on it. From there, a pathway is made. Once the puja rituals are over, people start gambling in the house, which is allowed on this day. Laxmi Puja marks the end of the accounting year for more religious business people.

On the fourth day, “Guru puja” (ox worshipping) is typically performed. On this day, “Dause” groups of boys go from house to house singing songs

The indigenous population of the Kathmandu valley (Newars) celebrate Mha Puja on the fourth day, worshipping their own self with varieties of sweets, fruits, flowers, eggs, fish etc. The “self’ is worshipped for longevity and healthy life. It is also the start of the Newar New Year.

Bhai Tika (5th day)

Bhai Tika is celebrated on the fifth day of Tihar. The story behind Bhai Tika is that a girl received a hint from Yama that her brother would not be harmed until his garland of flowers dried and the line she drew around him vaporized. So when Yama came to claim the soul of her brother she already had him surrounded with a circle of oil and put a garland of betel flowers for his protection, and Yama had no other option than to prolong his life.

Sisters apply a sacred Tika on their brothers’ forehead and pray to Lord Yama (the God of Death) for his long life and prosperity. On this day, sisters invite their brother and his family to their house. Following the rituals of Bhai Tika, the sister then draws three Mandaps at a selected place in from of their brother. These Mandaps symbolize Lord Ganesh, Janmaraj (the God of Birth) and Yamaraj. A Puja is then performed for the deities while her brother is sitting in front of her on a mat. In Nepali culture, the Tika applied on the forehead of the brother has five colors; red, green, blue, yellow and white. Then a garland with velvet flowers is also put around the brother’s neck to wish him longevity and good health. Brothers offer presents in return.

Tihar festival food

Sweets are prominently there during Tihar and the choice is quite rich.

Sel roti is a home-made circular-shaped bread prepared during Tihar. It is made of rice flour with some added flavors. Ingredients include cardamon and clove and other flavors of personal choice.

Apart from sel roti, chini roti is also popular Tihar food. Although it is sweet (chini means sugar), it goes well with homemade pickle or with meat items.

Lakhamari is particularly consumed among the Newari community and one of the most important sweets for a lot of communities during Tihar. It is very hard to bite, but once you are able to bite it, the taste is sugary and savory at the same time.

Importance of Tihar

Tihar is the second biggest festival in Nepal, after Dashain. It is an important festival in Nepal as it celebrates moving away darkness with light and defeating evil with goodness. The festival is unique in the sense that it shows admiration not just to the gods but also to animals, who are honored because of their sacred and unique bond with humans.

Tihar is similar to the Indian festival of Diwali, as they are both considered as the festival of lights but Tihar includes the celebration and worship of the four creatures associated with the Hindu god of death (Yama).

The Bhai Tika is an event that brothers and sisters are looking forward as an annual highlight of their sibling bond. They value it highly because of its cultural and religious importance. Brothers from all around the world get home to Nepal to tika from their sisters.

Mount Everest Base Camp trekking

The Mount Everest Base Camp trekking experience is a fabulous adventure in which you will be exposed to spectacular natural scenes on the top of the world. You also will get ample opportunities to get exposed to the Sherpa culture. In this post you will find tips and recommendations on how you can prepare for this trek and enjoy it responsibly. Details of the trek are nicely presented in the Lonely Planet Nepal 11 (Country Guide)” target=”_blank”>Lonely Planet Nepal. A return trek from Lukla to Everest Base Camp will last about two weeks. I’ve done the trek twice and look forward to doing it again.


Mt. Everest Base Camp

Preparations for your trek

For a trek on high altitude to an elevation of 5,300 meters at base camp it is clear that one has to be fit enough. One does not need to be a “super athlete” to complete this trek. Very important is that you did your regular walking practice during the months preceding your trek, I would say at least 3 to 4 times per week a long distance walk of a couple of hours. Then you have to select the right season for the trek, when it is not too cold, and not during the rainy season. The period of the end of April to the end of May is fine, and the peak trekking season is from the end of September to November.

You will also need the right equipment to make your trek successful. The following items are essential;

– A good sleeping bag, with inner lining. For the April to early June and end of September to November trekking seasons, a 4 season down sleeping bag or a good 3 season bag should be sufficient.

– Trekking poles are an absolute essential part of your gear, it makes trekking so much easier and safer. Why buying poles, be sure to look for trekking poles, and not Nordic Walking poles. Most trekking poles are adjustable so that they can easily be packed away and so that they can be adjusted for different terrain.

– Good hiking boots: to give support to your feet and limit the risk of a strained foot, mid- to high-cut models give more protection. If you plan to trek without a porter and carry a heavy load with you, backpacking boots with a high cut that wraps above the ankles for necessary support. For backpacking boots, you should take enough break-in time.

– Jacket; It is essential that you choose a hiking jacket that is wind- and waterproof, and breathable at the same time. While selecting a jacket, take into account that you will wear various layers underneath it during your hiking trip. Choose a jacket that has some chest pockets, as these will be easily accessible when wearing a backpack.

– Sunglasses that can block UV rays are essential to protect your eyes as on high altitude you expose yourself to a high intensity UV rays. An environment of snow and glaciers intensifies the UV rays and hence making it essential tom wear sunglasses. In addition, also bring plenty of sun cream with a protection factor of 50 to protect yourself from sunburn.

– Consider also to bring a solar charger for your phone and camera batteries. You can fix the panel on your backpack for charging while trekking.

You also have to arrange the necessary permits in preparation of your Everest Base Camp trek. There are two different permits you need. The first is a Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) permit, and in addition you need a Sagarmatha National park permit as a large part of the trek passes through this park.

Be well-prepared with a travel insurance that covers emergency evacuation (by helicopter). There is always a risk that you can not continue your trek due to an injury or other reason.

Start and finish in Lukla

Most trekkers to Everest base camp fly in to Lukla and start their trek there. The airport was built in 1964, with Sir Edmund Hillary involved in identifying the location of the site and lobbying for its construction to make the Solukumbu region better accessible. If you do not like to fly in, there is still the possibility to start a week-long trek from Shivalaya near Jiri, which is connected by road with Kathmandu.

Lukla is located at about 2,800 meter elevation. It is one of the most exiting airfields ofm the world; the runway is inclined so that planes can pick up speed rapidly when taking off and will brake fast when landing. This is needed as the airstrip is located between a cliff on one side and a steep descend on the other side.

Going up…

Day 1:

Most trekkers to Everest Base camp start their trip in Lukla. If you arrive on a morning flight, you can still start your trek already that day and move on to Chablung or Phakding.

Day 2:

Continue your hike to Namche Bazar (3420m), and enjoy your first steep climb all the way from the Dudh Kosi river to Namche. On your way you will enter the Sagarmatha National Park.

The Everest trek brings you along a wide variety of landscapes, starting with a hike through pine forests along the Dudh Kosi river between Lukla and Namche.

Day 3:


View over Namche Bazaar

Namche is a good place to stay one extra day to acclimatize to the higher altitudes. It has plenty of outdoor gear shops if you still need to upgrade your gear for the trek ahead. You can make a one-hour hike to Hotel Everest View near Syangboche Airport with it stunning views. The location is surrounded by majestic mountains including Mt. Everest.

Day 4:

The next stop on the way up brings you from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche, On the way you descend to the Dudh Kosi river, where you pass along a series of water driven prayer wheels. From there you start a steep ascent of 400 meters to Tengboche, with its beautiful gompa, with Mount Ama Dablam on the background.

Day 5:

From Tengboche you can trek to Pheriche (4240 m) or Dingboche, where it is recommended to acclimatize again one day on day 6.

Day 7;

This is a short day with only about 2 hours trek, which brings you to Duglha on 4340 m, from where you can continue on day 8 to Lobuche. You will pass a group of memorials to lost climbers, trekkers and Sherpas. One memorial here is for Scott Fischer, who died in the 1996 Everest disaster. You will also have beautiful views of Mt. Pumori this day.


View on Mt. Pumori on the background

On day 9 you can trek from Lobuche to Gorak Shep (5160 m).

The trail between Luboche and Gorak Shep

This will only take three hours, so if you leave early enough and still have enough energy, you can install already in the lodge at Gorak Shep and continue to Kala Patar (5545 m) from where you have an excellent view over Mt. Everest and the Khumbu Ice fall.


View on Mt. Everest and Khumbu Ice fall from Kala Patar

On Day 10 you can then go from Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp and return to Lobuche. From there you can return to Lukla in about 4 days, so the whole trek will take you 14 days then.

Enjoy a safe trek

There is always a safety and security risk while trekking on high altitude in the Himalayas, but one can make an effort to limit the risks as much as possible. Be well-prepared for your trek. Take your time to acclimatize while going up. A safe rule of thumb is to limit your increase in altitude to not more than 500 meters per day. While going up, trekkers typically take acclimitization days at Namche and Periche to avoid altitude sickness caused by low oxygen levels in the air at higher altitudes. For a safe trek it is recommended not to travel alone. You can also take a trekking guide or a porter to accompany you.

It is better to limit yourself to vegetarian dishes only during your trek. In the Sagarmatha National Park where the trek passes through, it is not allowed to slaughter animals, so all meat is carried up by porters from Lukla, which increases the likelihood that the meat will go bad and makes you sick.

Everest base camp trek highlights

The scenic flight from Kathmandu to Lukla is already a highlight at the start of your trek. The changing landscapes along the trekking route is also one of the great experiences of the Everest base camp trek.

Other primary highlights of Everest Base Camp Trekking the Sagarmatha National Park that you will pass through and your visit to scenic locations like Namche Bazar, Tengboche Monastery, Kalapatthar, and Everest Base Camp. You will enjoy breathtaking mountain views and exposure to Sherpa people and culture.

Godawari Botanical Garden

The Godawari Botanical Garden is very green, pristine natural garden spread over an area of about 82 hectares with a few streams flowing through it in the southeastern edge of the valley about 16 km south of Kathmandu city. It lies at the base of the Pulchowki, which is with its 2,765 m the largest mountain in the Kathmandu valley. The garden is a nice place for a day trip to escape the cacophony of the valley city life with its traffic jams and pollution. Enjoy the trip from Kathmandu to Godawari, which leads you through some authentic Newari villages on the road.

Godawari Botanical Garden

An island of tranquility in the Kathmandu valley

The Godawari Botanical Garden was established in 1962, following a design by British horticulturists Geoffrey Herklots and Tony Schilling. The garden has continuously developed since and is divided in several thematic areas where you can wander around in all tranquility. You will find a physic garden, rock garden, taxonomic family garden, fern garden, Japanese style garden and a garden where VIPs and visiting world leaders planted trees. The garden is internationally recognized and conserves about 1,000 plant species, including large varieties of orchids. In 2016, a Biodeversity Education Garden was added as well.

Explore the different botanical garden units; learn about the diversity of flora in Nepal


The plant species you will find in the Godawari Botaninical Garden include Ferns, Gymnosperms, Angiosperms, Cactus and Succulents, Medicinal and Ornamental plants. These plants are distributed over different thematic gardens;

The Physic Garden covers an area of 1.3 hectares with 107 species of plants that cover the alpine, temperate and tropical ecological zones. In the Rock Garden, a rock setting has been mixed with different species of Agave, Juniperus, Opuntia, Sansevieria, Yucca and other plants. In the Fern Garden 42 different species are conserved, including the endangered Tree fern (Cyathea spinulosa).

In the Special Garden you will find both native and exotic plants, as well as several green houses for Orchids, Cactus, Bonsai and Cyclamen. The garden also has water fountain in a pond. The Orchid house has more than 40 species of epihytic orchids. The Cactus house has a large collection of cacti and succulent plants.

In the Nepalese Style Terrrace Garden you will find a number of native plants, including the Buddleja asiatica, Mahonia nepaulensis and Osbeckia nepalensis. The Japanese Style Garden is a pleasant place to relax in an environment with boulders scattered among bushes and a waterfall.

The Taxonomic Family Garden can be found near the lily garden, and has a selection of plant species of more than 40 families. The Tropical House is a large glass house with tropical plants like the Dalbergia latifolia, Santalum album and Shorea robusta can be found among other plants, conserved for education and research.

A wetland ecosystem with small pond including wetland Lotus plants like the Rotala rotundifolia can be found in the Wetland Garden.  If you are interested in seeing some trees planted by high dignitaries from all over the globe, you can visit the VVIP Garden.

The book “Flora of Nepal” provides a good overview of plants that can be found in the country.

As the elevation of the country ranges from 60 meters above sea level to the highest mountains of the world with a height of above 8,000 meters, the climate varies from place to place. Consequently, different flora of every corner of the world can be found here.

The botanical garden and its surroundings is home to a rich bird life

The area north of Godavari towards the Phulchowki peak has a particular rich bird life with an estimated 270 bird species, of which 17 are listed as endangered. About 100 different bird species have been spotted in Godawari itself, making it an excellent location to start a bird watching tour.

Some of the bird species you can expect to see are, including the smaller racket-tailed drongo, Tibetan siskin and spotted fork tail.

Possible side activities and visit which you can combine with your trip to the botanical gardens

While traveling from the city of Patan to Godawari, you will pass through a few traditional Newari small towns; Harisiddhi and Thaiba. In Harisiddhi, you can visit the pagoda-style Bal Kumari Temple, and in Thaiba you can take a brief uphill hike of 20 minutes to the Mahadev temple, from where you have a nice view over the valley.

Enjoy your visit to the botanical garden; a moment of tranquility during your Nepal visit

There are different ways you can enjoy the botanical garden. You can just stroll around there and sit in a quiet corner to rest or read a book. If you like to learn more about the flora on offer in the botanical garden, you can plan your visit with a local guide who will explain you about all the plants you see. The place is also excellent for photography, more or less throughout all seasons.

A visit to the botanical garden will give you a good taste of the flora that you will encounter while traveling through the country. The bio-diversity of the Himalayas that you will witness during a trek include spine forests, conifers, maples, rhododendrons in the mountains to Sal forests in the southern lowland Terai.

Traditional music of Nepal

For a country with a rich culture like Nepal, music is a very important aspect of life. In rural areas in particular, you will come across many villagers who like singing or gathering around someone playing an instrument in the evening. Nepalese know many songs and actually often can and like singing them as well, arranging their own entertainment. Music group with Madal and Bansuri instruments

Traditional music group, playing the madal (drum) and bansuri (flute)

Music instruments of Nepal; amazing sounds

The madal, like in the picture above, is a folk musical instrument of Nepal that you will find throughout the country anywhere where people are playing folk music. It is a hand drum which is mainly used for rhythm-keeping accompanying songs and dance. The madal consists of a cylindrical body with at both ends a slight bulge at its center and heads, of which one head is larger than the other. It is usually played horizontally in a seated position, with both heads played simultaneously.

Another traditional Nepalese music instrument that is at the heart of traditional folk music performances is the sarangi, like shown in the picture below. This is a small fiddle which is used in folk music throughout South Asia. It is a short-necked instrument with three melody strings that are made of gut.


The bansuri is a side-blown flute, traditionally made of bamboo, widely used in India and Nepal. It is a traditional instrument already depicted in ancient Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religious icons, paintings and reliefs. The bansuri is revered as Lord Krishna’s divine instrument.

The fact that the bansuri is a very portable instrument of 2.5-3 feet length, made from a single hollow shaft of bamboo with six or seven finger holes, makes it easy to be carried and taken along. The instrument covers two and a half octaves of music. One end of the bansuri is closed, and its blow hole is few centimeters from the closed end. Longer bansuris feature deeper tones and lower pitches.

Explore the different music genres; from classical to folk…something for everyone

As Nepal has more than fifty ethnic groups, its music is also highly diverse. Some of the main genres that are widely played are linked to specific ethnic or language groups like Tamang Selo, Maithili, Gurung, and Newa, others genres like Dohori, Bhajan, and Classical music are generally applied by all ethnic groups in the country. Musical genres from Tibet and India have greatly influenced Nepalese music.

Tamang Selo is music by the Tamang people of Nepal and is widely popular among the Nepali-speaking community. Typical instruments that accompany this music are the damphu, madal and tungna. The Madal we have seen in the picture above. A Damphu is a percussion instrument, like a large tambourine, and the tungna a small string instrument made from a single piece of carved wood. The front hollow body of the tunga is covered with stretched animal skin on which the ‘bridge’ is fitted.

Dohori folk songs are usually sung by two teams of men and women, and originated in the rural areas of Nepal. In this type of folk songs, one team sings a question and the other team replies with a couplet and vice versa. In Nepali, Dohori means ‘back and forth’ and relates to an exchange of phrases between the contesting groups of collaborating singers. The groups of men and women sit on opposite sides and keep on improvising, teasing and flirting with each other in the improvised verses, until one of the team runs out of answers.

Bhajan music refers to songs with a religious spiritual theme, which is widely applied in the Hindu religion.

Classical music in Nepal used to be promoted and protected by Nepal’s rulers, in the courts of the Mallas and Shah Kings and the Ranas, who also had classical music as part of their training.

Nepali classical music is closely linked to Indian classical music, and similar instruments are used with a center place for the sitar and the tabla.

The sitar is a plucked string instrument with a long neck. It can have 18, 19, 20, or 21 strings. Six or seven of the strings are played strings running over curved frets that are raised. The other strings run underneath the frets, resonating with the played strings.

“Nepal Sitars” is group of three professional Nepali classical musicians from Kathmandu. Among them sitarist Satendra Man Singh Tuladhar, son of Tara Bir Singh Tuladhar of the famous Nepalese Folk Music group Sur Sudha.  On the website of “Nepal Sitars” ( you can find information on sitar classes as well.

The tabla is a set of two rounded metal or ceramic drums with skin heads lashed on by leather thongs. It can produce an amazing range of sounds by striking the center, edge, or breadth of the drum. In addition, the bansuri (discussed above) is one of the other instruments frequently used in Nepali classical music.

There is also one typical European instrument imported in Nepali music, the harmonium. It is not so much used as solo instrument but more to accompany songs.

Traditional music performances; where to find them

Traditionally, there are several musician castes who perform in bands or individually. Nowadays, cultural practices have loosened a bit with people from other castes also involved in the music scene. To experience traditional Nepalese music, you can either listen to some recordings or visit a life performance.

If you like to take some recordings of traditional Nepalese folk music home, look for recordings from the group Sur Sudha , their album “Festivals of Nepal” is available on Amazon.

As its name already indicates, this album reflects the own tune of several of Nepal’s main festivals. You will hear the tabla (hand drum), bansuri (flute) and sitar expressing the variety of Nepalese traditional music. Music from this album is also very suitable to use as background music for any video you might have made of your visit to Nepal.

If you are more in to vocal music, you can listen to the Ani Choying Drolma, a famous singing Nepalese Buddhist nun of Tibetan origin. Another recommended singer is Narayan Gopal, who is widely regarded by many Nepalese as their best folk-singer ever. He is also referred to as “Swar Samrat”, which means “Emperor of Voice”. His songs are accompanied by traditional instruments like the sitar, harmonium and bansuri.

Get active with traditional music of Nepal yourself

Well, you can get “active” with traditional music of Nepal by listening to it on recordings or at Spotify. There is a playlist of “traditional Nepalese music”, which features music with many of the instruments mentioned in this blog. You can access it at Spotyify through the following link; Traditional Music of Nepal

There are also various places, particularly in the Kathmandu valley and Pokhara, where you can learn to play traditional Nepalese instruments. A good start for your search for such classes is . They have a section for classes where you can learn playing eastern instruments, and have options for online classes for students outside Nepal.

Traditional food of Nepal; what you should taste!

Food plays a very important part in Nepalese life. A typical way to greet one other in Nepalese is saying Khana khanubayo, meaning “Have you eaten already”? Nepalese food habits traditionally focus around vegetarian dishes with meat only consumed occasionally, particularly at festival time. Depending on caste and tribal background, Nepalese are vegetarian or consume goat meat, chicken, fish, water buffalo or pork.

Dal BhatOver time, and with many Nepalese traveling abroad, food consumption patters have changed with international food influences from all over the world having entered the Nepalese kitchen. Nevertheless, the traditional Dal Bhat (rice with pulses) is still the main staple in many Nepali homes, and typically served on a steel plate. The Nepal Cookbook includes an extensive overview of recipes, representing the best of the authentic Nepali cuisine. You will find recipes of festival dishes as well as everyday favorites.


Breakfast; just try a new start of the day

Traditionally, Nepalese eat two main meals daily, with rice or roti. The first meal is taken late in the morning. Earlier in the morning at breakfast time Nepalese typically have tea with some small snack or bread in urban areas. Food patterns are changing with families in urban areas adopting a more western style for breakfast.

Khir (rice/milk pudding) is eaten as a sweet breakfast or as a snack. Khir is also an important festival food, and is used at baby rice-feeding, called Pasni, the first time babies eat solid food.

Puri (a deep-fat fried bread made from wheat flour) is eaten for breakfast or as a snack, served with a curry of a mixture of vegetables, peas and potatoes. It is a good change to try for breakfast, particularly to start the day in winter time.

Lunch and dinner; try the traditional Dal Bhat

Dal Bhat, rice with pulses, is the staple food many Nepalese families eat for lunch and dinner. It is often served with vegetables (tarkari) and some pickle (achar). It is mostly taken as a vegetarian dish, with meat only added occasionally in the weekends or at festivals. Many families have rice for lunch and change it at times with roti for dinner.

Dal Bhat is cooked fresh for every meal. All ingredients are cooked very well which makes it a safe dish to eat when you are traveling.

Festival food and snacks; some of them you will like

The first snack to look at in Nepal are Momos, this is a have to try during your visit. It are dumplings with different types of stuffing on a vegetarian non-vegetarian basis. Momos can be steamed or fried.

Chiura, or “bitten rice” is a popular traditional food of Nepal made of paddy. It is particularly popular with the Newar community and often eaten in combination with Dahi (Yogurt).

Yomari is made by kneading rice flour in a fig shape and fill it with Chaku (sweet mix with black sesame)

Sel Roti is cooked for most festivals, but particularly during the Tihar festival, which marks the victory of good over evil. and is popular with almost all ethnic groups. It is one of my favorites when I’m on the road and like to have a quick snack at a teashop.


Jeri (Jilebi) is another (sweet) snack, on flour, curd and saffron basis that is very popular in the country and available in many Nepalese homes during festivals and at teashops. It is also nice to eat in combination with yoghurt (dahi).

Malpuwa is usually eaten as a snack and at festivals and pujas (worships). Iyt can best be described as fritters or pancakes, served as a dessert or a snack

Maasko bara is another popular snack food used at many religious ceremonies and festivals. It is made on a basis of black lentils.

Chana is a snack of roasted chickpeas and popular throughout the country.

Bhatmas Sandeko is a soya bean salad made by mixing garlic and ginger with soybean. It is commonly eaten with cheura as a side dish to the main meal or as a snack. Another popular snack is roasted dry soybeans.

Food habits and cultural practices you need to know

Nepalese traditionally eat by hand. They use their right hand for this, as the left hand is considered “contaminated” as it is used for cleansing purpose while going to the toilet. Food should therefore be handled with your right hand, while you eat or when you pass it on to someone.

When you have touched your fingers to your mouth, you are not supposed to touch food at a common plate or passing it on to someone else anymore. This is also considered to be “contaminated” . So, if something touches your mouth, it is instantly jhuto and can no longer be consumed by anyone else. Also, after your hand has touched your mouth when eating, that hand and your food are now contaminated.

Enjoying the Nepalese traditional food experience

If you like to enjoy a typical Nepali food experience, try to find a Thakali restaurant. Thakali people are an ethnic group from the Mustang area. They are well-know in Nepal for their cuisine and food hygiene. They typically serve a Dal Bhat (rice with pulses) served with vegetables and meat if you like.

The indigenous ethnic group of the Kathmandu valley, the Newaris, are well-known in Nepal for their kitchen. here you can also have the Dal Bhat dish, and several authentic and exotic dishes.

If you like to combine a culinary experience with a cultural exposure, then a visit to such restaurants that cater for this combination enjoying good food, traditional dances and music is for you. Nepali Chulo at Lazimpath in Kathmandu is one of the restaurants in a traditional old Rana palace that offers such possibility.

Travel to Nepal and COVID-19

What is the current COVID-19 situation in Nepal, and how does it impact your stay in the country? Precautions are needed to limit the coronavirus infection risk. The CDC Yellow Book 2020 provides updated information on how to stay healthy during your travel. 

Travel to any country is subjected to COVID-19 related regulations in the respective country. This post reflects the COVID-19 related context in Nepal and impact on travelers with reference time in December 2022. It is important to seek the latest information on COVID-19 in Nepal to assure a smooth travel and stay, and avoid any surprises.

COVID 19 Nepal

Nepal government COVID-19 travel regulations

Restrictions for arrivals had been relaxed. An online arrival form needs to be filled out for arrivals. You can find it via the following link CCMCC. Bring a printed copy with you when you travel to Nepal, together with your vaccination record.

How to stay safe

  • First of all, only vaccinated people should consider to travel to Nepal once it opens up again, to protect ones own health and that of others who one will meet while traveling. The health facilities in Nepal are already over stressed and many hospitals have a lack of oxygen and other essential facilities necessary for effective Covid-19 treatment. Even regular medical services are heavily under stress at the moment.
  • Although fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19, they should still follow recommendations for traveling safely including:
    • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
    • Stay 6 feet from others and avoid crowds
    • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer


COVID-19 impact on travel in Nepal

Changu Narayan temple; oldest temple in use in the Kathmandu valley

The Changu Narayan temple is the oldest Hindu temple in use in the Kathmandu valley, and is one of the seven structures that make the Kathmandu Valley a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the divine force of creation to Hindus, and it’s origins date back to the 4th century AD. The location of the temple on a hilltop just north of Bhaktapur makes the visit an excellent trip to escape the busy valley city life. The temple is very well described in the Nepal Guide Book.

You can combine your visit to the Changu Narayan temple with an outing to the nearby historical city of Bhaktapur or after an early morning trip to Nagarkot to enjoy the spectacular view over the Himalayan mountainrange from there (which is most clearly visible early in the morning).

Historical facts of the Changu Narayan Temple

The temple was initially built in the fourth century AD, which makes it the oldest Vishnu shrine in the Kathmandu Valley. As happens with many temples in the Himalayan region, it was destroyed and rebuilt several times due to earthquakes and fires. A major rebuilt took place in 1702 after a fire and more recently, major reconstruction was undertaken after the 2015 earthquake, when the temple was severly damaged.

The mythical story of the Changu Narayan Temple

The legend goes that Lord Vishnu mistakenly beheaded a Brahmim, who he thought to be a demon, when he was hunting in a forest. He was then cursed for the crime and wandered the earth on a Garuda and finally descended on Changu hill. Lord Vishnu lived there in anonymity, surviving on milk stolen from a cow that belonged to a sage called Sudarshan and was taken care of by a cow herder called Gwala. When Gwala noticed that the cow always went to the shade of a certain tree and a boy then descended to drink the milk, he alerted the sage Sudarshan to take action. Sudarshan cut down the tree and fresh human blood came out of it, which scared him off as he thought to have comitted a crime. Lord Vishnu then came from that tree and told them it was not their fault, and that he had mistakingly beheaded a Brahmin, Sudarshan’s father. Lord Vishnu was then liberated and freed from his sin. Brahmin and Gwala then decided to worship the place and built a small temple. The locality became a Holy Place since. It is believed that the curent priest of the temple is a descendant of Sudarshan, and the temple’s conservator a descendant of Gwala.

Exploring the Changu Narayan Temple

The temple is made in a pagoda style as a double storied building with roof struts with carved images of the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu as Narayan and various multi-armed Tantric goddesses. It is located on a large courtyard surrounded by sattals (rest houses). The temple has four doors, each guarded by sculptures of lions, griffins and elephants on each side of the entrances.

The courtyard surrounding the temple has a very rich selection of stone, wood and metal carvings as decorations. You will also find a beautiful selection of statues surrounding the temple.

In fact, the cultural development of the Kathmandu Valley over the years is reflected in the temple, as building and rebuilding work has been ongoing on this place since the fourth century. Additionally, you will find different shrines devoted to Shiva, Kali, Ganesh and Krishna within the courtyard.

You can see a Garuda figure near the west door, dating from the 5th century. The Garuda, a half-man and half-flying creature, served as Lord Vishnu’s vehicle. Near this statue you will find the oldest stone inscription in Sanskrit of the Kathmandu Valley, with a message of a king on how he convinced his mother not to commit (Sati) suicide after her husband had died.

The main image in the sacred place of the temple is worshipped by Hindus as the Garuda Narayan and by Buddhists as a Harihara Bahan Lokeshwara, and is only allowed to be ssen by the priest.

How to reach there?

You can reach Changu Narayan Temple by local bus, taxi or rented vehicle from Kathmandu, or by local bus from Bhaktapur (about 20 minutes ride). There are also trails from Bhaktapur (about 1.5 hours walk) and Nagarkot (4.5 hours via a resonably level unpaved road) to Changu Narayan, which gives you the opportunity to get acquinted with rural life in Nepal.

The site is also close enough to Kathmandu to reach by mountainbike.

The unique experience of a visit to the Changu Narayan Temple

A visit to the Changu Narayan temple is a must as you will experience a very rich heritage site in a beautiful setting with view over the valley, including the cities of Bhaktapur and Kathmandu. If the sky is clear, you can even have a view over the Himalaya range from here.

The site is of great cultural and religious importance as it is one of the few places that has survived since the fourth century, with significance for Hindus and Buddhists alike.

The temple is of great importance to learn about Nepal’s history and heritage. It’s idols and shrines are of rich architectural beauty, and this place learns us about different types of inscriptions on wood, metal and stone that are used in Nepal over time.

About Nol Reisman

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to the “My Travel Nepal” website. Nepal has a special place in my heart since the mid 1980s when I first visited this beautiful country. Over the years I’ve been traveling to Nepal many times and lived and worked there for about 15 years during several periods.

This gave me the opportunity to learn the language, do a lot of trekking and extensively learn about the culture and visit the many heritage sites present in the country. I’m happy to share my experiences and give tips on how to make the most out of your visit and to be well-prepared for your travel.

Nepal is a diverse country with rewarding experiences covering many interests.

Be it Nature, Hiking, Outdoor sports, Culture, Meditation or Culinary experiences, Nepal has unforgettable experiences to offer in all this fields. You can easily include different activities of your interest during your visit to make your own tailor made program. I hope the information on this site will encourage you to try out and let yourself suprise by some new activities and experiences during your visit to Nepal.

What this site will offer you

I will show you many authentic places to visit in Nepal and share experiences that might interest you that you might not have thought of in the first place. I enjoy promoting these possibilities and showcase what Nepal and its beautiful people have on offer. You will also find practical tips for your travel preparations and stay in Nepal.

All the best,

Nol Reisman